Reviews written by Alaina Zipp
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I have read a lot of books on yoga programs and "self-help," and am pleased to say this book is one of the best I've encountered. I doubt I was swayed by the vibrant, energetic looking author Dashama on the cover. (After all, all yoga or self-improvement books have someone looking radiant, tempting, particularly on days your head and body feel dull and fuzzy.) What drew me in, I believe, was Dashama's simple language, weaving of her own struggles being raised by a mother with schizophrenia and addiction issues, and her no shame approach to healing. She describes ways to assess and change emotional habits that might keep people stuck, as well as eating habits, yoga philosophy and time management. This is a book about changing your life, but doesn't leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed that you need to run out and buy all new groceries and stop everything you’re doing because "it's wrong." It's possible that part of what I liked about this is the acknowledgement that sometimes just wanting to change a habit isn't enough; we might need to address emotions and expectations attached to it. As you can tell, I found this a thoroughly great and uplifting read that I am going to announce to all my FB pals.
I read the review below before submitting my own review. While the previous reviewer found the book exceedingly empowering, I had a hard time separating it from the painful way it was written. While the story of a woman reliving her life and analyzing the spiritual development is interesting, I personally found the intermingling of her current views with the 3rd person narrative incredibly distracting and energy draining. While I think many people might enjoy it, for me its complex writing style vastly outweighed any positives I might've taken from the book's premise.
This was a great book for those interested in or dubious about any healing touch modality. It gives information and the developmental history of the "healing touch" method now used in many hospitals, particularly by nurses. Dorothea, a founder of this type of touch, also provides practical exercises for grounding and pain relief as well as ideas for working with each chakra.
I can think of several acquaintances who are intrigued by energy medicine and healing arts, yet struggle without provided concrete ideas of "where to put my hands?" This book made me think of one of the ongoing issues today: the idea of energy healing as something "everyone has or can do" vs. "some people being innately more talented, and perhaps not needing teaching." One answer I have heard is "whether or not you have talent, you want to be able to use it consciously, know how to use it safely and know why you are doing it." While I do believe everyone has the capability for many types of "psychic awareness," not everyone is willing or interested in learning skills to use it and/or mucking around in discovering the barriers to coming into power with it. Regardless of your stance on this question, this book Healing Touch provides history and some good reality-based exercises in a user-friendly format.
Looking for one companion throughout the year with astrology, lunar moon phases, tree lore and assorted witch-ly seasonal information? This book woudl be for you. This "compendium of ancient lore and legend" packs all this information into a old-timely style almanac. You no longer have to juggle a 2012 astrological calendar, book of trees and herbals, as well as those papers from the last conference you were in-they are combined right here. Although not set up for you to write your own activities in, this book would make a fun filled friend through the calendar year.
Sometimes I wonder how there can be so many books that generally say the same thing, yet are so different. This is a lovely, comforting book presenting the radical acceptance that everyone will suffer in their time and presenting various ideas of how to keep your own "spark" burning as you move through hard times. I recently used just the sidebar meditations in a meeting and it left the participants centered and thoughtful. The cd of meditations is a great bonus (complete with word by word transcription). Definitely a buy for anyone, Jack Kornfield is a timeless author.
Ready for another book that might transform your beliefs about traditional relgiouis icons? Try this one, in which Clarissa Pinkola Estes (of Women who Run With the Wolves) tells an even more intensely personal story of the Blessed Mother. This book is an amalgamation of multiple women's stories (spanning cultural and financial lines)of their awakenings and experiences with the Divine Feminine. It's an energizing read, though it might leave you feeling a bit dizzy from the lushness and intensity.
Love to learn of history and spirituality, but not interested in dry facts? Tired of fighting your own battles and yearn for some escapism? Walk in the steps of one man in the book Dawn of Kukulkan as you travel into the Mesoamerican underworld. This story will draw you in and carry you along to the final fight, in which the powers of good battle evil.
I was extra excited to read The Body Ecology Diet, because I saw the “lite” version in the grocery store weekly. You know, the latest “miracle solution diet” for symptoms of fatigue, weight gain and mental vagueness. The Body Ecology Diet is based on the premise that unchecked yeast or Candidiasis in the body causes sugar cravings, joint pain and inflammation, immunological issues and general malaise in many people. The most common US dietary practice (lots of carbohydrates and sugars) contributes to overgrowths of yeast. This book describes a process of overhauling your diet to eat ocean growing vegetables like seaweed, limit carbohydrates to “starve” the yeast and introduce fermented vegetables and kefir. I appreciated that though the dietary change offered is extreme; the author frequently describes making small changes at a time and tries to simplify things by offering shopping lists and recipes. She also appears to prefer home made products and references that “while you can buy “X” ready-made at stores, it’s more expensive and less tasty.” She offers a comparison table towards the end, describing how the Body Ecology Diet differs from, say, the Blood Type Diet. For such an extreme change of life, the book is written in an engaging and approachable style.
As I contemplated writing this review, I was deeply humbled twice. Once, in my first martial arts class, and again in reading this book. My martial arts humbling was somewhat predictable. While I have been watching classes for more than a year and copying the movements “in my head,” I assumed that my body would balk when actually performing in the physical world. I was correct and today, “the day after,” I am moving slowly and somewhat painfully in my everyday activities.
My second humbling occurred in working my way through this book, The Heaven at the End of Science. I consider myself fairly intellectual, took (and apparently understood) basic philosophy and science courses. But I have to say I struggled to comprehend this book in several ways. After reading it, I am not sure I completely understand the author’s premise, nor am convinced by his arguments.
As I understand it, Real Dream is a theory that “the outside world” is merely a manifestation of the Greater United Mind. This allegedly is a more thorough explanation for things explained (and not explained) by material scientists. In my mind, the Real Dream is a bit like “The Matrix,” though the outside reality is not created by a computer but a unified consciousness. The author painstakingly moves through refuting Darwinism, particle theory and the Big Bang; explaining each theory, what isn’t explained by it, and why the Real Dream theory is a better fit.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that this theory is combining science and “so called spiritual or metaphysical beliefs.” The author has obviously spent a great deal of time detailing and refuting general theories. However, I would hesitate to pass this book onto anyone who 1) doesn’t have a basic comfort in science and 2) isn’t ready for serious concentration. Part of me wonders if my issue with the book might be that I DO believe there is more than “what the eye sees,” even without “scientific proof,” so am not intensely invested in usurping the material science koan. I am going to pass this book onto family members with scientific backgrounds to hear their commentary and will prepare to return to my martial arts class. One thing I think I understood from Real Dream theory is the premise that, with enough effort, I will be able to make my physical body follow my mind’s plan.
Have you ever noticed people in spiritual leadership positions and wondered A) why people followed them and B)how people didn't "see through them?" This book will give you several themes and specific questions to use in your own pursuits. I thnk it is wonderful to have a book that points out many questions and concerns that may come up as a person learns from others. This book gives a variety of real life stories of misuses of power by spiritual leaders, as well as questions for assessment if you are thinking of accepting a spiritual leader.
If I hadn't read any further than page 18 in this book, it would've left me satisfied. As a witch, parent, woman, and counselor, I know the following words to be true, but haven't found such succinct descriptors: "Without a rich ceremonial life it is difficult for people to maintain their inner balance in the midst of surrounding chaos...All ceremonies concern change, which can cause a disruption in our feeling state....Ceremony helps by putting order into this chaos and surrounding important events with behaviors that are designed to put boundaries around our thoughts and feelings. Ceremony focuses, orients and orders our intellect, emotions and memory." Luckily, I read on and continued to be delighted in the way psychological terms are interwoven with Native stories, tales from the author's life, and clarity of the creation of ritual. I enjoyed the "spiritual preparation time line," mindful that even with an instant of insight, roads of preparation have been trudged to get there. I found this an overall easy to access book on how to create ceremonies and would highly recommend it to anyone.
I resisted reading this book. Maybe I was put off by the word "God," being more used to the genteel words like "higher power," "Spirit," or "Greater Presence." Nevertheless, once I got past my own hesitations, I found myself enjoying this book as it visits many people and their stories of how miracles happened in their lives as they followed a path of belief. The book is not necessarily about a certain spiritual path, but simply "having faith that you will be taken care of" by a greater spirit. It reminds me of a sermon I heard, in which the pastor intoned, "it doesn't matter what you call, as long as you do call."
I saw a poster today with the words "we do not raise our children, it is the other way around." That describes the spirit of the book, The Tao of Motherhood. I love the living proof that spiritualy can seep into every aspect of our lives, like a tea bag slowly spreads its brownish flavor into a cup of hot water. I haven't read the actual Tao Te Ching, so I can't comment on how true to its wisdom it keeps. What I do know is that the book has easily accessible snippets (1-2 page poems) that leave me full of stillness and the words often come back to my mind later.
I realized today what this book attractiveness is for me: it provides the gentle, nudging yet supportive guidance that we like to provide to our children, yet don't always have access to towards ourselves. I believe this book would be potentially helpful to any nurturer, such as fathers, classroom teachers, counselors or 12 step sponsors. I say this because it seems to give tools for that challenging process of giving out and yet paying attention to our own feelings, agendas and needs. This can be used to make us more mindful and aware of what we are nurturing in others, and as a result, more mindful in our lives in general. Parenting is particularly vulnerable to being triggered with our own issues, passt experiences and our own desires that can confuse our intents and behaviors. I believe this book could be helpful in sorting that out. I highly recommend this book and urge people to take sweet bites of it and welcome the awakening flavors that open to them.
The Spiritual Life of Water was like a combination of the written down version of the popular movie "What the Bleep Do We Know," with a little bit of the Discovery Channel's Mythbusters thrown in. The author skillfully covers scientific, spiritual and biological aspects of water and how we might use it to our best advantage. While parts of the book are heavy science that might be heavy going for some, there are just as many more easily readable sections. It's a fascinating treatise on a substance we crave, we need, and we desperately need to keep safe.
Imagine a talk show featuring people who have talked to and/or seen their God. This book is that talk show on paper. It is groups of short essays by people who met their God (whoever and whatever they find their Divine). All people polled felt this encounter deepening their spirituality, reminded them of faith, reminded them of the goodness in people and the Divine. The essays are arranged into convenient thematic chapters, such as "Visionary Experiences" or "Finding the Divine in Nature." While the stories seem to be written well enough, I found getting through this book challenging. It didn't serve me well to try and read through the whole book in one sitting; I would recommend the "story a day" as a meditation. Nevertheless, there is comfort in hearing so many tales from people who've had life-changing experiences of all kinds with the Divine.
Ever wonder what it would be like to have your extraordinary senses lovingly nurtured when you were at a young age, and not yet convinced that "the world is only what you can see"? Karen Kimball, 10 year-old mystic-in-training, finds this type of nurturing at swim camp, one seemingly ordinary summer. Within a few weeks, she discovers how to communicate with her favorite pet, some very adult-like beliefs about the nature of social relationships, and how to encourage herself through fearful situations. My 8 year-old son describes it as a magical book and, I must say, I have already mapped out the route my copy will make among my friends. The author has woven realistic childlike thinking with "deep thoughts," in an easy to read book for children of all ages.
My intent was to skim through “The Best Buddhist Writing of 2010,”and then write my review. My thinking went,” I’m interested in the subject, I just don’t want to lose momentum and forget to write the review." I also figured that I’d read a few of the essays and sum the whole thing up, no problem." What happened instead is that I could barely manage to read one 5 page essay a day. I found that I needed to roll the exquisiteness of these thoughts around in my brain and my life. This compilation of essays left me wanting to stay in between each exquisite breath; in that balancing point of the first time I seemed to grasp a thought or feeling.
Some essays elaborate on a specific aspect of Buddhist thought, another is a series of questions and answers to children about Buddhism from Thich Nhat Hanh. My personal favorites are entitled “Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World,” and “The Shitty Monk.” These demonstrate to me the natural human tendency toward self-flagellation and that even amidst what we deem “failure,” we can grow spiritually and find peace. I would have been happy just reading and reflecting on one of these essays, but instead I was treated to more than 20. I read this book during a few personally very scary weeks, and yet many moments of bliss rose out of these pages to greet me. Alaina Zipp
The last few years have spurred bundles of Harry Potter-esque fiction which most often depicts "regular" people discovering their psychic or witchly talents. I like to read these for a few reasons: the first is to assess the level of magical knowledge the writer has obtained; the second is because it tickles me to think of "the next generation" knowing they can hone psychic talents in similar ways to soccer skills. A second emerging book form focuses on parenting spiritually gifted children. These books span a wide range from recommending regimented routine (the psychic equivalent of practicing scales) to suggesting avoiding any skill-building and focusing simply on "good intentions." I have not found many books that deal practically with the trifecta of parenting, providing knowledge to people with limited to no experience with psychic abilities AND taking into account the specialized ways to joyfully teach children.
This book covers them all and is a great "how-to" guide for parents to avoid squashing their children's innate connection to the Divine. It delivers a great deal of practical information on psychic abilities in a decidedly relaxed manner. This can help avoid some of the adult pitfalls, such as trying out a new guided imagery while fighting off that fear of "what if I'm doing IT wrong?" Some of Sara Wiseman's pithy comments include: "if your kid is doing it differently than how it started, that's fine...and "Remind your child they always have the control to ask for help from you or the Divine if they need...." I also love her statement: "Having a schedule with less in it often means a great deal more." I love this recommendation of "downtime," hours that might be spent looking at clouds, petting animals or futzing in the yard. This is described as a way of helping train minds to more easily enter the psychic and spiritual realms. I would obviously recommend this book to parents, but also to anyone interested in some basic information about different types of psychic abilities and practical ways to increase a sense of Connection.
Many-Sided Wisdom, A New Politics of the Spirit by Aidan Rankin is an extremely rich book. This book discusses “Anekant,” a belief system derived from Jainism that recognizes there are many paths toward the same truth. It ties this belief system to the world macrocosm: that working with nature rather than against it will serve us all best, as will a spirit of over all cooperation and respect. While I applaud its basic premise, it was often a bit hard for me to slog through; this is not a book for the faint of heart or those low on patience. It is, however, touted in reviews as a must-have for community organizers and those involved or interested in coalitions.
Kick-Ass Creativity, An Energy Makeover for Artists, Explorers, and Creative Professionals by Mary Beth Maziarz sat on my table for several months before I opened it. Normally I am someone who overflows with active energy; I slumped big-time. The experience, while not pleasant, is always an interesting one: noticing a dearth of energy, trying to pinpoint the energetic drains and reestablishing the Flow.
I enjoyed Kick-Ass Creativity because it literally coaxes you into spell work to vision and reestablish Flow. Each chapter has food for thought questions, such as “Where can you find evidence that you already are experiencing one of your desires?” and it describes several specific ways to flip negative feeling states. While this book is designed for artists, I think anyone could appreciate this step-by-step book to establishing (or reestablishing) fun habits that lead one toward a life of fulfilling your desires.
As most of us have been told, children generally move more easily in the world of energetic connecting than adults; as we grow and are influenced by the world's "it couldn't be" thoughts, we routinely experience blocks to intuition. This book is set up to simultaneously enhance awareness and intuition to a parent or caretaker while helping them to connect specifically with their child. This book is easy to read, with stories from the author's life interwoven with exercises to enhance your ability to energetically connect with your child. I think this book might be most useful practically to someone newer to working with their intuition, or interested in a step-by-step guide.
The Council of Dads is not an easy book to read. It isn't how it's writtern, but the subject matter. For most parents, I imagine, the idea of dying while your children are young brings up a great deal of fear and sorrow. A child's loss of a parent plus the idea of not being part of a child's growth through the years pull heartstrings.
Nevertheless, this story is written by a man who manages to find a way to empower himself in this situation. Given a terminal diagnosis, the author interviews any number of men who might be able to provide some of the Dad-qualities his daughters would miss by his death. I wouldn't foresee myself reading this book over and over as I do with some, but anyone wanting a peek into the emotional roller coaster of a dying parent as well as the creativity that is born of wanting to provide for a family might enjoy it.
I love books that intertwine entities that were previously separated, by habit or history. This new reference guide to supplements breaks new ground by bridging the science of nutritional supplements with energetic and spiritual chakra correlations. As in the author’s previous book, Chakra Foods for Optimum Health, there is a basic orientation to chakras as well as detailing potentially useful supplements. This dense, factoid-filled book would be a must-have for any people on the paths of increasing their health or their spiritual vibrations.
What is it we hope to accomplish in telling the “Santa Claus story” to young children? Is it merely a historically based vehicle to put a little mystery into what might otherwise be simple consumerism? The Santa Story Revisited argues that if we stop at a gift giving yearly Santa, we fall short of what we might teach our children. In this quick read, Arita Trahan argues that the real “gifts” are using this symbol to teach our children about generosity and compassion to others. In an unusual style that includes role plays of conversations, we are guided through finding our own family’s rituals of a Santa character, and hopefully, growing a “gift of compassion” in the hearts of our children.
I found this to be a deeply touching book. I expected only to read the poems, which were gift enough with their timelessness and richness. What I found to be most satisfying was the cultural interpretation of Sufi poems in general; detailing the meaning of certain common phrases. I think this would be enjoyed by those familiar with Sufi poems or someone just looking for a different style of writing and a peek into a different world view.
Most of us are familiar with yoga; but I imagine that even someone steeped in yoga would find some new tidbits in this book. Though the majority of the book is detailed descriptions and pictures of intermediate ashtanga postures, the first half is a deeply rich compendium of the spiritual history and development of yoga. This is information that you might have previously only gotten from your yoga master, but with the help of this book, you can access it directly.
“Parched earth can lead us to water the land or embitter us to the lack of sustenance.” This is but one of the golden nuggets I found in Grace Lost and Found; a book which I am nicknaming “Not your ordinary daily meditation.”
I thoroughly enjoy meditations and pithy sayings, and believe wisdom can be gained from anything if we are willing. But if we don’t recognize that we are stuck in our own ignorance or illusions, some stronger interventions might be needed. Who hasn't experienced a friend or teacher pushing us past where we were plateaued to find a new resting place? This book might be that catalyst. Each of 40 essays feature questions to ponder as well as affirmations. Some examples include: “What is an example of my faking who I am,” “What behaviors and thoughts block me from experiencing love,” and “When do I perceive myself as a victim and as an aggressor?” Mary Cook, the author, is reported to have 30 years of clinical experience as a psychologist and addictions counselor and I see evidence of those years well spent in this book.
There seem to be a number of "new consciousness" books and workshops on "finding or creating the love you want" these days. It is natural,I guess, that if we think something and help to create it, love and partnership will be addressed. “The Soulmate Path” walks this same road with a slightly different step, pairing a working and romantic duo in discussing aspects of relationship. The first half of the book gives some basic background about the couple as well as their principles about people and love.
I enjoyed the second half more: it is a series of affirmations about how you might live life itself, and in the process, find or strengthen a love. Sayings such as “I transform myself and my relationship as a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly,” “I am patient,” and “I deserve respect because I am respectful,” are words of wisdom regardless of whether your heart is solitary or united in a romantic relationship.
I started out reviewing this book by viewing the accompanying DVD's. The claims are that this system has can heal physical and mental illnesses, as well as be used to heal humanity and the planet. Despite its infomercial stilted tableau and my dubiousness of “yet another complete healing system," within 5 minutes I became engaged. Dr Sha, trained in both Western medicine and Chinese medicine, is excited and believable. This book, one of his many bestsellers, touts healing your soul and body through multiple practices using what he labels as mind, body, sound and soul. His basic premise of needing to heal the soul along with the body is similar to many “New Age” practices. What makes Dr Sha's work different seems to be 1) He was gifted with Divine Soul Mind Body Transplants that are printed in the book that readers can receive and 2) His healing practices incorporate elements of traditional Chinese medicine; for example, what to do if there is an imbalance in the Wood Element of your body.
My issues with this book are somewhat small: 1) I found the exact words used to heal and some of the books overall wording to be stilted and cumbersome in English. I would guess this is due to the translation from Chinese. 2) Some of the healing is done through song, and I'm not totally sure how you would learn the tunes if you didn't have access to them on DVD (a few were on these, but not all of them). 3) Dr Sha states that receiving the Divine Soul Transplants (energy healing coming through the book) is not enough, that you must practice, at least 3-5 minutes per day or if gravely ill, up to 2 hours. In my mind, this type of frequent practice would help anyway, regardless of what you say or sing. But then again, if someone is motivated to begin this type of practice, how can it be bad?
Dr. Sha identifies as someone chosen by the Divine to help spread healing in and around the world. It's obvious from his multiple best sellers that his word has been received positively. Indeed, in yoga class the day after I read this book, I found myself idly muttering my remembered version of the Divine Mind Body Transplant prayers, because really, what can it hurt?
Many people I meet who are interested in healing or increasing their coping skills mention, "If only I'd learned this at age 10, or 5...." Many techniques described in adult detail can be used by or adapted for a child's attention span and world view, but this is one of the first books I've read with good practical exercises that take the guess work out of it. This books details specific exercises that could potentially make blander moves (deep breath) into games (balloon breathing breath, or breathing in rainbows).
I would recommend this book any parent, whether familiar with relaxation skills or not. There is good information about some frequent questions such as "what if they're using their imagination and something scary shows up," that might ease the minds of people new to these practices. I would also recommend this adults with no contact with children. Stress and pain in life can turn us into very serious people; we often approach our healing in that same serious and perfectionistic way. This book throws some fun and silliness into anyone's practice. After all, isn't "laughter one of the best medicines?"
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