I have read many books on spirituality but for me this book is the one I always return to. Having personally had some very difficult years recently, I find this book a constant support and source of encouragement. I often open it at random and every time I find something that fills me with hope and helps me to cope with my problems. I love the fact that the writer is so honest about his own struggles as it makes me feel so much better about my own imperfect life. This is a very courageous and God-affirming book and constantly reminds us about God's overwhelming love for us - something organised religions often forget.
Travelling Light: Your journey to wholeness, by Daniel O'Leary, The Columba Press, 2001, 216 ff.
A guide to meditation and spiritual enlightenment By Howard Jones
Fr. Daniel O'Leary is one of those rare creatures - steeped in the formalism of the Catholic Church as a parish priest but always ready to embrace the wisdom of other faiths in his writing where he feels this is appropriate. He has been a regular contributor to the Catholic magazine, The Tablet, for some time; but his writings have as much to say that is relevant to non-Catholics as to those within the faith. This book was created while the author was on a sabbatical of spiritual refreshment in the USA.
The book is divided into three parts. The first short Part is by way of introduction to those embarking on a spiritual journey. The main substance of the book is in Part Two - a collection of thirty-one quite short meditations that the author calls `Breathers', and which he also describes as `spiritual cat-naps'. Anyone who has practiced any kind of meditation within eastern or western belief systems, or has been on stress management courses, knows that one of the most important prerequisites is learning how to breathe in a relaxed manner: hence the description of these meditations. As the author says, `body, mind and spirit are always inseparable on the spiritual path . . . this integration is the function and goal of the journey of healing and wholeness.'
Each meditation comprises a `theoretical' part, elaborating in a gentle, non-prescriptive way, the aim of this step of the journey. This is followed by a section labelled `Praxis' giving the specific details of what is required in a practical sense. These recommendations are widely relevant. To subdue the `tyranny of the ego' that the author gives as his aim at one point is also the key objective of eastern philosophical practice. The final Part of the book is again a relatively short collection of meditations that accompanied the author in his North American travels.
In reading this book I was reminded of the introspective meditations of the 16th century mystic, St. Theresa of Avila, in her book "Interior Castle". This metaphor has been revived recently by a contemporary mystic, Caroline Myss, in her book, "Entering the Castle". The words that open Praxis 6: `Every thought and feeling we have affects the condition of our body', is one that resonates with so much of the writing in the New Age movement and even with contemporary medicine, so these are not esoteric writings. I unhesitatingly recommend this book to readers from any religion, or none, who seek to develop their innate spirituality in search of a holistic Self.
Dr Howard A. Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God (2006) and The Tao of Holism (2008), both published by O Books of Winchester, UK.
The language is beautiful. The treatment of emotional responses to difficulties is mature and enlightening. The hunger to express what it is to be is tangible throughout. Also at times a beautiful vision of creation shines through the work. Brutally honest writing by a man who struggles with his demons as do we all. My mother, who I'm afraid to say , has not a few hallmarks of a Catholic mystic would kick him up the backside, give him a rosary beads and insist he dedicate himself to the Divine Mercy. Beats the desert excursions any day and you actully get REAL results. Good poetic writer. Will be kept in my prayers.
This book is divided into 3 main sections. First an introduction to the approach of the book which is very much to tie the physical and spiritual worlds together within a Christian worldview. Secondly a series of reflections (generally 2/3 pages) and meditations (half a page)- one for each day of the month. Lastly 3 longer pieces, for when a little more time is available. A good book as you can dip in and out of it easily.
Travelling Light is a wonderful book to help bring everyone closer to God and to the simple but profound wisdom that we are God's adored creations. Daniel O'Leary speaks from his own search for truth and his deep spirituality. His writing is straightforward, very accessible and he seeks to help the reader find God within and around and as part of everything. I find this book so good, I have bought it as a gift for a number of friends. I highly recommend it to anyone searching for a richer spiritual life.
Fr Daniel is living and breathing the stuff he writes about; he is not an esoteric academic; this is why I rate this book so well. As a Retreat Director myself I will use his material often. Go with God Daniel! As indeed you do already. Gabrielle Daly-Fong Aotearoa New Zealand
Father O'Leary writes from his own experience and manages to deal with most of the experiences of life which come to all of us. His insights are very helpful and he gives practical examples of how to cope with some of the difficulties which come with journeying spiritually as a human being.
This book is full of honesty and good sense. It helps to know that others, especially a priest, have all the same anxieties and hang ups as I do. It is full of good advice and a book to be passed on NOT put on the bookshelf to gather dust! I have bought numerous copies to give away.
This is a superb book, indispensible for thosee on a spiritual journey. It has good academic references and is very acccurate in terms of understanding the spiritual dimension, but also how to access it.