Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings

Archive for the ‘Indie Authors’ Category

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

 

 

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What Gives your Life Worth? Book Review and Interview on THE OARSMAN


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

Famous Quotes on Achieving Success and Happiness – #FREEeBook plus #Author Interview


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

 

Review and Interview on Dying is Weird: A Journey of Enlightenment


dying is weirdIn sharing her memoir, Dying is Weird: A Journey of Enlightenment, Kathleen Westberg brings us into her life as she loses loved ones and then begins searching for meaning in life and death. Her story resonated with me as my own mother is now under hospice care and shows dementia symptoms very close to what Westberg’s mother experienced. And my mother also feels my grandmother’s presence in her room now – weird, as Westberg says.

How can we feel more of a connection to our loved ones during and after their lives? Well, Westberg shares some answers she found through the work of Edgar Cayce, which stirred her soul and led her to continue her studies of metaphysics and spirituality. His ability to communicate with his friends and relatives that had died, she explained, helped her to broaden her views on keeping in touch with loved ones after they have passed on.

While she always showed some heightened psychic abilities, once Westberg begins studying and attending holistic healing conferences, there is no stopping her in sharing her Healing Touch, interpretation of dreams and precognition of events.

This book is a sweet, quick read that makes us feel we are not alone, but all connected. After finishing it, you feel like you are part of Westberg’s family, and you are. Her experiences help one believe that life isn’t as “random and chaotic as previously thought,” and makes death seem “more like an adventure to look forward to than something to fear.”

Kathleen Westberg is a life member of the Cayce group, A.R.E., The Association of Research and Enlightenment. Here, she answers my questions about her book…

Becca: Why is dying “weird?”

Kathleen: My experiences with the death of loved ones has been at times so perplexing, befuddling and fascinating, that I knew I wanted to write a book about what I experienced. The title of my book, Dying Is Weird, comes from a personal experience in which I witnessed the transition of a family member and her words to me.  The word “weird” according to Webster’s Dictionary has several definitions: supernatural, odd, strange, uncanny and magical just to name a few.  So with the definitions and my personal story it all fit into what I thought was the perfect book title. Death to me was weird also, because of the experience I had when I was eleven.  It touched me in a deep way and awakened me to some of my own perceptions that would stay with me throughout my entire life.  In that sense, dying is weird because it is something that has been a part of me from a young age, and it transcends time and space.

Becca: Why do you think people in our culture are unprepared for death?

Kathleen: Years ago, death was looked at much differently.  I’m not saying that the grief was any less, but before the age of medicine, the mortality rate was very high and everyone suffered the loss of loved ones, sometimes at relatively young ages.  Children were apt to die from illnesses that are now preventable.  Multiple families lived together and relatives lived in close proximity always lending support and comfort.  I feel they had a different understanding about life and death.  Births as well as deaths were witnessed in the home which made both a more natural experience. Society has changed dramatically.  The natural cycle of birth and death is no longer witnessed at home.  Families don’t have the commitment to care for the elderly so the aging population becomes more compartmentalized and the elderly die sometimes distances from their loved ones.  We have also become more materialistic, with more of a focus on money and material possessions.  Also, people have a harder time accepting something if they can’t measure it or quantify it.  I feel by learning to cultivate or develop our clairvoyant perceptions we can become more aware of that dimension of existence, called death, and our experiences might not seem so out-of-the-ordinary.  Working at being more loving and learning to forgive and reconcile relationships and maintaining that loving awareness, I think would help us all be better prepared for death.

Becca: What was the biggest lesson you learned in your metaphysical studies?

Kathleen: Maybe the most important thing I’ve learned is that my intuition and spiritual understanding has grown in direct relationship to my studies.  I have learned so much from making the effort to take different classes and study with a variety of teachers. There have been so many teachers in my life that have shared their talents and spiritual abilities and it seems I always take something very worthwhile from each one.  I am fascinated by energy work and the energy of the world, be it in a house of worship, someone’s home, out in nature and of course the energy of others.  The more I put effort into those areas, the more aware I become of these spiritual dimensions and the more I am able to help others heal and grow. When we make a conscious effort to develop our metaphysical awareness, the creator can work through us and it then becomes a natural attunement to use at will.

Becca: What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Kathleen: I want people to understand that death is not the end of life – that we are transformed by death, and somehow our consciousness or awareness carries on in a spiritual dimension or existence.  By opening our minds to receiving messages through our dreams, and through our inner senses, we can change and minimize our fear of death. For me, one of the most important life lessons that has helped me deal with death is a sense of humor.  Smiles and laughter help me to temper the grief that I experience.  When we love more and laugh more, that connection never ceases to exist. I can feel it coming back to me through the ethers.

Becca: Would you say you have the answers to “What happens after death?”

Kathleen: It’s my vivid imagination that has helped me to picture what happens after death.  Sometimes I can feel the warmth and the laughter coming from my loved ones.  Even when writing my book, I could sense the love and encouragement that was being sent my way.  I also get a sense when someone has moved beyond the first plane of existence after death; it’s a little harder and takes a little longer to get their attention.  In one moving dream, long after my mother had died, she finally answered my pleadings to contact or connect with me.  In my dream she walked into a room where I was and looked like she had just awoken from a long nap.  The message I got was I had disturbed, or awakened her on her sojourn to the next level, but if I really needed her she would take that time to let me know she was always available for me. I just started reading Deepak Chopra’s Life After Death: The Burden of Proof, and I’m excited about what I can continue to learn about the process and experience of death.  His book is more of a synthesis of medical, scientific and spiritual perspectives, whereas my book is written from my personal experience with spirituality.

Becca: What advice to you have for other first-time authors who feel they have inspiration to share?

Kathleen: My advice for first-time authors would be to believe in themselves.  Since I have always been a better listener than a talker, I hear the stories from others and I see how by sharing their stories, as I did, the author can uplift, educate, and just simply entertain readers.  Writing helps bring your inspiration into focus; it puts your inspiration into a form where you can look at it, reflect on it and work on it.  We get so busy with our lives and our obligations that we can get distracted from a deeper sense of purpose in our lives and work, and so it’s very important to make sure to set aside time to write.  It may not always come out in perfect form, but you can always go back and edit or rewrite your material.  It’s important to just keep writing.

Namaste! Becca Chopra, author TheChakraDiaries-coverThe Chakra Diaries (inspirational stories of achieving chakra balance), Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org

“Happiness: The Key to Inner Sunshine” Review and Author Interview


For a complete handbook to achieving a happy life, I recommend Nicola Krystina Greene’s “Happiness: The Key to Inner Sunshine.” From ways to discover your inner sunshine, to ways to dissolve any blocks you have to happiness, Greene covers all the current wisdom on finding your inner light and letting go of negativity, fear, suppressed anger and hurt.

Despite your life circumstances, Greene shows you how to live a sunnier life right now by living in the moment, practicing meditation, and expressing your true self. One of the more beautiful ways she shares is how to reconnect with nature and find inspiration all around you. As a daily meditator, I also appreciated the powerful meditation techniques she teaches, including the Hong-Sau Meditation and Candle Flame Meditation.

Greene not only shares wisdom for the ages, but beautiful quotes from those who experienced happiness despite all odds. From Helen Keller: “Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” And a Chinese proverb: “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”

Unhappiness only exists in the mind, writes Greene. So open your mind to the possibilities of a happier life. Anyone who puts her suggestions into practice will feel freer, more empowered, and definitely, happier.

Nicola Krystina Greene is a freelance writer in the U.K. who travelled the globe for 10 years meeting spiritual masters, healers and religious experts in search of greater joy and happiness. Here she answers my questions regarding the subject of happiness and her book:

Becca: What is happiness?

Nicola: Happiness is a deeply subjective personal experience and we each feel it and express it in unique ways. But it does have a universal aspect to it which is that it is related to our ability to feel our inner light.

That ‘inner sunshine’ sits within us, waiting to be unlocked, but is usually hidden behind the layers we create around us that imprison or dull that light – such as our fears, masks, and distortions. The more we free ourselves from false beliefs and learn to connect with our internal sunshine, then the more we experience our true selves, our connection with the Universe, and finally have the keys to lasting happiness.

Becca: Why do you think more people aren’t “happy?”

Nicola: Many people do not yet understand that happiness is not found in external objects, or in having specific events occur, and until they know where the real source of their happiness resides, they will always be seeking in the wrong places.

Along with this, today we live in isolated, artificial spaces and are less in tune with the healing rhythms of the outdoors and the natural world. Instead we have developed frenetic and technologically driven mechanical rhythms that create unbalance in our systems and biology.

Becca: Would you say, as others have, that our brains are wired more to remember trauma than happiness, so we have to work at being happy?

Nicola: It may be true that traumatic events are more easily remembered, and happiness is something we always have to work at. However, when we learn to re-program our thoughts and habits towards happiness and positivity (as shown in the book) then we may find that happiness comes progressively more easily and effortlessly.

When we practice happiness, we naturally attract more positive events to ourselves, and will even find that we experience challenging or traumatic times differently. As we learn to turn up the light inside us, raise our vibration, and centre our attention and consciousness within that inner light, then we develop a habit that will help us to more easily return to our happiness again.

Becca: What are the most common misconceptions about happiness?

Nicola: Perhaps the most common misconception about happiness is the idea that the feelings of joy we experience are caused by something that has happened outside of us – an event or action. However, we can ignite that same feeling simply by remembering an event or picturing a scene or that makes us happy, and this shows that the outer stimulus is not necessary, so we don’t even need the external event or person in order to feel happiness.

Becca: How can we train ourselves to have a positive outlook?

Nicola: There are great ways to train our brains to help us notice things that make us happy and get in the habit of deliberately thinking more uplifting thoughts. By using these techniques, and changing the neurological pathways in our brains, we can train ourselves to generate positive feelings more often than negative or pessimistic feelings. This way we begin to see things that make us joyful more often, helping us to become happier and happier!

Becca: What led you to write this book?

Nicola: When I was 18 I developed health issues that gradually became more debilitating over the years and which led to times of depression. I spent a decade travelling the globe looking for answers and healing, and along the way I met many amazing spiritual masters, shamans, psychic surgeons and gifted spiritual teachers who helped me to find my happiness again.

I gradually began to focus less on my health issues, and more on being happy now, learning to enjoy the beauty of each moment exactly as it is. I finally stopped reaching for happiness in the future, and got to where I could feel that everything is perfect in this moment, even during times of sickness or pain.

I began to feel so much joy that when people saw me they described me as ‘sunshine’ and that it made them happy to be around me. I knew that this was something I wanted to share, because all of us can feel that ‘sunshine’. So, I decided to write this book as a way to give back and pass on this wisdom.

Becca: What advice do you have for first-time authors who feel they have inspiration to share?

Nicola: The biggest tip I can offer is to focus on the feeling that you want to inspire in your readers. If you want them to feel happy then focus on happiness, or if you want to offer advice on overcoming fear, then focus on strength and empowerment.

The more strongly you engage with that feeling as you write, the more you will find that your words become energized and infused with that energy, and your writing will align more closely and powerfully with the message you are trying to convey. You have a specific energy and message that is unique to you, so when you write, allow your own unique expression to come through.

For more information, see www.innersunshineeffect.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

Now’s the Time for Women to Confidently Invest in their Futures


FSOG CoverFreedom is one of the most common values and desires. Financial freedom, access to monetary resources or money-creating strategies to have experiences of value and secure our future, is usually at the top of the list of the freedoms we most desire. But one that many women don’t even hope to attain.

Ramat Oyetunji provides the inspiration to attain financial freedom in her new book, Fifty Shades of Green: A Stock Market Guide for the Financially Independent-minded Woman.

I love Ramat’s take on “financial fantasies” – making the study of investing more fun than I expected, and the expectation of living a life of abundance more realistic. She takes the fear out of investing, explaining the stock and bond markets in terms everyone can understand and with suggestions you can put to use immediately, whether you’ve just started your first job and have your first paycheck in hand, or are a career woman who has neglected to save for the future.

Ramat’s book offers a simplified approach to investing, mixed in with a little bit of irreverence – linking everyday examples like shopping in a mall with investing concepts – to help readers feel confident about investing.

And Ramat offers investing tips at the end of the book that you don’t want to miss!

In this time of almost zero interest rates in savings accounts, we all need to know how to grow our money and beat inflation without fearing we will risk it all.

Here, Ramat Oyetunji, a passionate investor, answers my questions about Fifty Shades of Green. She graduated from the University of Maine with an MBA and has 15 years of experience investing in the stock market.

BECCA: Why did you write about finance specifically for women?

Ramat: I am passionate about empowering women, and gaining financial independence. I know from first-hand experience, and studies confirm it, that women lag behind men when it comes to financial knowledge, growing a nest egg, and gaining financial independence. We live longer than men do, and are more likely to outlive our money, which makes financial independence all the more important for us to strive to achieve.

BECCA: What do you see the #1 issue women face in becoming financially independent?

RAMAT: I believe that a lack of confidence with regards to finances is the #1 issue standing in the way of women becoming financially independent. The financial steps and actions taken by women is the most important factor to achieving financial independence, and a lack of confidence leads to inaction. Women can counter that lack of confidence by continually improving their financial knowledge, which is one of the things I hope to achieve with my book.

BECCA: What does it take to feel more confident about investing?

RAMAT: Some initial steps are gaining a better understanding of how the stock market works, an understanding of how the most common investments (stocks, bonds and mutual funds) work, and an understanding of the different ways to participate in the stock market (such as through a 401(k) or IRA).

BECCA: Did any of your personal experience inspire you to write this book?

RAMAT: Yes. I was laid off from my first job in 2002 and that experience has been one of the driving forces behind my passion for investing and financial independence. Being unemployed highlighted the importance of having money saved, and because the interest rate on savings accounts were, and still are, well below the inflation rate, it highlighted the need for a better investment strategy. I see other women in the position that I was in, and others that don’t have an investment strategy because of a lack of knowledge or fear of the stock market, and I want to use my book to encourage and empower them to take action.

BECCA: What tools do you offer on your website to help people achieve their financial goals?

RAMAT: My website offers some simple tools to begin the journey towards achieving financial goals, such as a simple budget with suggested targets, various calculators including one that calculates how much you will need to meet your goals, and a few other tools like a comparison of online brokerage firms.

BECCA: What will readers gain from your weekly blog?

RAMAT: Readers will gain insight into how the stock market events of that week could affect their current investments or investment strategy, and suggestions on steps that they can take in response to major events. I will also continue with the theme of the book by using easy-to-understand terms to explain stock market events in the blog.

BECCA: What suggestions do you have for other first-time writers who feel they have an important message to share?

RAMAT: Your message is important, and there is someone out there waiting for your book and your words. Keep writing and shaping your message, but set a target date for when you will finish/publish it. There is always one more thing you could add or refine, and that could lead to a book that is never finished or read by others.

For more information on Ramat Oyetunji, and investing, visit www.thefiwoman.com.

To your financial freedom!

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

www.TheChakras.org

 

 

Back to the Basics of a Spiritual Life


Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 1.43.11 PMAs a new year approaches, I’d like to suggest Awakened Living, A Practical Guide to the Spiritual Life by Russell Kyle to help you take steps toward a life filled with more peace and joy.

He agrees with many other philosophers that “the world is what you think it is,” so his first recommended practice is to take responsibility for your life and recognize the true cause of your experiences. He offers 15 additional practices, then finishes with 365 short readings for morning meditation or daily contemplation.

For positive change in your life, Kyle recommends a simple reliance on the “Highest Intelligence and Power governing all,” and recommends building a relationship with this higher power, without pushing specific religious beliefs. He recommends thinking about God, then talking to God, until the prayer experience moves from your head to your heart.

Kyle also recommends meditation, saying “you can achieve most anything” with just this practice alone, done consistently. He offers pointers for meditating and a Guided Meditation you can read or record and listen to. Practicing his daily meditations will bring you into the present and help you “let go and let God.”

He also makes a case for using positive affirmations, giving of yourself selflessly, surrounding yourself with good, and being humble, forgiving and flexible.

Here, Russell Kyle answers my questions:

Author Russell Kyle

Author Russell Kyle

BECCA: What hope or message do you wish to offer others with your book?

RUSS: The message I’m hoping to convey with this book is the absolute availability for anyone to develop a spiritually connected life. That beyond the mystical and illusionary is an authentic spiritual way of living and being, available to anyone. My hope is that it may lead those who have always been drawn to the idea of living a spiritual life to living that life. By making easily available to them some of the actions they can take to make this desire real and very much alive. These practices are practices that I know work.

This book doesn’t claim perfect teachings but instead points the way to where what one seeks may be found through practice. Practices directly affecting one’s heart, mind and body. Anyone with a bit of willingness for a positive change, along with an open mind, can grow and learn much from these age-old, and new, practices. The hope I would like to pass on is that good change can happen for anyone. That they may soon see that no matter what they’ve been through, what they’ve done, or even where they now stand, what really truly matters most is only the direction they are headed. And with one small step, one moment, one practice, this new direction can begin. Yet beyond my personal hopes, beyond my personal intended message, is my ultimate purpose: to play my part in any way I can in accelerating the awakening happening right now on our planet.

BECCA: Did any specific personal experience lead you to write this book?

RUSS: Yes, absolutely. My journey toward light began from the darkest of darkness. Due to years of sexual abuse, introduced to heavy drugs at a very young age by my abuser, I quickly became a full-blown drug addict and alcoholic. Parents divorcing and father dying, all this between the ages of 12 and 15. My course was set toward disaster. And I followed. Living on the street. Losing all of my family and friends. Attempts at suicide. Jail and everything else that comes with this lifestyle. I had no place else to go but 6-feet under, or up. Yet up seemed impossible, no matter what was said, who said it or when they said it, I was doomed and I knew it. Though, by some grace of Goodness, I one day stumbled into a group of spiritual people, recovered from many of these vices themselves. They offered a spiritual, non-religious way of life that I latched onto. They pretty much told me what I needed, but explained that finding it was solely up to me. What I needed was a spiritual awakening. And so my journey began… exploring different religions, spiritual practices, traveling and discovering. Practicing and experiencing. The more I awakened, the more I was freed from my past.

It wasn’t long before I began realizing the Universe was leading me to share this message of personal transformation. I cleaned up, sobered up, never to use or drink again. I’ve come to terms with my abuse and forgiven. Freeing myself. All through the power work of spiritual practices. I found that my learning accelerated as I taught and so today, as a student and a teacher, I grow spiritually and enjoy a life beyond what once were my wildest dreams. Am I traveling from place to place in my private jet, millions in the market, family all behaving, no problems, perfect health, perfect everything? No. But I’m coming to accept life on life’s terms. To see the purpose and meaning behind events, those we may label as good as well as those many label bad. Coming to see how this acceptance actually begins to transform not just one’s vison of the world but actual life circumstances and events. In turn, getting what one wants by first accepting things as they come. Living in this world of spiritual paradoxes, exciting, fulfilling and ever expanding. Today I live a deep and meaningful life. Full of purpose and full of unlimited possibilities.

One of the most exciting things about it for me, is that it too, in the very same way, is available to you, to anyone. I know today that the next best thing to having a spiritual awakening is to play a part in the awakening of another. Because of this, and a deep urging desire and love, I have put the basics of my beginning practice in a book for others.

BECCA: Can you explain what you mean by “having an open mind on our understanding of God?”

RUSS: It simply means to continue to explore beyond whatever knowledge, understanding or experience you may have of God. Even if you don’t believe in God, there is an understanding or idea that you are not believing in. For non-believers, I feel this is something still worth exploring. What do you have to lose? So you find out you were right… or not. Either way. The journey, the seeking, is good for the mind and heart. It’s worth the journey. We each have our own concept of the Divine. The only problem with having an idea of how something is, is that we limit it from being more. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said, “When you label me you negate me.” Meaning, when you describe me, you limit me. For example, if I tell you my God is green, then I am also saying God is not red, not yellow, not pink, not orange, and not all the colors ad infinitum. So, as we grow, as our awareness expands and we begin to have some strong ideas on how things are, let us keep in mind that these ideas can limit further understanding. I find that once I experience an ‘ah hah!’ moment, a break into a higher awareness of some sort, it’s best to simply acknowledge it, and then let it go. Not grab, cling and clasp to it. For if I wish to grow spiritually, I must continue to let go of my concepts and understanding, making room for new ones.

The idea is to break our attachment to words and ideas. We easily get hung up on words. For many, the word God itself doesn’t bring up good feelings. As soon as it is used a wall goes up and we shut ourselves off. Like a trigger of sorts. We already have our idea of what the word means, what is probably going to be said and many times have also quickly formed a judgment of the one using the word. All predetermined by the concept we’ve attached to the word. Often this happens without our even knowing it. We never get past the word. We never give ourselves the opportunity to see what this thing is behind the word. There is an old Zen saying, “Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?” Right! So we can easily see that we must look beyond our current understanding to really see what we are attempting to see.

Many may be fine with their understanding. It’s working for them. I encourage anyone to work with what is best for them. But to continue to awaken, the confinement by concepts must be broken, and continually broken. Be open-minded: Remain teachable, a student, always willing to honestly consider new points of view and ideas, always willing to change one’s own mind.

BECCA: You recommend both prayer and meditation – how do you differentiate the purpose of each?

RUSS: I’ve heard it said that prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening. I like this but for many it’s become much more, and in many ways very different. It is my experience that the benefits of both prayer and meditation are ultimately much the same. They are a reserved moment to focus on, and connect with, your source of Good. Prayer focuses on a way of building concepts and ideas by word or thought. Placing intentions out into the universe in which the universe will respond. Meditation, for myself, is a way I connect more by not trying. To surrender. To heighten my sense of all parts of my being with all parts in which that being rests. To put the thinking mind on hold and see what else shows up. Even this description is limited as to the unlimited potential of mediation. Like most spiritual concepts and practices we carry, they share similarities, yet the experiences and uses are unique to each. One fact though that most can agree on, most who have tried prayer and meditation enough, is that it works. It works in maintaining, reinforcing and better developing our connection with our deeper selves and the world around us. They heighten our sense of something Wiser at work beneath all things. They raise our awareness to the coincidences and synchronicities. They open our eyes to the awareness of our part in this magical dance of this universe.

BECCA: Is there a time to pray, and a time to meditate?

RUSS: That is probably best left up to each person and what works best for them. The combination of prayer and meditation is a powerful recipe. Some may already view prayer and meditation as the same, again it’s a personal interpretation. Spending time studying other’s views on meditation and prayer has given me a better understanding of the many ways in which to connect with, and sense, ourselves and our connection to our multi-leveled environment. To better connect with the Divine if you will. So I tend to use prayer and meditation both in combination as well as separate as the situation or mood sees fit. I find prayer is quickly accessed and used throughout the day, when riding in my car or walking in the mall, these times meditation might not always be most accessible. Though walking meditations are great for enhancing a mindful state, I usually find sitting quiet most useful during meditation. Again, these are practices you will cultivate as your path forward sees fit. The only requirement is to begin.

BECCA: What would you say is the best way to pray?

RUSS: In my Chapter, ‘Practice Prayer’, I list some specific suggestions on prayer. But ultimately I feel it is a personal experience and practice. What I would tell someone new to prayer, is to just begin. It will develop from there as best fits your needs. Don’t get too caught up in ‘what’ you are praying to. Focus more on the content of your prayer, what or who you are praying for. I’ve found that positive prayer is most effective. Pray in affirmations. For example, “Thank you for the abundance flowing into my life right now,” “Thank you for healing my body,” “I pray for this person, and give thanks for the blessings unfolding upon her right now.” Again, these are examples of some ways to pray. The deeper a prayer life becomes, the more natural it will become.

Take a prayer walk outside, observing and being mindful of your environment, saying to yourself, praying, “Thank you for that flower,” “How beautiful is the sky,” “Thank you for my legs to walk upon, air to breathe and eyes to see.” Prayer which includes appreciation and gratitude tames the mind and opens the heart. It raises the one praying to a higher state. A state in which we see more, experience more and connect deeper. With practice, prayer can become a state of being, a connection we stay plugged into throughout the day.

BECCA: What suggestions do you have for other first-time writers who feel they have an important message to share?

Get it out there. Take care not to get hung up on how others may criticize or judge your message. We have little control on how people take what we say. If something is urging you to get it out there, just do it. As far as how; the only way I know to truly carry a message is through personal demonstration or testimony from those who have been there. For non-fiction writers, simply stick to the truth and how this truth may be demonstrated or has been demonstrated. If you feel a message is important, then you probably have some connection to it already, emotionally, mentally or physically. Whatever your connection, let this be your doorway of bringing it to life, to putting it on paper. What can speak louder than that? As author Wayne Dyer once said, “Don’t die with your music still in you.”

Awakened Living, A Practical Guide to the Spiritual Life by Russell Kyle is available now. To contact Russ with your own questions or comments, email him at AwakenedLivingGuide@gmail.com or connect with Russ at   https://twitter.com/RussellLKyle or https://www.facebook.com/LessonsExperiencesOfTheSpiritualPath.

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

www.theChakras.org

 

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