Mindful Conversation 1
Last night I met with some therapists who are Christians to talk about mindfulness. I wanted to know had they come across it, where had they come across it, what did they think of it?
I learnt a lot from the dialogue, and I hope we can start many more conversations. One of the key learning points I think that came out of our discussion is the importance of clarifying definitions.
So we talked about mindfulness as a universal human capacity. What evidence do we have? I am interested in collecting examples! There is the attentiveness in nature-writing, the way poetry can lead us into mindful awareness. I came across some research recently trying to determine if tango dancing is as effective as mindfulness in reducing symptoms of psychological stress and promoting wellbeing (http://www.complementarytherapiesinmedicine.com/article/S0965-2299(12)00089-1/abstract).
We talked about the mindful awareness practices (mindfulness meditations) that help us develop mindfulness and their reality-focused nature. Christianity is an incarnational religion and so how might we scan our bodies?
We talked about the overlap and distinctives with Christian contemplative practices and their therapeutic as well as spiritual value. Our God is of course interested in our mental, physical and emotional health. Jesus came that we might live life in all its fullness.
It is also clear that intelligent and engaged study and dialogue with Buddhism and Buddhists is an important path to follow right now.
Someone asked what would be a good introductory book to read on mindfulness. I recommended ‘Mindfulness: a practical guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World’ by Mark Williams and Danny Penman (http://franticworld.com/). Professor Mark Williams is one of the leading researchers into mindfulness and co-developer of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Dr Danny Penman is an award-winning journalist and author. MBCT is recommended by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence as a treatment for depression.
It is very clearly written, well-researched and very human book, infused with a deep compassion for all who might read it. Read it and see what you make of it?
We mustn’t be the apocryphal little boy with his finger in the dyke, trying to hold back mindfulness. The dyke has long gone. What we had last night was intelligent, respectful and engaged dialogue.