Sometimes life is just too much. Day after day, we add more to the stack of things we run through our minds. We try routines, energy drinks, and "hustle" culture to push ourselves to keep up. When we can't, we realize that we need balance. We need time to refuel, and that requires more than sleep. Wouldn't it be great if we could just turn off the noise for a while? There are a lot of practices we try to gain "inner peace." From self-help books to "zen" methodology, there are all kinds of supposed keys to help us focus on what matters.
Our minds, bodies, and souls need peace. This is where mindfulness comes in. The secular definition of mindfulness is, "the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis." In theory, that is a healthy and productive approach to life. The problem is how we work to achieve that is often self-centered. As we seek new habits, we are taught to center on our inner selves, and that doesn't leave room for God to work in us. God is our ultimate provider of peace, wisdom, and energy. If we leave Him out of the equation, we don't truly refuel because the clarity we need does not lie in us. Instead of emptying our minds completely, we need to fill up with God's presence that can overwhelm all of our anxieties.
How should we do that?
There are many types of prayers, similar to how we have different conversations depending on the moment in our lives. Sometimes we have a long list to bring to God to seek solutions. Sometimes we simply want to give our thanks. Other times, we go to God with desperation when we know He is our only hope. "Open prayer" is prayer with no plan. It means letting go of our agendas and desires and letting God in. There is plenty of time to consider what God wants for your future; this is the time to accept what He's giving you in the moment.
Although it's definitely important to set apart intentional time to refocus, we can also practice mindfulness with God as we go about our lives. If you're having a stressful day, take a minute to clear your mind and center on God. Remind yourself that every breath you take is from your Creator, and while everything else changes, that never will.
One popular method of meditation is to repeat inspirational mantras. But if our mantras are all about us, they'll only work if we believe in ourselves. In the world's uncertainty, we need more concrete guidance than our own perspectives. God's Word is an unwavering truth that we can lean on when we don't know what to think or do. The Bible is a source we can study extensively and still keep learning new things, and it also holds timeless comfort. If words help you focus your thoughts, it can make a huge difference to memorize a passage or verse of scripture to repeat to yourself. You might think, "Why don't I just spend more time reading my Bible when I'm stressed? Won't that help me find clarity?" Well, there is value in doing both. It is important to understand God's Word and infuse it into our lives, but it's also okay to spend time just soaking in His reassurance.
Some great passages to read and memorize are:
We all make the mistake of thinking that the world throws more at us than we can control, but often the real problem is that we try to gain control and end up sending our thoughts in too many directions. If we believe we can't seek peace until we've caught up, then we will never have it. God offers us peace no matter where we are or how we're doing. Our spiritual, emotional, and physical health is more important to our Father than we can imagine. God wants us to know the value of each moment of our lives and we can learn to do that by practicing awareness in Him.
"I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." - Psalm 119:15-16
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.