Last night I conducted a live webinar for the American Association of Christian Counselors on the topic of treating Borderline Personality Disorders (BPD). The gold standard of treatment for BPD is a therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It is an effective therapy that teaches a core skill of mindfulness among a host of other skills.
However, the type of mindfulness being trained in most practice centers and academic institutions is incompatible with Christian theology.
When mindfulness is referenced in mental health and medical literature, it is usually based on some form of Buddhist philosophy or religion. And while there are many forms of Buddhism, there are basic tenets common to all. Buddhists believe that the visible world is constructed by the present moment. As one attends to the moment in focused concentration, the mind is calmed by closing off sensory outlets and becoming more alert. It is then that the inner life opens, a person is transformed and wisdom comes. The goal of Buddhism is Nirvana, the perfect state of mind, a radical reordering of consciousness and new awareness that is an absolute truth to be realized. It is in this consciousness where suffering ceases and rebirth occurs. The path involves virtue, mental development and wisdom.
While the definition of mindfulness in psychotherapy is not anti-Christian and usually refers to self-regulation and present moment orientation, the practice of Buddhist based mindfulness is problematic for Christians. In Buddhism, one empties the mind which means one is detached from all thoughts. Thoughts are not to be judged. Yet the New Testament refers to the mind as evil (2 Cor 3:14; 2 Cor 4:4; 2Tim 3:8; Rom 1:28) in need of renewal. Our thoughts are important and will be judged as Jesus noted in Matthew 5:28. And the Apostle Paul reminds us that nothing good lives in us (Romans 7:18). In other words, our unenlightened minds are not capable of enlightenment on their own. And while mindfulness practice may relieve stress, it does bring wholeness to the person because it does not bring life to the spirit. True rest comes from the person of Christ (Matt 11:28) and cannot be imitated through self-effort.
For Christians, mindfulness is an active process between God and man. God is mindful of us (Psalm 8:4; Hebrews 2:6) and we are to put on the mind of Christ. To do so, we meditate on who God is and listen to Him in prayer. Daily, we renew our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.(Roms 12:2), love God with all our mind (Matt 22:37) and implant God’s laws into our minds (Heb 8:10). Meditation is a way to connect with God, to cling to God, to listen for His voice and to align our thinking to His. This creates greater intimacy not detachment.
‘Cease striving and know that I am God.” is our biblical instruction. And the prescription for peace is provided in Phil 4:4-9 and needs to be taught—pray, give thanks, let our requests be known to God and meditate on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. The result of this spiritual practice is God’s peace (v. 9).
 Encountering Buddhism: western psychology and Buddhist teachings Seth Robert Segal editor, pp. 9-31 (2003) State University of New York Press
 Peter Harvey, Consciousness mysticism in the discourses of the Buddha. in Karel Werner, The Yogi and the Mystic; Studies in Indian and Comparative Mysticism.” Routledge, 1995, page 82;