SO, tomorrow is Christmas, the day chosen to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I want to remind you of this, because most people don’t think about it during the days up to, and including, Christmas Day. Christmas has come to mean, for most of us, a time to get together with loved ones and give gifts to each other. Essentially it’s a celebration of family, and that is a great thing.

I’m not Christian, nor a believer in God. I know that me stating this may automatically irk some Christians who feel that I therefore have no right to tread as it were on their turf, territory that they hold more precious than anything else in life.

But I’m not here to argue for any theological or logical position. This may in turn annoy some atheists who want to read another article that decimates claims for the existence of a divinity. Sorry to disappoint.

I am here to praise Jesus as a teacher, someone whose words can continue to inspire. Mindfulness wasn’t part of his vocabulary, nor was it among the methods he recommended to us if we were to seek redemption. But I believe by being mindful we can learn how to live by two of his greatest areas of teachings.

“Judge not …” Well, that’s straight to the point. And again: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Even more forcefully: “Cast out the beam of your own eye, then you’ll be better able to take out the speck in your brother’s eye.”

For me, that’s an instruction to become self-aware, to notice each and every thought and reaction that is produced by your mind. From there we can see how judgemental and critical we are of others. With this mindfulness, we let drop those judgemental views. If we do this we don’t hurt others unnecessarily, and in the next moment we may act to skilfully help someone.

It also instructs us to focus only on our own internal flaws, not those of others. Most of the time we do the exact opposite. We notice everything wrong with others while being unable to spot our own faults and unpleasant states of mind. Don’t call this hypocrisy, as that itself is just another judgement. It’s simply the way the automatic mind works, but with mindfulness we can change how we react.

A second clutch of teachings from Jesus that I think especially relevant to Christmas concerns our relationship with material wealth.

“Give away all you have and follow me.” Now, there’s a challenge, especially on Boxing Day when all your pressies are stacked up somewhere before you’ve had the time to put them all away.

Later, Jesus really stuck the boot in on this subject, metaphorically speaking of course. The following is one of the most stunning phrases in world history: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle that for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

I wonder if they teach that phrase at entrepreneurship lectures, or if Scottish Enterprise has a view on this. If we take it literally, and Jesus meant it literally, then the God-believing rich are gambling 80 or so years of material enjoyment against an eternity of suffering.

As a non-believer I prefer to interpret Jesus’s messages on wealth from a mindfulness perspective.

Our minds are shaped by our every experience. If we focus primarily on gaining wealth, and on luxuries, our minds are inevitably starved in other areas that are not being attended to. What tends to suffer is the quality of our relationships. For most of us this means family.

A stark point can be suggested. We give lots of gifts to those we love as a glitzy but flimsy compensation for not giving them what they really want: our time and our attention.

Mindfulness nurtures clear thinking and insights into what actually matters. I think Jesus’s teaching in these two areas can help us to stop judging others, to notice and let go of our own ugly thoughts, and to bring our attention repeatedly to where it is most wanted, to those we love.

Have a lovely Christmas.