Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings

Archive for the ‘Inspirational Book Review’ Category

They Serve Bagels in Heaven #BookReview and #AuthorInterview


They Serve Bagels in Heaven by Irene Weinberg Cover PhotoTHEY SERVE BAGELS IN HEAVEN is one couple’s story of Love, Eternity, and the Cosmic Importance of Everyday Life, based on the true-life story of Irene Weinberg, whose husband Saul died next to her in a tragic car accident. The amazing messages Irene received before, during and after the accident contained a Directive from Heaven, opening her to a profound Spiritual Awakening that took Irene on a healing journey from devastating loss to a renewed sense of inner strength, spiritual wisdom and passion for life.

After reading this funny, touching and inspiring eternal love story, you will gain comfort, solace and wisdom from its healing messages about love, crossing over, past lives, what heaven does about evil, soul mates, healing both in heaven and on Earth and more. You will surely both laugh out loud and weep when you read this earthy, humorous and magical story. THEY SERVE BAGELS IN HEAVEN will change your perceptions about your life today and give you hope for tomorrow.

Interview with author, Irene Weinberg:

Your book is deeply personal. What made you decide to share your story with readers?

After seventeen years of marriage, my beloved husband Saul died next to me in a tragic car accident. Before, during and after the accident, I, who did not believe in any notions of spirituality, received amazing, profound messages that contained a Directive from heaven, opening me to a profound Spiritual Awakening.

Two months after the accident, I found myself in a gallery with the medium John Edward. The incredible messages John channeled from my husband Saul to me included information that only Saul and I shared. This amazing experience inspired me to work with another medium who also channeled information from Saul to me, but this time, Saul answered questions I asked about some of his experiences in heaven, details of riveting past lives we had shared together, and gave me important insights into the cosmic importance of our everyday lives. This fascinating, exciting information prompted me to share the wisdom and insights I was learning from Saul with others, leading to my soul purpose, which was to write a book that would help people know that we do go on after death, that there is purpose to our travails while we are here on Earth – and also, as I was being pulled through the shattered window of my totaled car that night, I received the profound message to “be loving and kind to everyone.”

What would you like readers to take away from “They Serve Bagels in Heaven”?

The sudden car accident, which left my husband instantly dead next to me taught me that I have control over absolutely nothing in my life except my attitude in dealing with whatever life hands me. Before the accident, I had a lot of control issues. After the accident, I let most of them go and I’ve continued to let them go as the years pass by. As the EMT pulled me through the window of my car, I remember thinking “I will get through this somehow, because I need to be a role model for my son. He needs to know that you can get ‘hit by a grenade’ in life and keep on going.” Again, it’s all about your attitude.

Writing the book and receiving some harsh skepticism helped me to learn to hold on to “my truth” and to stop worrying about what others think. To this day, there are people in my life who are uncomfortable and skeptical about me, and my story. It is very challenging not to allow these people to intimidate me and for me, not to judge them. Now I see they are some of my best teachers, as they remind me to stay conscious, empowered and to hold on to “my truth.”

There were people in my life who were wonderful to me when I was suffering, but then turned on me when things started to get better. I realized then, that some people enjoy others’ suffering because they can feel powerful and become jealous when things start going well. So I have learned to BLESS AND RELEASE these toxic people from my life. (To be loving and kind to everyone, also includes me).

Before the accident, I usually took “the high road” due to the promptings of my gut; I now take “the high road” because I KNOW there is karma. I KNOW we go on, and I KNOW that certain people are placed in my life to help me learn certain lessons. I do not want to come back with lessons still to be learned. This knowledge motivates me to live consciously and to strive to “be clean” in my relationships. I have learned to be conscious about what I say and how I behave with people, because it may be our last interaction in this physical life. I have seen too many people distraught over their “shuddas, wuddas, and cuddas,” after their loved one is deceased.

What do you think makes your book different from others like it?

Unlike a textbook, a fantasy novel or even a guidebook, They Serve Bagels in Heaven is a love story that spans generations, filled with thoughtful words and thoughtful thoughts meant to be savored. In it the reader will find answers to questions about what heaven is like, what’s the deal with soul mates, do we each come here with a soul purpose, how does heaven handle evil and have we lived other lives besides this one we are living. All of this wisdom is woven into a love story that is a fascinating, easy read. And it is a true story!

How has your life changed since you’ve shared your story with others?

Before the accident, I usually took “the high road” due to the promptings of my gut; I now take “the high road” because I KNOW there is karma. I KNOW we go on, and I KNOW that certain people are placed in my life to help me learn certain lessons. I do not want to come back with lessons still to be learned. This knowledge motivates me to live consciously and to strive to “be clean” in my relationships!

I am no longer afraid of death because I know I will cross over and continue on. Instead I am now much more passionate about LIFE. I want to learn the lessons I came here to learn, stay detached from toxic people, and consciously be loving and kind to others and also to myself, so that I can enjoy every morsel if my life to the last drop!

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Follow your truth and write. It is your own individual journey. Stay open to the possibilities!

Readers can connect with Irene Weinberg at www.theyservebagelsinheaven.com. 

They Serve Bagels in Heaven is available in Amazon Kindle, paperback and Audible formats.

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 

 

Bringing Heaven to Earth with Dr. Christiane Northrup: Making Life Easy #BookReview


Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 2.23.55 PMA book I have had for many years and still reference is Dr. Christiane Northrup’s groundbreaking Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. Now, her latest book, Making Life Easy will join it on my “indispensable book” shelf.

In this book, Dr. Northrup shares all the insight she has gained in her 60-something years to help readers find peace and well-being not only in body, but also mind and Spirit. And also how they are inextricably connected in creating your own personal heaven in your life.

She writes how as an OB-GYN trying to make a difference in her practice, honoring the wisdom of women’s bodies, she faced roadblocks until she discovered that… “my strength and help lay in my connection with the Creator rather than simply myself.”

So how does one connect with Divine inspiration? First, she writes we need to understand that we are Souls rather than bodies, and accept the concept of reincarnation and clear karmic baggage from past lives.

“Understanding the true immortal nature of yourself – understanding that your Soul is on a journey through many lifetimes – is a powerful tool in your efforts to make life easy.”

Dr. Northrup describes how to get in touch with the Divine, establishing a relationship with the nonphysical aspect of yourself. One of the first things she explains is how to understand the obstacle of the ego and love it away. She shares healing processes such as Past-Life Regression, Divine Love Petitions, How to Work with and Interpret your Dreams, Simple Meditations, and Consciously Receiving From Nature.

So, what is the purpose of all these processes? To have more faith in God and the Divine than we do in our own ego, which uses fear to protect oneself from feeling pain, loss and sorrow.

How often do we try to make sense of things that go wrong in our lives? She writes:

“Faith that things happen for a reason is really the only way through…. When you practice true surrender and offer everything to the Divine – over and over and over – you will eventually discover true spaciousness and peace opening up before you and within you. You will have transformed your fear into faith.”

Once Dr. Northrup shares her insight into your Soul, she provides advice on how to best take care of your body, from stretching and releasing your fascia, regular exercise, practicing balance, eating well, and enhancing food with love.

One of the most interesting sections of the book, for me, was the chapter on Tending Your Vital Life Force… that Sacral Chakra creative surge that comes through our bodies, minds and Spirits as physical pleasure, desire, excitement, sexuality, curiosity, art, music, and reproduction of the species. Dr. Northrup explains the deep connection between sexuality and spirituality and shares how to Turn Yourself On to Life, Pursue Pleasure Deliberately, Engage in Mindful Sexual Expression, and Owning and Operating Your Erotic Anatomy.

Making Life Easy ends with a chapter on the Power of Community, and how to find your “tribe,” the people with whom you can have a real connection, acceptance and intimacy.

To become part of Dr. Northrup’s tribe, connect through her Internet radio show Flourish!, on social media, and her website, www.drnothrup.com.

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 

 

 

 

 

Life-Changing Foods from the #MedicalMedium: #BookReview


aIs there life-giving magic in fruits and vegetables? Can they transform you – body, mind and spirit? In Medical Medium Life-Changing Foods, Anthony William says they can. Just look at the book’s subtitle: Save Yourself and the Ones You Love with the Hidden Healing Powers of Fruits & Vegetables!

For many years I have pushed fruits and vegetables as part of The Chakra Energy Diet, as they bring needed color and nutrients to your plate, and greater balance, vitality and health to your body. And I was so pleased to read more about the benefits of these incredible gifts from the Earth.

In his latest book, Life-Changing Foodsthe Medical Medium explains the many mystery illnesses for which doctors don’t have a cure. Anthony William says more than 200 million people in the U.S. alone deal with these illnesses, from chronic fatigue to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, to cancer and many chronic illnesses. He says we need to look at the root cause of these illnesses – what he calls The Unforgiving Four: radiation, toxic heavy metals such as mercury, the viral explosion such as Epstein-Barr Virus, and DDT (an insecticide revealed 50 years ago to wreck health) which is still in our environment. And our stress culture makes it just that much harder for our bodies to cope with these added assaults.

But wait, William follows his “doom and gloom” of toxins in our environment with The Holy Four life-changing foods: fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and wild foods.

We’ve all heard about the benefits of turmeric, yes? But William breaks down every one of the edibles he includes in The Holy Four explaining why they’re good for your well-being. Physically, he says turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and can also break the pattern of diseases such as lupus in which Epstein-Barr virus creates a continuing immune response. He lists the many conditions turmeric will help and the symptoms it can relieve. What was new for me, and probably will be for most readers, is the Emotional Support turmeric provides (if you have trouble with self-worth, turmeric is ideal). There are also Spiritual Lessons to be learned from turmeric (it can relieve inflammation that causes judgment, blame, rage or perpetual dissatisfaction).

Following a breakdown of each food’s properties and its uses, this book offers tips on how to best use the food, plus a recipe – in the case of turmeric, immune-boosting Turmeric-Ginger Shots.

On a sweeter note, William gives us insight into Wild Blueberries, which hold thousands of years of healing wisdom.

“The very first wild blueberry plants to take hold in North America passed on their survival knowledge to the planets that followed them, so that the wild blueberries we blend into a smoothie today are rich with generations of information.”

And he recommends picking your organic or wild berries yourself (an unmatchable grounding technique) and eating them unwashed for the elevated bionics they contain that no probiotic pill can match. He then offers a delicious recipe for Berries and Cream, made from whipped coconut milk.

Above all, I love this book because it explains how central food is to saving yourself – your health of body, mind and spirit. And he debunks food fads, letting you page through the many Life-Changing Foods and putting them together into just the right diet for you.

 

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

A Deeper Meaning Behind Colors – The Color of Cold and Ice #BookReview and #Author Interview


 

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 9.21.42 AMThe Color of Cold and Ice is exceptionally creative, weaving the many facets of colors and their chakra associations into the story. Author J. Schlenker beautifully writes of intriguing characters who cross paths throughout the novel, and in the end, become important bridges to balance, passion, health and love for each other.

The novel opens with Sybil, a wife, sister, the owner of a New York City coffee shop, having another of her prophetic dreams. A dream she could not analyze easily, but at least not one like the nightmares that she had seen come true… like the one in which her sister Em’s husband was hit by an object hurtling down from a crane while he and his young son were walking down the street. But this latest dream was pleasant… strange, but pleasant. Nothing foreboding, but indecipherable. She’s standing next to a canal on a bright summer day with her sister, both in orange t-shirts and jeans, then there’s a shift in the weather to a wintry day with chunks of ice floating down the canal, and a man immune to the cold jumping out of the water to kiss her sister.

As The Color of Cold and Ice progresses, we see Sybil’s dream(s) come true and wonder if our own dreams should be paid more attention, to see into the future or just into our selves.

Between the narrative chapters in which we become connected to the characters, Schlenker interweaves short chapters titled from black to white, with all the colors of the rainbow, and the chakras, in between. And the characters then exemplify some of the traits of those chakras, so we learn how they affect our day-to-day lives. What better way to learn about the chakras than to hear them speak for themselves? Here is a sampling of the intriguing way Schlenker helps us leap into the world of color and chakras:

RED: “I am the subdued light that makes the flesh appealing, an urban area of brothels… a district in Amsterdam. A narrow piece of silk, that says ‘power, strength, wealth – with this you can’t go wrong,’ the over enthusiastic salesman, clearly fueled by commission, says. I am life itself, pulsing, oozing, erupting from inside the womb…. I am the base chakra. It all starts with me. I govern the material world, the physical body, and the social position in life. If I’m balanced, I will radiate good health and high levels of energy.”

ORANGE: “You can find me crackling and popping inside a hearth…. Hollywood tries to add romance to my situation and calls me the new black. It couldn’t be further from the truth…. I am a pumpkin pie with whipped cream. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am a scary jack-o-lantern. I am both yin and yang. I am the ten thousand straws of the Tao…. I am the sacral chakra. I am both sensual and sexual. When I’m balanced, I give grace to movement and pleasure without guilt.”

YELLOW: “I am optimism, spontaneity…. I am happiness. I can be cowardly, envious and jealous. I am a character flaw, the trait of Judas Iscariot, the lion in the Wizard of Oz…. I am the third chakra and can be found in the solar plexus. I deal with many issues: self-esteem, confidence, energy, and inner power. When balanced, I am sunny and bright, exuding confidence, a bright ray of joy, the light in the room. When I’m lacking, I’m passive and meek, seeing myself as a victim and easily manipulated.”

GREEN: “I am the fourth chakra, radiating from the chest… I am the heart, compassionate and loving, empathetic and altruistic, peaceful and balanced. Deplete me and I will be critical and judgmental. I may be depressed or withdrawn Too much of me may cause clinging and a co-dependence. I am the breath. Breathe. Take me in fully.”

BLUE: “I encompass the earth, above and below. I splash, crest, fall, and recede, turn windy and violent, throw pellets of water, and become calm once again…. I symbolize wisdom and truth. I am the celestial. I’m a stone called lapis. I am scarabs, pendants and jewelry, the rich inlay of the sarcophagus of King Tutankhamen. And yet, I’m practical, stimulating good judgment and intellect…. I am the fifth chakra, that of the throat. I am communicative and creative. When in balance, I speak with a resonant voice and clear communication. I can listen as well.”

INDIGO: “I am the mind’s eye, your guide to deeper consciousness. Behold me above. I hold the stars in place. Behold me within. Travel on a magic carpet through the corridors of your mind. I am intuition, imagination, your dreams and insights…. I am the sixth chakra. I am visualization, the forte of artists. I reside in your brow. My imagination is endless…. I am vision, your sight. Guard me well…. I am your dreams. Dare to dream big. I am your intuition at its highest.”

VIOLET: “I’m the union of body and soul. I am the link between heaven and earth, the purple irises of Van Gogh. I am the end of the rainbow, the personification of the rainbow. I am royal, imperial…. I am the seventh chakra. I rule understanding. I am the connection with God and the divine. When in balance, I have an open mind, an open heart. I am both thoughtful and wise. I am connected to spirit.”

Throughout the drama of the novel, we see the doctor who attended Em’s child after the crane accident lose his passion for both his profession and his wife, then find it again through cold therapy and then other alternative, holistic practices that he integrates into his Internal Medicine practice.

No more spoilers as to the novel’s ending, as I think you should read it for yourself. But I will end my review with words spoken by Sybil: “I don’t know that life is so strange. I think the universe has a plan for us. It works out better when we listen. We’re on a divine trek.”

Here, Author J. Schlenker answers my questions about The Color of Cold and Ice:

1) Is there an underlying message you’d like readers to take away from reading your novel?

I want people to take away whatever message will most help them. Everyone brings their own stuff into play when they read a book. Maybe my muse is directing me to write just one individual sentence that might resonate with someone. I try to stick with what I get myself from writing it and hope those reading it will get what is intended for them. Writing is cathartic. I figure whatever I’m working on is some kind of life lesson that I’m working through.

2) Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I wrote poems in high school. Then forty years later my husband finds the poems I’ve written and says why don’t you write? That was in 2008. The writing becomes more intense with each year. And, I meet more writers and hopefully learn more as I go. And, I learn from my readers.

Also, my intention when I began this endeavor was to write about Sally, a woman I met when I was eight. She was born in 1858 into slavery. She was 103 when I met her. And, now, I’m finally, after three books, writing about Sally. It will be fictional, but is based on my research on her. I think I needed the three books I’ve done for practice in getting to Sally. This project is keeping me really busy.

3) What did you consider the most challenging part of writing this novel?

The most challenging part might have been writing the higher chakra colors. Maybe I’m not there, yet. And also, the workshop (on Cold Therapy), as I’ve only taken the Wim Hof  online course and haven’t been to Poland.

4) I love how you gave voice to colors… what inspired this?

I was taking a writing course and we were given an assignment to write as if we were a color. I chose orange. Having an art degree, I loved this assignment. Then when NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) rolled around, I thought why not incorporate this into a book.

5) What sparked your interest in the chakras and holistic healing (delved into by the doctor in the book)?

I know it was in my twenties that I started devouring everything about Edgar Cayce. Perhaps it stemmed from a past life. Hard to say. But I believe in anything natural. I just heard a podcast on the healing of nature. I grew up playing in the woods. I got away from it for a long time, but in the last decade I’ve returned. I love doing yoga barefoot on the grass. Too, I think overall, the medical establish doesn’t take the emotions of the individual into account. I’m a strong believer in we can heal ourselves in most instances.

6) The chakra colors correspond to challenges your characters are facing in the first half of the book… then it’s just the story until you reach white. Do you see the resolution of their problems as a result of a balance of their chakras?

The short answer would be yes. I tried to keep the colors relevant to the characters, but at the same time, a person is all of the colors. If not, we would be so unbalanced. Maybe one more than another, or maybe a person is working on a particular problem at a point in their life represented by a color. There was a time when all the walls in my house were white. My house was basically bland. Yet, I mostly wore red. That was the color that looked the best on me. Then I went through a change. My house is a salmon color on the outside. The inside walls with the exception of one bedroom which is green, are all stucco orange. And, there is a lot of red, rugs, couch, etc. There is no longer any red in my closet. It’s more varied, but mostly deep blues. I feel colors can really influence us. And as we change, our colors change.

7) What advice would you give to new indie authors?

I don’t know if I’m one to be giving advice, but I would say:  Write from your heart!

8) What ways can readers connect with you?

My Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/J.SchlenkerAuthor/

Blog:  https://athursdayschild.wordpress.com/

The Color of Cold and Ice and J. Schlenker’s other books are available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 

 

Repairing and Releasing Energetic Ties – The Karma Chronicles #BookReview and #AuthorInterview


Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 4.59.14 PMThe Karma Chronicles is a unique story with lots of fascinating elements, from drama to angelic interventions to poetic musings, all with the gift of healing in them.

If we believe in karma, then it’s logical that we are all born into a family, a lineage, a tribe who have set our course by their actions and reactions. Now, it would be great if the family we’ve landed into is brimming with nothing but love and light. However, for Kate, the protagonist of The Karma Chronicles, this is not the case.

Kate carries on her karmic back the scroll of destiny signed by her ancestor, Lord Hadrian. She has to deal with karmic shadows including abuse, violence, betrayal and abandonment before she is able to heal the feeling of unworthiness cast upon her.

Kate is helped in her karmic challenge by her twin, a sister who died at birth and is in the Divine Realm, trying to protect her from the world she had been able to escape. She is assisted by Archangels who reach Kate through her dreams. They feed her spiritual tools such as writing poetry, journaling, and meditation to help her escape her fate, and to realize that she is destined for something greater than she can imagine.

The Archangels guide Kate to write as therapy:

     Torn between two worlds I cannot reach and with only prayer to guide me, I thirst for each. In search of my life, I try again to figure out the past of why and when. In search of my life I take the tests. To make it on my own I have bequest. A childhood of hopes that no one knew. Once I saw in a dream-state that most come true. – Age 16

As The Karma Chronicles, Part 1: Hadrian’s Seal concludes, Kate’s drama-filled life shifts and there is hope for her future. The reader is not only drawn in by the story, but also by the knowledge that if there is hope for Kate, there is hope for all of us… the possibility to change relationships we thought would never heal. Yes, it will make you want to delve into the karma of your own family line and will cause you to shift the way you think about your own family members and their relationship to you.

Thanks to author Pepper Carlson, C.Ht., for answering my questions here:

1) Is there an underlying message you wish to relay through your novel?

You are never alone and should never give up hope.

2) Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My grandfather loved to write poetry and he would share it with me. I wrote my first poem when I was 11 or so.

 3) In the Prologue, Lord Hadrian signs the scroll of destiny, understanding the energetic capacity of “when karma meets fate.” What do you mean by that phrase?  

What comes around goes around, so whatever we put out will come back on us ten fold.

 4) As a hypnotherapist, do you have experience working with clients to connect with the spirits of their ancestors?  

I don’t do regression therapy in the true sense of the word. The way I work with my clients is a current reality based approach. We explore the recreation of familiar experiences. And how even though we may say we want something new and different and we really mean it, we keep finding ourselves still repeating the patterns of the past (which goes back through the ancestral lineage). This is because the thoughts and words that come out of our mouths are not congruent with the feelings deep within us that were formulated in childhood.

We approach and visit the subconscious mind as your internal safety deposit box. It is literally a memory bank full of defined childhood experiences. Our deposits are made in the form of experiences, thoughts, and cognitive behaviors. As we grew up, these emotional deposits became a collective of stored perceptions. And it’s these insights that developed into our very personal model of the world. Getting the two parts of your mind to be congruent with each other is when your actions and reactions are aligned with your current belief system and values. This occurs when your conscious mind trusts and consolidates the wealth of information the subconscious mind has to offer and this payoff will literally change our life. This is the ultimate win-win situation and harmony in your life will prevail. This is how we chisel away at the karmic debt repayment plan.

5) Can you describe how one can repair and release the energetic strands in their family’s karma?  

I get so excited when asked to talk about the subconscious mind because I’ve spent most of my adult life performing what I call experiments. Trying to delve deeper into the psyche. As I got older, I was like wait a minute. How come I keep doing that? How come I keep saying this? It can’t be a coincidence that my last three relationships resembled one or both of my parents. And when I say relationships it doesn’t just mean intimate relationships. This philosophy extends to friends, colleagues, and even bosses. Have you ever heard the expression, you attract that which you know? We tend to surround ourselves with what is familiar and we’re not the only ones. Our parents did the same thing, as did their parents and theirs… back even further through the ancestral lineage. In my novel, The Karma Chronicles, which will be Book One of a trilogy, I take a good look at how often certain patterns and habits get repeated and quite possibly passed down through the ages.

Pepper Carlson, C.Ht. is a creative visionary, certified hypnotherapist and personal empowerment coach. When not at her writing desk, she is working with clients to help them unleash their personal power and live up to their true potential. A long-time volunteer as a tutor for School on Wheels, she also works daily to defend her 2012 title as a Good News Ambassador for the Good News Network, an honor granted to individuals who work to improve society and demonstrate notable goodwill towards others.

The Karma Chronicles is available on Amazon Kindle and in paperback. To request a signed copy of her book, go to: http://www.lifewithoneeyeopen.com/the-karma-chronicles/

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 

 

 

 

 

How Meditation and Contemplative Prayer Can Deepen your Spiritual Life- FINDING GOD IN THE BODY #BookReview and #Author Interview


book-cover-fullMany of my friends and I consider ourselves “spiritual, not religious,” having been turned off by the organized religions we grew up with. But how does one follow a spiritual path with no guidance? Yes, we meditate and do yoga and try to be good people, but what else?

Finding God in the Body by Benjamin Riggs offers “A Spiritual Path for the Modern West.” For those of us with Western sensibilities but an affinity toward the practices of Buddhism or other Eastern religions, Riggs offers a path that looks with fresh eyes at the Judeo-Christian texts and combines their spiritual teachings with practices, such as meditation, of the East.

“The spiritual path is the mind’s return to the naked awareness of the body…. It is about dropping the narrative, relaxing the tension, and taking refuge in our True Life.”

Author Benjamin Riggs spent years studying the contemplative core of Christianity where he found a mythos of God within, more concerned with daily life than the hereafter. He explains the Bible and Judeo-Christian writings in a very enlightening way, following the Jewish tradition of storytelling to understand the Bible’s message in today’s world.

The author references the most important teachings of Jewish, Christian and Buddhist teachers such as Dr. Reginald Ray, Thomas Merton, Joseph Campbell, Fr. Thomas Keating, Thomas Aquinas, Rabbi David Cooper and M. Scott Peck, who wrote:

“If you desire wisdom greater than your own, you can find it inside of you…. To put it plainly, our unconscious is God. God within us…”

Finding God in the Body offers instruction in a spiritual practice that helps embody the mystery of God that lives within our body… both through contemplative prayer to bring us into the body, the God of the body, and through meditation to discover the underlying emptiness of the mind.

In the end, Riggs offers a way to develop a personal relationship with God, living in the Will of God:

“Undoubtedly this will have a great effect on our quality of life, how we treat others, and the world in which we live. It will transform the world.”

What more could the spiritual seeker ask?

Here is my interview with Benjamin Riggs, author, columnist and the founder and director of the Refuge Meditation Group in Shreveport, Louisiana…

Can you give us a synopsis of your own spiritual studies/journey?

There is an awful lot of overlap between Buddhism and Christianity in my personal spirituality. Buddhism brought me onto the spiritual path. When I first became interested in spirituality at the age of 17, I was too resentful toward Christianity to even consider a Christian approach. Years later I happened across a Thomas Merton book that changed all of that. Most of my training has been within the Buddhist tradition, but about 5 years ago, I quit thinking of myself as a Buddhist. Most all of the practices I regularly do are from the Buddhist tradition, but the symbolism and language of contemplative Judaism and Christianity resonates more with me than the Buddhist language does now. I can see myself as a Christian atheist and a Buddhist theist. So conceptually I have a hard time labeling this Buddhist-Christian hybrid spirituality, but it is all very seamless for me in practice.

How would you explain the title of the book?

God is not an old, white man in the sky that created the universe and is now charged with the task of overseeing its day to day functions. A growing number of Westerners are disillusioned with this conception of God and are looking for something that does not offend their modern, scientific sensibilities. That is the “modern spiritual” part of the title. As for “god and the body,” God is the Ground of Being. It is in the body that we connect with the experience of Being. Finally, “path.” Resurrecting the God of the body requires a path of practice.

What was your purpose in writing this book?

I initially planned to compile a catalog of my past articles on Elephant Journal and publish them as a book. But once I sat down and started writing, the project evolved. As I said before, there is a lot of overlap in my personal spirituality with Buddhism and Christianity. So I started to outline a spiritual path that had proven effective for me and figured it would resonate with a lot of other people. A lot of Westerners are looking for a more practical spirituality. They want something that works in this life, something that helps them work with stress, fear, anger, and meaninglessness. Buddhism offers practices that meet this need, so a lot of people are drifting toward the Eastern philosophy section at their local bookstores. But then they bump into another problem: The practices are great, but the language, symbolism, and the mythos of Eastern religion are foreign and far removed from the Western psyche. It just doesn’t resonate. So I wanted to write a book that wedded the two. I wanted to outline a spiritual path that included a system of practice and a mythos that resonated with the Western mind without offending our modern, scientific sensibilities. That is what Finding God in the Body does.

What is your definition of spirituality or the spiritual path?

Spirituality is a view (often expressed in mythological terms) that transcends the superficial levels of self-centered consciousness wedded to a system of practice that enables us to embody those deeper levels of selfless awareness.

What message would you like readers to take away from this book?

I would like readers to take away two things: Spirituality is and has to be immediately concerned with the reality of day-to-day life. And it is has to be supported by practice, lest it become just another system of wishful thinking.

How would you define God?

God is the Ground of Being, the Isness of all that is. God is NOT the prime mover or the reason for existence, but existence itself, which through our life we participate in.

I found your explanations of texts in the Bible very elucidating. For example, can you share how you interpret Jesus as the Christ?

Most people see the name Jesus Christ as if Christ was Jesus’ last name. Christ is a symbol synonymous with the firstborn of all creation, the image of God (imago dei) which lives within man as our True Nature. In the Gospels, Christ is made manifest through the life and actions of Jesus. But we are all called to be a light unto the world – to allow the light of True Self to shine so bright that it blots out the characteristics of the false-self. That light is the indwelling image of God, the experience of Being, I Am-ness, or Christ. Jesus was a Jewish man that consented to the experience of being and enabled God to be born into the world through his life.

How would you describe the “false self” vs. the “true self?”

The True Self is the unmediated, ever-unfolding experience of life, which for the sake of conversation, has to be localized and called me or this life. This localization is the ego, which is perfectly natural and necessary. The ego is a conceptual overlay generated by the thinking mind and projected out into the world that enables us to communicate, navigate through the world, etc. It is a projection, a proxy self, so to speak. When we confuse that projected self for the real thing, it becomes a false self.

Can you sum up the path/practices you recommend for those seeking to “live fully?”

Living fully means living in wholeness. The view aspect of spirituality must transcend our sense of brokenness or incompleteness. It must move beyond those superficial, codependent levels of conceptual identification and down into the selflessness of undifferentiated awareness where we find fullness.

How can one best tap into the unconscious wisdom of the body?

The unconscious wisdom of the body flows forth from silence. But you cannot make silence happen, because any attempt to do so is noise. You can only make yourself prone to moments of silence. This is the practice of contemplative prayer and meditation. But any practice can be meditative: taking a walk or run, washing the dishes. Silence is the natural state of affairs. We are just doing what we are doing there is silence.

What would you say is the meaning of life?

The meaning of life is to live, which is why you are alive. Any attempt to add meaning beyond that is in my opinion just noise. But that is not to say that life is meaningless. The experience of life is in itself meaningful. When you are present, awake, engaged, you are not looking for meaning. You are content. The search for meaning comes from a place of brokenness or incompleteness.

Finding God in the Body is available on Amazon.com. For more information, see FindingGodInTheBody.com or connect with the author at Facebook.com/FindingGodInTheBody and Twitter.com/Benjamin_Riggs

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

www.theChakras.org

Spiritual Wisdom in A Light-Hearted, Entertaining Fable: Thaddeus Squirrel #BookReview and #AuthorInterview


thaddeus_squirrel_frontHow does passion lead to purpose? In Tom Rapsas’ new book, Thaddeus Squirrel: A Spiritual Fable, the main character realizes that working day and night foraging for acorns, more than he would ever need, is meaningless to him. He ends up running away from his tribe of squirrels as he’s not accepted for his difference of opinion. On his journey, he is gravely injured by a dog, then cared for by a group of chipmunks who have wisdom to share.

The chipmunk who saved his life, Sol, is a sage old guy who starts offering Thaddeus new questions to peruse and new ideas to consider… ultimately, that his life has meaning, and it’s up to him to find that meaning within himself.

Sol says, “I’m going to do more than tell you about the meaning of life. I’ll show you how to find it, first-hand… the meaning for you may be different than the meaning for me.” It takes time, but Thaddeus begins to learn to look within himself to find the spark of light, of wisdom, that is within us all.

Some of the wisdom Thaddeus learns:

“The things we love to do, are the things we are meant to do.”

“Your purpose almost never involves you alone, there will be others involved too.”

“Knowledge feeds the mind. Wisdom feeds the mind and every part of your being.”

          “Heaven is here now…Hell is here too. You choose your destination by how you live your life, the path you choose.”

While this book is written for a YA audience, I think readers of any age will be entertained by the story and inspired by the message and wisdom imparted in the book. For instance, how do you know when your inner voice is coming from intuition or from fear? “When it’s your intuition, you’ll know it in both your head and your heart.”

You can buy this book for your older children to read themselves or for you to read to your younger children. It will open up many topics for discussion, in a light-hearted way, that can help them find their true nature and passion in this life.

THANKS TO AUTHOR TOM RAPSAS FOR THE INTERVIEW:

Who do you see as the audience for this book?

I first started writing this book as a fairy-tale for my 5-year old daughter, but ended up working on it, off and on, for over 10 years. As the years went by, the content and ideas within the book got deeper—to the point where the audience became teens and young adults. (My daughter is 17 now.) I think the book is a good introduction to spirituality for the 13-22 age group, though I believe its core messages are something that people of all ages can relate to.

Why did you choose chipmunks as teachers for the squirrel?

I think it relates to my own spiritual upbringing. I was raised as a strict Catholic and it was not until I was in my late-20s that I began to study the teachings and wisdom found in other religions and faiths. I thought that was important for Thaddeus’s quest—that he find answers outside of his own narrow upbringing, from a source (chipmunks) he hadn’t considered as being on the same social or spiritual level.

What message(s) would you like readers to take away from the book?

The key message is that we’re all here for a purpose—and our first and primary goal in life is to uncover that purpose. We need to take small steps each day toward that end and it’s a journey that never ends. Our learning is never complete. As Thaddeus discovers at the end of the book, he’s got to stop observing and take action. When we are stagnant we do not learn, but when we expose ourselves to other ideas and philosophies, growth happens.

Can you explain further how to separate the voice of our ego vs. inner wisdom as Thaddeus Squirrel learns?

In the book, I talk of the ego as the big obstacle we must get around by any means necessary. The ego is often our public self, the face we show to the world. It often over-thinks, is ruled by emotional swings and places too much importance on the trivial. But ultimately, the ego is shallow. Deep within us is “the watcher,” our true self, and it is this inner part of our being where true wisdom resides—if we choose to open ourselves up to it.

What is the “Law of Connections” that Thaddeus Squirrel is taught?

It’s an idea I’ve had for many years and it relates to how I personally view God. I don’t see God as a being in the traditional sense, but as more of a force-of-nature that turns the gears of life, putting us in the places we need to be, helping us meet the people we’re supposed to meet. The Law is the mechanism that helps us make these connections to people and places, that puts us where we need to be. It’s the force behind coincidences and connects us with our destiny in this life.

How does your main character realize his “true self” and reach his “full potential?”

Honestly, by the end of the book, he has not realized his true self or full potential. The first step for Thaddeus is to get moving, to get him on the path to fulfilling his purpose. He has started on that path, but it’s really a first step. As you know having read the book, Becca, it’s a set-up for a sequel. The spiritual education of Thaddeus Squirrel has just begun.

Thaddeus Squirrel: A Spiritual Fable is available now at Amazon.com. Tom Rapsas is a writer at the faith site Patheos where he has written the Wake Up Call column since 2013. He is also the author of the book Life Tweets, Inspirational & Spiritual Insights That Can Change Your Life.

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

www.theChakras.org

 

 

 

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