Conversation--The Sacred Art: Practicing Presence in an Age of Distraction

Conversation--The Sacred Art: Practicing Presence in an Age of Distraction

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Conversation--The Sacred Art: Practicing Presence in an Age of Distraction by Diane M. Millis

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594735219
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 02/01/2013
Series: Art of Spiritual Living
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
File size: 1 MB

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

Foreword ix
Introduction xiii

Part One
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

Part Two
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

Part Three
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

Conclusion 105

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

Notes 139
Suggestions for Further Reading 147
Acknowledgments 151
About the Journey Conversations Project 153
Credits 154

What People are Saying About This

author, Spiritual Gems of Islam: Insights & Practices from the Qur'an, Hadith, Rumi & Muslim Teaching Stories to Enl - Imam Jamal Rahman

"A beautiful book filled with exquisite insights, practices and stories. They illuminate our heart and mind and awaken us to Presence."

author, Why Can't We Talk?: Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart - John Backman

"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 book—they will be infinitely richer."

retired executive director, Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research; author, The Ironic Christian's - Patrick Henry

"Diane Millis knows that our conversation reveals us to others, and, done right—caring more important than understanding, talking balanced with restraint and periodic silence—reveals 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.'"

senior vice president, Public Conversations Project - Robert R. Stains Jr.

"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."

co-founder, Women of Spirit and Faith; co-editor, Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership: Where Grace Mee - Kay Lindahl

"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."

co-author, Common Fire: Leading Lives of Commitment in a Complex World; former associate professor, Harvard Divinity - Sharon Daloz Parks

"This is a book you will linger with—as you do, after a meal, over a cup of coffee, when the conversation is as nourishing as the food."

author, Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future, Perseverance and Leadership and - Margaret J. Wheatley

"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."

author, Saving Civility: 52 Ways to Tame Rude, Crude, and Attitude for a Polite Planet - Sara Hacala

"Profound ... teaches us how conversation—listening, speaking, and even silence—can help us genuinely connect to others and even ourselves through our hearts, deepening our relationships, recognizing God within us and God between us."

Rabbi, Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, St. Paul, Minnesota - Amy Eilberg

"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."

author, Healing the Heart of Democracy, Let Your Life Speak and The Courage to Teach - Parker J. Palmer

"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."

Dr., professor of education, Saint Michael's College - Aostre N. Johnson

"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."

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