Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings


screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-4-47-30-pmThe Oarsman is simultaneously a fantasy/adventure novel and a literary work of art with gems of spiritual wisdom sprinkled throughout.

The story takes us on a journey in the time of knights and dragons with an 80-year old Man who recently lost his beloved wife and now wants to reach the “promised shores” he has heard sung of all his life. An Oarsman is taking him down river toward his goal until they meet a Judge standing on an island, who won’t let him pass.

He is sent back to review his life: “If you come back more worthy, learned from your mistakes, you will be free to pass.”

 What follows is a beautifully written account of a Man witnessing all the roles he has played in his life, from an Artist to a Merchant to a Dreamer, a Warrior, an Apprentice, a Boy and an Infant. The vile critical voice of the Judge appears in various forms from a dragon to a whirlpool in the river to sabotage the Man, in opposition to the help offered by the Oarsman to this Man so in need of rescue.

The Man must find from where his dissatisfaction with life and critical inner voice came. What he learns along the way, with the help of the ever-wise Oarsman, is to focus on life’s bright spots instead of ruminating over his unworthiness. Can he return to the purity of the newborn and see the love that makes him worthy?

Anyone who has ever experienced self-judgment or doubt about the meaning of one’s life will find this magical fantasy a revelation in how we bring about our own misery, and how we can instead see the value of our life’s experiences.

Using beautiful imagery in which all of nature is alive and involved with the Man’s journey, author Zubin Mathai has transformed an age-old theme, of reviewing our life at its end, into an inspiring adventure teaching that we are all worthy at our core.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH ZUBIN MATHAI

What message you would like readers to take away from THE OARSMAN?

The lesson that the main character takes away, which hopefully the reader does too, is that there is a force of silence and truth, coming from love, that has been with us our entire lives. It has been there during the good and bad times, and whether we cover it up or not with mind-stuff, it still has the power to lead us through each destiny arc in each section of our life.

What would you say is the major spiritual theme of THE OARSMAN?

Apart from the main message, the other spiritual theme in The Oarsman, is that unworthiness — even though most of us grapple with it — is not real. Our belief in it prevents us from stepping fully into our personal paradises of peace. Whether that unworthiness manifests as guilt over the past, or as a hesitation to step into the future, it is all the same: only a mind pattern that is too afraid to let love in fully in all its forms.

Are the roles of your main character a reflection of experiences in your own life?

 Yes. All the roles in the book are roles that I have gone through (albeit modern equivalents). For example, the Merchant, obsessed with riches and celebration, was me running an Internet business and getting caught up in material things. The Sage trying to climb the mountain was me in my youth, when I went to the Himalayas to meditate. The lesson I learned from that time was that I was always creating ‘mountains’ in my mind, things I had to climb before I could feel fulfillment. It was only years later that I saw that that fulfillment is our birthright, and we only cover it up with doubt and fear.

The river is an important metaphor in your book, and has been used by many others as metaphors in their novels. What meaning do you give the river in your work? 

In the book, the river represents a few different things. It represents the winding of life as well as truth and love. The reader also soon sees that the river and the Oarsman character are two sides of the same coin. For the main character, the Man, before he learns his lesson, he co-opts the river and twists it a bit, turning it into a river that winds through his past so that he can revisit it.

You give life to all of nature in your story, e.g., “The trees wept leaves at the beauty heard….” Do you see everything as alive, aware and responsive as do shamans?

I see a Oneness infusing everything. When I was younger, I thought the mind had to be quiet to see it, but now I see that energy even behind and in thoughts. When I hike (my favorite activity) I feel that my body and tree trunks are no barriers to the sameness in everything around. When I get still (even if thoughts are whispering for attention) there is no me or trees, just that Oneness. And then the physical form of the trees, the way their bark catches the sun, or how their leaves play with wayward breezes, becomes the best celebration in this moment of that Oneness.

What drew you to write a novel in the fantasy genre?

I started writing The Oarsman to excise all my past roles from my heart. I felt that I had learned my lessons from them and it was okay to treasure their coming and going, but not hold on too tight anymore. So, when I started thinking about the book, and about my close connection to nature, immediately an image of a river passing through a wooded land sprung to mind. Since I wanted the narrative voice to be quite poetic in this novel, a fantasy setting felt very appropriate.

You have a unique voice – what do you think is the source of your poetic style?

I’m not quite sure. I think I always had this style, even as a child. I do notice that the more quiet I get when writing, then the style comes out fully. If I could go off on a related tangent: I once had a dream, wherein I was crying over the beauty of the empty space on my driveway. Something about that space, being so devoid of form and yet full of potential, made me love it as the universe. When I woke up, I realized that if could love sentences as much as the love I felt in that dream, then that is the best I could ever do as a writer. So, when I treat paragraphs and sentences with that tenderness, my style seems to come out stronger.

What writers or books have influenced you in your work?

I’m a bit of an oddity of a writer, in that I haven’t read a novel in over twenty years! I usually read non-fiction, biographies, and sometimes snippets of poetry. People have said my book reminds them of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, but I purposely didn’t read that book when I was writing my novel. I am more influenced by visual medium like film, and seeing beautiful imagery and well-constructed plots does leave impressions on me. My new year’s resolution for 2017 is to read more fiction!

The Oarsman is available in Kindle and paperback. To learn more about the author and his upcoming works, see www.zubinmathai.com.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet
www.theChakras.org

Chakra Blog


screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-12-02-11-pmAs women take to Marching on Washington this Saturday to protest for women’s rights and the rights of all, I am reminded of one of my favorite reads from 2016, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

The Nightingale tells the story of two French sisters who fight the Nazis, each in different ways, during WWII. The bravery of women in the French underground is a story we haven’t heard before – and one which Hannah intensely researched for this novel. Both sisters are crippled by the death of their mother and abandonment by their father, leaving them with shattered personal power and an inability to forgive.

Through this captivating tale, each finds a way to overcome fear, through reconnection and love. This book is exceptional for its historical accuracy and the two women’s social/political activism – Hannah told us at a writing conference I went to in November that her inspiration for the younger sister, Isabelle (known as The Nightingale), was the real life story of a woman who led downed RAF pilots in France on foot over the steep, snowy Pyrenees to Spain so they could return to their fight against the Nazis. The second sister saves countless Jewish children as she takes care of her own daughter and fights the Nazis in her own way – even as they take over her home in the French countryside.

The Nightingale is an affirmation of the strength of women even under the most dire oppression – and one which can give every reader the inspiration to speak and act her own truth.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-12-19-22-pmThis brings me back to our current political situation. How can you get involved and fight for love and equality for all? The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world, that women’s rights are human rights. “We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us,” say the organizers.

If you can’t make it to Washington, D.C. on January 21, join or host a Sister March near you. Sister Marches are solidarity events inspired by the Women’s March on Washington, and organized by volunteers around the world. For more information, see https://www.womensmarch.com.

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

www.theChakras.org
Chakra Blog


screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-4-14-29-pmSo many people do not feel happy, successful or satisfied with their lives. Perhaps, as author Atticus Aristotle writes, they have not set their minds on a specific goal. Do you underestimate your potential? Do you feel unhappy because of challenges or circumstances you face in your life?

We all have our ups and downs and it is great to have a resource to help lift us up when we need it. I recommend you pick up the FREE KINDLE of Success and Happiness – Quotes to Motivate, Inspire & Live By.

You will find advice from some of the most famous people in history, from The Buddha and Confucius to Gandhi, Helen Keller and Martin Luther King.

The subjects covered range from Character and Karma to Anger and Desire. This is a great book to skim through for a thought for the day, to overcome fear, release anger or resentment, or to be inspired to keep fighting for what you believe in, especially in the political climate we now find ourselves in.

I found these quotes spoke to me today, especially the first, as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

“The time is right to do what is right.” ~ Martin Luther King

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

“Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.” ~ The Buddha

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~ Gandhi

“Happiness calls out responsive gladness in others. There is enough sadness in the world without yours….” ~ Helen Keller

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR ATTICUS ARISTOTLE

1) What inspired you to put all these quotes from diverse times and places and subjects together in one book?

It was actually the mortgage crisis that inspired me. That crisis brought to light the lack of ethics and morals not only in the banking world but also in the schools that produced graduates who would go on to run these banks.

2) Why do you think our minds are our most powerful tools in achieving success, and what stops us from achieving success?

In my opinion, and based on personal achievements and observation of others, when we set our mind toward a specific goal and know deep down that we can achieve it, we usually do.

What usually stops us from achieving success is self doubt, when our mind questions our ability.

Some people say they were successful because of a parent, teacher or other figure, but what those people do that inspires us is to put us into the right frame of mind, to believe in our self and our abilities.

3) What is the most important message you would like readers to take away from your book?

That the right frame of mind can make you soar higher than you thought possible.

Many of us never had a mentor who helped us eliminate self doubt or teach us the moral and ethical path. For those of us who go it alone, or need something more, the quotes in the book fill that void to give us that push we need or the moral compass to help steer us.

Success and Happiness – Quotes to Motivate, Inspire & Live By is available now for FREE DOWNLOAD at all online retailers.

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

www.theChakras.org
Chakra Blog

 


A JOURNEY EVERYONE WILL WANT TO TAKE WITH KATHERINE SHERBROOKE

Have you ever taken ayahuasca? Danced a chakra meditation? Stepped into the unknown to uncover your true self? Been a faithful friend despite perceived betrayal? Worked with shamans and healers foreign to your understanding?

screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-1-43-31-pmFill the Sky is a totally engaging novel that dramatically pulls you into these situations, and has you right in there, experiencing these new realities with the characters, feeling what they’re feeling, testing your own reactions.

Author Katherine Sherbrooke encourages readers to think and feel in new and refreshing ways. Her tale is one of  facts vs. intuition, mind vs. heart, action vs. being, a safe persona vs. self-discovery, Big Pharma vs. ancestral medicine and, above all, the healing power of love.

We journey to Ecuador with Ellie, who is left without hope of recovering from cancer by the medical establishment, and the two friends who accompany her for shamanic healing, which seems like her last option.

These two friends are polar opposites. The trip is planned by Joline, a life coach who looks to spiritual or ancient solutions for health and wellbeing and believes that the shamans will heal Ellie…

“I’m trying to help her find life again. Find a way back to life. Nature will support.” ~ Joline

Ellie’s other best friend, Tess, a biomedical businesswoman who is all about control and planning, has nothing but doubts about shamanic healing. She goes along just to support her friend, her only hope that the “placebo effect” may come into play.

“If Ellie believes going to Ecuador will help, maybe it will…” but “How could ‘nature’ possibly justify any of this? Ellie simply didn’t deserve to be sick.” ~ Tess

What promises to be a peaceful week in a beautiful mountain retreat turns into a dramatic,  difficult transformation for the three women as the shamans work on them all in their mysterious ways. Each woman is in the midst of personal conflicts and is in need of a return to peace that may actually be found with the shamans in the “sacred mountains.”

Can a group of medicine people, with no visible medicine, help all three women heal? What is true healing in the end? Share in their unique, magical experiences and insights as they reconnect with Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and their authentic selves.

Author Katherine Sherbrooke, answers my questions about FILL THE SKY:

What message you would like readers to take away from Fill the Sky?

Each of my three main characters in the book grapples with a complex question in her life that has arisen because of the choices she has made in the past and some level of confusion about the path she has before her. As someone approaching fifty myself, I think we too often live under the misconception that we should have everything figured out by this time in our lives. But actually I think our middle years is a poignant time to stop and ask ourselves very basic questions about the labels we have been wearing (wife, mother, business person, lover) and who we want to be in the next act. I hope women who read the book will find a bit of themselves in one or more of these characters and perhaps be a little more gentle with themselves for not having charted the perfect course, and for not having all the answers going forward. In the end, self-discovery is a wonderfully hopeful exercise. We need not be stuck in old patterns that don’t serve us well. I truly believe we all have the internal wisdom, even though it is sometimes buried very deeply, to heal old wounds and find the joy in what comes next.

What spoke to on your travels to Ecuador there that you needed to share in this novel?

I was in transition in my life at the time. Having recently left the company I had co-founded, I was struggling with whether or not I should continue down an entrepreneurial path or devote more time to writing.I was simultaneously struggling with the process of losing my mother to Alzheimer’s. The opportunity to spend a week way outside of my daily routine, including working with shamans, which was something I knew nothing about in advance, weirdly just felt like something I needed to do. What I didn’t expect was the constant presence of and reverence for Pachamama, or mother earth, that informs the work of the shamans and the culture of the people we visited. I gained an almost immediate appreciation for her very powerful and feminine gifts. It was like the opening of a lens I had never looked through before, and changed my orientation to the world around me. I wanted to share that sensation by writing a story told through the eyes of three (very different) American women who are forced to get off the treadmill of their various lives for a week and listen to nature, and by association, to themselves, to better understand the most important issues of their lives. It was a powerful experience for me, and one that I hoped would translate well into a dramatic situation for my characters.

What inspired you to move from the memoir genre of your first book to a fiction genre?

My first and longest held dream, since I was a child, has always been to write fiction. But I started with a family memoir because my parents happened to have a wonderful, turbulent love story that had long intrigued me. I was gifted a cast of characters and a great plot in that story and wanted to capture all the detail and nuance of it while I still had my father, who has an impeccable memory, as a source. That experience reignited my long-held passion for writing, and so I knew the time was write to finally tackle a work of long-form fiction.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given as a writer?

To write every day, if even for thirty or sixty minutes to keep the subconscious thread of a story intact. In attempting to approach my writing like a job, I had mistakenly been taking weekends off. It made the work much harder than it needed to be. As soon as I started writing seven days a week, the writing was easier and the result was much better.

Can you tell us more about the work of GrubStreet, the literary arts organization you work with?

GrubStreet is a creative writing organization in Boston that welcomes writers at all levels, offering classes for beginners up through master classes for experienced and published authors. It joins the rigor of craft with a wonderful community of writers who are incredibly supportive of each other’s work. In making the transition from business to writing, GrubStreet quickly became my life line. Any kind of art can feel solitary and terrifying at times. GrubStreet gave me the tools I needed to improve my craft and the confidence to even consider sharing it with the world.

Many thanks to Katherine Sherbrooke for her beautiful storytelling and insights into her writing process. Fill the Sky is available now on Amazon and is a perfect read for the New Year and an inspiration for new ways of thinking. For more information, please see http://www.kasherbrooke.com.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org

Chakra Blog

This gallery contains 5 photos.


Originally posted on Word by Word:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?…


The Chakra Energy Diet coverWe all want to be healthier and happier in the New Year. I want to help you make choices that will make you feel fantastic. It’s all about finding balance.

To help you meet your goals, I’m offering you a FREE download of The Chakra Energy Diet: The Right Food, Relaxation, Yoga & Exercise To Look and Feel your Best! through Sunday, January 8.

You’ll learn how stress can be sabotaging your wellbeing and your waistline, and how to instantly stop stress reactions.

Once you’re relaxed, I’ll help you find balance  – with the foods and lifestyle choices that will help you reach your perfect body weight, not sabotage your goals.

“This book is one of the most informative, extensive works I’ve found in achieving an optimal balance in body, mind and spirit. Filled with insights and useful tips the author has acquired through decades of practicing and teaching yoga, the book touches the core of how we should treat and honor our bodies—the only vessel we have to sail through our lives on Earth.

The author did an excellent job in presenting a comprehensive set of information on balancing each chakra: first by examining the emotional components, then by providing the most desirable foods and meditation mantra pertinent to specific chakra, along with the relevant yoga postures and exercises. Interesting recipes with pictures are added bonuses.

Particularly interesting was the notion of letting go of self-criticism when it comes to the issue of weight. In essence, the author stresses the importance of re-establishing the relationship with ourselves by cultivating self-love which is the basis of true healing.”

CHAKRA ENERGY FOODS

So what should you eat? First, see where stress is impacting your body and which chakra center needs to be strengthened. Learning more about the chakra system can help you determine what foods YOU personally need to ADD to nourish yourself, banish stress, and help you achieve your optimal weight. THE CHAKRA ENERGY DIET helps you determine where you are lacking balance and how to regain it.

Are your finances in trouble? Are you feeling insecure? Do you need to perform better at work and get that raise or promotion? Strengthen your Root or 1st Chakra.

Do you want to spice up your sex life or feel more passionate and creative? Unblock your Sacral or 2nd Chakra.

Want to feel more self-confident and powerful in achieving your goals? Strengthen your Solar Plexus or 3rd Chakra.

Want to feel more love, be able to forgive past grievances, and connect better with your spouse, kids, friends and co-workers? Work on your 4th or Heart Chakra.

Afraid of public speaking? Want to be able to express your truth and be understood? Balance your 5th or Throat Chakra.

Want more inspiration on which path you should take in life? Want to increase your intuition and psychic abilities? Open your 6th or Third Eye Chakra.

Want to feel at one with all there is? More peace, harmony and connection to spirit? Work on your 7th or Crown Chakra.

You can balance all your chakras by eating a rainbow of colors… THE CHAKRA ENERGY DIET contains full-color photos of my favorite recipes.

Using instant “stress-busting” techniques shared in the book, combined with eating more real food (not processed or packaged foodstuff), will help you feel both more calm and more energized. And when you drop the excess stress, and make more conscious food choices, you’ll feel and look better too.

Don’t wait to improve the health of yourself and your family – download THE CHAKRA ENERGY DIET today.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet
www.theChakras.org

Chakra Blog


screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-3-36-03-pmHow can the Dalai Lama always be smiling and full of love and forgiveness given what has happened during his lifetime to the Tibetan people? In Lama Tsomo’s encyclopedic introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, Why Is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling?: A Westerner’s Introduction and Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Practice, she answers this question in depth, having followed the same ancient traditions to find a new way of living for herself.

I now understand why and how the Dalai Lama, and the monks and people who were lucky enough to flee Tibet when the Chinese took over, did not suffer PTSD despite the horrors experienced, and were able to feel compassion for their persecutors.

Lama Tsomo offers a guide to Tibetan Buddhism with steps to build a meditation practice that will lead you to the same inner peace as the Dalai Lama. She starts with an interesting account of her own spiritual exploration, while going through two failed marriages and having three children. After a 25-year spiritual quest, she found the teacher who would offer a course of study for her spiritual enlightenment whom she trusted when she met Tulku Sangak Rinpoche.

Despite the fact that she feels any serious student of Tibetan Buddhism needs to study with qualified masters (retreats or total immersion worked best for her), she does provide sufficient background in the Buddha’s teachings along with techniques which can be tried on one’s own. These techniques are designed to help remove ego identification to allow our true nature of compassionate awareness to shine forth. It will take a lot of time and effort, but as the author asks, “Do I have something better to do?”

Lama Tsomo recounts scientific evidence that the meditation practices of Tibetan Buddhism can help one replace knee-jerk reactions to people and situations with more balance, constructive responses, and improve one’s focus, memory and mood. Instead of clinging to one’s small, separate self, even in times of misery, the seeker of enlightenment learns to see themselves as one with the vast ocean, the one great mind, and be motivated to help others with love and compassion.

The book includes an envelope of practice cards that you can use to build a daily practice and see if you are called to immerse yourself further in Tibetan Buddhism. If so, she offers numerous resources, including books, other media and websites.

This book is not one I could read straight through, but rather dip into and contemplate what I was learning a little at a time. While a glossy paperback with beautiful color photographs, at its heart, it is a serious textbook for those who want a guide to practicing Tibetan Buddhism.

It can be a bit overwhelming as a first introduction to Buddhism (even with the glossary), but for the serious student, this could be an invaluable guide on their path. If you think you’d like to start 2017 with a serious spiritual effort to achieve your own Buddha nature, reading this book could be a wonderful start.

Why is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling? is available in Kindle, paperback, Audible and in MP3 CD versions.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets (FREE through Dec. 23), Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org

Chakra Blog

 

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