*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Exercise in awareness  

by
28 October 2016

Anne Spalding reads about mindfulness in a Christian prayer-life

iStock

Mindfulness and Christian Spirituality: Making space for God

Tim Stead

SPCK £9.99

(978-0-281-07486-0)

Church Times Bookshop £9

 

 

I WISH I had read this book several weeks ago when my friends wanted to talk about mindfulness and prayer. Their conversation could have been so much better informed.

Tim Stead is both a parish priest and an accredited mindfulness teacher. Helpfully, he uses his own experience to illustrate the points that he makes. He begins by carefully explaining the history of mindfulness in the West, and where the course that he teaches fits into this picture. He also gives a few mindfulness exercises so the reader has a taste of what mindfulness is.

His definition of mindfulness is “being more fully aware of your own experience in the present moment in a non-judgemental way”. He emphasises all four strands: awareness, experience, present moment, and non-judgement.

Stead’s argument throughout is that mindfulness makes space for God. First, he sets out how mind­fulness can give us greater under­standing of what God/Jesus/ the Holy Spirit is like, not so much intellectually as in relation to our experience. For example, he ex­­plores the belief that God is one; that is, that God is diverse but not divided (so no vying for dominance within God).

He then goes on to describe how mindfulness shows us that humans are divided from ourselves, other humans, and the rest of nature. He also writes about his experience of how mindfulness can help us to develop a sense of harmonious diversity (like God’s oneness).

Similarly, Stead then describes how mindfulness can help in various aspects of Christian living, such as knowing God’s presence, finding peace, and practising love. Unsurprisingly, mindfulness was the answer to every question he raised.

To give perspective, I was pleased to discover the “prayer and worship” chapter, where he links what he has found through mind­fulness to the experience of con­templatives through the centuries, the practice of Bible devotion, the Daily Office, intercessory prayer, and, briefly, the use of icons, and the eucharist.

His explanations are clear and readable. I now feel that I under­stand the practice of mindfulness better, and what mindfulness can offer to living Christian spirituality.

 

Dr Anne Spalding is a member of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis, and lives in Suffolk.

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

14 September 2020
Festival of Pilgrimage
From Christ Church Oxford: a chance to reflect theologically on pilgrimage and come away with practical ideas for your parish.   Book tickets

29 September 2020
Festival of Preaching
A one-day online version of our popular preaching festival. With Mark Oakley, Sam Wells and Anna Carter Florence.   Book tickets

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)