Mindfulness

Know Thyself
— Aeschylus

Stress all over us

It is 8 p.m. I just got back from a long day at work. It's being a long week actually. I worked over forty hours, spent time researching for a graduate project, and tried, unsuccessfully, to squeeze time with friends and family. I am tired and pretty sure that I am not alone. In the United States and most parts of the world, most of the people that are recognized or celebrated for their accomplishments are considered as "overachievers", exceptional individuals that bring productivity to the highest level. However, most of the time these individuals are overworked, stressed, and without an outlet.

In a society where money is king and moves the world, we are encouraged to work, without much regard to the cost and detriment of our mental health and physical capacities. It is no surprise, therefore, that the American Psychological Association (APA) continues to find that work is one of the leading causes of stress in adults and that those adults who are stressed experience negative physical side effects as a result of it.    

Change

People are finding positive ways to cope with stress, however. Meditation, prayer, and exercise are among the ways that different individuals are experiencing relief from stress. When one decides to couple these different approaches with a supportive community, great results can follow. Adventism has been an advocate for this necessary change since its inception. Early Adventists started developing the message of wellness with three different categories: diet, exercise, and understanding of the word in meditation. Another way to understand the necessity for a mindful human experience is to separate them into three different categories: physical, mental, spiritual. 

Physical

Adventists have been pioneers in the physical aspect of mindfulness and well being as they have championed the idea of diet and exercise for the optimal function of one's body. The need for a balanced intake of aliment, the regular engagement in physical activity, and the emphasis on rest are all parts of the message that Adventists seek to follow. As one of the pioneers wrote, there is a lot of "practical religion in a loaf of bread." Following the ideas and principles of early Adventists, we still try to adhere to a code of health that fortifies the body, decreases stress, and changes the outcome of life for the better.

Adventists, moreover, seek to follow the Bible and its dietary laws. The importance of the Edenic command, the restrictions of the book of Leviticus as to certain kinds of meat, and the emphasis on preparation of a meal that honors God are all factors to consider.  Thus for Adventists, the plant-based diet makes the most sense to adhere wherever possible. Moreover, diet is not only tied to the idea of eating well, but also to the need to contribute towards bringing peace to oneself and to others.

Mental

Yet, the physical arena is not where Adventist mindfulness stops. The focus on the wellness for the human person goes to the areas of mental break. The knowledge of the intricate processes of the mind, the development of a well-balanced understanding of our personhood, and the need for rest are all parts of the many different ways that Adventists seek to generate change in the emotional, relational, and personal ambits of life. 

In the Biblical text, Paul, the author of the book of Romans, explains the importance of education and the renewal of one's mind by not giving into the passions and conformities of other individuals, but looking to seek knowledge and truth of the good things in life. He, furthermore, admonishes his readers to think on those matters that are "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable" (Philippians 4:8). The Holy Scriptures, especially in the book of Proverbs, promote the value of guarding one's mind and seeking to gain education for the carrying out of virtuous actions and thoughts in this world.

Adventists adhere to this ideal and hope to practice the commands to a higher sphere of thinking. 

Lastly, the command for a day of complete rest from the book of Exodus permits the mind to take a break from the stressors of life. It allows a 24 hour period, in which people can stop feeling their malady from work and refocus on what is important: life, family, and well-being.

Spiritual: The Wholistic Picture

The Spiritual Connection for Adventists is, then, a wholistic one. The education of the mind, the ingestion of balanced and appropriate whole foods, the practice of resting periodically, and the need for regular exercise are all interconnections that could help individuals to live well and engage with the God who created them. A proper understanding of the Scriptures and time for meditation can only be enhanced when stressors are released and given into the void of life. 

Adventists seek to develop a picture that allows them to engage with the world without the stress and worry that affects so many of us. At last, for Adventists to know themselves and achieve the state of mindfulness is not to only follow the Delphic way of intellectuality, but the beautiful cohesive and complete picture of the individual that is knowledgeable of his body and mind.