Tea is a lovely drink to share amongst friends. In the busy and hectic schedules of our lives, being intentional in friendship, taking the time to sip, to share, to spend time together is nourishment for my soul and personhood.
One of my closest friends is gone for a bit on a musical tour of England. A gifted musician, mom and friend, we happened upon each other in our sons’ school grounds one afternoon. A 5-minute conversation turned into two hours and our husbands and kids now know that if we mean to just “drop off” something at each other’s homes, it will likely take hours, not minutes.
Mindfulness practice can often take these detours for me as well. As I sit in quiet meditation, either at a retreat center, or in my home, I can easily get lost. What I had planned for a 5 or 10-minute mindfulness practice session can easily turn into much more. Like tea time with my good friend (who I miss) talking about what is on our hearts and minds at the moment, my thoughts wander and I share those wanderings with her too. She follows somehow and makes the connections. It’s a true gift to have a friend to bring meaning to thoughts that were once meaningless.
Though mindfulness can be a personal and individual endeavor, especially in Buddhist thought, from a Christian perspective, mindfulness practice is rooted in relationship. My mindfulness practice turns from bringing attention to inner thoughts directly to a relational God, which spurs and activates my soul and personhood.
Olendzki (2011) describes the transformative power of mindfulness, which is not just to produce a heightened awareness, but “an attention to thoughts that are confident, benevolent, balanced and fundamentally wholesome” (p.64). The process for the Buddhist individual to achieve this enhanced and positive state is in deliberate attention to breath, bringing attention to the problematic thought and then non-judgmentally observing and weighing the thought in our minds–consciously and subconsciously.
For me as a Christian, in aligning my thoughts, I need a bit more help. God’s Holy Spirit directs my attention to the things “not of this world” and helps me in the “renewing of my mind.” My meaningless thoughts become more meaningful in the process.
In this way, mindfulness practice is directed toward my relationship with God. I sip, I spend time intentionally–maybe it will take just 5 minutes, but the value of the practice can last for hours.
Reference: Olendzki, A. (2011). The construction of mindfulness. Contemporary Buddhism, 12, 56-70.