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22.08.2019

Mercedes and Mindfulness | Connecting with Culture

The Mercedes F1 garage is the last place you’d expect to find a group of engineers sitting in a room chanting ‘om’, but in a recent interview Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes’ motorsport programme, revealed the organisation has recently rolled out meditation across the team of over 1,000 people.

Though initially doubtful as to how many of his engineers would take up the opportunity, Wolff was surprised to see that even those who felt meditation to be ‘nonsense’ engaged with the practice. Even amongst ‘hardcore, stubborn’ science-types, meditation ‘worked’, and so was seen to be a worthwhile use of time.

In addition, take the number of ‘mindfulness’ or ‘meditation’ apps now available on the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store to see this in action. Although many of these apps and meditative practices draw from Buddhist philosophy, it’s unlikely that the Mercedes F1 engineering staff – and the millions of others who have downloaded such apps – have become practising Buddhists. Instead, they seem to be content to go along with what they feel is helping. It would seem that people are less concerned with the underlying philosophy of meditation and more focussed on finding something that makes them feel at ease. Or, to put it another way, could it be that people today care more about the method of life than they do about its meaning?

Why is this? There are doubtless plenty of reasons. Perhaps the information overload offered by the internet means that one of the fastest ways to sift what’s ‘true’ from what isn’t is to see if it works in practice. Whatever the cause, it is clear that people are searching for moments of peace and rest within their busy schedules. Jesus knew that when he said ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’

This is a promise that Jesus makes to all, regardless of age, location, or circumstance. In a culture where the temptation can be to care more for things that ‘work’ rather than those that are true, there is a chance to speak to our overworked and under pressure colleagues and friends about the one who gives respite to the overworked and rest to the heavy-laden. And – if it’s appropriate – we can offer to pray for them… not just because prayer ‘works’, but because it is grounded in the reality of the loving God who has revealed himself in Jesus.

 

Chris Rousell
Chris is the Student Worker at St Michael le Belfrey Church, York.

Comments

  1. I am really upset by this article. It completely misses the point about mindfulness meditation (which by the way does not involve sitting cross legged and chanting “omm”.) I have have suffered from depression for most of my adult life and undertaking the practice of mindfulness meditation has been extremely helpful. It is derived from Buddhist practices but rigorous scientific research has helped us understand how and why it works to improve a person’s mental well-being. And it really does work. It is a recognised medical treatment and not a substitute for the spiritual life. I’m afraid the author comes across as flippant and naive at best. Get your facts straight before you start trying to score spiritual points about it.

    By Sarah - 23rd August 2019
  2. Prayer does indeed work. And one (often overlooked) form of Christian prayer that works is contemplative prayer. As many Christians have discovered, this is an immersive, surrender to God, form of silent prayer. It is akin to, but not the same as, meditation. Its roots lie in the 14th century ‘Cloud of Unknowing’, written by an anonymous Christian mystic. And, like Mercedes meditation, its popularity in today’s chaotic world is accelerating fast, bringing meaning and purpose through quiet times with God to thousands of Christians worldwide.

    By David Henderson - 23rd August 2019
  3. Thank you for this.
    I’m not sure it was the intention, but it gives the idea that Mindfulness has no roots in Christianity: Christian Mindfulness, or Contemplation, has roots in earliest Christianity. Did not Paul encourage his readers to “pray always“? – he cannot have been referring to purely “verbal“ prayers. This was very present in the Desert Mothers and Fathers – christians who went out into the deserts of the Middle East and formed early monastic communities, when the Christian religion became the official religion of the Roman Empire following Constantine’s Treaty of Milan in 313AD . We also see it very much in the spirituality of the Celtic tradition in Iona and other places in Scotland and Ireland , which were never part of the Roman Empire. The great mystics like Julian of Norwich also kept this tradition alive. It was largely rediscovered through Thomas Merton in the 1950s and 60s , and now many western Christians across different denominations and church traditions, including the Evangelical tradition, are discovering Contemplation as a way of being and deepening their Christian lives and discipleship. As a daily practice, many are finding, for example, Centering Prayer, to be a very helpful way of developing contemplative practice. You may be interested to look at http://www.christianmindfulness.co.uk., which has introductory materials as well as sample meditation practices. There are also now regular National Christian Mindfulness Day Conferences(with Shaun Lambert , senior pastor at Stanmore Baptist Church and others) . You may also find useful Richard Rohr’s book:“The Naked Now: Learning to See As the Mystics See.”
    Please give my good wishes to Charles Hippsley,who I believe is on your staff

    By Richard Bubbers - 23rd August 2019

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