Cultivate the potential for deeper connection in every conversation.
"To think of conversation as a sacred art challenges us to imagine all the conversations in which we participate, from the acquaintance we run into at Target to the dialogue for which we've spent weeks in preparation, as a potentially sacred conversation."
—from the Introduction
We often find ourselves distracted and overwhelmed by a constant stream of information and demand for connectivity. Now more than ever, we need to develop our capacity for greater presence in our daily lives and relationships. One of the best ways to do this is by improving the quality of our conversations. Dr. Diane Millis offers us inspirational stories, insights and spiritual practices from many faith traditions to increase our awareness of the deep, natural holiness waiting to be unlocked in our everyday encounters.
This resource is a catalyst for anyone who would like to enrich seemingly ordinary conversations as well as for leaders in educational, ministry and corporate settings who want to:
- Increase their capacity to listen deeply
- Become more self-aware and attentive to others
- Learn how to move beyond conventional topics to exploring purpose, meaning and values in conversation.
About the Author
Diane M. Millis, PhD, is founder and director of the Journey Conversations Project, a partnership of educators and other leaders committed to preparing and equipping people to facilitate conversations for discovery and discernment. She is also an inspirational speaker, organizational consultant and spiritual director specializing in the fields of spirituality, communication and family studies. She facilitates personal growth workshops and retreats at colleges, congregations and corporations throughout the United States.
Diane M. Millis, PhD, is available to speak on the following topics:
- Practicing the Sacred Art of Conversation
- Discerning a Heart-Centered Path
- The Inner Path of Leadership
- Workplace Spirituality
- Group Spiritual Direction: Accompanying One Another on the Journey
Click here to contact the author.
Rev. Tilden Edwards, PhD, is founder and senior fellow of the ecumenical Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation and author of eight books on spiritual life.
Table of Contents
What Is the Sacred Art of Conversation? 1
Chapter 1: Encountering the Sacred Within 5
Practice: Entering the Cave of Your Heart 10
Practice: Listening to the Conversation in Your Heart 11
Chapter 2: Encountering the Sacred in Each Other 13
Reflection: Souls Who Have Made Us Wiser 17
Practice: Tending One Another's Light— Holding, Beholding, and Being Held 18
Chapter 3: Encountering the Sacred Between Us 19
Reflection: Increasing Awareness of the Sacred Between Us 24
Gateways for Conversation 25
Chapter 4: Listening to Your Life 31
Reflection: Steppingstones on the Journey 40
Chapter 5: Noticing and Naming What Gives You Life 41
Reflection: Nurturing Awareness of What You Hold Sacred 49
Reflection: Looking at the World with the Eyes of a Poet 50
Chapter 6: Discerning a Heart-Centered Path 51
Reflection: Listening to Your Inner Guide 60
Reflection: The Thread You Follow 61
Practicing the Sacred Art of Conversation 63
Chapter 7: Practicing Attentive Presence: Listening Within Before Speaking Out 69
Practice: Three Deep Breaths 75
Practice: Centering on the Breath 76
Chapter 8: Practicing Receptive Presence: Welcoming All That We Encounter 77
Reflection: The Three Gates 85
Practice: The Welcoming Prayer 86
Chapter 9: Practicing Compassionate Presence: Going Within Before Venturing Out 89
Practice: Offering the Gift of
Contemplative Questions 100
Practice: Sacred Holding 102
Practice: Compassionate Abiding 103
The Sacred Art of Conversation in Community: Creating Occassions for Contemplative Conversations 111
Appendix 1: Cultivating Contemplation and Compassion in Community through Journey Conversations 115
Appendix 2: Appreciatively Focused Conversations at Home and Work 127
Appendix 3: Conversation Catalysts 131
Suggestions for Further Reading 147
About the Journey Conversations Project 153
What People are Saying About This
"A beautiful book filled with exquisite insights, practices and stories. They illuminate our heart and mind and awaken us to Presence."
"Plunges us into that holy space from which we can connect with God, with ourselves and especially with others at a depth we would have thought impossible. Our conversations will never be the same after reading this bookthey will be infinitely richer."
"Diane Millis knows that our conversation reveals us to others, and, done rightcaring more important than understanding, talking balanced with restraint and periodic silencereveals to us depths we didn't know we have. She has learned much from others, and shares her own practical wisdom, most forcefully and poignantly demonstrated in the transition from 'broken apart' to 'breaking open.'"
"Moves beyond the technique of conversation to focus on the heart-and-soul experience of intentional, sincere human connection.... Will be a trusted companion for those walking the inner path of dialogue."
"Be prepared for a journey into the heart of relationships. [It] affirms the holiness and life-giving nature of conversation and offers excellent reflection questions and practices to guide us on the way. This book touched my soul."
"This is a book you will linger withas you do, after a meal, over a cup of coffee, when the conversation is as nourishing as the food."
"Beautiful ... in so many ways.... I am deeply grateful that this book appears now, when its wisdom and practices are most needed to restore the sacred to our relationships."
"Profound ... teaches us how conversationlistening, speaking, and even silencecan help us genuinely connect to others and even ourselves through our hearts, deepening our relationships, recognizing God within us and God between us."
"Exquisite.... Diane Millis writes with the grace, wisdom and caring of a wise and skillful spiritual director, leading us all to touch the sacred within ourselves, within others and in the midst of all of our conversations."
"An important book ... that can help us recover a vital but endangered everyday spiritual practice.... Reading this book was like having a true conversation with the author, and with myself, one that will help me share its gifts with the larger world."
"Integrates the author's intensive study of spiritual guidance with her personal and professional experiences [and] offers both inspiration and practical guidance to restore the art of conversation as a sacred activity."