In Spiritual Care

Mindfulness, Spirituality, and
the Multitude of Health Benefits

By, Rev. Howard C. Earle, Jr., D.Min., Chaplain & Director of Spiritual Care
and Shelby Peterson, Wellness Manager

Seeking to understand and build connection with a higher power

With time, humanity has evolved, as it should. We live and pass through the world at a level of sophistication that would have been unimaginable 100 years ago. In fact, we live with realities that were unfathomable just a decade ago. While we can credit the advancement and sophistication we’ve experienced to the ingenuity and resiliency of humanity, we still are and will always be finite creatures. There will always be elements of life that we experience for which we will not have rational explanations.

This space of uncertainty, the inexplainable, is filled with a myriad of thoughts and constructs. Arguably the most classic of these constructs are expressions of faith and spirituality. Spirituality simply states that there is something greater to being human than what we experience through our senses. Therefore, we endeavor to make connection with this “higher power.” This connection is facilitated through activities ranging from structured religious rites to personal, individualized quests.

A history of “mindfulness”

According to some estimates, there are over 4,000 religions, faith groups, and denominations practiced around the world. Researchers and scholars have categorized the world religions into five major groups, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The common thread through all the diversity in these groups is the quest to connect with the cosmic or divine power of which we are a part. Standing in between us, the created and the divine, is all the activity we call life and the metaphors to describe it are infinite. Within the hustle and bustle of life, an appreciation for the discipline of mindfulness is cultivated. Mindfulness, simply put, is the practice of awareness and being fully present in the moment without judgement.

There has been debate about the acceptance of mindfulness as a practice appropriate for Christians due to its traditional association with Buddhism. While we won’t find the term mindfulness in the Biblical text, we certainly see its activity. Mark records in his gospel of a time when Jesus withdraws from everyone very early in the morning while it was still dark to go to a solitary place to pray (Mark 1:35-39). Was Jesus going to engage in mindfulness? Not necessarily, but he was consciously eliminating noise and distraction from His life to connect with God.

The far-reaching health benefits of practicing mindfulness

Though mindfulness may have Buddhist roots, the practice in and of itself is non-religious. Over the last decade mindfulness has gained popularity in psychotherapy as studies have shown its positive impact on mental and physical health.

According to the NIH News and Health, studies show mindfulness has been known to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Practicing mindfulness can increase self-esteem, your ability to relax, and show an increased passion for life. This will create a happier and a more well-balanced life. In an article written by Jessica Timmons and Emma Caplan, they share that mindfulness can also improve quality of life, cognitive ability, slow brain aging, create a sense of well-being, and in some cases help with pain management.

Life can be all-consuming at times, making people feel anxious and overwhelmed. It can sometimes be hard to enjoy each moment as it passes. But implementing acts of being mindful can have a copious number of benefits.

Different ways to practice mindfulness and build into your routine

Getting into a routine and practicing healthy lifestyle habits like mindful activities can do wonders for mental and physical health. The act of practicing mindfulness can be done through something like meditation or day-to-day tasks such as cooking, cleaning, driving, physical activity and many other simple everyday activities. It can be so important to remember to take a minute and breathe when in a stressed or anxious state.

Any narratives of worship and prayer are expressions of mindfulness. While prayer is understood to be spiritual activity, the case is now made that it is also an exercise in mindfulness. As we work to be aware and fully present, what better place is there to be than one with our Holy Father who is transcendent, ever-present, and loving.

Beacon Hill at Eastgate has many great ways you can start! Come join us for Chapel and Mindful Moments with Chaplain Howard or try Stretch, Seated Stretch, or Yoga with Shelby.

Discover Your Best Life at Beacon Hill at Eastgate


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