There are many variations of mindfulness practiced today, the differing forms can be categorized into two general areas of focus. The first and original form of mindfulness practice is where it is practiced within a particular tradition with focus on the religious or spiritual dimension e.g. Christian or Buddhist traditions.
The second more recent form of mindfulness practice is the secular form where it is practiced with the focus exclusively on the medical health benefits that are available from mindfulness e.g. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Mindfulness in this secular form has been medically proven by scientists to help improve physical health in a number of ways e.g. helping relieve stress, combating depression and anxiety.
Within the Christian tradition, mindful meditations can be practiced for example as a breathing exercise to help bring the mind and body to a state of stillness. Mindful prayer is possible by combining a mindfulness exercise with Contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition. It is in this context that we focus on mindfulness practice on this website.
There is a link here to a christian mindfulness meditation with a focus on breathing (mindfulness). Mindfulness meditations are excellent to bring stillness to the body and mind and they are recommended but optional in a Christian context.
Contemplative Prayer (Lectio Divina)
The words “Lectio Divina” mean divine reading in Latin. It’s an ancient practice that teaches us how to read, meditate on and live the Word of God.
“Prayer is about relationship, the person’s relationship with God. All relationships require contact and communication if they are to be living. There are times for silence but all relationships require verbal communication and active listening. Lectio Divina is one of many but perhaps the most privileged way of such verbal communication with God. It is for this reason that St Benedict asks that monks devote so much time to it.”
Fr Luke MacNamara OSB of Glenstal Abbey – (A talk on Lectio Divina)
Christian tradition holds that there are different stages of contemplative prayer. These stages are described below. Digital media can be used to listen to God’s word (lectio), it can also assist in teaching and practicing silent meditation (meditatio). With (oratio) the praying can be done by silently reciting or by listening to the Lord’s Prayer.
(lectio) is reading or listening to God’s word. This can be done by listening to a podcast of the daily reading on the www.pray-as-you-go.org website. Pray as you go is a daily prayer session, designed to go with you wherever you go, to help you pray whenever you find time. A new prayer session is produced every day of the working week and one session for the weekend. It is not a ‘Thought for the Day’, a sermon or a bible-study, but rather a framework for your own prayer.
(meditatio) or Christian meditation is an ancient practice. Sitting in silence for 20 minutes is the most common duration of meditation. There are a number of methods you can use to meditate. If you are new to meditation, try each method and be guided by the Holy Spirit on which method works best for you. When you choose a method, try to stick to it.
oratio or praying in silence. This can be done by silently reciting or listening to the Lord’s Prayer.
contemplatio or contemplation is where we abandon ourselves to holy thoughts. This is when we leave behind our own thoughts and get ready to listen to God’s voice, who speaks within us.
Click below to hear Bernard McGinn describe the historical teachings on Lectio Divina