A few personal thoughts about my most recent books ...
A Spiritual Field Guide
'A walk with Brian and Howard helps you see and hear more clearly, feel with a warmer heart and be a part of nature rather than just an observer.' Clare Balding
'As this timely book explains, we need to let nature into our lives and to feel its healing properties.' Alan Titchmarsh
'A remarkable book, transporting the reader on a journey through a year in nature. I am lucky enough to know all the places visited in this book, most of them very well. Brian and Howard's musings bring these places, and our seasons, not so much to life, as to meaning.' Matthew Oates, Nature Notebook writer for The Times, author and broadcaster
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Soulful Nature: A Spiritual Field Guide is the fruit of twelve wonderful walks I took with a dear friend, the botanist Howard Green. (Together, we've led the Spring Saunters at Mottisfont for the last nine years, during which hundreds of people have paused with us, to reconnect with nature, themselves, the season, and God.)
Howard brings a depth of knowledge about the flora and fauna of the UK which is not just factual but wise. Together, we've continued a conversation about how to engage meaningfully with Creation, for such a time as this. We went on 12 walks, across 12 months, to notice the turning of the seasons, to explore new places and hidden spaces, to activate our senses more keenly, to deepen our relationship with the natural world and, in the process, to experience more of our own soulful nature, too.
It was the loveliest process - walking ancient pathways, taking inspiration from poets and natural history writers, following in the footesteps of some wonderful people. sipping coffee from a flask with a dear friend and finding stillness, adventure, and even healing. I'll never forget spending half an hour in the company of a 1,000-year-old yew tree, and feeling utterly humbled...
So I hope you'll join us for the journey. I learned so much, and I think you might make a connection or two yourself!
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Deepening the Mindful Life
"What a wonderful book. Brian Draper has no equals in linking the inner with the political and personal outer." Oliver James, psychologist
"Reading Brian Draper’s new book Soulfulness is like coming home, but realizing home is even more spacious than you had imagined... The writing flows with mastery in terms of deepening this one life we have... Take it and read…take it and read!" Shaun Lambert, Baptist Times
"This book is amazing. I bought a copy for myself, then I bought my husband his own copy too, because he kept pinching mine. We have both found it an invaluable life tool to help cope with the stresses and strains of living in this busy and complicated world – I certainly keep going back and dipping in to it to refresh my memory, and each time I gain something different from it. Brian writes about mindfulness from a Christian perspective, but the book will appeal to people of all faiths and none and does not seek to evangelise. Believe it or not, I've bought five further copies to give/lend to friends – it's that good!" pillarbox cottage, reviewed on Amazon 25.10.16
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Many people are starting to use simple mindfulness techniques to help them cope with an ever-busier culture. Perhaps you're one of them. Positively, mindfulness opens up some common-sense elements of spirituality - such as pausing for breath, being present, meditating - to those who may struggle with formal religion, or are suspicious of “New Age” spirituality. And it works - it will help you to de-stress, to come back up for air, to stay poised under pressure.
But if all we do is use mindfulness as a tool for keeping burnout at bay, for survival, we miss the point. And this is where I’ve found that a contemplative Christian perspective can enrich, equip and deepen what starts as a mindful life.
For once we’ve learned to “be still” (as the psalmist puts it), we make space for the soul, once more, to speak. Our challenge, then, is not to become super-spiritual, or esoteric, but to bring flesh-and-blood expression to our unique and God-given inner aliveness.
We’ve grown far too used to the same old, soulless 'grind' in today's Western culture. But what difference could it make to us, and the world around us, if we started to live with soul instead? There is, of course, only one way to find out... And I hope and pray that this book will help to inspire you, practically, to have a go; to live more fully as the person you were created to be.
I’ve tried, as always, to write in a way that's accessible and inspiring to anyone, regardless of background or faith. And I was delighted recently when the psychologist Oliver James described Soulfulness as a “wonderful book”.
But please don’t just take his word for it... Order your copy today!