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Book review: A to Z of Mindfulness for Christians by David Harper

by
06 October 2023

Meditation, the body, and breath are themes here, says Tim Stead

MINDFULNESS is clearly a modern phenomenon. Rooted, on the one hand, in contemporary psychology and neuroscience, with a track record in supporting people with chronic physical and mental health issues, and, on the other, in ancient spiritual wisdom, it would seem to have huge potential in enriching the experience of Christians in their spiritual practice, as well as in helping them to engage with some key contemporary issues. David Harper’s excellent book will be an enormous help for anyone who would like to explore this for themselves.

This is not a systematic or theological book, and neither does it set out to teach the reader how to develop a meditation practice. But then there are other books that address these things. It is a thoughtful and accessible book that covers the main themes that emerge from the author’s considerable engagement with mindfulness, and looks at ways in which Christians can engage with these and integrate them into their faith and practice.

With two or three pages on each theme (two themes for each letter), the book could be either dipped into or read, one section a day, as part of a prayer time. In this way, it could be used both as a support for the reader’s prayer life, but also as an aid to bringing this kind of present-moment compassionate awareness into the midst of each day.

Harper covers some basic mindfulness themes, such as meditation, body, thoughts, and breath, as well as some interesting related ideas, such as kairos, time, oneness, and freedom. If I was to quibble, I would like to have seen a P for “practice”, as a reminder that it is the regularity of practice which will really make a difference, and also an A for “attention”, as the key attribute that we can train in the service of the spiritual life. But overall, this is a really helpful and very accessible contribution to the literature on mindfulness in the Christian tradition.
 

Tim Stead is the author of Mindfulness and Christian Spirituality (SPCK, 2016), and See, Love, Be (SPCK, 2018).

 

A to Z of Mindfulness for Christians
David Harper
Circle Books £15.99
(978-1-80341-116-3)
Church Times Bookshop £14.39

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