Making Space for God.
Paperback: WJK Books, 2017.
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Reviewed by Leslie Starasta
Recently the topic of mindfulness is heralded on magazine covers, news sources, social media and may even be present in your local school classrooms. All of this talk about mindfulness may leave a Christian wondering what is this and is this something that I can practice as a Christian? Tim Stead, Vicar of Holy Trinity in Headington Quarry, Oxford and a mindfulness instructor with the Oxford Mindfulness Center, answers these questions and others in his 2017 book Mindfulness and Christian Spirituality: Making Space for God.
Stead begins by exploring what mindfulness is including how it mindfulness is used on therapy and became popular. He then moves to how mindfulness and Christianity interact before sharing his own journey with this practice. These brief chapters provide an overview of these topics but not an exhaustive presentation. For example when discussing mindfulness and Christianity, Stead mentions contemplative prayer as a form of mindfulness and a few spiritual greats who practice mindfulness providing enough information for the reader to explore the topic further if needed. Stead also frequently mentions several important works in the field of mindfulness, most notably Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World which he subsequently refers to as “the Frantic World book.”
Having set the stage by establishing that mindfulness and Christianity are compatible, Stead now turns to how mindfulness has impacted his faith. He begins by devoting a chapter to each person of the Trinity and what mindfulness has taught him about their work. Moving to the third part of the book, Stead focuses on “being rather than doing” as he explores a variety of common themes such as “Finding Peace” and “Prayer and Worship.” Stead writes from the viewpoint of both a pastor by including numerous scripture references and a practitioner of mindfulness by sharing from his own experiences. As such, he writes in the first person voice sharing from the heart about his experiences. The chapters in parts 2 and 3 read like extended devotions and could certainly be used as such.
Throughout the book, Stead encourages readers to being practicing mindfulness by including various practices. These practices are printed on a shaded box and are designed to be completed at that time in order to add an experiential practice to reading. The shaded box also serves to help readers easily locate the practices for further perusal. The inclusion of the mindfulness practices helps to move this book from solely a book about mindfulness and more towards a book of mindfulness practices.
Mindfulness and Christian Spirituality: Making Space for God is a wonderful introductory source for Christians who want to learn more about the practice of mindfulness and how it fits into Christian spirituality. This introduction would be a marvelous tool to read and practice in a group setting. A brief bibliography is included to learn further about the topic.