This creative book brings East and West, ancient practices, and modern science together in its view of Jesus and contemplative living. What emerges in Caroline Oakes' writing is Jesus as a wisdom teacher, grounded in ancient contemplative practices that 21st-century brain science tells us are transforming for us.

Chapter 3, “The Jesus Formula: The Centering Pause Practice,” looks at the life and teachings of Jesus in the gospels to show how he lived and taught “from a contemplative center.”

But Oakes’ work really starts ticking in chapter 6, when she introduces “Contemplative Neuroscience” and begins to explain the power of the mind to change the brain. In that chapter there is a paragraph neatly summarizing the entire work:

“The new field of neuroscience may be offering the same good news that wisdom spiritual traditions have taught through the ages, the same good news that Jesus of Nazareth, the wisdom master, was showing us all along: there is a way of being, accessible through an intentional and consistent centering pause practice, that can carry us through today’s morass of busyness and nonstop demands into a divine/human way of relating to ourselves, to others, and to our world.”

Contemporary wisdom teachers quoted throughout the book include many who are familiar to readers at SpiritualityandPractice, such as Cynthia Bourgeault, Thomas Merton, Walter Wink, H.H. the Dalai Lama, Christine Valters Paintner, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Richard Rohr.

As the title suggests, many spiritual practices are offered here, and they all have to do with pausing. Oakes writes: “The spiritual journey begins with a pause, a centering-in-God pause, and over time becomes a constant and ceaseless prayer, an honoring of and a connection with the Divine in you that awakens your essential self.”

For one example among many of pausing as a spiritual practice, see the “Seven-Second Pause Practice” in the excerpt accompanying this review.