• 9780824598075
  • 9780824598075
Joseph Piccione (Author)

Receiving God and Responding, in Breath Meditation

Praying at the Intersection of Christian Trinitarian Spirituality and the Breath Practice of Zen and Mindfulness

Christian Trinitarian theology of relational love can be put into motion in spirituality. Many persons seek a foundational or new experience of spirituality. For many, Christianity is at risk of losing its dynamism of Trinitarian…

  • Imprint: Crossroad
  • Imprint: Crossroad
  • Imprint: Crossroad
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  • Title: Receiving God and Responding, in Breath Meditation
  • Subtitle: Praying at the Intersection of Christian Trinitarian Spirituality and the Breath Practice of Zen and Mindfulness
  • Page Count: 188
  • Available Formats: Mobipocket (9780824501815), Cloth (9780824501808), Trade-paper (9780824598075)
  • Trim Size: 6 x 9
  • Publication Date: 01/06/2020
  • BISAC 2 : RELIGION / Spirituality
  • BISAC 3: RELIGION / Christian Living/Spiritual Growth
  • Original language: English
  • Retail US: Mobipocket (38.99), Cloth (69.95), Trade-paper (29.95)
  • Retail Canada: Mobipocket (), Cloth (), Trade-paper ()
  • Retail Canada: 39,95

Joseph Piccione (Author)

  1. Based on his experience with breathing meditation and influenced by Thich Nhat Hanh, Joseph Piccione’s book offers meaningful insights on how to integrate contemplative breathing with prayer to enrich a Christian practitioner’s Trinitarian spirituality. In a classroom setting, however, the Christian perspective will need to be complemented with readings that explain the doctrinal foundations of Buddhist breathing exercises. Only with this balanced perspective can students sharpen their understanding of interreligious dialogue and gain a fuller picture of the relationship between Buddhism and the author’s argument for “a Trinitarian breathing meditation.” Piccione’s work aims to offer Christians a sensory method to deepen their prayer through a breathing meditation, which is founded on his Trinitarian framework. Piccione builds his framework with arguments drawn from Scripture and theologians, such as John Ruusbroec, Yves Congar, and Henri Nouwen. The analysis begins with the life-giving function of God’s breath, which animated human beings (22-24). Piccione advocates that through awareness of breathing in various activities in daily life, Christians can find God’s presence (26). In Piccione’s proposed breathing meditation, the practitioner breathes in to receive God’s breath and realizes their identity as beloved in the beloved (52, 58). Through the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit, a practitioner receives and responds to God’s gift through breathing in and out, respectively (67). As breath travels through the body, the Christian meditator “rides” their breath to access their core and find Jesus (39, 77). Piccione suggests that the awareness of inhaling can be integrated with prayer and communion (88, 89). He presents exhaling as a response to self-recovery of our identity in “God Trinity” and to our brothers, sisters, and the cosmos (58, 62, 83). Through the cycle of breath-in-and-out, a meditating Christian engages God’s loving intimacy within themself. Piccione presents the readers with an innovative application of breathing techniques for Christian prayer and meditation (92, 93), influenced by his practice of Cognitive Based Compassion Training (note 10, 18) developed at Emory University, and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, shaped by Jon Kabat-Zinn (8). These techniques are, in turn, derived from Buddhism. His book provides Christian devotees with a practical guide to cultivate Trinitarian spirituality and a perspective on the interior activity of God (104). In terms of using the book for academic discussion on interaction between Zen and Trinitarian contemplation, educators need to investigate the following aspects further. Piccione frequently mentions that his interpretation of Zen breathing meditation is based on Nhat Hanh’s How to Sit (Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 2014), which he primarily applies to set forth his own interpretation of Christian dogma. Piccione’s references to Nhat Hanh’s work are principally concerned with the techniques of Zen meditative breathing rather than its philosophy. The author avoids examining the theological differences between the two practices. For example, he does not explore the insights embedded in Buddhist breathing praxis or engage with Mahāyāna philosophy or the Zen tradition’s understanding of them. To address Buddhist breathing in the classroom, I recommend providing excerpts from Thich Nhat Hahn’s masterful book devoted to this subject, Breathe! You Are Alive: Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing (Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 1996). Here, Nhat Hanh translates and comments on the early, canonical Buddhist meditation manual, Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing, which instructs meditators on employing breath to examine their physical sensations and investigate doctrines such as impermanence, no-self, attachment. Although Piccione’s cover mentions Zen, the author omits Buddhist doctrines related to breath meditation. His imagined reader is a devout Christian. There could have been fertile discussion in this interreligious area, such as that explored by Rōshi Robert Kennedy, SJ, in his Zen Gifts to Christians (New York: Continuum, 2000). Zen practice is tied to the Mahāyāna Buddha nature theory that locates the potential for enlightenment in every human being; it is indifferent to feeling a higher being’s love. To discern how to negotiate the theological difference between Zen and Trinitarian spirituality using the breath, educators could include the section “Sitting with the Buddha” from Nhat Hanh’s How to Sit. Piccione’s book gives readers concrete guidelines of Christian breathing meditation interwoven in Trinitarian spirituality. With complementary readings, this work can be used in class to examine Christian contemplation practice influenced by techniques derived from Buddhism.
    --Gloria I-Ling Chien – Gonzaga University, USA

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