Former Franciscan Friar and current director of the CatholicPsych Institute, Dr. Gregory Bottaro has spent years exploring the practice of mindfulness both professionally and personally—and says that Christian mindfulness, or quieting the mind and resting with Lord in the present moment, is key in growing closer to Him. "Mindfulness simple calms our noisy thoughts so we can hear God's still small voice more clearly," he explains. "Though some worry this quiet can make us vulnerable to the enemy, in Christian mindfulness, the goal is to be in the here and now with our loving God—and evil wants nothing to do with that!" Here, Dr. Bottaro shares two tips for meeting God in the moment and growing ever closer to Him:
Step 1: Start with a simple prayer
To begin, Dr. Bottaro recommends picking a consistent time twice a day to take a "sacramental pause," starting with a simple prayer like: Ever-present God, here with me now, help me to be here with You. "A sacrament is an encounter with God, so the phrase 'ever-present God' helps remind you that you can step out of your thoughts and encounter God at any moment," says Dr. Bottaro. "'Here with me now' calls to mind His personal and loving presence in your life. And when you ask God to help you to be in that moment with Him, you are reminding yourself that our Father wants to help you, and you can always ask for His help and trust that He will answer you as His beloved child."
Step 2: Breathe in God's love
Once you have asked God to help you focus on being with Him in this moment, Dr. Bottaro suggests acknowledging any thoughts, emotions and sensations as they arise (without trying to change them) while focusing on your breath. "Feeling your lungs expand as you inhale and contract as you exhale helps anchor you in the present moment," he says. As you breathe in, you may imagine being filled with God's love; and as you breathe out, you may imagine sending love to God. "If your mind wanders, simply escort your attention back to your breath," he says. "This will help you control your focus, direct your attention away from your own thoughts and help you feel God's loving presence."
To find out more about the practice of Christian mindfulness, pick up a copy of our July issue, available now at Walmart, Barnes and Noble, and in select grocery stores, as well as for immediate download on Nook. Also, be sure to pick up Dr. Bottaro's new book, The Mindful Catholic, on sale now!