Many people use addictions to substances or relationships to escape feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. Still others turn to self-improvement addictions which promise peace of mind, instant success, or total mental fitness.

In The Awakened Heart Gerald May offers an alternative to such compulsiveness or self-determination. "I have found hope for real wholeness only in the human heart's desire for love in the present moment....We are created by love to live in love, for the sake of love." The essence of living beyond addiction or enslavement to a cure-all therapy is to rely upon God's grace rather than our own capabilities.

In this life-enhancing work, May defines authentic spiritual practice as consecration in action: "It is feeling your deepest desire, claiming it as freshly born hope, offering it to God, and consciously living it as fully as you can." Under this rubric, a spiritual discipline can encompass reading, helping others, meditation, or living abundantly without all the answers.

May outlines four ways of practicing loving presence which he has gleaned from the work of the 17th century monk Lawrence: through the little interior glance, through heart prayer, through a personal relationship with God, and through contemplative presence ("A pure gaze that finds God everywhere").

Gerald May, a psychiatrist and director for spiritual guidance at the Shalem Institute in Washington, D.C., has written an inspiring book that builds naturally upon the insights presented in his previous work Addiction and Grace. The Awakened Heart offers a shining vision of how our lives can be lit up by faith, hope, and — most of all — love.