Mindfulness for Spiritual and Physical Health

I’ve been more interested in practical teaching to begin this year. New years can be new beginnings. And new beginnings begin with developing new patterns in our lives.

My last post dealt with being in the moment because that is a way toward happiness. We have long known both through ancient wisdom and through modern science that meditation has many spiritual and physical benefits. Simply slowing down for a few minutes a day can help lower blood pressure which leads to reducing risk for other ailments.

Slowing down is also good for the mind and for the spirit. When you meditate on the Word, you slow down your racing thoughts and probe more deeply into the meaning that God has for you that day.

Recently a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin concluded that mindfulness meditation showed a correlation to reducing inflammation. Inflammation is bad thing physically associated with rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma — in which psychological stress plays a major role. Inflammation also seems to play a role in the development of dementia and Alzheimers.

People may think that mindfulness meditation is either Buddhist (and to be reviled by Christians) or New Age bunk. Actually, there is also a Christian tradition of mindfulness meditation–we just don’t teach it. The Western Christian church became so captured by proponents of reason and logic, that it became a religion of the mind rather than the Spirit.

It has been a source of frustration for me for many years that we do not teach people how to pray deeply. I tried a class on time about 15 years ago. The class wanted to learn about prayer, not how to actually pray.

In this TED Talk, Andy Pudicombe describes how to meditate mindfully. In reality, it has nothing to do with chanting, pillows, gongs, incense or any other physical stuff. You simply sit, stand, walk, even lie down, and let your mind just be in the present moment. You become aware of your surroundings–the sights, sounds, smells. If a thought comes into your head, you just let it play around and leave.

When I teach Yoga, I teach both the physical postures designed to strengthen and add flexibility to the body, as well as, teaching students to be aware of only the moment. Neither caring about past or future. Only where they are in the present.

Students always report leaving the hour refreshed. This practice actually develops the mind. It strengthens the soul. And it helps with physical well being.

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