Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings

Archive for the ‘book review’ Category

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

 

 

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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

 

Holiday Book Contest: Win a Year’s Worth of Inspirational Reads


Thank you to the many readers who entered the Holiday Book Giveaway and put out beautiful intentions for the world in 2018. I was truly inspired by the wishes made by those who commented here on my blog post and to my email.

I’m happy to announce the two winners of books that inspire – Judi and Karissa. Please watch your emails to learn how to receive your books.

Everyone can be a winner – just click on the book title that intrigues you the most, and no doubt, that will be just the inspiration you need for the New Year.

Happy Holidays to all.
Namaste!
Becca Chopra

Becca's Inspirational Book Blog

Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 11.13.21 AMThe holidays are upon us, and as always I am very grateful for YOU the readers, and all the authors who inspire us on our spiritual journeys.

I also appreciate all of your shares and likes of posts here on Facebook and Twitter. My intention with this blog is to break through the dark places on the internet with light- and love-filled connections.

Following are many of the favorite books I’ve reviewed this year. The authors have been kind enough to donate their paperbacks, so the winners of the HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY will have a bevy of books as New Year inspiration or to gift to just the right family member or friend.

To be entered to win, please comment with a wish for the world in 2018. Be sure to enter your email address so that I may contact you if you win. If you’d rather comment anonymously, send your…

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#HelpAfricanAlbinos: THEN SHE WAS BORN #BookReview


Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 10.12.17 AMThen She Was Born is both a novel and a wake-up call to join an international human rights awareness campaign (also supported by eleven Nobel Peace Prize laureates, the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis).

This call for racial healing is based on an inconceivable reality of the living conditions of Africans with albinism, but one that author Cristiano Gentili found to be true during a fact-finding trip to Tanzania.

He fictionalized the plight of African albinos into the heart-breaking, shocking story of a girl named Adimu, born into a rural village on an island off Tanzania, where superstitions about the magical powers and curses associated with albinos were alive and causing trauma and death to those born with this genetic defect.

In the book’s Dedication, the author writes:

“I fear you because you are different. I hunt you because I fear you. You are different, you are few, you are unearthly. Suspended between two worlds, you are out of my control and, just like the gods, you may be our blackest disgrace or the gold of our fortune. And yet you cry and laugh as I do. Are you, or are you not, human?”

Then She Was Born is not only a page-turning story of how Adimu survives, ostracized by her family who feel she is a curse, except for her grandmother, who keeps her safe until her own death. Then, Adimu is tricked into thinking she will be taken to a mainland sanctuary and school for albinos, but is instead hunted down and almost killed so that her body parts can be turned into amulets and other sources of fortune for those who do not understand that she is a human being, just like the rest of us.

This book can inspire racial healing, not only among the blacks in Africa – where albinism is still not always understood as a genetic difference – but wherever in the world we fear those who are different than us.

Through this well-told story, we fall in love with Adimu (although she could not be more unlike ourselves) and grieve for her terrible misfortunes. The novel is an engrossing page-turner, but also a real awakening to our own fears, often based on ancient prejudices and superstitions, that must be brought to light and transformed into love.

The official campaign website to increase awareness of the living conditions of Africans with albinism is www.HelpAfricanAlbinos.com.

Then She Was Born is available in both Kindle and paperback on Amazon.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
 

 

A LESSON IN ALOHA: On The Edge of Lava, Love and Terror #BookReview


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 now available at the launch price of $.99 on Amazon Kindle, 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
 

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