Mindfulness at the Gathering

by | Feb 17, 2020 | News and reports

Yesterday evening at the ‘Gathering’ at the Light House, we heard from Rona Mackenzie, who is part of the Highland Mindfulness Group, (https://drummindfulness.wordpress.com/) which is affiliated to the NHS. Rona described the ‘mindfulness’ courses which she helps to lead – helping people still their bodies and minds, be wholly present in the ‘now’, acknowledging the presence of the thoughts which rush through their heads and the sounds of traffic and weather and yet not focussing on these, but finding an inner quiet.

As people, week by week, attend mindfulness sessions and in between practice seeking stillness at home, so they are able to sit in a nourishing silence for increasing periods of time. Rona told us that among those who are helped by the practice of mindfulness are folk travelling with anxiety and depression, some of whom find the anxiety lessening, the depression lifting. Mindfulness reminds us that we can neither undo the past, nor pre-determine the future: what we have, the only thing we have is ‘now’, this precious passing moment.

Rona told us that, because of the association of mindfulness with Eastern religious traditions, she wondered at first whether the practice was compatible with her faith as a Christian. She concluded that mindfulness and Christian belief are wholly compatible – both promote wholeness, awareness, peace, joy in the present moment. More recently she has been running Christian mindfulness courses, using scriptural passages and Christian writings rather than the Buddhist texts which are often associated with the practice.

And Rona led us in a guided ten-minute meditation, the start and end of it marked by the sound of a gong. We settled in the chair, stilled our bodies, relaxed our muscles. We noted the thoughts floating past on the river of our conscious, nodding in acknowledgment of them, but letting them go. We noted the storm buffeting the Light House window. Acknowledged it, let it go. We focussed on our breathing, slow and deep. We inhaled the things which were burdening us, and then emphatically exhaled them from our souls. And so we sought the ‘now’, the stillness in which God meets us.

Shona had read the passage about Martha and Mary providing Jesus with hospitality (Luke 10:38-42). Martha modelled busyness and attention to detail; Mary the still mindfulness of enjoying the presence of Jesus. Both are necessary, Rona insisted. The busyness and the stillness. But we must not let the busyness so crowd our schedule and our consciousness that we forget to be still.