This new volume in the Omega Institute Mind, Body, Spirit Book Series is by Joan Duncan Oliver, editorial director of the Book-of-the-Month Club's One Spirit division. As the former editor of New Age, she has surveyed the spiritual renaissance from top to bottom. Here she defines contemplative living as "finding joy and serenity in the midst of everyday existence and expressing that equanimity in our relations with others." All those who relish encyclopedic yet succinct overviews of the scene will salute what she presents here. The bibliographies (including spoken-word audios and web sites) are superb along with user-friendly "Try This" boxes of excerpted passages from today's most important spiritual teachers.
After taking a self-quiz to help determine what form of practice might suit you best, the reader is treated to a section on solitude and silence titled "Going Within." Oliver then examines the basics of meditation. There is a fine chapter on "Heart-Centering" that includes practices to awaken caring and compassion. The book concludes with chapters on staying on the path, the importance of community, and compassionate service.
My two favorite chapters because of their dazzling variety are "Celebrating Your Devotion" and "Moving with Spirit." Here Oliver presents a cornucopia of practices including chanting, mantras, pilgrimage, yoga, tai chi, aikido, and sacred dance. Contemplative Living vividly and convincingly demonstrates the depth and breadth of spiritual resources available to those who yearn to focus the mind, center the body, and unite with the Divine.