Is mindfulness Biblical? Mindfulness is a modern concept that didn’t exist in Biblical times. However, many mindfulness practices have Biblical parallels. There is a robust discussion in religious communities as to whether these should be associated with the term “mindfulness.”
Mindfulness is a modern term that didn’t exist when the books that make up the Bible were written.
However, many of the concepts contained in mindfulness have parallels to behaviors advocated in the Bible. There is a robust discussion in religious communities as to whether these behaviors should be associated with the term “mindfulness.”
Below, we’ll review examples of mindfulness practices in the Bible, as well as different modern religious interpretations.
What does the Bible say about mindfulness?
Across many passages, the Bible consistently encourages readers to be attentive to their minds and hearts, to set aside attachment to self, and to live in the present.
Bible verses about being present
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”Matthew 6:34
“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”James 4:14
“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”Proverbs 27:1
These passages give a glimpse of the understanding in the books of the Bible that the present moment is all that matters. There is a clear pattern of encouraging readers not to dwell on the future, but to focus on this moment.
But what about the more specific practices of modern mindfulness? What examples of those exist in the Bible?
Examples of meditation in the Bible
There are many examples of meditation in the bible.
Typically, the word meditation is used in the context of “meditating upon the Lord” in some way. Here, meditation can be considered a synonym for deep prayer and religious reflection.
This isn’t a perfect analogue to the modern concept of mindfulness meditation, but there are commonalities, including time alone for reflection and self-knowledge.
A few examples:
“And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening.”Genesis 24:63
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”Psalm 1:1-2
“My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.”Psalm 49:3
Examples of gratitude in the Bible
The Bible is full of examples of gratitude and thankfulness for every aspect of life.
Prayer in the Bible often consists of giving thanks to God for everything.
A few examples:
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”Colossians 4:2
“In every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude.”Acts 24:3
“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”Ephesians 5:20
Examples of mindfulness in the Bible
The Bible also frequently covers mindfulness-related topics like stillness, calm, peace, quiet, prayer, and awareness.
A few examples:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”Mark 1:35
“Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.”Colossians 4:2
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”Philippians 4:6
Christian mindfulness perspectives
Christian sources are divergent on whether mindfulness is a term that best describes their understanding of these passages in the Bible.
Many are supportive of mindfulness, but refocus it in a Christian context. This is often called Christian mindfulness.
Here’s the difference, according to TheGoodBook.com: “Secular mindfulness is personal and horizontal: you pay attention to yourself, so as to be more present for others. Christian mindfulness introduces a vertical dimension: you are paying attention to who God is and your relationship with him through his grace to you in Jesus. This is what is utterly unique about Christian mindfulness.”
According to the Christian organization Focus on the Family, “The concept of “mindfulness” is rooted in Zen Buddhist meditation, although it would be a mistake to classify [mindfulness] as a strictly Buddhist discipline…. there’s strong support within the Judeo-Christian tradition and the pages of Scripture for the practice of meditation in general.”
Other Christian commentators like Darryl Burling argue that Christians should skip mindfulness because it’s a path towards developing a “Godless spirituality,” and that traditional religious approaches toward seeking an improved life are more appropriate.
Jewish mindfulness perspectives
According to Rabbi Dr. Benjamin Epstein, “Mindfulness can also be translated into the Jewish concept of Yishuv Hadaas. Commonly understood to mean peace of mind, tranquility, and composure, it is in fact, a key aspect of Jewish living.”
He continues, “Jews have a fundamental spiritual need to cultivate and develop unity within the present moment and conditions. Even if a person drifts only slightly away from his present reality, he ultimately suffers as severely as a person completely fixated on his past or future. They both are not where they are “supposed” to be.”
Mindfulness practices and the Bible are often aligned
Many of the practices that make up mindfulness are present in the Bible, and there are a number of direct quotes referencing meditation, gratitude, being present, and quiet reflection.
While there is some level of contemporary disagreement among religious sources as to whether these practices are appropriately called “mindfulness,” there is a significant amount of alignment between today’s mindfulness practices and many of the ancient writings present in the Bible.
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Hi there—my name is Ryan. My mindfulness practice kicked off in 2016 after I joined a ten-day silent retreat. I started Mindfulness Box because thinking about what makes humans happy, calm, and peaceful is endlessly fascinating to me.