Christian Mindfulness Resource: Abide App

The Abide app was the first recommendation I received from a friend when she discovered my interest in both Christian mindfulness and the use of apps for insomnia. I now share her enthusiasm.

Abide, which costs about $40 a year for the premium version, has a wide array of Christian meditations, teachings and stories for all times of the day. It’s reportedly the #1 Christian mediation app.

The team creating Abide is Carpenters Code, a small group of former Google employees who decided to use their abilities to serve God. Their mission is to allow the world to experience the peace of Christ through Biblical meditation.

The daily guided meditations, found on the Home screen, come in lengths of 2, 5, 10 and 15 minutes, to suit our schedules.

The home or “Today” page also offer links to meditations for sleep, anxiety and emotions. A journal is on the page as well. Under the Sleep menu, Bible stories, meditations, psalms, material for children and other non-fiction meditations are available.

The Topics menus offers a variety of materials for dealing with emotions, growing spiritually, seeking guidance, healing, praying in the morning, offering thanks and more. The guides are short courses on topics including marriage, grief, money, parenting and more.

I’ve just gotten started with Abide, but so far, I highly recommend it.

Resource: Christian Mindfulness YouTube Channel

The Christian Mindfulness YouTube Channel is an active source for meditations and prayers. Updated regularly, Richard HH Johnston started the channel in 2009. Johnston speaks with a Scottish accent and operates the channel and its website, Christian Mindfulness, from the United Kingdom.

He is currently doing a Gospel Diamonds series in which he “looks at the beauty of the gospel from different angles.” The series, like much of the other material on the site, is deliberately simple in production value.

Johnston writes on the website that he created the materials based on more than 20 years of mindfulness, meditation and contemplative practice. He also provides online courses, certificates, workshops and retreats on Christian Mindfulness, contemplation and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

He noted that his materials integrate biblical theory, contemplative practices and the latest scientific studies in mindfulness, meditation and CBT.

Resource: Calming Christian

YouTube has a number of channels dedicated to Christian mindfulness. Calming Christian, from Dr. Dre Campbell, is aimed at providing God-centered tools to calm us down and help with symptoms of depression, anxiety and other challenges.

Dr. Dre has been uploading videos of guided prayer to the channel since 2016. His latest is a video specifically aimed at COVID-19 anxiety. It’s linked below.

Resource: The Big Book of Christian Mysticism

I bought “The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality” at the Abbey at Gethsemani bookstore during a silent retreat. Honestly, I was worried that it would bore me. The book is, as promised, big and the type is small. I was so wrong.

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read about Christian spirituality. The author, Carl McColman, provides the history, philosophy and practical aspects of the contemplative Christian tradition. The appendices has lists of other books to read and Christians to learn about.

This is very supportive guidebook to growing a practice in this glorious and fulfilling type of Christianity, whether you call it contemplative, mystical mindful Christianity. I highly recommend it, and I expect to read it regularly, much more than once.

Resource: “Sacred Rhythms”

One of the essential books for Christian mindfulness is Ruth Haley Barton‘s “Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation.” I’ve recently finished reading it for the third time as part of Lenten practice.

Ruth Haley Barton

Barton, who is a spiritual director and founder/CEO of the Transforming Center, walks chapter by chapter through the spiritual disciplines that help one lead an intentional life in the presence of Jesus.

She writes about solitude, Scripture, prayer, honoring the body, self-examination, discernment and Sabbath. Each chapter ends with ideas for how to move the content into your own life. Finally she instructs readers how to prepare a rule for life so we can live closer to God in any life season.

Barton also co-hosts an excellent podcast, “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership.” The current season is covering Lent. She’s a wonder! I hope you look her up.

Resource: “The Mindful Kind”

“You are making yourself miserable, and you are the only one who can stop it.”

Rachael Kable, “The Mindful Kind”

Rachael Kable, author of “The Mindful Kind” and host of “The Mindful Kind” podcast, may be young, but she is wise.

The host of the No. 1 mindfulness podcast, she has written an excellent guidebook for anyone interested in mindfulness. You’ll refer to it again and again. I’m planning to keep a copy on my Kindle app on the my phone.

For example, she suggests a new habit: Use the feeling of stress as a signal to do a mindfulness exercise.

Rachael is an Australian who sounds and looks fairly young. Sometimes her examples from her own life reflect a limited … so far … life experience. But she does have many wonderful options for introducing awareness and intention in many aspects of life, both in the book and the podcast. At the book’s conclusion, she suggests doing one new activity in the book a week to eventually build a great repertoire of responses to keep it on task.

Rachael never discusses religion. Her ideas are suitable for any Christian to try. Subscribe to the podcast and buy the book. You’ll be glad you did.

Resource: “The Art of Communicating”

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk who has done essential work in spreading the practice of mindfulness worldwide, has written dozens of books. “The Art of Communicating” is one of his best.

Although his work clearly comes from a Buddhist perspective, he has much to teach us all. One of my favorite chapters covers the four elements of right speech:

  1. Tell the truth. Don’t lie or turn the truth upside down.
  2. Don’t exaggerate.
  3. Be consistent. That means no double-talk: speaking about something in one way to one person and in another to someone else for selfish or manipulative reasons.
  4. Use peaceful language. Don’t use insulting or violent words, cruel speech, verbal abuse or condemnation.

The book is short, but so useful. I particularly like the Six Mantras of Loving Speech, which each person is free to adapt as the situation calls for it.

Resource: Learning from Henri Nouwen and Vincent van Gogh

Carol A. Berry’s book, “Learning from Henri Nouwen and Vincent van Gogh: A Portrait of the Compassionate Life,” stems from Berry taking classes with the Dutch theologian Nouwen at Yale Divinity School. Nouwen focused on the spiritual life of the van Gogh in his course on compassion, and Berry has continued that study since 1979.

I thought I knew a lot about Van Gogh, but I had no idea that he was a minister and missionary before he was an artist. He immersed himself with the poorest of the poor to the point that many, including his parents, thought he was becoming insane.

And indeed that may have been true. The one issue I have with this book is its tendency to gloss over van Gogh’s mental illness. As an advocate for people with mental illness, I find this inappropriate. People with mental illness are some of the most compassionate people that I have ever met.

Nonetheless, people who love Nouwen’s work and people who love van Gogh’s work both should read this book for the insights it provides. Another big aha for me from the art side of the equation: Impressionism in Europe really developed from Japan opening itself to the world in the mid-1800s so Europeans saw its artwork for the first time.

It’s a quick read, well illustrated with pictures of van Gogh’s work as he became an artist after his experiences as a missionary to the poor.

Resource: “In Praise of the Useless Life”

What would it be like to have Thomas Merton as your boss? Can anyone really find freedom and happiness in a monastery today?

In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk’s Memoir” answers both questions. Its author, Brother Paul Quenon, O.C.S.O., has spent about 50 years living as a Trappist monk at the Abbey of Gethemani in Kentucky. I’ve taken a retreat there and fell in love with the place.

Thomas Merton was Quenon’s novice master, and Quenon knew him well. This book contains Quenon’s memories of the beloved monk, as well as insight into both men’s daily lives at the abbey.

The book won two 2019 Catholic Press Association Awards: Memoir (first place) and Cover Design (second place).

Offering Your Gold, Myrrh and Frankincense

Today, as much of the church celebrates Epiphany, it is wonderful day to consider what gifts we want to offer to God in the coming year.

I did a meditation in the book “A Quiet Place Apart: Guided Meditations for Advent, Christmas, New Year and Epiphany” by Jane E. Ayer. Here are Ms. Ayer’s books on Amazon. Most seem out of print and quite expensive.

However, I do find her work just wonderful to do in a group or by yourself. Her meditation for New Year is a very effective way to go before the Lord to consider this year’s goals. Since it’s so hard to find, I’ll summarize it so you can try it yourself.

She places the meditation in the context of Joseph and Mary going to present the baby Jesus at the Temple. You do a Lectio Divina in the words of Luke:2:21-40. As you savor these words, you visualize yourself standing with Joseph, Mary and Jesus as the baby is redeemed and then visited by Simeon and Anna. Then you find yourself before the altar in Jerusalem offering your gifts. This requires a period of quiet prayer, listening to God and your innermost self.

Ms. Ayer asks you to give God the gift of yourself, your authentic self. She asks you to think about how you want to focus your efforts in 2020 in these life areas:

  • Spirituality and prayer
  • Health
  • Family, friends, community and church
  • Education
  • Work or career
  • Recreation and relaxation
  • Stress reduction
  • Relationships: the unhealthy, new ones, past ones
  • Habit, character flaws and attitudes
  • Services

IF you haven’t thought about the coming year and what you would like to change, this is an excellent spiritual exercise.