Jonathan Merritt On A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation

In his latest book, Learning to Speaking God from Scratch, best-selling author and religion writer Jonathan Merritt, discusses a chronic pain condition that left him “blurred” and “helpless like Job” (Merritt 96).

In a recent post, Merritt adds that he sought out mindfulness meditation and yoga in order to cope. As a fellow pain sufferer (I’ve have chronic migraine syndrome), I was honored when Jonathan reached out to discuss One Breath at a Time. 

In this Q&A, we chatted about the difference between meditation and prayer, skepticism of contemplative practices among Christians, meditation in scripture, church history, theology, and Jesus’s contemplative life.

Best of all, we talk about how Christians can boldly chart a path into contemplative spirituality while keeping her feet firmly planted in the faith.

Read the full interview here!

How to Make 2019 The Best Year Yet–One Breath at a Time

Today is the official Launch Day of One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Mediation. 

Yesterday, This is My Body author and dear friend Hannah Shanks told me: “If we ever needed deep breaths and ways to hold onto ourselves, it’s now.”

2018 wasn’t exactly stellar. It’s hard to remember a year that was. The past 12 months were fraught with crisis, division, injustice, and exhaustion. And though I’ve meditated consistently for over one year, I’m still effected by the state of our world. We should be. But we also need to stop, breathe, listen, and ask: how do we hold onto ourselves as we respond to the needs?

Hannah graciously offered that One Breath at a Time gives the reader “a handle and path and a reminder” of that connection. This meditation book was certainly the grab-bar I needed when my world was swirling with trauma vertigo.

My prayer for this book, as was with Saffron Cross and For Sabbath’s Sake, is that it gives the readers these tools. I once heard Glennon Doyle call this a “touch-tree.” When we feel lost, if we return to the tree (the tools), we’ll “never get too far gone.” When my shero, the great Barbara Brown Taylor called One Breath at a Time a “clear and doable invitation to be still with God,” I thought of Glennon’s wisdom.

This book is my touch-tree. It’s a snapshot of a life in need of repair and a gracious God who said, “Just listen, my dear.”

Thank you to the authors and Launch Team members who’ve gave their endorsements, time, and energy. They read and practiced, muddling through even when it was hard to share their honest experience with others.

Use these tools to make 2019 the best year yet. Find your handle, your path, your reminder, your touch-tree, and your clear and doable invitation to be still with God. May you, in turn, serve others, love deeply, and offer radical hospitality to a world in great need.

Keep it simple. Just turn inward for three minutes a day.

Praise for One Breath at a Time

Whether you are new to meditation, lapsed in your practice, or simply curious, you have found the right teacher. Dana Trent is not only wise about the ways in which our tech-driven lives are stunting our spiritual growth but also serious about offering us an invitation to be still with God for a few moments each day. The added bonus of her skepticism is that she knows how hard that can be–and why it remains essential for our soul’s health. —Barbara Brown Taylor, Author of Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others

Dana’s journey into contemplation is, to me, a sign of the times. As we reach for a still point in the turning world, meditation isn’t a flight from the world of action but a way of staying centered in the midst of it. One breath at a time, indeed. —Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Author of Reconstructing the Gospel

Dana Trent’s One Breath at a Time is powerful and instructive. Trent’s poignant words give us the practical guidance that we need to learn, practice, and grow, and she keeps us engaged in every step of the way. —Rev. Carol Howard Merritt, Author of Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church

Three Easy Steps to Beginning and Sustaining a Christian Meditation Practice this New Year

Come December, I find myself anxiously gripping the Church’s new liturgical year in vain; the harder I hold on, the quicker its meaning sifts through my clenched fists. Though I say I’m going to go deeper in my daily devotional practice, I won’t. Though I vow to embrace winter’s darkness in order to discover the inner divine Light, I don’t. Though I promise to focus on hope-peace-love-joy, it escapes me. Amid the seasonal to-dos of a market-driven culture, I find myself caught up in the world, not the tiny babe in a manger … Read the full article at Bearings.

Need a clear, accessible guide to holding three minutes of sacred space to experience God’s comforting presence and voice each day?

One Breath at a Time provides a step-by-step toolbox for beginning your practice in the new year. Read more here.