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

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


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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

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594734731
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 02/01/2013
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About 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, is an award-winning storyteller, poet and essayist. He is author of The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice, Recovery—The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice and The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature: Selections Annotated & Explained (all SkyLight Paths), 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

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

What People are Saying About This

author, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life - Marjorie J. Thompson

"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."

Episcopal priest; author, Celtic Christian Spirituality: Essential Texts Annotated and Explained and Marvelously Mad - Mary C. Earle

"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."

dean of Intercultural Education & Religious and Spiritual Life, Wellesley College - Victor Kazanjian

"Illumines 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."

co-founder of InterPlay; author, Dance—The Sacred Art: The Joy of Movement as a Spiritual Practice - Cynthia Winton-Henry

"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."

author/speaker/activist (brianmclaren.net); author, Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words - Brian D. McLaren

"Offers bountiful gifts and delightful surprises.... I loved it—and will recommend it widely, because this is a book for everyone."

CSP, director, Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations; author, Soul Fire: Accessing Y - Thomas Ryan

"Rich with transformational potential.... Actively engaging with this book's contents could alter positively the quality of your life."

co-directors, SpiritualityandPractice.com - Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

"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."

PhD, professor emeritus of spiritual formation, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; author, A Quiet Pentecost: - Dwight H. Judy

"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."

author, Sacred Attention: A Spiritual Practice for Finding God in the Moment - Margaret D. McGee

"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."

Customer Reviews