In Episode 40, I spoke with Gail Stearns about her new book, Liberating Mindfulness: From Billion-dollar Industry to Engaged Spirituality (Orbis Books, 2022). Our conversation explored Gail's journey into the contemporary mindfulness world as she earnestly sought ways it could enhance her chaplaincy and counseling work with students at Chapman University. She soon encounters the unsavory highly individualistic aspects of the mindfulness movement, along with its crass commercialization. As an ordained Presbyterian minister and a long-time interest in the Christian mystical tradition, we venture into what's missing from modern mindfulness from a spiritual perspective, along with her unique deep dive into silent Insight Meditation Vipassana retreats.
Gail J. Stearns is The Irvin C. and Edy Chapman Dean of the Wallace All Faiths Chapel and Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Peace Studies at Chapman University. She is also an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church.
Dr. Stearns is co-editor of Invest Your Humanity: Celebrating Marvin Meyer (Wipf & Stock 2015) in honor of Meyer, the renowned Gnostic Gospel Scholar. She is also the author of Writing Pauline: Wisdom From a Long Life (Hamilton Books, 2005) and Open Your Eyes: Toward Living More Deeply in the Present (Wipf & Stock, 2011). Gail also holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. from Washington State University, with emphasis in gender theory.
With a certification in Mindfulness Facilitation from UCLA and experience practicing meditation for over 30 years, she works with businesses, healthcare agencies, university students, women’s groups and more. An ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA), She is a certified teacher with the International Mindfulness Teachers Association.