How mindfulness can connect us to Christ

Eternity’s new series could change your life and faith

It is more than 25 years since I started my journey in the field of mental health, and for most of this time, I have enjoyed the challenge and hopefulness of working with 12 to 25-year-olds. I would describe myself as a curious, creative thinker who asks difficult questions. This worked in my favour as a research fellow where I could actively challenge the whys in life. I continued my questioning through a Bachelor of Theology, then came full circle to completing my clinical training as a Mental Health Social Worker.

Since then, my challenge has been integrating my training and life experience, searching to understand people and faith. It is possibly not surprising that I now find myself in a role that specifically integrates psychology and theology at Melbourne School of Theology and Eastern College Australia.

I remember one day speaking to my work colleague about contextualising faith in our clinical practice and sharing my puzzlement about what popular mindfulness is, where did it come from and why are we using it in mental health treatment? Twelve years ago, it was difficult to find the answers to these questions. I was shocked to discover that most popular mindfulness was based in Buddhist meditation, even when it was part of a psychological therapy, and I wondered why the church was silent or perhaps ignorant about this.

The frustration this triggered led me to search through the Bible and our Christian tradition for an alternative. In the process, I rediscovered contemplative practices that, when paired with psychological frameworks, could help us connect to our inner world and to God. The result was my first book, Christ Centred Mindfulness: Connection to Self and God.

The exercises are designed to help you take time out of your busy life – to stop, breathe and listen to God.

Since the book’s publication, secondary teachers who were directly challenged by the mindfulness movement have asked for resources to use in their Christian schools. This led to the publication of Christ Centred Mindfulness: Activities for Young People, and presentations to various school networks within Australia to explain the difference between popular mindfulness and a Christ-centred approach.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. People were in clear need for calming spiritual practices they could use in the face of a stressful and challenging situation. So I started writing a series of mini books, filled with practical mindful exercises designed to help people slow down, connect to what is happening inside them and listen to God’s guidance every day.

The exercises in Breathe and Still are designed to help you take time out of your busy life – to stop, breathe and listen to God. In the quietness that follows, your spirit is able to hear what God’s Spirit is saying to you. Your breath is open to perceiving God’s breath. You learn to stop and notice your emotions, and still yourself to find peace.

You can get a taste of these exercises in my new devotional series beginning soon on the Eternity website.

Katherine Thompson’s books Breathe and Still, as well as Christ Centred Mindfulness, are available from Kooroong.