As part of “Mental Health Month” we have the following book review of and opportunity to win: Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising connections between neuroscience and spiritual practices that can transform your life and relationships. By Curt Thompson, M.D.
At Global Trellis, we believe a healthy life on the field is a balance of good soul care and personal development. So what does that have to do with mental health?
According to psychiatrist and author, Curt Thompson, new breakthroughs in neuroscience are revealing just how integrated our soul (spiritual formation) and mind (mental health) are when talking about knowing and being known by God. The two work in unison and when we separate them, we are disintegrating the whole of who God created us to be.
Written in an accessible way, Anatomy of the Soul helps us understand the anatomy of the brain and how it connects with our emotions and intellect. Thompson addresses the importance of emotions as a way to access communion with God and others. When we pay attention to our emotions, acknowledge them, and begin to understand them through spiritual practices, we can begin to have breakthroughs in communication with God and in our relationships.
At Global Trellis we’ve introduced practices in Ignatian spirituality. If you’ve prayed the Examen or Imaginative prayer, you have begun to grow in your awareness of how your emotions assist you in communicating with God in prayer. St. Ignatius of Loyola, before times of neuroscience and psychology, developed these prayer practices by noticing how his emotions were movements of God’s Spirit in his life. He noticed that his emotions either lead him toward walking closer to God or further from God. St. Ignatius shared his noticing with the world when he wrote the Spiritual Exercises.
Today neuroscientists are catching up and adding to the work of early saints by defining and fleshing out what it means when we say that our emotions are our experience of God.
Anatomy of the Soul explains the science behind what is happening in our brains as we engage in spiritual practices and prayer. My favorite part about this book is how Thompson takes Bible stories we’ve read all of our lives and shows what is happening within the minds and hearts of the characters. For example, he unpacks the psychological dialogue within the story of the Fall and then connects it with our struggle of sin and shame. It puts a fresh perspective on our inner struggles of faith, our stories, and our relationships.
In very practical ways, Thompson shares spiritual practices throughout the book that lead to the holistic integration of the mind, body, and soul of a person toward a deeper awareness concerning our relationship with God. Some examples are: story-telling, fasting, confession, and the body scan.
Personally, the information concerning attachment moved me. As an adoptive mother, a person who struggles with attachment, and has read many books on attachment, I found this book most comprehensive and life-changing. Neuroscience and psychology today are finding more and more evidence concerning the importance of attachment, and this book links it to our created-ness. Thompson says, “attachment is a reflection of God’s own state of being—one of community, integration and connection.” He works to move us towards restoration and reconnection.
Other topics discussed that may interest you are empathy, trust, having the mind of Christ, shame, and elements of repair. Often cross-cultural workers find themselves ministering to others in places of pain. I believe this book offers tremendous resources that will give you different ways to be offer compassion to those with whom you minister. At the heart of this book is a desire to see all of God’s children, in community, transformed by the workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives through Jesus Christ for the ushering of God’s Kingdom.
I found Anatomy of the Soul to be challenging, encouraging, easy to read, and practical. I honestly could not put it down. If you only have time to read one book on mental health, this is the book I’d recommend. It is engaging, practical, and touches on so many areas of mental/spiritual health in one book. I have no doubt it will lead you toward a deeper relationship with God that will pour over into the lives of those you serve and with whom you live in community.
Leave a comment and two of you will win a copy of Anatomy of a Soul! Winners drawn Thursday.
Mental Health Month Special: Have you ever been unsure what to do when locals tell you things they feel safe telling you because you’re an outsider? Or in over your head when expats come to you for unofficial counseling? This bundle is for you! You’ll be equipped in the basics of lay counseling, have tangible resources in hand, and answers to the key questions you face repeatedly. You no longer have to feel lost or unable to help! Get the bundle here.