Mindfulness for Preschoolers versus Christian Meditation
DIFFERENCES IN MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION
What is it? Is mindfulness important in the lives of Christian children and adults today? How can mindfulness support or conflict with meditation described in God’s word?
MEDITATION’S THREE PURPOSES
Three specific differences exist when contrasting mindfulness and Christian meditation. From God’s written word, the Bible, we see the purpose of meditation is wisdom, delight, and contemplation.
WISDOM The psalmist says we delight in God’s law by spending time in meditation day and night (Psalm 1:2-3). Meditation then, makes us wise against our enemies who are always with us (Psalm 119:97-99).
DELIGHT Pleasing the Lord is a secondary purpose of meditation (Psalm 19:14). Spending time with God in meditation is like spending time with a close companion, a pleasing and relational experience.
CONTEMPLATION A third purpose for meditation mentioned in the Psalms is to reflect on all God has done (Psalm 143:5), or a contemplation of the world from a godly perspective.
In God’s word we learn that some people set their minds on earthly things while others set their minds on spiritual things. God’s laws are part of the spiritual things planted in our minds and that prepare us for actions. Jesus modeled the importance of getting away to a quiet place with our heavenly Father. He spent time in communion with his father and listened for God’s purposes and plans for his life (Rom 12:2). Being likeminded to a supernatural Christ allows His input into our thinking leading to a result of knowing His purposes for our lives. We subordinate our human spirit to the Spirit of God for transformation into the likeness of Christ. As humans we have capacity for contemplating the meaning of His likeness. We continually strive toward a renewal of our devotion to God’s will and instruction for us. We live by the Word which comes from the mouth of God according to Jesus (Matthew 4:4, Luke 9:36). As a listener, we experience meditation opening us to fully hearing God’s words for our lives.
MINDFULNESS A CONTRAST TO MEDITATION
Mindfulness exercises are void of three distinct spiritual purposes of Christian meditation. To meditate for mindfulness means to breathe and clear the brain from all thought while focused on present sensations. Solitude defies contemplation leaving an inactive mind. Wisdom is not gained from emptiness. Instead emptiness produces only self-reflections out of context with surrounding evidences and life contexts. It is void of objective truth. While calming benefits may result from rest and relaxation, especially for overly activate children, solitude and emptiness will not effectively result in purposeful action. A disciplined mind trained for righteousness will result in intentional and godly actions. Mindfulness is about the self and lacks social relationship, especially a relational experience of thought and prayer with Lord Almighty. Human beings are created to be relational rather than self-focused. As mindfulness focuses a person on internal states of being, Christian meditation focuses on externals and others. Rest in its meditative practices produces thought and energy for future actions. Looking only internally into one’s own sensations may produce a skewed lens of purpose and truth.
MINDS AND ACTION
Our mind was designed to prepare us for action, especially from a perspective of other-centeredness. Action is a response to thought. Right actions require a moral and thoughtful grounding. Sometimes right actions require an understanding of purpose. Contemplation of personal worth and purpose prepares children for right action and focuses them on intentional activity. An action may be as simple as setting God’s laws into the mind through rehearsal and contemplation, thus Christian meditation finds truth and supports disciplined activity. Capacity for renewing one’s life purpose is found in heartfelt meditation from God’s truth rather than in an empty void as in mindfulness.
CHRISTIAN PRESCHOOL AND MINDFULNESS
Preschools where mindfulness exercises become the preschool classroom norm, children may actually be harmed since they are slowing down their adrenal induced interests and actions. A preschooler’s “work” is to find, engage, and explore, just like the work of an infant is to consider an implement muscle movement toward an action goal. A preschooler’s “rest” is sleep. While mindfulness may meet an adult’s need to pull away from overloaded and taxing activities, children do not have those cluttered minds. Children need to process their world, engage, explore, and construct it. Sleep is the rest from this activity which is why they require so much more sleep in the early years. Dreams work out their subsequent challenges and difficulties. Children benefit from meditation when they use it to focus on worshipping their creator, a spiritual exercise. Christian schools therefore, are especially designed to help them prepare their minds for worship, their ultimate purpose and existence. Christian meditation prepares children for their daily life focus, and their supernatural existence in afterlife.