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Publisher's Summary

Centering prayer is the path to a wonderful and radical new way of seeing the world. It is not, as is sometimes thought, simply an act of devotional piety, nor is it a Christianized form of other meditation methods. Cynthia Bourgeault here cuts through the misconceptions to show that centering prayer is in fact a pioneering development within the Christian contemplative tradition. She provides a practical, complete course in the practice and then goes deeper to analyze what actually happens in centering prayer: the mind effectively switches to a new operating system that makes possible the perception of nonduality. With this understanding in place, she then takes us on a journey through one of the sources of the practice, the Christian contemplative classic The Cloud of Unknowing, revealing it to be among the earliest Christian explorations of the phenomenology of consciousness.

Cynthia Bourgeault's illumination of the centering prayer path provides compelling evidence of how important the practice has become in the half century since it first arose among American Trappist monks and of its maturation and refinement over the ensuing years of sincere study and practice. It will resonate with beginners on the centering prayer path as well as with seasoned practitioners.

Cover image: Mark Tomalty / Masterfile.

©2016 Cynthia Bourgeault (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A gift for the centering prayer movement

This is a bold, provocative and challenging study by someone who obviously has genuine experience as well as brilliant insight. This book is a real gift to the centering prayer movement, which is currently at a critical crossroad. I very much appreciate the author's exploration of the Cloud of Unknowing, which I have struggled with for years. More of that, please. I'd like for her to write a study of the whole book. I was not happy with the reader, whom I found detached from the material, a little smug, and too rushed for this deep material. I regret that Cynthia didn't elect to read it herself.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Too much research, too little practice

What disappointed you about The Heart of Centering Prayer?

The book sounds like someone reading a doctoral thesis in a hurry. The concepts presented are referred to as if they were part of a physics or philosophy lecture, making them dry and uninteresting.

Has The Heart of Centering Prayer turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, just turned me off from this author.

How could the performance have been better?

The narrator should slow down and use inflection at the right location. Even slowing the speed down to .85 it sounds fast. Slowing the speed more than that makes it sound like they're on drugs.

Any additional comments?

Read Teresa of Avila or Brother Lawrence, throw this book away.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Listen to last chapter first.

I have gone through this book twice and find that the run-on writing and narrative along with the need for frequent use of a dictionary is not worth the read. I found myself wanting the narrator to take a breath!
Her story may be very high minded and sincere but this is written for only a few elite who are already familiar with her terminology.
The “cloud of unknowing “ and the works of Father Keating are more useful and more accessible.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not a fan. Complicated my quiet prayer time

Come to me all ye who are weary and I will give you rest. This book made coming to Jesus in quiet contemplation complicated and wearisome.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Being present in the Heart of it all

She reconnected me to the 12th Cent book The Cloud of Unknowing What a Gift

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Reading is to fast.

One should slow the dictation down to x.75 speed.
The reader is speaking at light speed speech.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Narration is difficult to listen to

I could not get past the first chapter because the narration was too fast and harsh sounding especially for a book called the heart of centering prayer

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Best spiritual book in 32 years

I have been on a spiritual quest for 32 years and this is the best contemplative book I have read. Cynthia Bourgeault has beautifully summarized so many STEs (spiritually transformative experiences) and this has helped me to better ‘see the terrain I have already traveled through’ and it has also given me an overwhelming sense of ‘quenched thirst’ while I long for much more of the same ‘to drink’.

The first part of the book is a good introduction to contemplation in the “centering prayer” tradition. So, this book is both for an introduction to contemplation and also for the advanced, who has been given the divine gift of contemplation many times. I’ve listened twice to this book and will listen several more times as I follow along in the physical book.

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Deeper Dive

Well presented exposition of the deeper levels of Centering Prayer that opened the doors to greater possibility

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent Book! Read Too Rapidly.

Excellent book! I recommend reading it rather than listening to this recording. The recorded reading is so rapid that the beautiful concepts are presented like a story moving quickly from start to finish. A slower, more thoughtful presentation would allow the listener to absorb and grasp the beauty and depth presented with the inner ear.

I will order the hard copy.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Gavin McInerney
  • 10-15-18

Doyouwanttolistentosomeonereadaveryinterestingbutcomplexsubjecttofastforyoutookeepup,nevermindunderstandit.

Do you want to listen to someone read a very interesting but complex subject too fast for you to keep up, never mind understand it? Then this narrator is for you. She is speed reading and I cannot get to grips with the writers ideas or instruction. However, I find the subject interesting and will just have to keep on pausing and going back.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-16-17

review

This book is quite difficult for me to understand.
Maybe I choose a book that is too advanced for my spiritual progress.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jacqui
  • 06-22-17

Difficult book to listen to

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I have read most of the books by Father Thomas Keating on centering prayer and thoroughly enjoyed them. This book has confused me and left me feeling slightly intimidated. Too many big words and over complicated. If I ever hear the word 'nondual' again it will be too soon.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment, confusion.

Any additional comments?

Definitely not for beginners. Perhaps when I have been practicing centering prayer for a longer time I may re visit it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful