The Saddest Trend of 2015

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My friend, Greg, sent me an article from a UK News Source, The Telegraph, titled, The Saddest trend of 2015. The article is about the growing popularity of the technology of “mindfulness.” The practice of mindfulness, rooted in Buddhist meditative practice and now a phone app, was so popular in 2014 that it was, in the writers words, “pretty hard to get through the year without noticing it.”

If you haven’t heard about “mindfulness,” take it as a reminder that you don’t have to travel into space to explore other worlds. The writer lives in a different world than you.

Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present, and leaving behind the cares and worries of the past and the future. And it’s popping up in schools, business offices, and, as in the featured photo to this article (Photo: Neilson Barnard), even on the street. There’s even a documentary about it.

(As a side note, It figures that I would write a book on “leading from the future” in a year that was all about the present.)

The article takes a nice twist, as it cites data from the Mental Health Foundation that estimates that one in four people will experience a mental health problem every 12 months, when it asks:

“Why are so many of us living lives we feel unable to cope with? How is it that we are so unhappy with our lots that we will willingly sit cringing in a room with our colleagues while remembering to breathe?”

The writer concludes that an app that helps guide us in mindfulness may not be enough. The problem is “our lives and how we lead them.” Rather than a practice to cope with a life that depresses us, how about a change of life? If that were the end result of mindfulness, the world could change.

Jesus seemed to point in the same direction. He also told his followers to focus on today: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6.34)

And just before this, he told them: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6.33) In other words, be intentional about what your life is all about.

So, in bullets:

  • Make sure you’re intentional that your life is about what matters (macro)
  • Focus on today (micro)

As I’ve mentioned before and expand upon in Makers of Fire, there are (at least) three undercurrents in 21st century life that indicate we’re trying to be more intentional about what our lives are all about. They are trajectories that move us from

• outsiders to insiders
• above to within
• against to with

In a thumbnail, we are trying to design a world that has room enough for everyone to benefit. (<— Click to tweet) And, when I say “everyone,” I don’t just mean everyone who is alive today but future generations too.

We want a world …
…that is more integrated, not a world of “us” vs “them, but “us” with “them”.
…that bursts open with life because it is our garden. We live within it not above it.
…of collaboration in which we tap into the genius of our species to solve problems and create solutions that work for everyone. Perhaps we might even evolve from a world of “‘us’ with ‘them’” to world where it is just us.

Then maybe we would not need to remember to breathe. We would not need to turn to an app to help us find peace and happiness. We could just open our eyes and look around and enjoy the beauty of the world and of our relationships. That would be a happy trend.


One response to “The Saddest Trend of 2015”

  1. glborchert Avatar

    It’s interesting to me that so many people I meet in my Colorado outdoor activities these days are actively engaged in “Mindfulness”. It’s also interesting that, as you said, some of the key principles of Mindfulness equate to teachings if Jesus.
    Last weekend I went hiking and camping with a group of Denver area people in New Mexico. One woman carpooled with me so we had eight hours of windshield time each way to talk. She practiced Mindfulness and was happy to 1) talk openly about her spirituality and 2) repeatedly say that she was not Christian, in fact twice saying in effect that what she believed and practiced was the opposite of Christianity.
    I did over the course of the weekend testify as to my own faith, but decided for the most part to listen and understand. In addition to my new Mindfulness friend another participant was a Muslim woman from Iran who was studying at CSU, which made for interesting fireside conversation.
    I learned, among other things, that the anti-Christian Mindfulness woman didn’t like Christianity because she saw it as all about a vertical spirituality, believing that it lacked horizontal integration, i.e. lacked meaningful and honest relationship with others, with our planet, and also authenticity with oneself.
    I did point out that the imagery inherent in the Biblical Garden of Eden was one of perfect integration, and that God’s intentions were always that we would live in harmony with God, with others, with creation, and with ourselves.
    There are of course many Christian threads in Mindfulness, yet those who embrace and practice Mindfulness are often vocally anti-Christian.
    The question then becomes why this is so? One reasons, going back to what Erwin McManus wrote more than a decade ago, people are rejecting God and Christ because of the church. I would, though, take that even a step further and say that people are rejecting God and Christ because what they come to know about Christianity in our culture is false teaching. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has a major public relations problem. The root of the problem is that false theology, false Christian teaching has portrayed Christianity as something it is not.
    The hope, of course, is that some engaged in Mindfulness will meet Jesus in the process. Our own testimony – who we are and the way we live our lives – takes on added significance. The public image of Christ may be lacking, but it is our own interactions with others, our own living testimony, that is the only real hope to fill the gap.

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