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Just as the subtitle describes, this is a book of prompts, quotes, and exercises to jumpstart your [writing] creativity. If you’ve ever read any of Bennet’s other books, you already know what a fine writer he is, and this book is no exception. Compact and designed to be used randomly, each creative exercise averages five pages (some are only one or two pages); long enough to get under your creative skin, but not enough to distract the writer from her job of writing.
There is something for everyone here: fifty exercises that will get your juices flowing, ranging from exploring the creative process, to writing from an animal’s perspective, to using tarot cards, to creating alternate realities, to suspending disbelief, developing characters, and so forth. As a successful working writer for thirty years, the author has developed a pleasing flow and cadence to his writing, which shines through even in a book such as this. The book concludes with an annotated bibliography and a list of Internet resources for writers.
Practical and poignant, any writer will be able to find herself—or her muse— somewhere within these pages.
This book provides an in-depth look at relationships from a psycho-spiritual perspective. Both profound and practical, the author delves into the myriad masks that ego wears in relationships, and what she calls “conditioning,” the habitual thoughts and ideas that ego operates from. She contrasts this to Essence,” the unchanging, present moment, and loving nature that transcends ego and is our true nature.
Relating through the Ego is a well-worn path for most of us, and the landscape is remarkably consistent as one of separation and relational interference. It is a spiritual paradox that we both need love and resist love; that we are both singular and whole; that we are both Essence and persona. The lessons of life and love are revealed through paradox, and choosing spiritual values, choosing to drop into our Essence, allows us to become the ideal partner—or to borrow a familiar phrase, “we become the change we wish to see…” Essence is that state of being where duality becomes Oneness, where we perceive first and foremost the divine in others, and our thoughts and actions naturally sustain meaningful relationships.
Although there are exercises and real life examples that encourage readers to move beyond ego and conditioning, this is not a “how-to” book. More so, it is a thorough exploration of the nature of being human, providing a rich deposit of understanding from which we can extract wise, loving, and conscious choices about ourselves and about being in relationship.
Something ancient stirred within me the moment I saw the cover of this book. Not surprising really, since sacred geometry is a nature-made creation story that predates language, homo sapiens, or even the world itself. According to Galileo, “the ‘grand book’ of the universe was written in the language of mathematics and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is impossible to understand a single word of it.”
What makes sacred geometry sacred, is that it connects us with the only world order “in which human nature can happily exist…the cosmological expression of ideal harmony and proportion which constituted the base behind every ancient lasting civilization.”
This book is beautifully written and contains over 300 color drawings that illustrate the archetypal patterns that numbers and shapes represent, and how they illuminate social and spiritual development, both in contemporary and historical worlds.
As someone who is mathematically functional, but not sophisticated, there is perhaps more “mathematics” explained in this book than I enjoy or appreciate. But this is a personal bias and in no way reflects the quality of information, knowledge, and wisdom offered in this fascinating and compelling look at sacred universal order.
Author and medical intuitive Carolyn Myss continues to shed thought-provoking and profound light on the mystery of healing—both physical and non-physical in Defy Gravity. She states some evident truths with startling originality and a fierce passion.
The central theme of this book is a discourse on the ways that reason alone cannot deliver us from the dis-ease in our psycho-spiritual or physical being, and the myriad ways that we humans wrestle with this internally. The author addresses mysticism—the missing element from reason—in modern garb, and makes it relevant through real life narratives and personal disclosure. She penetrates numerous habits of thought that keep us locked into our less-than-ness, and illuminates pervading questions of meaning and purpose with revealing insight. She writes with depth and eloquence, and her prose carries us along a winding river of self-revelation.
And yet…I found myself taking exception to some of her philosophical “truths,” on guard that there might be an overabundance of religiosity, and losing interest as she seemed to belabor the many salient points being made.
There are gems of wisdom and heart within the covers of this book and I certainly would recommend it; I suspect that my view may not be the popular response. However, for this reviewer, there was too much wading through muddy waters in order to retrieve the treasure, to sustain my single-minded attention.
There is no better time than now to introduce Judith Orloff, M.D., and her reissue of Second Sight, when resourcefulness is imperative and compassion at a premium. Within these compelling pages, Orloff is a master guide, leading us into little known or forgotten parts of our deepest selves. Her authentic voice is a touchstone in a wilderness of confusion, loss and self doubt. Second Sight is more riveting than fiction, its message as vital as any spiritual text. Articulated in a manner that is easily read, you will be swept up in her intuitive experiences and knowledge. Perhaps in the process you will be transported to your own life’s particular unexplained mysteries.
Initiation, the first of two sections in this book, weaves a tale of remembering, hearing, and validating what was nearly lost to her since childhood. In small and greater ways this inner work evoked a healing process that not only facilitated Orloff’s own intuitive restoration, but prompted breakthrough work with her clients. In Part 2’s Teachings, the reader becomes acquainted with methods that guide and enhance development of personal intuitive abilities. Through ritual, meditation, dreams, synchronicity, patience and lots of practice we are disciplined into the innate wisdom of our perceptive sense. We all have it but you have to use it!
Second Sight is a brilliant reminder that if we “step out of the way” and pay attention, magic occurs. We can see “beyond the veil.” Not as a new age “phony holy” but as an insightful, compassionate individual, linked in the chain of humanity where we are connected to something beyond ourselves. Orloff terms this place, “an infinitely fertile spiritual source.” What lies at the heart of this source is knowing, creativity, wholeness, and sight. This book is an essential and dynamic read for those wishing to have their lives “transformed into an amazingly rich tapestry.“ Judith Orloff quotes Jonas Salk when referring to this second sight of ours: “It is with excitement that I wake up in the morning wondering what my intuition will toss me like gifts from the sea.”
Chants of a Lifetime is a memoir of well-known chanter Krishna Das who met Ram Dass in the winter of 1968. After being totally devoted to Ram Dass, Krishna went to India where he lived and experienced his guru Neem Karoli Baba. After a few years, Krishna Das returned to the United States where he has been chanting ever since.
The book chronicles his various experiences and is a wonderfully vulnerable description of the author’s spiritual seeking and finding. His main spiritual practice became chanting which he has been sharing with many people since the 1970’s. The book is accompanied with a CD which will introduce the reader to the practice of chanting.
There’s a lot of spiritual history in this book and it is a delightful read that also takes you on your own inner spiritual journey.
Getting a handle on the new energy medicine/healing and the people behind it all is much easier once you see this movie. It has a cast of people like Lynne McTaggert, Eric Pearl, Bruce Lipton and others who explain the various types of new discoveries being made about how our bodies work and heal.
Well put together and entertaining at the same time, this is the perfect gift to give someone who doesn’t believe in anything other than conventional medicine. It is a mind-opener and could help people have more willingness to consider complementary healing modalities. Even if you are accepting of these ideas, having them organized as they are in this movie makes it even more fascinating and welcomed.
If your life seems to be stuck even though you have been meditating, affirming and using other spiritual tools, it could be that you need to learn how to forgive. This book is a fabulous toolbox for really learning how to do this.
Not only does the book give ways to give up our feelings and beliefs that are giving problems, but it also helps us learn how to actually shift our perceptions so we see things differently which allows us to act differently.
This book will appeal to people who want more than an emotional approach to this topic. It draws from A Course in Miracles, cognitive behavioral therapy, body-centered therapies, psycho-spiritual therapy, attitudinal healing, and energy work. There are lists, exercises, journal-writing, meditations and so much more. You’ll want to spend some time with this book and the rewards will be worth it.
Suzanne Jauchius’s memoir about growing up with an abusive mother and having to hide her impressive psychic abilities from her and a string of equally abusive husbands was like a soap opera. It was addictive - every page brought a new melodrama, so you keep reading compulsively to find out what happens next. You want to shake her as she ruefully admits to one bad choice after another, but you cheer her on as she gropes her way out of a prolonged dark night of the soul towards the light of self knowledge and acceptance of herself and her gifts.
Writing such an intimate memoir was a courageous act and, I would guess, the culmination of her own healing process. I think the core messages of the book are ones that we can all take on board: there are no victims, only accomplices; connecting with the natural world is essential to grounding oneself; and finding community supports you in finding inner peace.
As a working psychic Suzanne takes great pride in her psychometric skills and ability to get messages from objects and situations, which she has validated in a wide range of police cases and readings. She is a bit dismissive of the fuzzy emotional impressions of many new age psychics. I suspect that this view is colored by her own history of hiding her emotions and talents from her critics as a defense mechanism.
Anyone who has hidden or suppressed their own intuitive abilities out of fear of ridicule or worse can resonate with her struggle for validation. Ultimately, however, the psychic aspect of the story is only a byplay in her struggle to find validation and acceptance as a human being.
The lessons she learns the hard way are universal, and the fundamental one is that we can’t find ourselves in the eyes of others. We must do the inner work of erasing the tapes of our childhood, and releasing the baggage that has kept us from being whole and vibrant and joyful. Suzanne was lucky enough to have found some wonderful mentors along the way, and this book may be her way of paying their kindness forward. In any event, it’s a darn good read.
Last updated: January 29, 2010
Top 10 Reviewer - View all my reviews
A Synthesis of Wisdom and Compassion
Wow! What a marvelous example of integral thinking, bridging cellular biology and spirituality. The Code of Authentic Living provides a deeply compassionate counterweight to the alienation and isolation of the individual so prevalent in our time. Reflecting the truism in mystical circles that states, “As above, so below, ” Joan King applies the principles of how the components of the cell interact and cooperate as an interdependent community to illuminate our understanding of what human beings need to thrive.
Dr. King emphasizes the importance of discovering one’s core values and living in alignment with them. “In order to unlock our full potential,” she suggests, “we must be part of a community whose values are harmonious with our own.” Just as all the mechanisms of the body are brought into play to achieve balance and homeostasis, so should the individual seek out supportive elements within society that let him or her maintain equilibrium. Equally it is up to each individual to contribute creatively to the greater whole. A good example is Cicely Saunders, who was moved by the pain, fear and loneliness of the dying and the helplessness of their families. Determined to do something about it she founded the Hospice movement. There are now thousands of hospices around the country providing an invaluable service.
Dr. King gives pragmatic suggestions for engaging in social action and delivering the most fundamental requirements of a healthy society – protecting the vulnerable, welcoming diversity, overcoming conflict and prejudice and finding creative outlets for the individual spirit.
This book is an amazing achievement and would make a fine workbook for any community or spiritual organization. There are discussion points and exercises at the end of each chapter that help internalize the change one needs to “be”.
If we could apply to politics and government the same guidelines for authenticity that Dr. King has so beautifully articulated, what a tipping point that would be.
The Eternal Dance of Universal Consciousness & Worldly Experience
The Dice Game of Shiva tells the story of the Hindu god Shiva, lord of the universe, and his consort Parvati who learn a game with dice. Interestingly, Parvati wins round after round to the point that she cleans Shiva out... down to his last item of clothing... until he retreats to the wilderness. There is much more to this story, yet it captures an essential core sense of the eternal dance between universal consciousness (Shiva) and experience of the world (Parvati).
Richard Smoley writes with the intelligent voice of the Harvard and Oxford graduate that he is, and better yet as a professor who passionately loves the topic of consciousness as viewed from every philosophical and spiritual lens known to man. Smoley has a rare gift for describing ineffable concepts articulately and elegantly, such as when he writes, "It is this higher love, which Christianity calls agape and I call 'conscious love,' that reflects the insight that the Self at the center of one's own being is exactly the same as the Self that lies at the core of everyone else's as well, human and nonhuman, animate and apparently inanimate."
Smoley explores one of the six "orthodox" darshans of the Hindu sacred texts known as the Vedas, the Samkhya, weaving it together with Western ideas from philosophy, science and religion. Samkyha analyzes reality into its fundamental components, while Yoga is a system of meditative practice for spiritual liberation, and Vedanta is a way to detach ones awareness from physical being to a knowingness that all is as One.
Even as physicists currently seek a "Theory of Everything," humans pursue a comprehensive answer for the true nature of reality, the meaning of life, and the relationship between universal consciousness and worldly experience. The Dice Game of Shiva takes us on a mystical philosophical journey full of fresh new insights into who we truly are.
Last updated: March 23, 2010
Top 50 Reviewer - View all my reviews
Are you looking for deeper insight, more peace and happiness in your life, and want to contribute positively to our world? If you are, "Be The Change" may just be the book for you. Deb and Ed Shapiro, authors of fourteen other books on meditation, personal development and social action, have written an inspiring book, skillfully weaving these three topics together with the intention of encouraging readers, through meditation, to become more aware, kind and compassionate: all essential qualities for making the world a better place.
We understand that meditation calms the mind, helps us to be still and to pay attention, and to become more present in the moment. The authors up the ante by suggesting that through practice, we become more deeply connected with who we are, and thus recognize our connection with everyone and everything else in the world. This process fosters greater understanding and compassion, with a two-fold effect: it changes people and their behavior, and therefore, changes the world. "Meditation is naturally extended through generosity, sharing, and serving; the antidotes to selfishness, greed, and desire.”
What makes this book so inspiring and engaging, and different from many other books on meditation, is the Shapiros’ effective use of narratives from more than a hundred people. This makes the format lively, the content more intimate, and the motivation to meditate more compelling. The contributors, including HH the Dalai Lama, celebrities, authors, people suffering from mental and physical ill-health, prison inmates and meditation experts (a contributor’s biography is included), speak candidly about the circumstances that led them to meditate and what positive benefits they get from their practice. Sometimes the narratives do interrupt the flow, but they provide the reader with plenty of material to relate to.
If you have tried to meditate before but lacked the willpower to stick with it, "Be The Change" will motivate you. The book concludes with a variety of meditation techniques, including sounding and moving activities, which can be useful for those who find it difficult to sit still. According to the Shapiros, there is no right or wrong way to meditate: "All we need to do is keep coming back to the breath or practice, be willing to keep going and give it time. Our intent is more important than what happens."
In his much-discussed new book, Community: The Structure of Belonging, Peter Block makes a point of not trying to define a healthy and well-functioning community. The idea isn’t to create a visionary ideal for people to try to live up to, he says. Rather, it’s to encourage a shift in our way of thinking about community so we can bring about the qualities of an authentic sense of belonging. That, after all, is what community is really about.
Block’s approach sets this book apart from so many other works in the genre which try to map "best practices" or enumerate the essential features of a robust community. He understands that creating and sustaining a sense of belonging is fundamentally about the experience of community, not about it’s formal structures and mechanisms.
According to Block, the first and most pressing challenge is to transform people’s sense of isolation and self-interest into an experience of connectedness and caring for the whole. Creating that transformation requires a shift from seeing problems that need to be solved in the community to seeing possibilities that can be lived into. He writes at some length about "our love of problems," saying that they run deeper than simply the joy of being right or escaping responsibility.
The problem is that we harbor a deeply ingrained belief that defining, analyzing, and studying problems is the way to make a better world. But what few of us realize, Block says, is that this notion — that life is a set of problems to be solved — "may actually limit any chance of the future being different from the past. The interest we have in problems is so intense that at some point we take our identity from those problems. Without them, it seems like we would not know who we are as a community. Many of the strongest advocates for change would lose their sense of identity if the change they desired ever occurred."
Block says that the key task for leaders in bringing about this shift is to create structures for authentic engagement. This means 1) creating a context that nurtures an alternative future, one based on gifts, generosity, accountability, and commitment; 2) initiating and convening conversations that shift people’s experience, which occurs through the way people are brought together and the nature of the questions used to engage them; and 3) listening and paying attention.
Block is especially adamant about convening conversations in small-group settings. The small group is "the unit of transformation," he says, because it creates a sense of intimacy. "The intimacy makes the process personal. It provides the structure where people overcome isolation and where the experience of belonging is created."
Once the groups are brought together in a space that is conducive to genuine dialogue, it's important to ask the right questions. Some examples include: What’s the commitment you hold that brought you into this room? What’s the crossroads you face at this stage of the game? And, what’s your contribution to the very thing you complain about? These questions, Block says, have the capacity to move something forward. By exploring them we become more accountable, more committed, more vulnerable; and when we voice our answers to one another, we grow more intimate and connected.
While this is an eminently practical book, one full of hands-on strategies for transforming groups, organizations, and communities at large, it’s not a handbook. It’s really about how those of us who care about building and strengthening communities think about that challenge — the basic assumptions and conceptual models we bring to it. Community: The Structure of Belonging says, in effect, don’t worry too much about formal structures and mechanisms of community and consider instead what it would mean to create change from the inside out — the sort rooted in an authentic sense of connectedness and belonging.
Review by Scott London
Change Your Life by Changing Your Handwriting
Transform Your LIfe Through Handwriting is a spiritual graphology kit consisting of two audio CDs, a spiral bound guidebook, a spiral bound journal, and a deck of alphabet graphology cards. While all these go together very nicely, I was initially surprised to see the way this handwriting transformation kit was arranged, as apparently I'd been expecting a book and CDs, rather than a kit of so many things inside a box.
For those who have read graphology books and studied graphology to any extent, the principle behind transforming one's life through changing one's handwriting is fairly obvious, yet seldom fully explained. There seem to be many more examples and descriptions of what not to do in other books, so Vimala Rodgers' approach of focusing entirely on positive patterns is refreshingly different.
I like the sound of Vimala's voice on the audio tracks of the CDs, and once I'd adjusted to the initial shock of this entire kit being so very different than every other book on graphology I've seen, I started having fun with this program. Each letter is described in terms of its soul quality, its declaration of intent, its alphabetic family, its element, its gender, its gemstone, its animal and its angelic guardian protector. These qualities for each letter gave me a deeper appreciation for the meditations involved in writing each letter in upper and lower case -- and meditation is indeed the best way to describe what is involved. With only a modicum of advice on what not to do, I found myself fascinated by some of the reasoning behind the advice. We therefore learn to avoid writing a "secretary f," for example, that states, "I'll do your work well, but my ideas don't count."
I highly recommend this for anyone open-minded enough to try changing their handwriting, as there is a great deal to learn here, and this system really can work!
Excellent Primer on Channeling Divine Guidance
Writing the Divine dusts off and demystifies and the ancient occult practice of "automatic writing" in ways that help anyone develop the ability to channel divine guidance for themselves. Author Sara Wiseman is a trustworthy guide on this journey of learning to glean messages for one's personal transformation and life transitions, as she shares friendly and practical advice as well as tips on how to get started.
Wiseman mentions having had an early ability to read minds as well as an interest in the paranormal and occult... before experiencing a time in her life in which she scoffed at any mention of spirit guides or energy. She opened up again following a series of challenging life experiences (her father's death, a near death experience, and divorce), and discovered "there was no road worth traveling other than the path directed by the Divine," at which point "... my life started to happen with amazing speed and beauty."
Indeed, the kind of information typically obtained in channeled writing is often that quiet inner sense of knowingness most of us encounter from time to time, when we intuitively know something we have no way of knowing. Channeling divine guidance gives a voice to such subconscious feelings in ways that help us better know our own hearts, minds, and souls.
Wiseman provides uplifting, inspirational examples of her own channeled writings toward the end of Writing the Divine, demonstrating by way of example how channeled writings can sometimes be both powerful for an individual and meaningful to others as well. Readers who initially feel cautious, nervous, or concerned will have their fears put to rest as they follow the simple steps and learning process described.
Writing the Divine offers something for all readers, even those reluctant to dive fully into obtaining their own channeled messages, with thirty three lessons for divine guidance provided at the end of the book. Highly recommended!
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