Our minds can imprison us in worlds of thought. We can think about the regrets we have about the past, worries we have about the future, and engage in many useless mental conversations in our heads. With all these distractions, we miss the beauty of life as it truly is in the present moment.
When we are caught up in thought, we think without even knowing that we are thinking; we are consumed with clinging to what we have and crave for more. When we become at one with our thoughts, our minds can become like the storm in the Sea of Galilee in Luke 8:23–25. A spiritual promise in this story was that when the waves were choppy, Jesus slept, whereas his disciples panicked. With greater consciousness, Jesus calmed the seas. A message for each of us is that with greater consciousness, we can also calm the seas of our minds and lives.
Mindfulness meditation is one way to help improve the quality of our consciousness. Dedicating some time every day to get off the treadmill of compulsive and discursive thinking is a valuable spiritual practice. By watching our thoughts come and go without being caught by them, we can free ourselves by freeing our minds. This can help us experience the peace and love that Jesus Christ modeled in a personal way.
Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”(29)
With greater consciousness, we can “let go and let God,” and free ourselves from the unconscious regrets and fears that distract us from the here and now. But sometimes, professional help is also required to treat unhealthy thinking. Struggling with depression is not a sign of personal, religious, or spiritual failure. According to Lifeway Research studies, 23% of pastors acknowledged personal struggles with mental illness, and 32% of churchgoers had a close acquaintance or family member who died by suicide.
When professional help is needed, it is important to get it. When we are otherwise healthy, Christian mindfulness is an excellent way to transcend our unconscious thoughts and move from a state of always wanting things to be different than they are to one of being in the present moment—from only thinking about life to truly living it.
29. Matt. 6:25–26, NIV