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.

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2 responses to “Mindful Conversation 1”

  1. Amanda Stewart says :

    Mindfulness at work. Is it another way of trying to squeeze even more work out of each of us, or trying to reach another level of perfectionism or simply a way to
    engage your mind fully at the task you are doing.

    How easy is it to obtain a mindful state and then remain there?

    Is it easier to be mindful when you are engaged in a pleasent job or is it more essential to be mindful when turmoil and confusion rule?

    I am participating in dialectical behaviour therapy which has as one of its core skills, mindfulness. Created by Marsha Linehan this course has seen many success stories for people with severe mental health problems.

    The course is a year and every day you are encouraged to practise the skills and fill in skill diary cards. I like the way mindfulness is broken down into smaller segments on our cards ie: Be in wise mind, Observe (Notice with awareness), Describe (Put words on your experience), Non-judgmental stance, One-Mindfully (focus your mind and do one thing at a time), Effectiveness (focus on and do what works).

    For me each of these skills are essential to help me become mindful in my life but what does mindfulness mean to others?

    BTW wise mind is a coming together of your rational and emotional mind to create a balanced view hence wise mind.

    • shaunlambert says :

      Mindfulness at work is an important area. I don’t know if you have read Michael Chaskalson’s book ‘The Mindful Workplace’, (http://www.michaelchaskalson.com/index.php)?
      I found it a great place to start. I find DBT very interesting as a therapy. In the reading I’ve done I’ve heard it distinguished as mindfulness-incorporating, rather than mindfulness-based. I’ve heard the topography of DBT described in part as derived from Christian contemplative practices and Zen practice. I think another important point is the development of shorter less formal mindfulness exercises, rather than the extended meditation practices in other therapies. This seems to point to the reality that there are many ways to reach a state of mindfulness, including mindul awareness practices perhaps not yet developed.

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