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The Heart of Centering Prayer

Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice
Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
Length: 5 hrs and 54 mins
3.7 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Centering prayer is the path to a wonderful and radical new way of seeing the world. It is not, as is sometimes thought, simply an act of devotional piety, nor is it a Christianized form of other meditation methods. Cynthia Bourgeault here cuts through the misconceptions to show that centering prayer is in fact a pioneering development within the Christian contemplative tradition. She provides a practical, complete course in the practice and then goes deeper to analyze what actually happens in centering prayer: the mind effectively switches to a new operating system that makes possible the perception of nonduality. With this understanding in place, she then takes us on a journey through one of the sources of the practice, the Christian contemplative classic The Cloud of Unknowing, revealing it to be among the earliest Christian explorations of the phenomenology of consciousness.

Cynthia Bourgeault's illumination of the centering prayer path provides compelling evidence of how important the practice has become in the half century since it first arose among American Trappist monks and of its maturation and refinement over the ensuing years of sincere study and practice. It will resonate with beginners on the centering prayer path as well as with seasoned practitioners.

Cover image: Mark Tomalty / Masterfile.

©2016 Cynthia Bourgeault (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Heart of Centering Prayer

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  • Zeeni
  • 13-09-2017

A gift for the centering prayer movement

This is a bold, provocative and challenging study by someone who obviously has genuine experience as well as brilliant insight. This book is a real gift to the centering prayer movement, which is currently at a critical crossroad. I very much appreciate the author's exploration of the Cloud of Unknowing, which I have struggled with for years. More of that, please. I'd like for her to write a study of the whole book. I was not happy with the reader, whom I found detached from the material, a little smug, and too rushed for this deep material. I regret that Cynthia didn't elect to read it herself.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Elise Gordillo
  • 02-04-2018

Too much research, too little practice

What disappointed you about The Heart of Centering Prayer?

The book sounds like someone reading a doctoral thesis in a hurry. The concepts presented are referred to as if they were part of a physics or philosophy lecture, making them dry and uninteresting.

Has The Heart of Centering Prayer turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, just turned me off from this author.

How could the performance have been better?

The narrator should slow down and use inflection at the right location. Even slowing the speed down to .85 it sounds fast. Slowing the speed more than that makes it sound like they're on drugs.

Any additional comments?

Read Teresa of Avila or Brother Lawrence, throw this book away.

3 people found this helpful

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  • daniel713
  • 02-03-2018

Listen to last chapter first.

I have gone through this book twice and find that the run-on writing and narrative along with the need for frequent use of a dictionary is not worth the read. I found myself wanting the narrator to take a breath! Her story may be very high minded and sincere but this is written for only a few elite who are already familiar with her terminology. The “cloud of unknowing “ and the works of Father Keating are more useful and more accessible.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-05-2017

Not a fan. Complicated my quiet prayer time

Come to me all ye who are weary and I will give you rest. This book made coming to Jesus in quiet contemplation complicated and wearisome.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-02-2017

Reading is to fast.

One should slow the dictation down to x.75 speed.
The reader is speaking at light speed speech.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Laurie Lang
  • 26-09-2017

Narration is difficult to listen to

I could not get past the first chapter because the narration was too fast and harsh sounding especially for a book called the heart of centering prayer

4 people found this helpful

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  • JeffA
  • 15-04-2017

Being present in the Heart of it all

She reconnected me to the 12th Cent book The Cloud of Unknowing What a Gift

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-04-2018

Excellent Book! Read Too Rapidly.

Excellent book! I recommend reading it rather than listening to this recording. The recorded reading is so rapid that the beautiful concepts are presented like a story moving quickly from start to finish. A slower, more thoughtful presentation would allow the listener to absorb and grasp the beauty and depth presented with the inner ear. I will order the hard copy.

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  • PMRisher
  • 06-11-2017

Some 5-Star Content and Some Not

I wanted to learn more about the Centering Prayer and Reverend Cynthia Bourgeault is a genuine expert and scholar. This book often shows up on my "recommended for you" list in both Audible and Kindle.

Like all "movements" there are different schools of the Centering Prayer practice and there is that underlying narrative of institutional comparison and critique which rises to the surface at places. All books are written from within a social and intellectual frame of reference and this one is no different.

The first part of the book is instructive and seems targeted for the seeker. However, in the later sections of the book, the tone decidedly changes to that of a academic apologetic. Reverend Bourgeault delves into the Cloud of Unknowing and writes a brilliant critique of various translations, as she herself translates from Middle English. While I admire the scholarship, this is not why I bought the book. It felt like two books - one for the seeker and one for the institutional practitioner/philosopher.

The second order effect of this academic excursion is that as I listened to the discussion of the translations and the literal words of the original Cloud of Unknowing author, what seemed originally to me as a call to a deeper way of prayer and worship, now feels like a rabbit trail off into something so esoteric and obscure that I am going to search elsewhere in the contemplative movement. For me, I find the work of Fathers Richard Rohr and Thomas Merton more accessible, inspiring, and while challenging, implementable.

The other critique of the book has to do with the quality of the audio recording. While Gabra Zackman is a superb reader, the audio itself has places where her voice is tinny, dragging, and mechanical sounding. It doesn't happen everywhere but it is very annoying and the first time I have had this problem on any audible book.

All in all, I don't know if I would recommend spending money on this book, especially with the poor recording quality.

2 people found this helpful

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  • KevinMcKenna
  • 23-01-2020

Brought me closer to my higher power

I am practicing centering prayer twice a day now instead of once in the morning. Fill of deep insight on the practice.

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  • Gavin McInerney
  • 15-10-2018

Doyouwanttolistentosomeonereadaveryinterestingbutcomplexsubjecttofastforyoutookeepup,nevermindunderstandit.

Do you want to listen to someone read a very interesting but complex subject too fast for you to keep up, never mind understand it? Then this narrator is for you. She is speed reading and I cannot get to grips with the writers ideas or instruction. However, I find the subject interesting and will just have to keep on pausing and going back.

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  • Ed
  • 08-01-2019

File corrupted Donald duck speaking

This file is corrupted, every 30 to 40 seconds you get speeded up voice - a Donald duck. Needs re-recording and withdrawn in spite of my comments and others nothing is being done about it

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-07-2017

review

This book is quite difficult for me to understand.
Maybe I choose a book that is too advanced for my spiritual progress.

1 person found this helpful