'Need a break from the mayhem of the modern world; or maybe from the mayhem of your inner life? Then why not give yourself permission to pause?'
Such is the invitation at the heart of this book, which arises from Simon Parke's popular weekly columns of the same name in the Daily Mail, which calls them 'meditations to wake up your mind and your soul'.
The book comprises 180 short reflections, which use story, dialogue, and imagery as their path in the truth journey. It is not a book of easy answers or quick fixes; but one for those who, against all odds, haven't given up on truth - truth that is deep enough to hold and transform the realities we live with day to day.
The reflections are gathered into nine chapters, and each chapter marks a progression, a further stage in our development. 'I do believe there are stages of awareness,' says Simon Parke. 'And this is reflected in the chapters. Like a man walking along a dark path with a torch, we don't see everything. But we see what we need to see for now. When dawn comes, we'll see more.'
The meditations challenge us, certainly; refusing to collude with our compulsions, both small and large. But the challenge is underscored by a deep sense of the ultimate kindness of the universe.
Parke was a priest in the Church of England for 20 years, before leaving for fresh adventures. And he wrote this book while working in a supermarket, where for three years he stacked shelves, worked on the till, chased thieves - and chaired the shop union. So this is practical mysticism, keeping its feet on the ground, but taking adventurous steps and breathing fresh air...while all the time believing that wherever you are and whatever your circumstances - it only takes a minute.
This audio isn't supposed to be listened to from beginning to end. You can, don't get me wrong, but it really works best if you hear one vignette at a time and let it roll around in your head over morning coffee or a lunch break or whatever. These tales are probably the closest thing we'll get to in the Western world to Zen meditation parables. I come away from each one of these feeling like that was a minute or two well spent, and it tends to help me shift the way I look at things most of the day. Everyone will get a different level of experience out of it, obviously, but if you're inclined to try an audio like this, I suspect you'll enjoy it immensely.