Mindfulness and Christian Spirituality by Tim Stead
Must-read book about making space for God
Mindfulness and Christian Spirituality: Making Space for God
by Tim Stead
Reviewed by Shaun Lambert
Reading Tim Stead’s new book Mindfulness and Christian Spirituality is a bit like listening to bird song before dawn. As you listen to the overall song different voices start to emerge and a sense of peace begins to alight on you.
Tim, Vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Oxford where C.S. Lewis used to worship and an accredited mindfulness teacher. Mindfulness is something of a wardrobe into different lands more fully alive, and Tim conveys its beauty and contribution to wholeness and wellbeing.
In part one Tim begins with the well-known tune of mindfulness in its clinical and mainstream settings. The much less well-known tune of mindfulness in the Christian tradition also makes an appearance. And weaving in and out of both we hear something of Tim’s own journey into mindfulness.
In part two of the book, ‘from believing to knowing,’ he outlines how mindfulness has helped him reflect on the nature of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Some of these insights such as God as now and not just one and love might help re-orientate people’s spiritual life much more into the present moment, a key element of mindfulness and Christian spirituality.
His insight into Jesus as the embodied one might also help people turn back towards their bodies as ‘the only place we can or will ever experience and know God’. That Jesus models wakefulness for us, is also often forgotten within Christian spirituality.
The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us makes transformation real and possible. We are divided and fractured and as we develop our quality of attention through mindfulness we can move to a place of integration and wholeness that begins to reflect the reality of God as we come to know Him.
The book’s strap line beautifully sums up how mindfulness helps us in our spirituality, through it we are ‘making space for God’. In part three which Tim calls ‘from doing to being’ he outlines some key elements of Christian spirituality, such as knowing God’s presence, trusting God, knowing God’s will, finding peace, inner healing, prayer and worship, practising love, reconnecting with nature, daily living – and how mindfulness helps us cultivate our own spiritual garden and the songs within.
Some of the paragraphs in this section are among the best I have read anywhere. Mindfulness and Christian Spirituality is a book that demonstrates the plasticity of mindfulness as our God-given universal capacity for attention and awareness, as Tim develops meditative variations drawing on scripture and the contemplative tradition.
As we take up the practice let’s add our voices to the tune of mindfulness in the Christian tradition, and pray that it becomes much more widely known, so that, as Professor Mark Williams says of the book, we don’t just read it in a day, we take it to heart – so that ‘it will last a lifetime.’
Shaun Lambert is Senior Minister of Stanmore Baptist Church and currently researching a PhD project in mindfulness at the London School of Theology. He is also the author of A Book of Sparks – a Study in Christian MindFullness, and Putting on the Wakeful One - Attuning to the Spirit of Jesus through Watchfulness