What is Western Mindfulness ?
This approach to mindfulness is based on a progressive Christian theology that first emerged in medieval Europe, and was recently discovered by Australian born, Russell Sturgess. Illustrated in twenty-two picture cards that could be best described as ‘medieval portable stain-glass windows’, this theology of love was deemed to be heretical by the Catholic Church. To survive the genocide of both the people and their theology by the Church, these progressive teachings that were captured in these twenty-two picture cards were integrated into a card game called carte de triumphi.
This theology of love had been lost 'in plain sight' for over 500 years but was discovered by Russell in 2006. This long forgotten message contained an approach to life that embraced both an active (following the example of Jesus) and contemplative (being guided by the Spirit of Wisdom) methodology for living mindfully. The core framework for this approach were the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, which, resulted in this western approach to mindfulness. In this context, Western Mindfulness is remembering in each moment that you have a choice to be kinder to yourself, to others and to the planet. This is what made it possible to fulfil the core teaching of Jesus, which was to “love your neighbour as yourself.”
Introducing Russell Sturgess
From his teens, Russell demonstrated an understanding of agape (unconditional love) that defied his age. His upbringing saw him channel his passion into complementary health, as well as religion. By age 32 Russell was married with four children, serving as a lay-minister, and running a highly successful rural natural-therapies practice. However, a few years later he burnt out, which stopped his clinical work. He divorced, was on the verge of bankruptcy, had left the church of his upbringing, as well as being severely compromised in his physical health. It could be said he was physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually bankrupt!
When the student is ready, the teacher appears. The Spirit of Wisdom took control of his ‘education’ which saw Russell adopt a new approach to life inspired by Attitudinal Healing, an action-oriented version of A Course in Miracles taught primarily by Dr Gerry Jampolsky and Susan Trout. Blending his Christian-based understanding with Attitudinal Healing, Russell began to explore a more progressive approach to Christianity. Inclusiveness was central to this approach. Social justice and care of the planet, balanced with a commitment to adopting the type of love taught in the Sermon on the Mount, replaced the need for dogma and obedience.
It was in this place of enriched awareness that Russell discovered a progressive approach to Christianity that had been taught as early as the 12th century. This is what Russell reveals in his latest book, The Spiritual Roots of the Tarot. Russell went on to convert this long forgotten medieval template of spiritual wisdom into modern vernacular and developed the Enhances Awareness Program, a personal one-on-one mentoring program designed to assist people to live life more mindfully. To help people stay committed to a path of expanding awareness, compassion, and mindfulness, Russell now serves as a spiritual director using the path of the Beatitudes as a way to help people sustainably remember to be kind to themselves, to others and to the planet.
Russell's New Book
Russell’s new book, The Spiritual Roots of the Tarot, has been published by Vermont publishing house, Inner Traditions. Prior to being called tarocchi, tarot cards were called trionfi possibly inspired by the writings of Francesco Petrarch, attributed with being the founder of Renaissance humanism. Playing cards were introduced into Italy in around 1377 and were known as carte de giocare. When the additional twenty-two heretical ‘portable stain-glass windows’ were added their name changed. Their inclusion, whether by design or as suggested, being an attempt to avoid paying two lots of card tax, ended up with this medieval progressive interpretation of Christianity being lost 'in plain sight’ for centuries.
While living in Italy researching and writing his first book on this subject, Russell discovered that these twenty-two cards held ancient sacred knowledge that belied their more modern use for tarot reading. His new book, what some have called the real-life Da Vinci Code, contains the template for an approach to mindful living that would result in one being aligned with Christ consciousness. Russell proposes that this theology of love was the brainchild of the neo-Gnostic Christians called the Cathars, whose last days before being completely eliminated by the Church were primarily in and around the Milan/Florence region, the home of the first tarot cards. Russell produces plausible, circumstantial evidence that suggests the emergence of these special twenty-two cards off the back of the Cathars genocide was no coincidence.
Today, Russell uses his book as the framework for his work as a spiritual director. The template of these cards described in this book, provides a step-by-step pathway based on the Beatitudes, that are infused with symbology that is filled with progressive Christian principles. If you are seeking a progressive approach to your spiritual life, this book may be well be one that you need to read. It can be sourced from most bookshops and online book sellers and is available in The Shop on this website for Australian delivery only.
The Spirit of the Beatitudes
"...a life lived in Christ's Spirit, the spirit of the Beatitudes, is "blessed", and that only the person who becomes a "man or woman of the Beatitudes" can succeed in communicating love and peace to others."
Pope Saint John Paul II - May 20, 1990