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Mindfulness Meditation- What’s the Buzz? — 35 Comments

  1. Thanks Jennifer for addressing this important issue. The eroding of the religious connections of mindfulness is akin to the adoption of yoga into mainstream physical therapy. These practices which are steeped in Eastern mysticism have found favour amongst even Adventists.
    Yes there will be some benefits derived from them but we must remain cognisant of the significant harm often accompanying their practice.
    The spirit of prophecy does warn us of these mystic practices and I certainly have anecdotally observed the spiral of decline into further depression in some of my patients who favour these practices.

  2. Hi Jennifer,

    Nice to see you writing a post again. Great topic and it's talked about much in the mental health field as well as in the food/nutrition/health field, in various ways. One health advocate has a new album, "Self-Care for Busy People, Digital Meditation Album". I do respect these people who have helped others regain their health as well as a healthy perspective on life. However, meditation, psychology, philosophy, and other modes of thinking cannot accomplish in the heart the healing and peace that the scriptures can and will.

    I so appreciate your emphasis on "keeping your mind filled with the precious promises of God". This is what I am doing more and more.
    Scripture songs are helpful for this purpose also.

    Truly, I agree, "Through meditating upon His Word, we look toward a better world where suffering will end for once and for all." This is our goal since we are pilgrims on this earth. I see so many of us, God's people, suffering more and more as we see the day approaching, and the devil is a roaring lion trying to get us to give up our faith. We all need to hang on to our faith and never give it up. Thank you very much Jennifer for an insightful post.

  3. [Moderator's note: We consider the blog to be a conversation among friends and ask you to use your name (Christian + surname) in the name box. Thank you]
    E X C E L L E N T article and observations on 'MM'! VERY, very important indeed as many accept these practices as a healthy therapy. One must research their deceitful background, just as you have presented it here. Thank you Jennifer Schwirzer. God bless.

  4. Thanks Jennifer for your post. Just wanted to know the contrast between this type of meditation you're highlighting and the transcendental meditation. Thanks

    • Simeon,

      Regarding Transcendental meditation, which I practiced for two years before I became a Christian, Jennifer can tell you more of the theory.
      We were given a two syllable "mantra", and that was repeated over and over in your mind, while sitting quietly, for 20 minutes or more. I found the practice didn't help me in the least and am so very grateful to have God in my life, with prayer, song and Bible study which has truly transformed my life.

  5. Thank you, Jennifer, for your observations and for passing along the new research. I remember suggestions similar to your description of mindfullness meditation when talking with a coworker in neuropsychology about Alpha-wave optimization. The basic idea was first uncritically observing and then intentionally not dwelling on any thought. I can see how such a habit, well-developed, could lead to impulsivity rather than self-control, as the lower nature is allowed to "do its own thing" without any attempt at conscious control. In other words, is this training oneself to still the voice of conscience?

    Also, I'm curious. Do you know of any research done on the effects of Christian prayer on brain function or any of the three domains mentioned in the Journal reference?

    • Thanks, John. That's an interesting angle. It's true that non-judgmental self-observation is the bedrock of mindfulness. The problem is, people quickly develop secondary disturbance, where they see their anxiety or anger or whatever, and either judge themselves for it, as in, "You shouldn't be afraid," or catastrophize the feeling, as in, "This fear will kill you." Helping them accept their feelings can be a first step in changing them. But you're right that taken too far this could lead to ignoring conscience. Fortunately, there's a biblical form of acceptance of, and detachment from, the unwanted feelings and impulses of the flesh. Paul said, "It is no longer I, but sin that dwells in me." He dissociated from his sin because He'd chosen to trust in Jesus. This biblical approach gives the benefits of mindfulness without the dangers in my opinion.

  6. Thank you for this message! God truly does supply all of our needs. Two things were revealed to me through your message. The first was that I have so many things going on that my mind is always racing so, I was considering meditation as a way to clear my mind FROM 'worldly' things. This article was God's way of warning me. So thank Jennifer for being a vessel for the Lord. The second thing, God revealed to me that I was already doing the latter and didn't know it. I would read a scripture or scriptures right before bed and as I began to fall asleep there's a brief moment where nothing else was in focus except those scriptures. Now the reason I thought about meditation in the first place was because I would wake up in the middle of the night and my mind would go from 0-60 in minutes and wouldn't allow me to go back to sleep. But when I read the word right before bed...I still would wake up in the middle of the night but I would awake to clarity. A clear vision of the scripture that I read before I went to sleep. This message clears things up. I'm going to meditate in the word and I believe God will give me the rest that I need. Thanks Jennifer great piece.

    • Stephen, your experience somewhat parallels mine, in that I have also found Scripture to rest my troubled mind at night. When I've been awakened from a bad dream or my thoughts wander to problems or disturbing thoughts, I've found that reciting mentally Bible passages I've memorized, has always helped. Sometimes I go through quite a few verses and there's a blessing in that. More often I get through only a few and wake up later, realizing that I had fallen back to sleep rather quickly, a blessing that way, too.

  7. Some additional information is available at www.greatergood.berkeley.edu

    This site's front page currently has some interviews regarding the Ford Motor Company's efforts to bring "mindfulness" into their work ethic. Other articles can be found on the site by entering "mindfulness meditation" into the search bar on the site's front page.
    It is worth bearing in mind, I think, that a "harlot" makes herself attractive to a certain kind of person. In various ways the Devil is bringing many attractive devices to the world... these can be made to look and sound really good!

  8. Thank you Jennie, 23 years ago I went through a bitter separation/divorce. I came across this book The art of transcendental meditation. So I start to read and it was a disaster. because it was taking me into dark places that I should not go.Luckily i picked up the bible and my thoughts and mind was at eased and I felt as I was in the presence of Jesus.

  9. I didn't realize I was doing what I should. I usually listen to scripture songs before going to bed, and it helps me to sleep.
    I started listening when my wife died, but it was hit and miss at best.
    Thank you for this article, it strengthens my resolve to do it more.
    God bless you.

  10. Thank you Jennifer. These are the last days and error has become so hard to separate from truth. The devil will come in such a 'grey' manner to the extent that, "if it were possible, even the very elect shall be deceived" - Matthew 24:24.

  11. Hallo Jennifer! I have heard of Spiritual Formation but don't really know what it is about, except that there is much concern that some of our leaders have been to non-Adventist institutions or seminars to study about it. Is it the same as meditation?

    • Maureen, What has unfortunately been labeled as "spiritual formation" (unfortunate because we all need spiritual formation, as in spiritual growth), is eastern mysticism, or essentially spiritualism, in Christian garb. I'd say the emphasis of it is an emphasis on experiencing God's presence. There's nothing wrong with that, except that there's a corresponding de-emphasis on the truths of His Word. So once we lose our foundation of biblical truth, spirituality can take us anywhere.

      In my experience at least some of the reports of our schools teaching mysticism are false. It's more like classes require the reading of books with some content of a mystical nature, but this isn't being endorsed, and in most cases the books are being read for other reasons. There has been probably a grain of truth, but then a lot of paranoia about spiritual formation in our schools in my opinion.

      • thanks for the explanation - and I agree with you that Satan is making us paranoid about things which prove totally understandable when we take the trouble to find out more. For instance, I would show a group of young people the Disney movie "Hercules" ..... not for entertainment but for them to expose Satan's lies for themselves. We need to know the enemy to protect ourselves!

      • Hi Jennifer,

        I have really loved reading this article and it's helped me clarify a lot of misconceptions I had about meditation. I now Realise my convictions about the apparent difference is true.

        However, concerning spiritual formation, there definitely are various other concepts and classes dubbed spiritual formation. Related to studies for ministry, one might study spiritual formation as a course title but purely Biblical and theological.

        This varies from institution to institution. Some of these titles might only be names although the issue of spiritism is true in certain regards.

        Thanks for the insights and discussion on meditation and mindfulness.

  12. I was once so admiring of so many books written by a Buddhist monk. I felt like the books were so full of wisdom and good for building up good ethic. But my view changed after I finished reading the whole Bible in 2014. Bible contains lessons, examples, promises and blessings. I personally encourage each and every one to spend more times reading God's words - words of the living God who is the Creator of all. He knows best for all of us (physically, mentally, spiritually)as our Creator.

  13. PS: Do you know where could I manage my subscription? When I clic the blue link below it produces a "Sorry, could not find page" result.

  14. As an introverted academic, I have spent most of my life thinking through and solving problems, designing algorithms and developing abstract concepts. It takes some fairly intense thought processes and required concentration sustained over a long period of time.

    So I find it interesting that "mindfulness meditation" suddenly becomes a marketable entity mixed up with a lot of buzz-words to make it sound authentic. The point is that in both our spiritual and secular lives, careful thinking and focused problem solving is not only productive but therapeutic as well. I do not think that we need the sort of quasi-religious mind activity that is so often promoted as necessary for spiritual development. God has given us so many good things to think about that we should be able to occupy our minds for eternity.

    Having said all that let me share the importance of giving your mind a rest. I learned long ago that the Sabbath was a special blessing. After spending the whole week working on serious computer science problems I would often arrive at Friday evening with a problem still unsolved. But Friday evening was the time to give my tired brain a rest and to worship instead. I think that God must have a sense of humor because on several occasions a solution to my problems would pop into my head while the sermon was being preached on Sabbath. I'm not going to try and explain the phenomenon by psychobabble but I thank God that he gave us the Sabbath to rest our brains from the work of the week.

    • Maurice,

      It is a delight to see how rest and the Sabbath rest means much to you. The word Sabbath means rest and true rest is freedom from self and anxiety and I think we learn that best in relationship with the Lord and not with meditation of any kind. The weekly Sabbath gives us an opportunity to experience that rest one full day a week. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    • Maurice,

      You're so right that focusing as a whole can be therapeutic. People who have difficulty focusing are typically more anxious and depressed. But yes, the forebrain needs rest too! Great post thanks.

  15. Thank you so much for the information. It is the most helpful analysis I have seen.
    As a member of the state Bar Association I find it interesting that this topic is now ok for both the Bar Journal and continuing education classes. The Bar president a few years thought it was great and now any lawyer in the state can satisfy part of the required annual training hours with a class on this type of thing. I don't think they would give Christian lifestyle practices the same credit.
    We need to be well versed in truth and thus better aware of error

    • Eastern mysticism is amorphous throughout the educational, medical and now legal system. Spiritualism seeps in places where more defined belief systems could never go! Thank God for the Bible.

  16. Jennifer. Your discussion of mindfulness is off-base. Mindfulness meditation is simply being aware, non-judgmentally. It is noticing that you are noticing. It is not emptying the mind, as this is not possible. The more that a person practices, either formal mindfulness, such as a meditation like noticing your thoughts, feelings, sensations as they occur and then bringing attention back to your breathe, or the informal practice of bringing awareness and non-judgement to any moment, the more a person can identify with the part of themselves that observes. You can begin to have the experience of being less identified with your inner experience as if it is the truth. This can really help. People who are depressed often become so merged with these feelings and thoughts of depression that they become paralyzed. Their inner experience becomes reality and then they stop doing activities that are important. Practicing mindfulness can help create distance with this often paralyzing inner world and then can take helpful action. NOTE TO CHRISTIANS: Feel free to use the great intellect that GOD gave you and use it to free yourself from people such as Jennifer defining what is or is not Christian. Many Christians are have huge biases against so much in the world and make pronouncements and recommendations on how to live from their misunderstandings. MINDFULNESS has no religion or creed. Because is has been used be Buddhist's is not relevant, as it is larger than any religion. Mindfulness is a process that can, if well used help people be less stuck in the negative inner experience and live a better life. Christians feel free to live more, which means you can have a relationship with GOD and than decide how to live a sacred life.

    • Thanks for your comments, Bruce. I essentially agree with what you said, although felt you were a little too hard on me toward the end. It's true that mindfulness practices enable people to de-identify with their distressing emotions. As you said, "You can begin to have the experience of being less identified with your inner experience as if it is the truth." I believe this concept is conveyed in Romans 7 where Paul says, "I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh the law of sin." His true identity is a servant of God, and that part of him can simply observe the machinations of the flesh without buying into them or mistaking them as who he is.

  17. I want to leave a personal opinion here for others to read. Thanks Jennifer for your research and perspective. As an Adventist about 7 years ago I had to go looking for a practice outside of prayer to deal with severe anxiety and depression.

    I found mindfulness meditation. I was relieved to learn and experience that it did not create any conflict between my Christian beliefs, values or practices.

    Through mindfullness which was quite literally sitting still observing air coming into my nose I was able to observe and label thoughts. I was not able to “empty my mind” because this is impossible and specifically not what mindfulness meditation is about.

    I noticed a mind that was often diving into the future or looking back at the past. Thoughts that were planning, worrying and fixating on trying to be someone “special”. I even noticed that being Adventist was a label that I had associated with being “special” chosen, saved.

    As soon as I was able to observe this I then generated a little prayer throughout the rest of my day which simply said to God, dear Lord please allow me to see things just as they are not as I think they are and not as I think they should be.

    The peace, compassion and love generated by being able to see things just as they are and by being able to shrink my ego have been life changing.

    For people with trauma sometimes our brain mal adapts patterns and mindfulness can help see those unhelpful patterns. It’s like clearing a bunch of clouds which then provides focus clarity and an ability to be even closer to God and to understand his word without attaching judgements and desires to them.

    • Thank you for your input, Erika. I believe that your comment demonstrates that God watches over those who are committed to him even when they unconsciously wander into dangerous territory.

      Your experience, as you have described it seems close to Christian meditation, which focuses thoughts on God, His creation, His love and care, and His will. The Lord heard your heart cry (even though you may not have recognized it yourself), similar to David's in Ps. 139:23-24) and He revealed to you the thought patterns that led to your depression. It seems to me that, to stay on a safe path and avoid the dangers that Jennifer mentions, it would be best to consciously repeat David's prayer of Ps 139:23-24 (NLT) "
      "Search me, O God, and know my heart;
      test me and know my anxious thoughts.
      Point out anything in me that offends you,
      and lead me along the path of everlasting life."

      The dangers of detachment from reality, which mindfulness fosters, are very real, as Jennifer points out. Additionally, a German Christian research group delving into parapsychology noted that such detachment (altered state of mind) actually opens the mind to supernatural influences which oppose our Creator God.

      From experience, I would say that the benefits of mindfulness, as detailed in "Mindfulness exercises: See how mindfulness helps you live in the moment" are found by getting out in God's creation whenever we can. I have led classes of students on day hikes in the mountains, and even the most blasé were affected with a sense of wonder and appreciation. Unfortunately, too many of us live in cities, and it takes a conscious effort to spend time outdoors in nature, and the benefits are manifold and present no such dangers as "mindfulness" as commonly taught and practiced.

      I imagine that Maurice experiences these benefits as he spends time outdoors to capture birds in his magnificent photos for the rest of us to enjoy. 😊


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