How to be a mindful Christian
In a no-nonsense but loving way, the author helps us cultivate a natural and spiritual mindfulness, with the attitudes that Jesus would want us to cultivate
How To Be A Mindful Christian: 40 simple spiritual practices
By Sally Welch
Canterbury Press Norwich
Reviewed by Shaun Lambert
Mindfulness books by Christian authors are popping up like unexpected summer days this year! One I’ve particularly enjoyed is How To Be A Mindful Christian: 40 simple spiritual practices
by Sally Welch.
Sally Welch is a parish priest, Area Dean in the Diocese of Oxford and former adviser in spirituality. I have used her book as my morning devotional for 40 days, as a way of tuning into God. The book could be used as a Lent study companion or for any 40 day period, and the layout is designed for ‘40 days of mindfulness.’
If you want to place the book somewhere, I would categorise it as wisdom literature. It offers a way of cultivating our attentiveness. It could also be used as a way of practising lectio divina, slow meditative reading of scripture. Each chapter begins with a passage from the Bible, followed by a reflection and a simple but profound spiritual practice. The passages are discerningly chosen, and the author has a beautiful grasp of how passages can be used to begin to cleanse our perceptive abilities.
Within the 40 days of readings the chapters are broken up into sections on the senses, beginning quite brilliantly with silence, and then sound, smell, sight, touch and taste. The book ends with readings for Holy Week, followed by reflections for a mindful pilgrimage.
To be mindful from a Christian perspective is to cultivate relational, ethical and embodied awareness – and to stretch that awareness to God, others and the creation around us, as well as our own self. Sally enables this in her writing in a clear, loving but also no nonsense way. This is not cotton wool writing.
I particularly liked the creativity in the spiritual exercises, and the way she naturally brings in God to these. One of the exercises I am finding very helpful is recording in words or pictures a happy moment each day. Our brains have a negativity bias, and we often don’t notice the happy moments or the good around us. This exercise helps cultivate intentional gratitude.
The author helps us cultivate a natural and spiritual mindfulness, helping us attend to the reality around us, with the attitudes that Jesus would want us to cultivate. If you want to begin living out your values, then this book is a good place to start.
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