Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings


Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 3.15.31 PMMind-body medicine has been around for thousands of years, and is now scientifically shown to work.

With CURE – A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body, Jo Marchant has written a book that I would recommend to all healers, complementary or allopathic, and to all those in need of healing… which is pretty much everyone.

Having experienced every healing modality mentioned in the book, I have my own personal opinions of miracle cures, the placebo effect, the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, and using the mind to enhance our physical healing. But Marchant investigates the evidence, the science, behind the effectiveness of alternative or complementary therapies and the power of our minds to affect our health.

Marchant interviewed both practitioners, researchers and patients, such as a gent named Gareth, whose MS was under control through meditation. As Gareth explains:

“People think of meditation as a time consumer, but the opposite is true. It is a time provider, because of all the time that we don’t spend following useless trains of thought. I wouldn’t be able to lead the life that I lead now if it weren’t for meditation.”

Marchant covers many mind-body therapies that can improve medical outcomes by “treating patients as the complex human beings we are, rather than simply as physical bodies…”

Her conclusion after looking into everything from Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction to homeopathy, acupuncture, and social factors such as loneliness and poverty, show that “our thoughts, beliefs, stress levels and worldview all influence how ill or well we feel.”

She explains that the way our brains are wired not only constructs our experience but our physical reality and vice versa.

Nearly 400 years after Descartes’ separation of the mind and body in scientific thought, Marchant uncovers evidence that shows something very different — that our bodies and minds have evolved in exquisite harmony, so perfectly integrated that it is impossible to consider one without the other:

“Terms like ‘mind-body’ and ‘holistic’ are often derided as flaky and unscientific, but in fact it’s the idea of a mind distinct from the body, an ephemeral entity that floats somewhere in the skull like a spirit or soul, that makes no scientific sense.”

If you’d like to understand how our minds influence and reflect our physiology, CURE is definitely a must-read. Marchant’s research lays out the potential of our mind’s ability to heal the body — and how we can use her findings in our own lives.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet

 

 

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The Chakra Energy Diet coverKnowing which diet will work for you is just too much work – too much labor in my opinion. Paleo may work for some people, keto diets for some, anti-lectin or vegan for others – it all depends on your DNA, your constitution, medical condition and your belief system. I know, I’ve tried them all over the years.

Celebrate Labor Day by getting tips on how to stay in balance by adding color to your plate and your lifestyle – whether you’re an omnivore or vegetarian. This information and more is in THE CHAKRA ENERGY DIET, free for download on Amazon through Wednesday, September 5.

First of all, if you’re blaming yourself for not sticking to your “diet” or for not being your “perfect weight,” stop. It’s not your fault. Rather, the way our bodies are programmed to handle stress is the problem. Stress is a double whammy for weight – it increases our appetites and leads to overeating or poor food choices, then makes our bodies hold on to the fat. The solution is not extreme dieting, which causes more stress, but knowing how to stop the stress reactions.

STRESS, THE NOT-SO-SILENT SABOTEUR
The Chakra Energy Diet explains how stress affects weight both physiologically and psychologically. 

When you’re under stress, your digestion is impaired and you can’t receive the nourishment from the food you eat. Once the effects of adrenaline wear off, cortisol, known as the “stress hormone,” stimulates your appetite to replenish your food stores.

Excess cortisol also slows down your metabolism, because your body wants to maintain an adequate supply of glucose to deal with the next “threat.”

The disruption of cortisol secretion during the “fight or flight” response may not only lead to weight gain, but it can also put that weight exactly where you don’t want it – in your belly. Studies have shown that stress and elevated cortisol tend to cause fat deposits in the abdominal area, which is strongly related to Syndrome X, the cluster of risk factors associated with heart disease.

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 7.49.21 AMTake the quiz for each chakra in your FREE COPY of  THE CHAKRA ENERGY DIET, and learn exactly what you need to do to nourish yourself, banish stress, and help you achieve your optimal weight.

You’ll find out which of your chakras is under stress, and learn the best foods, relaxation techniques, yoga and exercise to balance your chakras and have a vibrant and healthy life.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet


 

ON THE EDGE Kindle CoverR. R. Harris is a witty wordsmith who weaves an evocative page-turner of mystery, adventure, and romance in ON THE EDGE: OF LAVA, LOVE AND TERROR.

Having lived through the lava scare on the Big Island, I can say this book totally captures the climate of that time. For those who don’t live in Hawaii, experience the suspense of living on the edge of an exploding volcano, multiplied by international terror and unrequited love.

But, there’s also inspiration to be gained, as an elderly Hawaiian County Councilwoman explains:

“Pele does not destroy, she creates, and what she creates is even greater than before, so maybe we needed a wake-up call to change our way of thinking. Maybe we needed to quit throwing around the word Aloha and then in the next breath curse our neighbor, or those who are different than us. Maybe we need to start living with Aloha, putting it into action and putting smiles on our faces. Maybe, Pele saw all of this need and was just helping us get started.”

ON THE EDGE is available FREE on Amazon Kindle through Sunday, August 5, and is also available in paperback.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra DiariesChakra SecretsBalance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet
www.theChakras.org

The Chakra Blog


Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 9.32.47 AMMaria Shriver’s new book, I’ve Been Thinking, feels like an oasis of peace in the storm of the volcanic lava flow that has taken my home on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Maria offers beautifully written short chapters, each beginning with inspirational quotes, followed by her thoughts and prayers on everything from dealing with grief to letting go, the power of positive thinking, why we should stop trying to “go it alone,” and getting back to center. 

The book ends with Sixty Life Lesson for My Birthday, and I’d like to share some of Maria’s wisdom here:

  1. There’s nothing about life that’s predictable. So stop trying to predict it.
  2. Find every excuse you can to celebrate it.
  3. Moderation in everything but laughter.
  4. Be kind, because everyone else is struggling, too.
  5. Be of service.
  6. Learn how to turn off the critical voice in your head as early and often as possible.
  7. Listen to your gut. It knows more than anyone you’re asking for advice.
  8. Get good at forgiveness. You’ll need to practice it throughout your life.
  9. Don’t expect people to be perfect. Just as you aren’t, neither are they.
  10. Don’t see yourself as a victim. See yourself as brave.

Maria said that her purpose in writing this book was “to get you to think about what constitutes a meaningful life for you. Just you. Because there is only one you, and you have only one life.”

In I’ve Been Thinking, Maria opens up about her experiences of life to the reader, and I think you’ll find yourself relating to similar situations in your own life. I highly recommend this book as a gift to a friend or to yourself.

I’ve Been Thinking…Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life is available on Amazon.com.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra DiariesChakra SecretsBalance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org


wild-awake-cover-final“…from time to time we need to ‘rewild’ ourselves,” says Vajragupta, and he shares his encounters with wild creatures and wild landscapes in an enchanting way, making us feel we’ve entered a secret world with him.

Wild Awake: Alone, Offline & Aware in Nature will make you want to follow Vajragupta’s example of using solitary retreats in nature to become more “fully awake,” more like the Buddha, a name which means “one who is awake.”

What are the benefits of being more fully awake? Perhaps you’ll find it easier to meditate, to get in touch with your soul, to make the right choices for your life. In solitary retreat, as Vajragupta describes, you are better able, in the silence, to hear your truth and know the solutions.

“Places, perhaps especially wild places, can talk to us; they can be full of suggestion and meaning. Inner and outer worlds can mirror each other, and this changes our awareness.”

It’s easy to understand how being out in nature stimulates and nourishes your soul, as Vajragupta describes his 25 years of taking solitary retreats. For those who have questions about how to get the most out of such retreats, he provides an A to Z guide with practical advice and suggestions for designing your own.

Read Wild Awake: Alone, Offline & Aware in Nature for inspiration, then get out there as often as possible!

Thanks to author and Buddhist teacher Vajragupta, who answers my questions here…

AUTHOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS WITH VAJRAGUPTA

What would you like readers to take away from the experiences you shared in Wild Awake?

I would love it if the book encouraged more people to try out solitude in nature. Some people take to this quite easily. For others, solitude can seem more daunting or challenging. Fear and trepidation can put us off. In solitude we are going to meet ourselves fully and deeply. And we might feel afraid of who we might meet!

I remember one place I stayed in for a solitary retreat that had a “visitors book” and it was moving and inspiring reading the entries. Quite a few of them were from people on retreat, and on their own, for the first time, and they described how those first feelings of anxiety soon gave way to a sense of joy and freedom. We all have our ups and downs on retreat, but we can learn to be OK with that, which is tremendously liberating and confidence giving.

How does it feel when the barrier drops between your inner and outer worlds?

Perhaps we won’t even be aware of it till afterwards. At the time we are not thinking about things like that, we are just absorbed in the world around us. There is a story about the Zen master Dogen that I love. He was asked what it was like to be Enlightened and he said, “it is to be intimate with all things.” In nature I sometimes get glimpses, or intimations, of that. There is a sense of closeness and connection, of love. Trees, stone walls, old winding lanes become like friends! Things become more beautiful and interesting for their own sake.

Years ago I heard a story of a man camping on Dartmoor, probably the wildest part of England. He really tuned into the place. So much so, that if he kicked a stone when he was walking along, he stopped and put it back where it came from. That might sound crazy, but I can understand how he felt. I too can feel that strong sense of care, closeness, and respect, wanting to leave things exactly as I found them, wanting to “live lightly in this world.”

How can a solitary retreat lead you to a realization of your life’s purpose or change you and your perspective?

A friend of mine who was a poet once said that in order to write we need space, and space around the space. In other words, for deeper emotions and thoughts to emerge, the heart and the mind really need lots of time and space. Our lives can often be so full and busy that those deeper parts of ourselves get crowded out and damped-down. We lose touch with what is really meaningful and significant. Of course, the day-to-day stuff we are engaged in may be an expression of what is really important to us, but retreats (solitary or otherwise) are really important for staying in touch with those depths and allowing new inspiration to arise.

How did the places you retreated to become part of your transformation?

In the book I describe some of the beautiful places I have done solitary retreats, and how the landscape and character of a place could have an effect on me. For example, I talk about staying in a lovely old stone cottage on the mouth of an estuary. It was a mile from the road, so you had to bring everything you needed in by foot. When the tide was up, you looked out over a mile-wide stretch of water, like a big lake. When the tide was out, there was an open expanse of sand, with the sea just visible on the horizon. Then the tide gradually snaked its way back again. Birds, fishes, and other sea life moved with the tides. Everything was always moving and changing. I loved the changingness of it – it totally absorbed me. It was an easy place just to be, to be still and content. I think I touched into a deeper contentment than I had ever experienced before. That was partly because of the place, the character and atmosphere of the place. It was generous, abundant, it gave so much to me. The outer world spoke to my inner world, it changed me.

How did your solitary retreats make you feel “closer to life?”

In lots of ways. For example, on retreat you can just feel more alive and energetic. Because there is less external input and stimulation, you can be more in touch with your emotions, and the dreams and reflections of your inner world. You also start to notice the senses more, and what is around you in the external world. Things can feel more raw, but also more real.

One thing I reflect on in the book is encounters with wild creatures – foxes, birds, deer – that have sometimes happened on solitary retreats. For example, I talk about meeting a fox on a mountainside and us just looking at each other for a long time. Like many people, I can find these encounters special, magical, almost like a “blessing.” I have often wondered why we find these meetings with wild animals so significant and wonderful. Again, I think it is about that sense of connection, of overcoming our human separateness from the world. We are drawn out of ourselves and into the world. At the very same time, having that creature gaze at us, in the unblinking way wild creatures just gaze, also throws us back on ourselves. We are aware of them as a creature, with their awareness, looking at us, and that makes us more aware of standing there, being there, as a human being, with our mental faculties and our particular mode of awareness. That is another kind of “closeness to life.”

How can being alone strengthen your connection with others?

This may seem paradoxical, but my experience of solitude is that it helps me be more connected to others. I go back home from a solitary retreat with a stronger sense of those I am close to, perhaps more appreciation of someone, perhaps more understanding. Again, it is about having enough space for the heart to fully open, and for awareness to broaden, so we can really take others in.

Often, when we are too busy for too long, our awareness narrows and our heart closes down. In Wild Awake, one chapter is about a solitary retreat I did quite soon after my father died. This might seem a strange time to choose to be alone, but I found it very helpful. It was a rich and special time. I brought lots of photos of my father from different times in his life and pinned them up on the walls. I had the time and space to really assimilate what had happened, to think of my father, to write down in my journal some of the things he had said in his last months. He was strongly present with me on that retreat: every time I meditated he appeared in my mind’s eye, many nights I dreamt about him. I felt very fortunate to have the time to process his death in this way. Of course there was pain, sadness, and grief, but there was also joy, gratitude, and appreciation.

I understand you are currently writing your next book, Free Time. What did you learn on your retreats that spurred your interest in the subject of time?

I noticed that my experience of time was totally different on retreat. In everyday life I could often be trying to do things fast, so I had more time later. Or trying to get everything ticked off on my “to do” list. Or always planning how I could fit more useful activities into the day, to get more done, more efficiently. But, as Jon Kabatt-Zinn says, “if you fill all your time, you won’t have any.” Time rushes by and feels thin and insubstantial.

On retreat, by contrast, life can seem almost “timeless” in a liberating way. After a few days on retreat, I often feel I have been there for a few weeks. Time feels rich, full, brimming. I am able to have more awareness on a retreat and this means my attention moves along with things as they unfold. I can move along with the day, more in its time and rhythm. Often our attention is leaning back into the past, or straining forward into the future, and this distorts our subjective experience of time. But on retreat we can stay more in the present, which means time feels more relaxed and open. To be more mindful is also to be more time-full!

Wild Awake: Alone, Offline & Aware in Nature is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. Also check out the publisher’s website for more information and a video interview with Vajragupta.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra DiariesChakra SecretsBalance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org

 


Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 10.45.13 AMDigging In is an entertaining, engrossing and inspiring read. The protagonist, Paige, has just lost her husband in a horrific car accident, losing a perfect relationship, comfort and safety.

Now, her job is at risk also, she has a troubled teen, and is totally losing it until she starts digging in her backyard. The neighbors don’t like the big mess in a groomed lawn community. But with her Root Chakra totally unbalanced (loss of security), gardening is just what she needs. 

Author Loretta Nyhan expresses the emotions of grief in a profound way:

“Death was final, but grief wasn’t; it was a dirty street fighter who rose again and again even when I thought I had successfully knocked it to the ground. King of the sucker punches.”

While dealing with the death of her husband, the death of Paige’s boss (and his crazy son who has taken over the ad agency where she works) puts our heroine on the verge of losing her job of 17 years as well.

But learning to grow food from a new-found friend at the Farmer’s Market leads to new discoveries and lots of food for thought. She learns to tend fruits and vegetables and also how to better care for herself and move forward for both herself and her son, Trey:

“I’m learning. I’ve realized that’s what I should be doing at this stage in my life.”

It’s a fun ride seeing how something totally not in Paige’s nature helps her grow and succeed in all areas of her life.

Digging In is available now on Amazon.com.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra DiariesChakra SecretsBalance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org


ABCs CoverReading The ABCs of Love may be the most loving thing you can do for yourself and your partner.

It supports you in transforming your relationship: if it’s already great, then it will help you make it even better, and if you’re stuck, or suffering, then it will be show you how to turn things around.

If you’re not as happy as you’d like to be in your relationship, you may think that you or your partner – or both – have fallen out of love. But this book shows you how, most likely, you’ve simply fallen into bad or just repetitive habits. And it provides advice on the new habits you can adopt to prevent relationship problems… savoring what’s good and fixing what’s not.

The first chapter in The ABC’s of Love is Attachment and the last is Zest, so you see where this is going and how many suggestions Diana Shulman offers to keep your motivation strong.

For example, what is your style of attachment? Are you, e.g., an Approacher or an Avoider? Knowing yourself and your partner’s styles of relating can help foster better relationships. Diana Shulman recommends celebrating our differences, developing compassion, patience and respect for each other… so you can live your life to its fullest.

Love

The chapters are short and full of inspiration, lessons, and entertaining and insightful examples from the author’s marriage in applying her own lessons and those culled from experts in couples counseling. 

Author Diana Shulman, J.D., Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst in Los Angeles with more than 25 years of clinical experience after practicing law for 10 years. Here, she answers my questions about The ABCs of Love:

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR DIANA SHULMAN:

Who can most benefit from reading The ABCs of Love?

The ABCs of Love is a self-help book for anyone in a relationship regardless of milestones, age, or sexual orientation. Readers will find everything they need — quite literally, from A to Z — to avoid the landmines, repair wounds (both old and new), rekindle desire, and get happy again. So whether you’re young or old, dating, or about to celebrate your 50th anniversary, the vignettes, tools, and skill-building exercises in the book can help readers create the relationship of their dreams.

What is the most effective way for the reader to use this book to improve their relationship?

I recommend couples read the book from beginning to end and then zero in on the chapters and exercises they found most helpful, keeping in mind there’s no such thing as perfect. Fights are normal. All couples fight, some more unproductively than others, of course, but we all fight. In fact, what distinguishes successful from unsuccessful couples is repair — the willingness to look, learn, and promise to do better. The ABCs of Love is all about how to do this.

I really like the TRY THIS feature at the end of each chapter. Do couples need to answer the questions together?

Couples don’t need to do the Try This exercises together but if they can put their heads and hearts together to discover ways to get things going in a better direction, it’s a real plus. Having said that, if one partner reads the book and starts making improvements, it’s going to help the relationship. As you might expect from.the title, the topics are presented in alphabetical order starting with “Attachment” and ending with “Zest.” 

In Chapter F for Feelings, you cover how we deal with emotions. What would you say is the best way to handle them?

Emotions are sometimes compared to ocean waves and for good reason. They’re natural and powerful as they reach a peak and flatten out with a noticeable ebb and flow. Letting emotional waves pass through you from beginning to end isn’t about losing your temper or non-stop weepiness. Instead, it’s about slowing down, mindfully noticing bodily sensations, perceptions, and impulses as the energy rises and falls. If you take the time to let a feeling do its thing, options open up, angles you’ve never considered enter your mind, and new strengths begin to emerge.

When handled effectively, our emotions are a vital part of an internal guidance system. They help make us better decision-makers. While all this sounds commonsensical, as though it should be effortless, most of us are afraid of certain emotions. We don’t want to explore their energy; we want to avoid it. It’s what we learned and what we’ve always done, but given the downside of turning away, I say it’s time to try something else. Many of the exercises in the book are designed to help couples do just that and start growing again.

Can you explain The S.U.R.E. Thing to lessen negativity in a relationship?

The S.U.R.E. Thing is an acronym I came up with to help couples slow down and think before lobbing the next conversational grenade. It’s about reminding yourself that your partner has an understandable point of view — even though you don’t agree with it. Here are the four steps of The S.U.R.E. Thing:

S is for Slowing your breathing to calm your brain so you can think more clearly.

U is for Understanding your partner’s points or feelings by focusing on what makes sense (you may not like what your partner is saying, but it still makes sense).

R is for Reflecting back what you heard to show you’re tuned in, “It makes sense to me that…”

E is for showing Empathy. “This has been difficult. I’ve made it worse, and I’m sorry.”

Witnessing each other is calming as opposed to infuriating. If you hold back on speaking until your partner shows signs of feeling heard, you’re in for a treat. By waiting your turn, you create a real chance of having an audience when you continue the conversation.

What overall message would you like readers to take away from The ABCs of Love?

I hope readers will see their recurring conflicts as a doorway into closeness and connection. Whether dramatic or born of something more routine, these are the moments, brief or drawn-out, when we feel dismissed, attacked, ignored, or shamed. Revisiting moments of disconnection and conflict can be a gift, a passageway into healing, provided we do it wisely — meaning explore what happened with an eye toward the future and the past, an ear for both words and feelings, and an ever-growing awareness of blind spots, hot buttons, and mistaken assumptions. If we fail to do this, the gift goes unopened and will soon be forgotten, ensuring more of that pointless back and forth we know all too well.

How can readers connect with you?

Readers can find me on Facebook at https://facebook.com/ABCsOfLove and at my website: www.dianashulman.com

The ABCs of Love is available at Amazon.com.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra DiariesChakra SecretsBalance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org

 

 

 

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