Thought for the Week: Mental Health

Monday marked the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week and I think it comes at an opportune time. Even though lockdown restrictions are easing, many of us are still struggling with feelings of loneliness, anxiety, hopelessness – perhaps even despair. It is therefore really important to take steps to strengthen our mental and spiritual health.

A connection between spirituality and mental health has long been recognised in Eastern ideologies (such as Buddhism) but here in the west there was for a very long time a split between religion and science. However the evidence that ‘religion’ is good for ‘mental wellbeing’ is now incontrovertible, and spirituality is seen as being very helpful, for our mental health.

Mindfulness is often spoken about as something we need for mental health, sometimes viewed with suspicion in Christian circles given its Buddhist roots. But mindfulness can simply be seen as our God given capacity for awareness and attention. It seems to me that there are two dimensions to mindfulness; mindfulness for health and mindfulness of God. Both should engage Christians; after all we talk about worshipping God in body, mind and spirit.

We should practise Awareness of the present moment - my own emotions, the state of being of those around me, the possibilities inherent in what is happening right now. Also, Mindfulness of God: freeing us to see with his eyes. Something the early Christian contemplatives such as Julian of Norwich were very aware of along with the benefits for all aspects of their being.

All Christians are called to be mindful - mindful of our relationship with Christ, and the presence of his Spirit. Mindful of ourselves and mindful of others.

Make sure in these coming weeks to take time for ourselves and to take time for God.

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