The sixth component of spiritual health is mindfulness. Mindfulness has become a buzzword and there are many books in the self help section of the bookstore on the topic. Mindfulness is a fuzzy idea and it seems that every author, teacher, and practitioner has a different definition of what the term refers to and how one can apply it.
Mindfulness is often equated with meditation. Meditation is the emptying of the mind of all thoughts and going inward the practitioner strives to arrive at a place of peaceful “no-mind.” It sometimes has been called “centering.”
Perhaps the best definition when it comes to thinking of mindfulness as a component of spiritual health is to call it “the witness.” The witness is that part of ourselves that simply, nonjudgmentally, observes our cognitive, emotional, physical, social, and psychological functioning. Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living. How does one examine their life? They simply watch it and go below the surface.
Does a person love themselves? Do they love what they are? Do they know what they are, not who they are but what they are? Who they are refers to the world of the ego and what they are refers to the existential awareness of their eternal being.
To be mindful and develop this component of spiritual health, a person needs to take time to reflect and quiet their mind, what the Buddhists call the “monkey mind,” the constant chatter that seems to be incessant. As the poet suggests, take time to smell the roses. Some teachers encourage their students to be aware. Jesus encouraged His disciples to be watchful. In Christian monasticism this is called “recollection.” Take time every day or several times every day to recollect, to meditate, to go inward and simply watch one’s breath emptying the mind of all the monkeys chattering away.
People put their faith in the things of the external world to make them happy. People are acquisitive and desiring and striving for external objects and experiences when heaven is already within them if they would only turn inward and become mindful of their natural inheritance.