Where Christianity and mindfulness meet
Posted by Simon Parke, 10 November 2017, 5.58am
Our journey in this short piece will be along the path of letting go.
Letting go is a simple but difficult process.
It is allowing things to be as they are in our consciousness…and then releasing them.
(And the word ‘allowing’ in that sentence is important.)
Letting go is the opposite of clinging – whether to a physical object, an idea, a person or an outcome.
It’s not abdicating responsibility or saying nothing matters.
It’s simply noticing an attachment which exerts some manner of control over us and our emotions…and letting go of it.
This is health.
If we cling to an attachment, there is pain.
The attachment might relate to the past, taking the form of regret: ‘If only my life had turned out differently!’
Others are attached to the idea of some future state of happiness, always restless, striving endlessly towards something.
We can become resentful, stressed or made vindictive by unwanted outcomes which we can neither accept nor let go of.
Though real change is in letting go.
When we let go, we become space for change rather than anxiety for change.
These are different states and shape the world around us differently.
This is a process echoed in life. Before we can breathe in, we must first breathe out.
Space and hope die when we cling, replaced by depression, anxiety or shame.
We let go to live…and to let live.
This is simple but difficult.
There is an agony to letting go, a scream of abandonment, a ripping of our identity.
It is the agony of the cross re-lived in us.
This is holy ground.
But the agony of letting go, whether in small ways or large, brings us to the doorway of emptiness, a vulnerable space through which life may enter.
And here is the visceral connection between mindfulness and Christianity.
Mindfulness gives us a language and a process for letting go; or, as it’s called in the Christian tradition, kenosis or self-emptying.
At the heart of Christian experience is the self-emptying of Christ, who did not cling to equality with God; but who, in the agony of letting go, created new space in the world.
All truth is God’s truth, however labelled; so it should not surprise us that beneath the argumentative surface, these ancient traditions greet each other in recognition.
They greet us too, with the offer of compassionate, stripped-down, simple, hopeful space within us.
So much to let go for.