Mindfulness in the 1600s

The Practice of The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

I’m reading about mindful meditation. Brother Lawrence, a monk in the 1600s, promised he would live day and night, in good and bad times, in God. He spent many years practising the presence of God in his life. His key to this practice was that he strove to be consciously aware of God’s presence at all times, which seems the true epitome of (Christian) mindfulness.
To me it means that with everything I do, I ask myself if I’m acting in the best consciousness and ethical conscientiousness. For me this means that I need to be aware and practise self-discipline, carefulness,  and thoroughness. It is very easy to wander away from awareness and thoroughness, like with any meditation. If this happens, I bring myself back into the presence of God. It is a wonderful meditation, but not an easy one. Having said that, the more you do this, the longer the stretches of time of being in God, or being mindful, do occur.

I started to read this tiny book months ago, and I do return to it often, because Brother Lawrence’s promise still inspires. To purposefully enjoy God’s presence, or mindfulness, in your life, is like opening up to small miracles. Pouring tea becomes a meditation and so does watering the flowers on the balcony. It is still a bit hard to feel the presence of God while paying bills (and all other worldly and bureaucratic chores ), but to stay mindful, to stay open for the presence of God non-stop is what it is about. And when I succeed, I feel a happy appreciation for the smallest things in life.

Titus van Rijn by Rembrandt

Rembrandt’s master work of his son, Titus van Rijn, in a monk’s habit
Is this book only for Christians? Not at all. I recommend it to all people who are interested in the spiritual life. It is about mindfulness in the 1600s. Thich Nhat Hanh says, in one of his many books that I’ve read, that if you need the address of God, he will give it to you; it is Here and Now. Brother Lawrence would probably have said: God’s address is being in the presence of God.
Paula Kuitenbrouwer
At Etsy

11 thoughts on “Mindfulness in the 1600s

  1. Paula, your thoughtful comment has inspired me to read the book by Brother Lawrence. The Kid’s Herb Book will be of interest to my granddaughters when they come to visit me. They love to create perfumes from the flower pedals in my garden. Thank you for the book recommendations.


  2. Added to my list the next time I head into town…
    I feel both would be wonderful additions to my ever growing library…
    my grandchildren will love the Herbal one, and I no doubt will too..
    Brother Lawrence seemed to whisper , I need to read his thoughts…
    Thank you for sharing….I know I wil enjoy
    Take Care…You Matter…


    1. Maryrose, Welcome and thank you for your kind comment. If you order this small book, I recommend a version with the interviews by Joseph de Beaufort’s. They make a very interesting introduction. ISBN 978.1.60386.274.5
      Namaste, Paula


  3. Trying to live every moment mindfully is so mind-blowing, liberating, beautiful – and sometimes very very difficult. Brother Lawrence’s book is new to me, got very curious. Thanks!


  4. The nuns introduced us to Brother Lawrence when we were very young and he has remained a stalwart friend through the years. So happy to see him mentioned here and shall post to Bardo if it’s okay with you.

    I find it charming that you daughter is reading about herbs and that you practice old-fashioned Sunday’s in your home. Bravo! What a blessing ….


    1. How interesting, Jamie, that you know Brother Lawrence. I came across him as a reference in a book on Sufism.
      I doubt whether we practise old-fashioned Sunday’s, but we do try to slow down and relax. We avoid shopping because it feels so out of touch with Sunday, and we do seek nature or at least, a walk through town. In that sense we think it is a good thing to have one day being different than the rest of the (rat race) week.
      Blessing to you, dear Jamie.


      1. Among Catholics, Brother Lawrence is greatly revered for demonstrating “the practice of presence,” which is as you’ve noted – mindfulness with an orthodox Christian perspective. 🙂

        Many blessings, Paula.


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