Taking Captivity Captive: The Role of Mindfulness in Overcoming Mindless Compulsions

In our busy world we often perform routine tasks without giving them much thought.  We’ve performed them so often that after the rote tasks are completed we often wonder to ourselves, “I don’t remember doing that” or “I was so deep in thought about work or family that I don’t remember the drive to work this morning.”  This isn’t to say the work was done in a sloppy fashion or the drive to work was reckless.  It does tell us however that we didn’t have our focus on what we were doing at that particular time.   Most of the time there aren’t any adverse consequences in “spacing out”.  Yet, when … [Read more...]

Keeping an Even Keel in the Spiritual Life

In Ancient Christian Wisdom I employ many nautical metaphors and apply them to the spiritual life.  There are many similarities between a healthy life of the spirit and navigating a body of water. In both the spiritual life and nautical expeditions a course must be charted, adjustments must be made, and the craft must maintain an even keel—a nautical term for keeping a boat upright—so that it does not heel over on this side or that.  So too in the spiritual life, the ship of our soul must be kept at an even keel by not allowing our emotions or life circumstances to heel us over to either … [Read more...]

Distractions During Prayer and the Place of the Heart

Many sincere Christians have experienced distracting thoughts or even bad thoughts during prayer and are naturally distressed when this happens. After all, their intention is to communicate with God, not to talk to themselves about things mundane or even worse!  Some have become so discouraged by such thoughts that they give up on prayer altogether.  And yet, seeking to find the Lord Jesus even when He seems lost in an unruly crowd of our distractions and bad thoughts is very much a part of our struggle as Christians. The presence of these unwanted, yet to be honest, not totally rejected, … [Read more...]

The Spiritual Illness of Distraction

Perhaps nothing in contemporary culture is more revelatory of our perpetually distracted state than our attachment to electronic devices such as iPhones, iPods, iPads, cell phones, and laptops.  It seems as if we are not able to function without the distraction of technology.  Now, technology properly used is a wonderful thing.  However, when technology becomes an end in itself to distract us from who we are and our ultimate destiny as well as from human communication with others, it becomes a problem. And distraction is a problem, for Abba Poimen living far from our world of technology in the … [Read more...]

Peace, Be Still

And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.  And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.  And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.  And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?  And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great … [Read more...]

Thoughts and Prayer

Some people think that by attending Church at the prescribed hour, they are fulfilling their Christian duties. They may be, but that is dependent not on the external place and time, not on whether they be “in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem,” but if they worship “in Spirit and in Truth.” How is one to worship truly and spiritually? The answer is simple: to mean what we say and to say it with our heart and from our heart. Cognitively speaking, it means to keep our mind from wandering. Dr. Jeffery Schwartz from UCLA School of medicine in his book, The Mind and the Brain, writes “The only … [Read more...]