Mindfulness: a brief guide to some books from a Christian perspective

All who find refuge in you will be glad.

Psalm 5:12

At the end of the last summer holiday I led a mindfulness day for school leaders and Governors at Hope University. Over twenty people attended and all asked that we repeat the day and extend its availability. Further encouragement from one of my fellow priests in the diocese of Liverpool (Chris Daniel McKeigue) has led me to design a five session programme of Mindfulness Training which we are calling Refuge (a deeply biblical word that is repeated frequently in the psalter). I have set up an outline website with further information including a programme outline. I would welcome invitations to deliver this for parishes, clergy chapters or other groups to gather feedback and further improve the material.

The first series of after school events will run in June/July this year and we hope to offer the series once each term next year in different parts of the diocese. The series is designed for adults, the first three are suitable for anyone, the last two sessions will have a more specifically Christian focus – but of course anyone is welcome.

How Mindfulness relates to the mission of the church is a question that is occupying me at the moment and I am working on a post about that. In the meantime a question that sometimes arises is how Mindfulness practice fits into both Christian tradition and theology more generally. There is an emerging and excellent literature around this. These are the books that I think are well worth reading:

Putting on the Wakeful One

Shaun Lambert

Shaun is a Baptist minister in north London and has been studying, practising and teaching mindfulness for many years. My fuller review may be found here. It is a useful book for group study. What is particularly striking is Shaun’s engagement with the Philokalic tradition of Eastern Christianity, in particular the neptic tradition of wakefulness. Also see Shaun’s website for further teaching including Podcasts here.

Being Christian, Being Mindful

Joanna Calcutta, Roger Bretherton and Jennifer Brickman

This book emerges from meetings of the British Association of Christians in Pyschology, although not mentioned on the cover the influence of Shaun Lambert is in evidence throughout. It is a very useful text book on Christians and Mindfulness as well as providing numerous references. The survey of biblical material is especially helpful and thorough. A book of essential theory and theology.

How To Be A Mindful Christian

Sally Welch

This is a very practical how to book of mindfulness. A good book for recommending to people who want to know how to do it. Sally has an easy reading style and a sensible approach.

Mindfulness and Christian Spirituality

Tim Stead

I really like this book. Again it is quite a practical book but with more examples, anecdotes and theory. It is wonderfully God-centred. A review may be found on Ian Paul’s blog here and another on the Modern Church website here.

Living With the Mind of Christ

Steffan Gillow Reynolds

Another excellent read from the stable of the World Community for Christian Meditation. WCCM derives from the teaching of John Main OSB, particularly as passed on by Laurence Freeman who wrote the preface to this book. This is a very theological read which provides ample evidence for the practice of mindfulness in Christian spirituality across the centuries. One to ponder and reflect on.

Open Mind, Open Heart

Thomas Keating OCSO

Although a few years old now this is a really excellent book. Published before ‘mindfulness’ took off or the word came into general use it is nonetheless an invaluable guide. Keating uses the term ‘centering prayer’ for the techniques he teaches.

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