Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings

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Why We Need #CripFic – A Love Story to Nothing Without Us


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By Derek Newman-Stille

As disabled people, we are written about constantly. We are shaped by texts. We have been written about by our doctors, by our schools, by our therapists, by our politicians…. We have been layered and layered with texts, and these texts are generally written by people who are NOT US – people who consider themselves experts on our experiences, who tell us that they have knowledge that is beyond our knowledge of our own bodies and selves. Indeed, we even need to rely on these experts to gain access to spaces and resources as disabled people. We need governmental policies to give us rights we should have as citizens, we need medical doctors’ reports to be considered disabled in the first place, and we need accommodation forms to get access to school resources. We are not only turned into text, we are made to DEPEND on text by other people.

Even fiction is often ABOUT US, written by people who are abled and trying to capture our experiences without talking to us. We get turned into tropes, into stories, into fictions… And we get told that these fictions represent us, and we get told by editors or publishers that our stories don’t “feel authentic” because they don’t match the tropes – they aren’t inspirational, they aren’t about overcoming, they aren’t about suffering, they aren’t about being lesser. Our stories are frequently rejected because the tropes are far more powerful than our voices.

That’s why I am excited about the collection Nothing Without Us – because it centres our voices. It is a collection of Crip voices, disabled voices, about us expressing ourselves and not being talked about. It is edited by two disabled people – Cait Gordon and Talia Johnson. It is published by a disabled publisher. And the way it is shaping up, it looks like it will be an anthology that speaks back to all of those narratives, texts, and stories imposed on us disabled folks.

So, what does it mean to write back? What does it mean for us to speak our own stories, to tell our own tales, to speak from the Crip body and mind?

I use the term “Crip” intentionally. I use it the same way as I use “Queer”, to speak back to a system that has sought to use these words to oppress us. “Crip” is a way of reclaiming the language… but it isn’t just another word for “disabled”. It is an intentional response to attempts to pacify us through language. It is a resistant word, a word made to disrupt, to challenge, and to speak back. It is meant to make people gasp and then to think about why that word is used. I call myself a Queer Crip because I don’t want to conform. I don’t want to be pacified by words because so many of our systems are based on pacifying us with words. Words are so often used to contain us, to confine us, and to render us Other. We wrestle with words because they are used to oppress. So, what happens when we share that wrestling with words? What happens when we tell our own stories and tell the world that OUR WORDS HAVE POWER?

Nothing Without Us is a complicated engagement with our words. It is shaping up to be an anthology that lets us, as disabled people, resist the confinements of hegemonic texts. It engages with realism because we have had so many narratives written about us that claim truth… but it also engages with imaginatory texts, with speculative texts. It recognizes the need for there to be an exploration of the imagination, because our rules, policies, and ideas about disability are shaped in the imagination, in the minds that ponder what disability means.

Nothing Without Us is a multi-genre text because, as disabled people, our lives don’t easily fit into one genre and we bristle at boxes or confines that try to imagine us as only one thing.

Nothing Without Us is a resistant text, a set of stories that provide a counter-narrative to narratives about us. It is about us telling our own stories and the power of our own stories to tear apart the stories and diagnoses and polices that have been written about us.

To discover more about Nothing Without Us, whose Kickstarter is happening right now, check out https://nothingwithoutusanthology.wordpress.com and support the kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/renaissancebp/nothing-without-us?ref=ksr_email_user_new_friend_project&fbclid=IwAR2-S8WRjKGuogbKi6aXSo6kvcUcYiQu4KXPW4Z2o9T8bpKfz-szxHJR1KA

 

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Download a FREE copy of The Chakra Diaries – on the healing power of love


Free TCDIf your chakras are blocked or closed, your ability to give and receive love will also be blocked. Relationships will be rocky, and your ability to feel love and happiness will be locked away.

The participants in my Chakra Workshops keep journals which clearly show how a blocked chakra can also block love in your life.

My first book, based on these journals, The Chakra Diaries, shows how using meditations and the other tools described, can lead to happier endings.

“The Chakra Diaries is full of passion, sensuality, humor and great teachings. In stories of rugged roads, hopes, pleasures and dreams, we see 10 people’s lives weave together in a work of art for the heart!” ~  Marya Mann, PhD, Brave New Viewsletter

Until Valentine’s Day,  you can download a Free Kindle of The Chakra Diaries.

The book is full of life’s struggles (yes, even money issues) that can be fixed with love. Every difficult relationship or situation can be remedied with love. Any chakra blockage may be healed and opened through love. The healing power of love can change things in an instant.

HERE’S HOW BALANCED CHAKRAS CAN IMPROVE YOUR LOVE LIFE:
ROOT CHAKRA – When you feel grounded and safe, you feel like you belong and are able to be a more responsible partner.
SACRAL CHAKRA – When balanced, your creativity and sexuality are free-flowing, and you are able to be a more romantic partner.
SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA – With your personal power chakra balanced and your self-love in place, you will feel the confidence necessary to find and win your soul mate.
HEART CHAKRA – Love and compassion, the keynotes of a balanced Heart Chakra, will help you retain your relationships, through better or worse.
THROAT CHAKRA – With the ability to speak your truth about your needs and wants, your relationships will be more harmonious and fulfilling.
THIRD EYE CHAKRA – As you increase your intuition, you will have a closer bond, not only to your higher self, but to your loved ones.
CROWN CHAKRA – As you channel the divine love of the universe, you will be better able to act from a place of love in all areas of your life.

I’m hoping you’ll download a copy of The Chakra Diaries and be inspired by the healing power of love as well.

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

www.theChakras.org

Holidays Stressful for You? Download the Free Solution…


Chakra Blog

The Chakra Energy Diet coverDownload THE CHAKRA ENERGY DIET FREE through Wednesday.

For Thanksgiving, I went to a pot-luck party where some of my friends ate Paleo or ketogenic diets, others were vegetarians or vegan, and others were concerned with allergies to gluten or dairy. But the colorful roasted veggies I brought were embraced by all, and added needed balance to all their plates.

How can you stay in balance during the stressful holiday season? By adding color to your plate and your lifestyle, and feeding and nurturing your chakras. 

First of all, if you’re blaming yourself for overeating 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 poor food choices, then makes our bodies hold on to the fat. The solution…

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CURE – A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body, #BookReview


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

 

 

ON THE EDGE #BookReview – A Lesson In Aloha – FREE for Download


 

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

I’VE BEEN THINKING… by Maria Shriver #BookReview


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 #BookReview and #AuthorInterview


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

 

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