Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: Life, Depth, and the Art of Immersion by Andrew Bowen

In this brief ebook, Andrew Bowen outlines his process for immersing himself into other faiths, as he did with his year-long Project Conversion (which I mentioned here and about which he wrote a book, that I reviewed here).

Even though this book has much wider applications than interfaith understanding, it would definitely be helpful to read Project Conversion first, to provide context and perspective from Andrew's previous experiences.

That being said, the tone of Life, Depth and the Art of Immersion is very different from Project Conversion.  Project Conversion was more conversational and intimate, this one seems a bit more formal and distant.  Andrew still uses examples from his own life, as well as drawing from many different religious traditions, but in trying to make his advice broad enough to apply to many different immersion situations, it loses some of the detail that made Project Conversion so readable and engaging.  However, he states toward the beginning that Immersion has a great deal of "elasticity" in its application, so that's to be expected to some degree.

In short chapters, Andrew offers guidance on how to identify your goals and how to find a mentor to facilitate your immersion process.  He warns of the "shock" and "blunt force" that immersion can have on a person and cautions the initiates against being too hard on themselves for the inevitable stumbles and mistakes.  "The Art of Immersion is a gradual, often lengthy process," he reminds readers.  "Like exercise of the physical body, the beginning is always the most arduous, the most demanding, because we must align our body and will for the sake of a seemingly distant result.  In time however, and with patience and diligence, those results indeed come, and what was once viewed as a cumbersome and laborious chore now segues into a beloved lifestyle."

I was especially intrigued by his categorization of those looking for immersion into four types of "divers":  the Student, the Penitent, the Seeker, and the Adventurer.  Each pursues immersion for a different reason and by a different path, suited to their purpose.  I also appreciated Andrew's egalitarian use of male and female pronouns for both the mentors and the "divers".

Life, Depth, and the Art of Immersion is meant to be a personal, reflective experience.  Every chapter includes suggested exercises, and encouragement to meditate and journal your process throughout.  This book would be best read as a how-to once you already have an immersion project in mind.  I'll have to re-read it when I get to that point.

** Disclosure: I received a free copy of this ebook from Andrew Bowen.

Life, Depth and the Art of Immersion
by Andrew Bowen
Buy it from Amazon here: (ebook)
Look it up on Goodreads.

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