Fully Awake and Truly Alive: Spiritual Practices to Nurture Your Soul

( 1 )


Fulfill the reality that the glory of God is the human fully alive.

"Reverend Vennard is fearlessly awake to the wild dance of life. Rather than sleeping through life, she awakens to it. Rather than escaping from reality, she embraces it. Rather than distracting herself with a life to come, she dares to live the life that is. And she wants you to do all this as well. Read this book. Live this book. Wake up."
—from the Foreword

In a culture enthralled with technology, striving ...

See more details below
BN.com price
(Save 11%)$16.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (13) from $6.46   
  • New (6) from $10.51   
  • Used (7) from $6.46   
Fully Awake and Truly Alive: Spiritual Practices to Nurture Your Soul

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
BN.com price
(Save 38%)$16.99 List Price


Fulfill the reality that the glory of God is the human fully alive.

"Reverend Vennard is fearlessly awake to the wild dance of life. Rather than sleeping through life, she awakens to it. Rather than escaping from reality, she embraces it. Rather than distracting herself with a life to come, she dares to live the life that is. And she wants you to do all this as well. Read this book. Live this book. Wake up."
—from the Foreword

In a culture enthralled with technology, striving and speed, people of many faith traditions and no faith tradition long to slow down, pay attention and wake up to the present moment. They want help in realizing their hope that they can become more truly alive.

This engaging and highly readable book offers you guidance for the journey. Sharing stories from her personal life as a spiritual seeker and from her professional career as a retreat leader, spiritual director and teacher, Reverend Jane Vennard illustrates the joys and frustrations of spiritual practice, offers insights from various religious traditions, and provides step-by-step exercises and meditations to practice:

Caring for the body • Rest • Silence Solitude • Letting go • Community • Hospitality • Service • Living gratefully

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Offers bountiful gifts and delightful surprises.... I loved it—and will recommend it widely, because this is a book for everyone."
Brian D. McLaren, author/speaker/activist; author, Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words

"Rich with transformational potential.... Actively engaging with this book's contents could alter positively the quality of your life."
Thomas Ryan, CSP, director, Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations; author, Soul Fire: Accessing Your Creativity and The Sacred Art of Fasting

"Jane Vennard scores a bull's eye with this masterful and down-to-earth resource on spiritual practices that bring zest to everyday life. A rich blend of action and insight."
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, co-directors, SpiritualityandPractice.com

"With remarkable clarity of language and depth of insight, Jane Vennard invites us and startles us into being alive and awake.... A fine book for spiritual directors to know and to recommend."
Mary C. Earle, Episcopal priest; author, Celtic Christian Spirituality: Essential Texts Annotated and Explained and Marvelously Made: Gratefulness and the Body

“Refreshing, broad-ranging exercises for body and soul.... A treasure trove of stories, practices and resources, this book is a gift to people both within and outside of traditional faith communities.”—Marjorie J. Thompson, author, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life

“Elegant guidance, generous invitations to practice and potent questions. How useful for the newly awakened to soul and the spiritual director who wants to stay awake to body, mind, heart and spirit! [This book] will be dancing off my shelf into the ready hands of those I serve and love.”
Cynthia Winton-Henry, co-founder of InterPlay; author, Dance—The Sacred Art: The Joy of Movement as a Spiritual Practice

“I'd fallen asleep and didn't know it, and this book called to me in the nick of time. With quiet wisdom, moving stories and inviting practices, Vennard awakens us to new life.”
Margaret D. McGee, author, Sacred Attention: A Spiritual Practice for Finding God in the Moment

“Ilumines a broad spectrum of spiritual practices, making them available and accessible to all who seek to enrich their lives. [Invites us] on a journey inward toward the home that awaits us within and on a journey outward in meaningful connection to those around us.”
Victor Kazanjian, dean of Intercultural Education & Religious and Spiritual Life, Wellesley College

“We wake up through Jane Vennard’s words to recognize the innate spiritual nature of living immediately and directly into our experience of our bodies, into silence and solitude, into community, hospitality and service.... Our response is gratitude for Jane Vennard’s masterful teaching.”
Dwight H. Judy, PhD, professor emeritus of spiritual formation, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; author, A Quiet Pentecost: Inviting the Spirit into Congregational Life

The Denver Post - Colleen O'Connor

Jane Vennard: Spiritual practices, such as prayer, bring renewal of soul

Jane Vennard knows that spiritual renewal doesn't come easy.

"Spring doesn't come without fall and winter," she said. "Loss must come before renewal, suffering before transformation, and dying before resurrection."

Vennard, an adjunct professor at Iliff School of Theology, delves into renewal in her new book, Fully Awake and Truly Alive, which explores how spiritual practices from different faith traditions can yield peace, gratitude, humility and compassion.

The path of those practices, however, winds through thickets of doubt, pain and fear.

"The Buddha would say, 'You can't be free of struggle until you go through it,' " said Vennard, a minister in the United Church of Christ. "But I think people don't want to do that."

Many are pushed into renewal by life circumstances: lost job, illness, forced retirement, addiction or depression.

"Your life falls apart," Vennard said. "For me, it was my divorce."

She was an elementary school teacher in her early '30s who'd drifted away from church in college, and didn't want to go back.

Instead, she began to explore the wide world of spirituality: Zen meditation, depth psychology, drumming, dancing and dream work.

That led to a yearning to explore Christianity, and then, in 1981, she enrolled at the Graduate Theological Union. She graduated from San Francisco Theological Seminary.

By 1987, as the quest for spirituality began heating up in mainstream America, she was teaching prayer at Iliff School of Theology. Over 25 years, her understanding of prayer has evolved—a change that mirrors the rise of the "nones," people who have abandoned organized religion to seek spirituality elsewhere.

She learned a lot from seminary students.

"They said they were interested in prayer, but weren't praying. Other students were questioning their image of God," she said. "Their images of God were changing, so the whole concept of prayer had to change."

In her new book, she describes spiritual practice and prayer as the same thing—anything that nurtures the soul and refreshes the spirit, from walking the dog to gardening, running or cooking.

"It's about the intention we set," she said. "If I say I'm taking the dog out with the intention of opening myself to the world, or being in communion with God, or to quiet my spirit and enrich my soul, then it becomes prayer."

She's met atheists and secular humanists who don't believe in God but have spiritual practices, and she knows Christians who are questioning their tradition, so she carefully crafted the language in her book to include "believers, non-believers, and those whose beliefs are in flux."

Like many, she also questions the traditional teachings. She focuses instead on the teachings of Jesus.

"So many beliefs of Christianity I don't believe," she said. "I don't believe in miracle stories. I don't believe in the physical resurrection. I don't believe in the virgin birth. People say, 'How can you be a Christian if you don't believe those things?' I think the core of being a Christian is being fully alive."

She got that idea on a trip to Australia, where she was co-leader of an ecumenical retreat that drew on the wisdom of Saint Irenaeus, a Catholic bishop who wrote in the second century: "The glory of God is the human person truly alive."

Her spiritual practices include silence, solitude, and a daily walk through her Congress Park neighborhood, greeting neighbors and marveling at the colors and shapes of nature. Over time, these practices have stripped her of illusions about herself and the world around her.

"We have to let go of the ways we had always thought the world worked," she writes. "Facing life exactly as it is does not always feel good. Recognizing that we have been living with false assumptions about who we are can be painful."

But after the loss comes the renewal. She's moved through these cycles many times.

"I do find that I am awakening," she said. "I am learning to live more often in the present moment. I am learning to find peace and stillness in the middle of a noisy, chaotic world."

Spirituality & Practice - Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

Jane Vennard is ordained to a special ministry of teaching and spiritual direction in the United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination. She is an astute scholar of Christianity who has also practiced Buddhism. For many years, she was a Senior Adjunct Professor at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, teaching numerous courses on prayer, spirituality, and discernment.

Vennard is also a spiritual director in private practice. She leads retreats across the country and teaches in a variety of ecumenical settings. She has a rare gift for seeing clearly the similarities and differences among traditional perspectives and then to adeptly lead people through an examination of a variety of spiritual perspectives.

Being fully awake and truly alive is one of the major challenges of these crazy/busy times. There are plenty of roadblocks to achieving that noble pursuit. Spiritual practices can center us and light the path to transformation. Vennard has chosen to focus on care of the body, rest, silence, solitude, letting go, practice in community, hospitality, service, and the fruits of practice—gratefulness, humility and compassion. These practices have been praised by those on many spiritual paths and in most of the world's religions. They also have the added value of being understandable and accessible to those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious.

Each chapter in the book ends with the question: "How are you called to practice?" and there is more guidance for those who want to go deeper into the practice. We were especially taken with Vennard's ability to help us see the relevance of these soulful activities to the enrichment of our daily lives. For instance, she writes about how the spiritual practice of hospitality can bless and challenge families and religious communities to reach out in ways that they never thought possible. Vennard hits high stride with her coverage of living gratefully, humbly, and compassionately. These beneficial qualities can be realized, as the Buddhists say, both on-the-cushion and off-the-cushion.

Jane Vennard scores a bull's eye with this masterful and down-to-earth resource on spiritual practices that bring zest to everyday life. Fully Awake and Truly Alive is a rich blend of action and insight that demands to be read and then tried out in our days and in our doings.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594734731
  • Publisher: Skylight Paths Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/1/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 581,441
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Rev. Jane E. Vennard, a popular teacher on prayer and spiritual practice, offers lectures and leads retreats in ecumenical settings in the United States, Canada and abroad. She is the author of several books, including Fully Awake and Truly Alive: Spiritual Practices to Nurture Your Soul and Teaching—The Sacred Art: The Joy of Opening Minds & Hearts (both SkyLight Paths), and a long-time active member of Spiritual Directors International. She is ordained in the United Church of Christ to a ministry of teaching and spiritual direction.

Rev. Jane E. Vennard is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Fully Awake and Truly Alive: Spiritual Practices to Nurture Your Soul
  • Spiritual Practice: A Way of Life
  • Spiritual Practices for the Second Half of Life
  • The Art of Teaching Spiritual Practice
  • Spiritual Practices in the Ministry of Spiritual Direction

Click here to contact the author.

Rami Shapiro, a renowned teacher of spirituality across faith traditions and a noted theologian, is a popular speaker on the topics of religion, theology and spirituality. He is author of the award-winning The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice; Recovery—The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice and Hasidic Tales: Annotated and Explained; among other books.

Rami Shapiro is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Writing—The Sacred Art: Beyond the Page to Spiritual Practice
  • Stop Playing God: 12 Steps as Spiritual Practice
  • Biblical Wisdom for Post-biblical Times: An Exploration of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job
  • The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Cultivating Compassion in Daily Life
  • Hasidic Wisdom: An Exploration of Hasidic Storytelling, Theology and Contemplative Practice
  • Saints and Sages: Biblical Prophets, Ancient Rabbis and the Building of a Just World
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword by Rami Shapiro xiii
Introduction xv
Expanding Our Understanding of Prayer and Spiritual Practice xvi
Defining Terms xvi
Becoming Fully Alive xviii
Examining Our Practices xix
On Cushion, Off Cushion xx
A Variety of Practices xxi

1. The Practice of Caring for Your Body Finding New Images, Deep Wisdom, and Blessings 1
Body Image: Experiencing Your Body as a Gift 3
Befriending Your Body 5
Embodied Wisdom 7
Healing the Divide 10
How Are You Called to Practice? 11
Guidelines for More Extended Practice 13
Writing a Letter to Your Body 13
Body Blessing 14

2. The Practice of Rest Restoring Your Energy, Your Creativity, and Your Spirit 15
Cultural Perceptions of Resting 16
Restful Activities 19
Biblical Call to Rest 21
Four Steps of the Creative Process 23
Sabbath Rest 24
How Are You Called to Practice? 26
Guidelines for More Extended Practice 27
Grateful Breathing 27
Resting While You Walk 28

3. The Practice of Silence Finding Spaciousness, Stillness, and Inner Peace 29
Discovering Well-Being in Quiet Places 30
Listening to Ourselves and Beyond Ourselves 31
Honoring Effortless Silence 34
Practicing Silence in a Supportive Community 35
Exploring the Shadow Side of Silence 36
Be Still and Know That I Am God 39
How Are You Called to Practice? 41
Guidelines for More Extended Practice 43
A Variety of Meditation and Contemplative
Prayer Practices 43
Breath Counting 43
Centering Prayer 44
True Meditation 45

4. The Practice of Solitude Making Friends with Yourself 47
Facing the Dragon of Loneliness 50
Early Experiences of Being Alone: Avoided or Encouraged? 52
The Journey Is the Destination: Walking Nowhere Alone 55
The Capacity to Be Alone: Self-Discovery, Creativity, and Intimacy 57
Silence and Solitude Together: A Furnace of Transformation 60
How Are You Called to Practice? 62
Guidelines for More Extended Practice 63
Exploring Your Experiences of Loneliness 63
Walking Meditation: Slowly Going Nowhere 64

5. The Practice of Letting Go Releasing Your Attachments, Your Past, and Your Future 67
Letting Go of Material Things 68
Fasting: Making Space for the Sacred 70
Forgiveness: Letting Go of Hurts and Leaving the Past Behind 72
Nonattachment: Letting Go of the Outcome 75
Accepting the Life That Awaits Us 78
How Are You Called to Practice? 81
Guidelines for More Extended Practice 82
The Courage to Forgive 82
Dancing Nonattachment 83

6. The Practice of Community Discovering Support, Encouragement, and Interdependence 85
The Rhythm of Contemplative, Communal, and Missional Spiritual Practices 87
Singing Together We Become the Music 89
Dancing, Moving, and Playing Together 91
Making Music Together:
Surrendering to the Whole 93
Spiritual Direction 96
How Are You Called to Practice? 98
Guidelines for More Extended Practice 100
My Communal Spiritual Practice: Examining
Its History and Discovering Its Future 100
Playful Body Sculpting and Creative Naming 101

7. The Practice of Hospitality Inviting, Welcoming, and Nurturing the Stranger 103
The Three Movements of Hospitality 104
Hospitality: A Two-Way Street 107
Practicing Communal Hospitality:
Blessings and Challenges 109
Welcoming the Stranger Within 112
Cultivating the Hospitable Heart 114
How Are You Called to Practice? 115
Guidelines for More Extended Practice 116
Welcoming the Stranger Within 116
The Welcoming Prayer 118

8. The Practice of Service Cultivating Generosity, Kindness, and Joy 121
Hidden Service: The Power of Practices That No One Notices 125
The Practice of Discernment: Deciding Who, Where, and How to Serve 131
Bearing Witness: No Need to Fix Anything 134
Many Hands Make Light Work: Practicing Service in Community 135
Responding to the Needs of Mother Earth 138
How Are You Called to Practice? 138
Guidelines for More Extended Practice 140
Letting the Mud Settle and Becoming Still 140
Listening with an Open Heart—Including Silence in the Conversation 142

9. The Fruits of Practice Living Gratefully, Humbly, and Compassionately 145
The Experience of Living Gratefully 149
Surprise Is the Wisdom of a Grateful Heart 151
Humility—the Forgotten Virtue 152
The Gracious Gift of Humility 154
Cultivating Humble Hearts 155
Discovering the Depth of Your Compassion 157
The Courage to See, the Courage to Feel,
and the Courage to Act 159
How Are You Called to Practice? 162
Guidelines for More Extended Practice 163
Keeping a Gratitude Journal 163
Discovering Your Image of Humility 164
Knowledge of the Stranger Deepens Compassion 165

Acknowledgments 167
Notes 169
Suggestions for Further Reading 175
Index of Practices 179

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    Awesome read

    I had an opportunity to be in a class taught by Jane Vennard. Her book is wonderful just as she was. I love the way she weaves exercises and chances to reflect through out her chapters!! Add a lot of insight to being a Christian 24 hours a day and praying without ceasing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)