“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).

Before I started my alcoholfree journey, I knew very little about mindfulness. Once I discovered the benefits of this valuable tool, I could apply it to all aspects of my life.

When I was running or numbing my emotions, I was anything but mindful. The drinking fueled anxiety and worrisome thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. When I started using mindfulness tools, I realized that not all feelings are facts and thoughts are just thoughts. I realized I had given so much power to the stories I believed about myself, which weren’t always true. The judgmental shame and blame cycle was challenging to step away from. I am so grateful God showed me a way out. I had a blessing in an injury. My daily mindfulness practice flourished after I was in an accident, and I couldn’t run and exercise as I once had. I used this to exercise my faith and grow my mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness Defined
Mindfulness practice is a powerful vehicle for spiritual health and transformation in the life of a Christian.
Mindfulness is the nonjudgmental awareness of experience as it unfolds, moment by moment. Through mindfulness, we exercise the “muscle” of our attention to focus intentionally on the only moment we can controlright now. While mindful awareness can be practiced on an informal basis throughout each day, periods of meditation are the primary vehicle for cultivating focused attention on the moment. Mindful awareness can dwell on various presentmoment experiences, such as breath, physical sensations, thoughts, emotions, sounds, and visual stimuli. I found mindfulness was a tremendous tool for taking a break from alcohol. Mindfulness is an ancient practice that is a component of all major world religions, including Christianity. In the United States, it is typically taught from a secular perspective. The goal of mindfulness is to cultivate compassion towards ourselves and others and to accept the reality of each moment’s experience with curiosity and openness.

Why Practice Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has benefits that are emotional, physical, spiritual, and cognitive. A recent surge of interest in mindfulness meditation within the medical and psychological communities has led to widespread research on the effects of the practice. Results of this research suggest that consistent mindfulness meditation leads to neurological changes that decrease stress, ruminative thinking, and anxiety while increasing spiritual values, empathy, and selfcompassion. Mindfulness practitioners often describe feeling happier because of their practiceless anxious, more comfortable in their skin, more content in life, and more connected to others.

They also describe better concentration, improved performance within various contexts, and increased impulse control. Mindfulness practice increases a healthy immune response to illness, decreases the impact of chronic pain, and improves heart health. Due to the many benefits of mindfulness, mindfulness training is commonly offered in medical centers, schools, psychological treatment settings, police and firefighters, and athletic training centers worldwide.

Is meditation Christian?
I needed clarification on this. I was under the assumption that meditation was to empty your mind and prayerful meditation was to fill your mind. Christians over the centuries have explored practices that encourage a quiet, listening stance before God, often referred to as “meditation” or “contemplation.” Jesus engaged in regular solitary contemplation during his ministry, and contemplative practices subsequently flourished among early Christian monks (the Desert Fathers and Mothers, 300400AD). Meditation has continued to thrive within several Christian traditions over the centuries, including Benedictine and Trappist monasticism, the Eastern Orthodox church, and Quakerism.

Meditation is practiced within all cultures and faiths today, with various techniques and goals. “Christian meditation” implies that the practitioner is practicing meditation within the context of their Christian beliefs. Some sample goals of a meditating Christian might be increasing attentiveness to God’s presence, creating space to hear God’s voice speaking, moving prayer beyond words into a more intimate relationship with God, learning to “pray without ceasing,” taking the focus of attention off the self, increasing impulses of love and compassion toward others, nurturing simplicity, increasing emotional health, and receiving God’s healing. Christians who meditate often speak of the practice as a component in maturing and deepening their Christian faith. It opens the heart to intimacy with God and cultivates Christian maturity within a fastpaced and busy world.

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature trees, flowers, grass grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence… the more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from withinwords which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.
Mother Theresa, Something Beautiful for God, p. 48

What about mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness is embracing God’s promise of abundant lifeliving fully by being present in each moment God has richly blessed us. Being present in each moment as it is rather than insisting that it be something different. We are accepting our experience in each moment as a gift from God. Through mindfulness, we stop pushing away our experiences and open ourselves to what God has for us through each moment. We learn to fully live the life God has given us rather than resisting it in hopes that something “better” will come along.

There are many ways of resisting our experience. For example, we can live abundantly when we pay attention to our life and lean into our experiences with awareness, curiosity, and acceptance. When we are simply with ourselves, we find that we are okay exactly as we are.

But what about when our experience now is painful? Wouldn’t we want to distract ourselves from reality when reality hurts? This is a universal human tendency, yet avoiding our pain increases our pain. We need to feel it to heal it. It is resistance to our experience that multiplies the pain of life into the suffering that feels intolerable. God has made us far more resilient than we often realize. When we give ourselves messages like “I can’t stand this” or “this is too much,” we are adding negative judgments onto ourselves and our experiences that increase our pain and interfere with our innate resilience.

Mindfulness exists as a concept within all major world religions, including Christianity. The Bible consistently tells us to exercise disciplined attentiveness to our minds and hearts, to set aside our attachment to ourselves, and to live in the awareness of God’s momenttomoment provision. This can be summarized by the “fruit of the Spirit,” consisting of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and selfcontrol (Gal. 5:2223). The scripture clearly shows that this fruit is developed through an abiding relationship with God (John 15:18). And how do we live in a relationship with God? Being present and attentive, spending time with Him, having confidence, faith, and trust, and experiencing a whole life together.

I have made it a practice to spend time with God through daily devotions and journaling, and I consider prayer a time of talking to God and thinking about scripture. Mindfulness provides another route, one more consistent with how healthy relationships work the course of being with God in each moment, paying attention to our experience in a way that allows for an awareness of all God provides at that moment. In this sense, mindfulness is the practice of praying without ceasing being with God during each moment of our day. Mindfulness is a method of watching over our hearts and minds so that unhealthy thoughts do not fool us, maintain a clear perspective, and receive each moment’s gifts. It is a method of opening ourselves authentically to God’s healing presence.

While mindfulness meditation is an inherently valuable tool for increasing positive mood, attentiveness, and physical health, Christians can use this tool to develop spiritual maturity and strength. Mindfulness meditation is a resource for strengthening our relationship with Christ in each moment.

“When I am liberated by silence, When I am no longer involved in the measurement of life, but in the living of it, I can discover a form of prayer in which There is effectively no distraction.
My whole life becomes a prayer. My absolute silence is full of prayer. The world of silence in which I am immersed Contributes to my prayer.”
Thomas Merton, Life and Holiness
Suzanne Nissen
Welcome, I'm Suzanne Nissen

Find peace with your past, purpose in your present and passion for your future. Clean your slate of unhealthy emotions, behaviors and thoughts and make room for Gods healing light to shine.


Search the Blog