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Enter a Monastery Without Walls Christian Meditation introduces an ancient practice to a contemporary audience. James Finley, a former monk and student of Thomas Merton, presents the fundamentals of both understanding and practicing Christian meditation. He provides simple, helpful instructions, as well as explaining the deeper connection with the divine that meditation can Enter a Monastery Without Walls Christian Meditation introduces an ancient practice to a contemporary audience. James Finley, a former monk and student of Thomas Merton, presents the fundamentals of both understanding and practicing Christian meditation. He provides simple, helpful instructions, as well as explaining the deeper connection with the divine that meditation can bring. Above all, he makes clear that the aim of meditation is to allow us to experience divine contemplation -- the presence of God.


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Enter a Monastery Without Walls Christian Meditation introduces an ancient practice to a contemporary audience. James Finley, a former monk and student of Thomas Merton, presents the fundamentals of both understanding and practicing Christian meditation. He provides simple, helpful instructions, as well as explaining the deeper connection with the divine that meditation can Enter a Monastery Without Walls Christian Meditation introduces an ancient practice to a contemporary audience. James Finley, a former monk and student of Thomas Merton, presents the fundamentals of both understanding and practicing Christian meditation. He provides simple, helpful instructions, as well as explaining the deeper connection with the divine that meditation can bring. Above all, he makes clear that the aim of meditation is to allow us to experience divine contemplation -- the presence of God.

30 review for Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God

  1. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    Finley has written what he calls a "hands-on" guide for anyone who wants to practice Christian-based meditation. Christianity has a long tradition of meditation, going back to the Desert Fathers of the 3rd century, and Finley is helpful in clearly explaining the goals of the practice of meditation. He first clears away the misconception that meditation should move us to a goal of esoteric fulfillment where we have some kind of transcendent vision of God. There is nothing about meditation that ta Finley has written what he calls a "hands-on" guide for anyone who wants to practice Christian-based meditation. Christianity has a long tradition of meditation, going back to the Desert Fathers of the 3rd century, and Finley is helpful in clearly explaining the goals of the practice of meditation. He first clears away the misconception that meditation should move us to a goal of esoteric fulfillment where we have some kind of transcendent vision of God. There is nothing about meditation that takes us anywhere beyond the immediacy of the present moment. The problem is, of course, that we seldom live in the present moment for very long. Occasionally yes, as when we experience something awesome outside our normal experience such as fleeting moments of beauty, or of tragedy such as a death. Most of the time we are immersed either in remembering the past or anticipating the future, both of which are bound up in our own ego consciousness. The goal of meditation is to exist in the present moment, to be in a state where we are aware of our surroundings but not thinking consciously of them. Certainly, concepts from the past and future will slide without notice into our consciousness, and we are not to resist them, but let them pass, as they inevitably will, unless we're daydreaming or obsessing on them. To an uninitiated observer, the response might well be, so you're just to sit there and think about nothing? Why not just go to sleep? Sleep is a state of unconsciousness, nothing like meditation which is about awareness and consciousness. To think about "nothing" is not the goal; it's to be aware, yes, but in an intuitive non conceptual way. There are specific steps that can taken to bring about this state of bearing non-intellectual witness to simply existing. One is by concentrating on deep breathing, another is to be seated upright, comfortable but not overly relaxed, and to be simply aware of your surroundings. Your senses may come into play, especially your sense of hearing, but Finley thinks it best to keep your eyes closed as visual stimulation may be too distracting and lead you into ego-thinking. Meditation contains a lot of effort - Finley suggests twenty minutes or so is a reasonable length of time to practice meditation. As for experiencing God, that depends on what is meant by "God." For Finley God is never going to be experienced by an person caught up his own ego, as most of us are. Meditation replaces the ego with an awareness that we are tiny parts in a world infinitely full of simultaneously existent things, both live and inert. If a person practices meditation, and it does take practice, he or she will come to that awareness, whether often or rarely is beside the point. Patience is a part of the practice of meditation as well, the realization that the ego cannot simply turn on and off a non-ego activity. Frustrating and dry stretches are to be expected; there are no shortcuts in meditation practice, no scorecard as to how well we're doing. When an individual understands, as far as they are able, this activity which is designed to increase the awareness of what it means to be alive, then in a sense they will have seen "God", not a theistic god who is outside his creation, but one that is defined by the infinite details of one's existence. The ultimate purpose of meditation is to move the individual toward a more authentic, less selfish and ego-driven consciousness, and in that sense to become more "Christ-like.".

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I really enjoyed this book by James Finley. It's a great book for anyone that has begun or is interested in practicing contemplative prayer. He describes form and technique thoroughly and provides useful illustrations in his explanations. He describes in depth about the process of entering a nondual union with God and finding Him in the present moment. I got this book from the library but it is definitely one I like enough to buy when I get the chance. A great addition to anybody's library. I really enjoyed this book by James Finley. It's a great book for anyone that has begun or is interested in practicing contemplative prayer. He describes form and technique thoroughly and provides useful illustrations in his explanations. He describes in depth about the process of entering a nondual union with God and finding Him in the present moment. I got this book from the library but it is definitely one I like enough to buy when I get the chance. A great addition to anybody's library.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    While I appreciated some introduction to the process and experience of meditation, the first four chapters seemed out of place. I found myself wanting an explanation of the meaning and importance of meditation to set the foundation of the practice before discussing the process and experience of meditation. The first four chapters also contained regular comparisons of meditation to romantic love that might render some of the points Finley is trying to make inaccessible to persons struggling roman While I appreciated some introduction to the process and experience of meditation, the first four chapters seemed out of place. I found myself wanting an explanation of the meaning and importance of meditation to set the foundation of the practice before discussing the process and experience of meditation. The first four chapters also contained regular comparisons of meditation to romantic love that might render some of the points Finley is trying to make inaccessible to persons struggling romantically. However, these references become fewer starting in Chapter 5. Chapter 5 also provides the foundation of the importance of meditation through a discussion of Finley's personal experiences of meditating in a Trappist monastery and how he began to apply what he learned to his everyday life outside the monastery. The rest of the book explains the meaning and importance of the meditative life and details the process; it explains the significance of each part of centering oneself and becoming present.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Finley offers many insights into meditation and gave me quite a few new ideas to incorporate into my practice. I especially liked his suggestion for helpful mantras. Great book. Pretty heavy at times, but still understandable and meaningful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Wonderful book on contmeplative prayer.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rev. Charles

    The one book on meditation to take with you to a deserted island This author, more so than most, communicates both the theology and practical, personal experience of seeking God through the historical traditions of the spiritual pilgrims of the ages. This is perhaps the best such book I have read (and I’ve read quite a few over the past 50 years!); its one limitation is the author’s repetitive style and excessive wordiness. It could use a good editor. Still, I highly recommend the book and commen The one book on meditation to take with you to a deserted island This author, more so than most, communicates both the theology and practical, personal experience of seeking God through the historical traditions of the spiritual pilgrims of the ages. This is perhaps the best such book I have read (and I’ve read quite a few over the past 50 years!); its one limitation is the author’s repetitive style and excessive wordiness. It could use a good editor. Still, I highly recommend the book and commend its author for so heart-felt an effort to communicate that which must in some way be experienced first-hand to be understood.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Candice

    This is a refreshing look at the practice of centering prayer. Finley breaks meditation down into small, understandable pieces that are at once simple and challenging. At the heart of his message: Just meditate! Reading this book helped me understand meditation better, encouraged me, and reminded me that I am part of something so much larger than myself and my desire to stay committed to a regular practice of centering prayer. Whether you are new to centering prayer, or have been practicing for This is a refreshing look at the practice of centering prayer. Finley breaks meditation down into small, understandable pieces that are at once simple and challenging. At the heart of his message: Just meditate! Reading this book helped me understand meditation better, encouraged me, and reminded me that I am part of something so much larger than myself and my desire to stay committed to a regular practice of centering prayer. Whether you are new to centering prayer, or have been practicing for awhile, I highly recommend this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    This audio "book" consists of twelve sessions, that is , twelve chapters dealing with meditation from a Christian perspective. It was quite informative, that is I liked listening to it. Mr. Finley was a good presenter, however he did make use of a pet phrase frequently, that is tied his thoughts together in a manner like some people use "um.." or "ah". I would give this presentation a high rating, that is four stars on the Goodreads scale. Can you guess yet what his pet phrase is, This audio "book" consists of twelve sessions, that is , twelve chapters dealing with meditation from a Christian perspective. It was quite informative, that is I liked listening to it. Mr. Finley was a good presenter, however he did make use of a pet phrase frequently, that is tied his thoughts together in a manner like some people use "um.." or "ah". I would give this presentation a high rating, that is four stars on the Goodreads scale. Can you guess yet what his pet phrase is, that is have I dropped enough hints?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I think that the author of this book had a lot of good things to say about meditation. I did like it. However, he has a tendency to wax philosophical (which Is par for the course in meditation books). I kind of got lost in the language from time to time. It took me awhile to finish this book. But on the whole I think it was good.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Adam Vos

    I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book with James Finley. What a beautiful, smooth voice to mediate alongside to. He genuinely helped me to learn what meditation is not. It helped me along on my spiritual odyssey. Although I got a bit lost towards the end with the language used, I will definately be listening again in the future.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anne Mercer

    Having experience with Buddhist meditation through Jack Kornfield's guidance, I was excited to read and apply the practice of Christian meditation (it is all the same, really -- communion with God). James Finley has a way with words that helps me deepen my love for God and my spiritual practice. Having experience with Buddhist meditation through Jack Kornfield's guidance, I was excited to read and apply the practice of Christian meditation (it is all the same, really -- communion with God). James Finley has a way with words that helps me deepen my love for God and my spiritual practice.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Fitzgerald

    Excellent introductory book into the practice of mediation. Author suggests a number of different ways/habits that one can add into their everyday life to commune with God.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Casey

    A very good read and review on Contemplative prayer and it’s integration into daily life.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth Watts

    This is a good resource for those of us on a journey of spiritual contemplative practice. I will be referring to it again and often in my journey.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mike McGuire

    This is a very difficult book to review. James Findley is an extremely experienced meditator who is deeply immersed in the Christian tradition while remaining ecumenical as well. I heard him speak in the 90's, so I hear his slow, quiet, thoughtful voice as I read his words now. I would counsel anyone considering this book to (1) read the table of contents, and (2) to consider it a meditative work in itself. That is, it is to be read slowly and in small digestible bites. There is much hard-won wi This is a very difficult book to review. James Findley is an extremely experienced meditator who is deeply immersed in the Christian tradition while remaining ecumenical as well. I heard him speak in the 90's, so I hear his slow, quiet, thoughtful voice as I read his words now. I would counsel anyone considering this book to (1) read the table of contents, and (2) to consider it a meditative work in itself. That is, it is to be read slowly and in small digestible bites. There is much hard-won wisdom here, but it is not a page-turner.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Frances

    This book is good for anyone who wished to understand meditation from a Christian point of view or anyone wishing to understand it's fundamentals. This book is good for anyone who wished to understand meditation from a Christian point of view or anyone wishing to understand it's fundamentals.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    I picked up this book after I became a student of the Living School for Action and Contemplation. James Finley is one of my teachers and is quickly becoming one of my favorites. When I chose this book it was because I was looking for something by him, though I have been practicing meditation for years and have read other books on meditation. I wasn't expecting anything to be new but was interested in his slant since he was a student of Thomas Merton's. Wrong. This book is not a "how to book" as I picked up this book after I became a student of the Living School for Action and Contemplation. James Finley is one of my teachers and is quickly becoming one of my favorites. When I chose this book it was because I was looking for something by him, though I have been practicing meditation for years and have read other books on meditation. I wasn't expecting anything to be new but was interested in his slant since he was a student of Thomas Merton's. Wrong. This book is not a "how to book" as much as a "why" book, and it was wonderful. The chapter that caught my attention with prolonged thought and journaling was "Entering the Mind of Christ". I really think that's what it's all about and he broke it down and made it accessible. As I read I could hear him shuffling papers, the lawnmower in the background, the phone ringing and dogs barking...all of the hallmarks of his webinars and all that go in making him a beloved teacher.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    This book has been on my "to read" list for a long time now-actually a really long time now! Have you ever gone to the grocery store for some "real" food such as bread, rice, etc. and just didn't get there right away because you stopped in the candy, soda, danish section first? You were distracted by the glitz, the glam of sugar! This is true of books too. This book will be a wonderful book to read, I just know it! It will be the bread, the rice of reading. I've stayed too long in the candy secti This book has been on my "to read" list for a long time now-actually a really long time now! Have you ever gone to the grocery store for some "real" food such as bread, rice, etc. and just didn't get there right away because you stopped in the candy, soda, danish section first? You were distracted by the glitz, the glam of sugar! This is true of books too. This book will be a wonderful book to read, I just know it! It will be the bread, the rice of reading. I've stayed too long in the candy section of reading-candy on top of the danish with the soda in the other hand! Ah, how tempting a good piece of short fiction is! The "get-away-from-it-all" of a paperback mystery is wonderful! It's lovely, but I know that I could use more non fiction in my life and so look forward to reading this soon.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Harwood

    Christian meditation was a hard read for me. James Finley is ridiculously repetitive and I felt like he could have said what he used ten pages for in a single paragraph. Regardless, I plowed through all the way until the end. In all honesty, my favorite parts where the references James gave from other mystics and not what he himself said. However, I gathered small bits of gold throughout the book--enough to form my own ideas of what meditation means to me. If you find yourself struggling like I Christian meditation was a hard read for me. James Finley is ridiculously repetitive and I felt like he could have said what he used ten pages for in a single paragraph. Regardless, I plowed through all the way until the end. In all honesty, my favorite parts where the references James gave from other mystics and not what he himself said. However, I gathered small bits of gold throughout the book--enough to form my own ideas of what meditation means to me. If you find yourself struggling like I did, do yourself a favor and jump to chapter six. To me, this self-transformation chapter was the best of the book, and what urged me to finish despite my frustration with the amount of fluff and padding the author used to lengthen the book. In all, I left with some takeaways, but wouldn't recommend the book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amos Smith

    Finley's book is exquisitely written. Many who write books on Centering Payer and Meditation are not writers. And their writing can be cumbersome. Not so with Finley. He draws you right in with well crafted sentences. I recommend Finley to people who are relatively new to Centering Prayer because the writing flows so nicely and draws people in. Finley was a monk at Gethsemane Abbey and he took spiritual direction from Thomas Merton. Then Finley went on to have a family with two daughters. This m Finley's book is exquisitely written. Many who write books on Centering Payer and Meditation are not writers. And their writing can be cumbersome. Not so with Finley. He draws you right in with well crafted sentences. I recommend Finley to people who are relatively new to Centering Prayer because the writing flows so nicely and draws people in. Finley was a monk at Gethsemane Abbey and he took spiritual direction from Thomas Merton. Then Finley went on to have a family with two daughters. This makes his work readily accessible to a broad range of people with varied experiences. Highly recommended! -Amos Smith (author of Healing The Divide: Recovering Christianity's Mystic Roots)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brian Paukert

    July 2018- The book was extremely dry and after the 2nd chapter the author started losing me. I made it to chapter six before I gave up. I will save it for a later day to read when I feel I am ready to enter the abstract. December 2018- The experiences and techniques described by the author as Christian meditation are very similar to meditation practices found in other religious backgrounds such as Transcendental Meditation or Buddhist meditation. This one just had a Christian flair to it. I pers July 2018- The book was extremely dry and after the 2nd chapter the author started losing me. I made it to chapter six before I gave up. I will save it for a later day to read when I feel I am ready to enter the abstract. December 2018- The experiences and techniques described by the author as Christian meditation are very similar to meditation practices found in other religious backgrounds such as Transcendental Meditation or Buddhist meditation. This one just had a Christian flair to it. I personally believe that there are many paths to God and I think this book only reinforces that belief.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Floss

    James Finley brings his unique background to the insights he offers about contemplative prayer. As a student of Merton's at the Abbey of Gethsemane, he undoubtedly learned how to cultivate the spiritual openness required to foster a contemplative prayer life. The explanations and illustrations Finley provides in this book are aids for anyone seeking to have a deeper relationship with God. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking to develop their awareness of various to become more attune to James Finley brings his unique background to the insights he offers about contemplative prayer. As a student of Merton's at the Abbey of Gethsemane, he undoubtedly learned how to cultivate the spiritual openness required to foster a contemplative prayer life. The explanations and illustrations Finley provides in this book are aids for anyone seeking to have a deeper relationship with God. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking to develop their awareness of various to become more attune to God's presence, both within the self and in the world.

  23. 4 out of 5

    William L Ingram

    Beautifully written and insightful images of Christian inspired meditation! Inspired by the great spiritual master, Thomas Merton, the author truly immersed himself into the purpose and promise of the search for God through Christian meditation. Besides a fascinating journey into the life of a monastery we are blessed with the authors gift of deep spiritual insights captured in concepts that are beautifully presented. Thank you for inspiring so many towards the inward search for enlightenment. @WL Beautifully written and insightful images of Christian inspired meditation! Inspired by the great spiritual master, Thomas Merton, the author truly immersed himself into the purpose and promise of the search for God through Christian meditation. Besides a fascinating journey into the life of a monastery we are blessed with the authors gift of deep spiritual insights captured in concepts that are beautifully presented. Thank you for inspiring so many towards the inward search for enlightenment. @WLIngramAuthor

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Kind of annoying, really. It basically told me that I shouldn't try to meditate until I have something to meditate on, so I should go read the Bible and other texts and then come back to this one. I might. It has a good cover. Let's face it, I'm not going to finish this one. I'm happy not finishing it. I don't like the tone. Maybe someday I will go back to it - I like the idea of it. And I like the cover. But it's at the bottom of the stack right now, and I'm reading other things. Kind of annoying, really. It basically told me that I shouldn't try to meditate until I have something to meditate on, so I should go read the Bible and other texts and then come back to this one. I might. It has a good cover. Let's face it, I'm not going to finish this one. I'm happy not finishing it. I don't like the tone. Maybe someday I will go back to it - I like the idea of it. And I like the cover. But it's at the bottom of the stack right now, and I'm reading other things.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Winifred

    James Finley's book on Meditation was quite readable. He surely does have a way with words and there are times his ability to describe spiritual events and ideas take ones breath away. I read this with The Presence Group at church. We've been meditating for several years. This book had much to help us with. It would also be good reading for someone just starting out with meditation too. James Finley's book on Meditation was quite readable. He surely does have a way with words and there are times his ability to describe spiritual events and ideas take ones breath away. I read this with The Presence Group at church. We've been meditating for several years. This book had much to help us with. It would also be good reading for someone just starting out with meditation too.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Charles Wilson

    One of my favorite books, which I've read and re-read, the book that introduced me to Christian (rather than Eastern) ways of mysticism. Highly recommended for those who aren't aware of the Christian path to mysticism in practice. Simple and direct. One of my favorite books, which I've read and re-read, the book that introduced me to Christian (rather than Eastern) ways of mysticism. Highly recommended for those who aren't aware of the Christian path to mysticism in practice. Simple and direct.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aligd848

    I really like Finley who I have also heard speak. This is a rich, poetic, and deep book of insight and guidance. I read a library edition, but will obtain a copy for myself - though I wrote a bunch of it out in my journal as I went through it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This was a life changing book for me, however, Mr. Finley is such an introspective individual that sometimes I had a hard time understanding what he was trying to say. Very good book!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    Good book on Christian meditation and mindfulness. Practical guidance blended with inspiration.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Drew Stiling

    Really profound book. Definitely enjoyed it.

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