The term mindfulness has become a buzzword lately across all levels of society. However, it is a term which has caused some controversy in the Roman Catholic Church. Since the concept of mindfulness is deeply rooted in Eastern religions and philosophies, it seems to some Catholics that it has no place in our faith. Susan Brinkmann, an author and Catholic apologist, has even written a book on the subject – a tome called A Catholic Guide To Mindfulness which warns readers that mindfulness is incompatible with the Catholic faith.
However, others have a very different understanding. They believe that mindfulness is actually a very Catholic belief, and while it has been popularized by Buddhists, it is still very relevant to those who consider themselves to be of the Roman Catholic religion.
What Is Catholic Mindfulness?
The entire premise of Catholic mindfulness is that everyone should be safe in their present moment. This is entirely compatible with the concept of a Catholic God since it’s only truly possible to feel safe when we hold onto the belief of a God who cares for us and loves us. Being aware of the moment has a central role to play in the mystical and spiritual life. In fact, many saints have produced writings on the subject.
Jesus himself spoke about mindfulness saying “do not worry about your life…look at the birds of the air…your Heavenly Father feeds them”.
Mindfulness in the Catholic sense is a way of trusting God more practically in everyday life. Rather than separating faith and everyday life, mindfulness bridges that gap, allowing us to feel peace in daily life which comes from trusting in God. Whether you’re shopping, talking to friends, in church or praying, mindfulness is a new way of understanding Catholic spirituality.
How Can We Practice Catholic Mindfulness?
In many ways, Catholic mindfulness is similar to the Eastern philosophy. However, rather than being all about the self, it is more about embracing God’s role in creating each present moment. Those who wish to practice catholic mindfulness simply need to immerse themselves in everything they are experiencing in the here and now and then to truly thank God for that experience.
One effective way to do this is to head out into nature. Head to the countryside, a beach, or even your backyard. Focus on everything you can see. The beautiful flowers, the rolling waves, the golden sand and the green grass. Focus on everything you can hear – the birds calling, the sound of children playing, families laughing around you. What can you smell? Food cooking? Flowers? The salty air of the coast? What can you taste? The freshness of the air? All of those things are thanks to God. Once you are aware of them, you are in a better place to praise him for all the good that He has given us.
Mindfulness in Daily Life
Once we’re aware of what Catholic mindfulness actually is, there’s no need to put yourself in a special situation to experience it. Instead, you can appreciate every moment in your daily life and thank God for it. Sometimes, that’s easier than others. If you’re in church, listening to the Gospel, it’s quite easy to pay close attention to everything you’re experiencing in that moment and feel the touch of God in it. However, with practise, you will feel God’s touch in every element of your life. Whether you’re sitting at your desk at work or using a mop to help clean the floor, over time, you’ll start to appreciate the hand of God no matter what you do.
Although some people fail to see the connection between the concept of mindfulness and the Roman Catholic faith, in fact those who look more deeply see that mindfulness connects at the deepest level with the traditions of Catholicism. Staying mindful doesn’t need to be all about the self – it can be all about God too. When Roman Catholics practice mindfulness, they are looking for evidence of the Lord in their everyday lives so they can center themselves, feel safe and cared for, and appreciate everything that they have been given.