In this book, Martin Laird, a Roman Catholic priest and scholar of the early Church, seeks both to make Christians more aware of the historical role of meditation in their faith and to provide detailed instructions for making this practice a part of their own lives.
Writing out of a profound knowledge of the history of Christian mysticism, Laird illustrates his points with quotations from the Bible, the early church fathers, medieval mystics, and contemporary scholars and theologians. At the same time, he draws on his experience as a spiritual adviser to provide vivid real-life examples of ordinary Christians who have benefited from adopting contemplative practice and how they overcame the challenges they faced along the way. He shows how meditation helped these individuals overcome such typical modern emotional problems as anxiety, anger and self-hatred.
He offers clear instructions on the practice of meditation, including how to work with a prayer word (or mantra), how to meet distracting thoughts and feelings, and how to negotiate the different stages of growth in prayer. He emphasizes the role of the body, especially the use of the breath - a concern usually associated with Buddhism, bit which Laird shows to have ancient roots in Christian practice.
Throughout the book, he makes it clear that Christian meditation is not merely therapeutic, but a deeply spiritual path through which believers can more fully experience the presence of God in their lives.