Listening to that inner thought

Whispers in the Still

Over recent years ‘mindfulness’, a concept derived from certain Eastern spiritual practices, has become very much the thing. In her new book Martina Lehane Sheehan, who is the director of retreats at Ennismore Retreat Centre down in Cork, attempts to enlighten the reader about what is involved and how they can benefit from it.

Some people are often worried about such imports from other cultures, seeing in such things as a genuflection to ‘pagan’ practices. But these are imported techniques rather than a form of devotion. As such, western Christians have a great deal to learn from them, especially in a society where silence and apartness seem to be almost lost qualities of life.

This is very much a practical book, rather than a meditative one. The reader is intended to do the meditating. Martina Sheehan is not doing the work. She merely an experienced guide. But along the line she focuses on the needs of the readers.

Her insights she has gained from working with the system is supported by many references to Christian meditative literature. It is their inwardness that is being developed not that of the author. 

But what is striking about the book is the tone of warm supportiveness throughout. Towards the end she quotes a small boy advising another. “Just remember it will be ok in the end, and if it is not ok, it is not the end.” She catches an unconscious echo of Julian of Norwich of whom the boy could not have heard. But it is for such simple but profound wisdom that the look will be valued by readers.