As occupational therapists our medium is occupation, those meaningful and purposeful everyday activities in which we engage as individuals and in community. Occupations can be meditative, contemplative, or action-based. Occupations can be spiritual. The following definition of spirituality as distinct from any particular religion can be helpful in our understanding spirituality as it relates to occupational therapy practice:
“Spirituality can be defined as the search for meaning and
purpose in life, which may or may not be related to a belief in
God, or some form of higher power. For those with no
conception of supernatural belief, spirituality may relate to
the notion of a motivating life force, which involves and
integration of the dimensions of mind, body and spirit. This
personal belief or faith also shapes an individual‘s
perspective on the world and is expressed in the way he/ she
lives life. Therefore, spirituality is experienced through
connectedness to God / a higher being; and / or by one‘s
relationships with self, others or nature.” (Johnston & Mayers, cited in Mayers and Johnston, 2008, p. 273)
In his book Pray Like a Gourmet, David Brazzeal addresses prayer as an occupational therapist might, as a meaningful activity in the context of relationship, routine, and culture with a creative flair. This book can serve as a good resource for those wanting to learn about various types of prayer from a Christian perspective. While this book is geared toward a Christian audience, some of the practices and suggestions in the book can be adapted and might be of interest to people from a variety of spiritual traditions. Please see my book review below.
David Brazzeal’s Pray Like a Gourmet was a pleasant surprise. The book uses the metaphor of food and the variety of food options available to a gourmet chef or connoisseur of fine foods as a metaphor for prayer. It spells out concrete practices and exercises that can help a person re-energize his or her prayer life; however, it is not a cookbook or list of simplistic, pat recipes. Instead Brazzeal suggests prayer practices and encourages the reader like a true gourmet chef to make these prayer suggestions his or her own. He encourages the reader to expand his or her “prayer palette” and “learn the joy of creatively feeding [one’s] own soul” (Brazzeal, p. 8).
The book is well-organized and clear. It is divided into three sections roughly corresponding to an introduction and reflection on Brazzeal’s personal experience, the middle which deals with various styles of prayer, and a conclusion with a reflection on prayer as influenced by daily routine, creativity, and culture. Brazzeal’s reflections and anecdotes are interspersed along with references to source material which makes for meaty content and a pleasant conversational flow to the text.
The illustrations are well done for the most part. At times the color scheme was visually challenging when reading this on an iPad or tablet. I like the varied fonts used in the text for accent and visual effect. However, I would suggest using different colors or a bolder color, such as dark green or blue for ease of reading, rather than the light orange that is frequently used for accented text. However, all in all the book is well-organized, well written, and very creative. This book offers much to digest for individual readers, and it would also be a great resource for those involved in ministry as it offers creative suggestions that can be incorporated into group prayer. It is an easy read and a book that one would return to again and again. Brazzeal’s Pray Like a Gourmet is pure soul food!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
Brazzeal, D. (2015) Pray Like a Gourmet: Creative Ways to Feed Your Soul. Brewster, Massachusetts: Paraclete Press.
Mayers, C., & Johnston, D. (2008). Spirituality – the emergence of a working definition for use within healthcare practice. Implicit Religion, 11(3), 265-275.