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Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life


by Abbot Christopher Jamison

This review was written on 22nd October 2013

 

ISBN: 978-0-29785-132-5

Finding Sanctuary is about Worth Abbey in England and was featured in the BBC TV series The Monastery which was about 5 men living the monastic life for 40 days and 40 nights.

The general point that the the book is trying to get across (and the TV series) is that sanctuary is not a place. It's in our minds and that is where we must cultivate it.

Worth Abbey is run by an order of Benedictine monks who all live by the rules of St. Benedict which were written over 1,500 years ago.

Finding Sanctuary is about how these rules are not just for monks, but for everyone, and can help you to find peace and stillness in a busy and often confusing life.

Busy-ness is self inflicted. Life doesn't have to make us busy. We choose to adopt this way of living.

Our minds never stop thinking. It's impossible to empty our minds. But we can use meditation to slow our manic minds and frantic pace of living.

We should all practice meditating during every few minutes of empty time and take deep, slow breaths to help centre our thoughts.

Today's society is too full of "all about me" thinking and we need to turn this around so that it's all about community and good conversation. We should all refrain from grumbling.

Finding Sanctuary is a step-by-step process for building a mind sanctuary, through humility, community and spirituality.

But not the way we usually think of these things.

We need to get back to what the original meanings are. For example, just because you ride a bike, it doesn't mean you're part of a biking community. This is a modern misinterpretation.

Although written by a Benedictine monk about the rules of St. Benedict and how to live by them, this book is written for everyone, not just for Catholics.

In fact, only at the very end does it talk about religion and its place in society.

I found Finding Sanctuary to be a very calming and peaceful read and it helped me to make sense of all the ill-perceived beliefs we hold about the importance of being busy.

What we really need to be doing is slowing down and finding peace in our own lives, and this book shows you exactly how to do it by discovering the sanctuary in our own minds.

It's always there but we are just to busy to see it.