We never know what a week will bring! My new book launched yesterday, and I crossed the midnight threshold of the day in an ER, before being transferred to another ER, before being hospitalized for a rare infection that now requires a 48-hour IV antibiotic treatment. This definitely was not the plan for launch week!
I love mindfulness for times like these. It helps me roll with it. It reminds me that change is the norm - that I'm not okay because I'm in control, but I'm okay because I'm in God's hands. It keeps me slightly amused by the every-shifting landscape of day-to-day life, moment-to-moment, with all of its challenges. And it definitely helps me receive the joy in the midst of the challenge.
But what I planned to write you about yesterday (and now today) is that The Mindful Christian book is out! If you're in the Grand Rapids, MI, area, please join us for a 7pm book launch celebration tomorrow (Thursday, February 20) at Baker Book House - you can reserve your free ticket here. And if you're not in the area or have other plans, I hope you'll find a copy of the book elsewhere and then have your own personal celebration! Better yet, share it with your friends at church, Bible study, book group, or work, and practice mindfulness together :). It's available online and in bookstores.
Building on the work of this website & blog over the past several years, The Mindful Christian book will provide you with an overview of mindfulness principles, devotional-style exploration of mindful Christian faith, and many practical exercises to try out on your own. It's meant to be a tool for you on your spiritual journey, helping you to clear the path to God's presence on your walk of Christian discipleship. I hope you will find the book to be an inspirational and helpful tool!
Back to my health... looks like I'm going to be okay, and a mindful lens has allowed me to enjoy these hospital pleasures over the past couple days:
These are the kinds of little pleasures that make up happiness - I don't want to miss them, whether the week is ordinary like last week or drama-filled like this week. I want to be paying attention so I can receive all the good stuff God has for me, moment to moment.
From my unexpected hospital bed, happy launch week!!
I have a book coming out in two weeks! It's called The Mindful Christian: Cultivating a Life of Intentionality, Openness, and Faith. I worked really hard on it, and I'm excited to share it with the world. The book is meant to inspire, teach, and encourage, and it also has a bunch of my life story in it. You'll find options for mindfulness practice throughout, in case you're up for some practical application, and your heart will be invited to rest, heal, and grow.
If you pre-ordered, you may have received your copy already, otherwise it hits stores on February 18th. I thought I would share an excerpt of the book with you on my blog today as a teaser. I hope it refreshes your soul.
Excerpt from The Mindful Christian: Cultivating a Life of Intentionality, Openness, and Faith by Irene Kraegel, pp 7-8 (Fortress Press, 2020)
Mindfulness is called a “practice” for a reason, as it is more of a recurring exercise than a permanent state of mind. Even the most seasoned meditators find their minds frequently wandering, so instead of expecting to “arrive” at a mindful state, we practice “returning”—coming back, over and over, to this place and to this moment. We give up expectations of any particular result, and we give up fruitless striving, trusting that God will do God’s good work. Rather than trying to create a state of relaxation or calm through mindfulness practice, we practice being awake to whatever is in the moment. Whenever we notice that the mind has wandered off, we return to the present with gentleness and curiosity. We
come back to the place where God is working in us—right here and right now—as we reconnect with our calm center.
If you would like, you can try this in the form of a micropractice by pausing and noticing where your mind is right now. Notice any expectant thoughts for this small practice, and simply become aware of what you think “should” happen as you try this out. If possible, observe your thoughts with light, curious, gentle attention, no matter what you are feeling, and notice that you are sitting in God’s presence as you do this. This is Christian mindfulness—creating just enough observational distance to
become aware of your experience in the present moment with kind awareness, recognizing that God is with you in that moment as part of your present-moment experience.
Now, as you reflect on the micro-practice, what did you observe? Was there any way in which that light, curious attention changed your perception of passing thoughts? There is no right or wrong answer here, it is simply a moment to notice. As we progress through these pages, you will have additional opportunities to dive into mindfulness practice at various levels if you so choose.
For Christian disciples, each micro-moment is where we are learning and practicing the rhythms of grace; this is where we have access to God’s transforming presence. Whether we are enjoying the present moment or wishing it were different is irrelevant to its usefulness as a place of divine instruction. In the present moment, in the here and now, in the place where we are—this is where we are alive. And here is where we have the repeated opportunity to learn from our creator teacher. But such learning requires first that we show up, that we be present. This is the practice of mindfulness.
I am Irene Kraegel. I am licensed as a clinical psychologist and teach mindfulness on a faith-based university campus. I practice mindfulness because it opens me up to God (a.k.a. brings joy). I am writing here in hopes of sharing some of my experiences and thoughts related to the practice of mindfulness in the life of a Christian. Thanks for reading!
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