Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings

Archive for the ‘Inspirational writing’ 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

 

 

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


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

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

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

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

The Archangels guide Kate to write as therapy:

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

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

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

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

You are never alone and should never give up hope.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 

 

 

 

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What more could the spiritual seeker ask?

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

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

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

How would you explain the title of the book?

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

What was your purpose in writing this book?

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

What is your definition of spirituality or the spiritual path?

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

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

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

How would you define God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would you say is the meaning of life?

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

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

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

www.theChakras.org

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


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

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

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

Some of the wisdom Thaddeus learns:

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

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

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

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

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

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

THANKS TO AUTHOR TOM RAPSAS FOR THE INTERVIEW:

Who do you see as the audience for this book?

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

Why did you choose chipmunks as teachers for the squirrel?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.theChakras.org

 

 

 

A Dream It May Be, But The Dream Goes On! #BookReview and #AuthorInterview


screen-shot-2017-02-11-at-2-31-00-pmA Dream It May Be, But the Dream Goes On! is British author Nick Roach’s spiritual autobiography – ranging from his difficult childhood to current day, overcoming the struggles in his life to be free of negative emotions. This book takes us step-by-step on his path to reach an “Enlightened” state in which he describes himself as self-aware or conscious all the time, “truly awake in the dream….”

Determined to learn why emotional pain and upset have to be part of life, Nick began a spiritual quest in his late teens. He experimented with meditation, LSD, took spiritual awareness classes at the College of Psychic Studies in London, and finally found the answers he was looking for while studying with Barry Long – an Australian who described himself as a Western Spiritual Master. Long’s teachings revolve around how to free oneself of unhappiness, and also about truth and love, and personal and sexual relationships.

This autobiography chronicles Nick Roach’s life and all the realizations that came to him through his spiritual studies, while still working in stressful traditional jobs and having several tumultuous relationships before finding his long-term partner, Sally-Ann Powell.

While I personally have not undergone the same stressors or emotional upsets that Nick lived through, I of course, have faced my own, as do we all. And while this book is akin to reading Nick’s journal and seeing inside his mind and soul, it is also a story everyone can relate to and learn from, as we are all souls making our way in the world and ultimately, back to the same source.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH NICK ROACH

What is your definition of Enlightenment?
I know what Enlightenment is/was for me: I seemed to have a constant connection with a sense of ‘being’, regardless of what else was going on both around as well as within me. It was like having one foot outside of whatever was occurring which provided an inner knowledge and strength that all was well. But I also had the knowledge that ultimately I was responsible for whatever I was experiencing, and I knew how to work with life to face and dissolve any difficult situations, both within and without (as they are actually one and the same).

However, as people are different and their paths are different, Enlightenment also appears differently from person to person. That means one person’s Enlightenment may not be another’s; hence we have all the confusion as to what the word means. This is perhaps particularly evident when comparing my path and experiences with someone who followed no path or practice at all and for whom it ‘just happened’. Such a person is likely to say there is nothing that can be done, so the method I followed of consciously facing and dissolving emotions could be alien to them.

At one point you say, “Enlightenment is indeed a beginning, not the end!” Can you expound on that?
I suppose it’s because the point at which one feels they have reached a sort of plateau, and the term Enlightenment seems to fit, one’s life is by no means over. It’s perhaps not unlike learning to drive a car, passing the test and getting one’s first car. One has a new freedom, almost a new life.

In my own case, the 10 years between the entry into what I deemed to be the Enlightened state, and the later state which I came to call Liberation, was a difficult time (as described in the book). However, it is the latter state which is perhaps most recognised as being associated with Enlightenment, and this does bring with it the sense of a new beginning. Suddenly one’s life, and/or the circumstances of one’s life seems to flow effortlessly. And it is as if one is no longer adding to the karma, but is instead consciously (and quickly) living and dissolving it in the moment, as the circumstances of life continue to unfold.

 You write, “…one’s emotional self is what determines the circumstances of one’s life.” How did you let go of negative emotions?
Aha, that is of course the story of the book, and the entire process is described in some detail….

As to ‘how’ one lets go of negative emotions, it would perhaps be more accurate to say the emotional energy is made conscious. That is the process: when someone is emotionally attached to an outcome or experience, this drives the imagination and thinking mind, and one is then unconscious – from the perspective of being self-aware anyway. This unconscious thinking feeds the emotion, and the emotion further feeds the thinking mind, and it continues to snowball. But if one can suspend the imagination, looking consciously at what action can be taken, but resists the (sometimes terrible) urge to go off into the imaginary world of pain and think ABOUT the problem, one begins to feel the emotion dying. With each painful situation in which one faces the emotion in this manner, one becomes that little bit more conscious, and a little bit less emotional.

What’s wrong with getting emotionally involved in one’s existence, especially if one is enjoying life?
Ha ha, of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. This life is separation (emotion) enjoying and expressing itself. And it will continue to do so. But for some people, an aspect of the experience for them will be in realising they are not as separate as it may first appear. And this process may include them being unhappy (at being unhappy) and would like, a) for it to stop; and b) for there to be more to life than the emotional ups and downs. But I make no judgment. This place is a playground for the emotions. That is its purpose.

If the “whole of existence is a dream from which the spiritual life is a quest to wake up from,” what is the purpose of existence, the meaning of life?
Ooh, yes indeed; if it’s all a dream, then what’s the point? Sadly, ultimately one runs out of answers. Anything one realises ‘here’ (and perhaps particularly if the knowledge is that this place is a dream) is by definition only dreamt. And just as when one is in bed, asleep and dreaming, even if one becomes lucid and is aware that it is a dream, they are still not aware of their body in bed nor of the room they are lying in (of course if they were, then they would be awake and the dream has finished). So the question as to the purpose can only be answered from the perspective ‘What’s happening now?’, and in this moment ‘now’ I am aware that my attachment to being separate is being dissolved, and along with it so is the dream…

After that, it is really just speculation: Some Buddhists believe that eventually the slate is wiped clean and it is as if it never happened, as the ‘Being’ needs nothing. While some mystics believe in the Akashic Records, where everything, every experience is recorded energetically, as if the Being or Mind (or whatever term one wishes to use) is itself growing with each experience.

Whatever the actual ‘purpose’, the state of mind one is in when Enlightened (or whichever term one would like to use) means that actually it doesn’t matter. One can speculate, but it’s only really for one’s own entertainment.

Was is a cathartic or learning experience for you to look back so closely on your spiritual journey?
It was a little strange, as some of the book was written more than 20 years ago and much had long-since been forgotten. There would have been no way I could have done the story any sort of justice had I not kept diary notes of my insights and experiences, as well as the challenges I faced and what they meant to me at the time. It did feel like I was drawing a thick and final line under everything that occurred prior to now.

From what you have learned, what do you think could most help others?
There could be a number of ways I believe my story may help others, depending on their situation:
a) There is a lot of confusion as to what Enlightenment is. While it is still the case that individuals may define or experience it differently, I believe it could help alleviate some of the confusion if Enlightened people described their journey in more detail.

b) For many Enlightened teachers the experience just happened, so while they may be able to describe in eloquent and poetic language what it is, sometimes they cannot or do not teach a method (which is demonstrable and effective). The result is earnest seekers can spend years reading every book they can find and intellectualising about what is meant.

c) And last, but by no means least, consciously facing and dissolving emotion, and particularly understanding how they work (and perhaps amazingly, how this place works in relation to emotions; they are NOT independent of the externals goings on after all). I hope my story describes the process in a clear enough way as to leave little doubt. But when considered in conjunction with every other Enlightened teachings, and even any religion, I hope people will begin to see how it all fits together.

What plans do you have for the future – teaching, writing or ?
While thankfully we do not rely on the books or teaching as a source of income, it is enjoyable to share this nonetheless, and one must still do something to occupy one’s time (even if it is a dream). So I hope people will read my books; particularly the spiritual autobiography which is of course the latest and I am quite fond of it. Then, while I will be writing articles for magazines, as well as regularly replying to emails from readers, it is the face-to-face teaching I especially enjoy; and even more so with an audience rather than the more ‘intense’ or personal one-on-ones. So we hope to find the means to hold more meetings.

What we have found though, following on from the above, is that once someone has been to me, often on only one occasion, they don’t tend to need to come back for a while; not because they’re Enlightened, as that can be quite a lengthy process, but because they have learnt or understood enough to enable them to get on with living their life in a more conscious manner. So any future talks or meetings will most likely involve travelling to a new location (perhaps to talk to an established group) rather than holding regular meetings in one location.

A Dream It May Be, But the Dream Goes On! is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. For more information on the author’s work, including his first two books, Enlightenment, the Simple Path and Essays in Truth, Glimpses into Reality, please see www.nickroach.uk. He can be reached to answer questions at info@nickroach.uk.

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

www.theChakras.org

 

 

Spiritual Lessons from the World of Horses – WORLD IN A SHOE #BookReview and #Author Interview


screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-4-08-56-pmIn World in a Shoe: My Journey with Horses, Nicole Lawrence takes us inside her childhood obsession with horses and her career working with them. I was entranced by the many spiritual lessons to be learned from working with horses.

As Nicole shares what goes into caring for horses, the reader gets an inside look into a world that many of us will never enter. She beautifully shares what she both taught and learned from her students and the horses she worked with, as well as the gruff lessons from a “horse whisperer,” who helps her through a difficult childhood, and then a difficult transition after a beloved horse is injured and put down.

Now on my bucket list is to try horseback riding again to experience Nicole’s artful description: “It was like sitting on a living wave of powerful effervescence.”

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, NICOLE LAWRENCE:

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

I’d like people to understand that horses have very different personalities. They are living beings that deserve respect.

2) Can you explain how horses were some of your greatest spiritual teachers?

When you work with a horse it is important to listen to them, and you use more than just your ears. You develop different ways of listening – for instance, watching their emotions and body language. Listening in different ways than with my ears was a good skill to have when it came to meditation and listening to my inner guidance.

Horses pull you out of self-centeredness. It isn’t always about you. You learn the give and take necessary for a good relationship with your animal. If you take care of your horse, he’ll be there for you. It is a good lesson in caring for another living being.

Being around horses helps you to be in the present moment. They are spontaneous creatures of nature and you need to stay aware of what is happening with your horse. Present-mindedness is also another good spiritual skill to have.

I was lucky to have Mr. Heffner as my mentor. He insisted on integrity and attention to detail, qualities that have assisted me on my spiritual journey as well.

3) You write of Mr. Heffner, a “horse whisperer” of sorts. What was the greatest lesson(s) he taught you?

The lesson I wrote about in the book – the one about not being ashamed of my fear of jumping high fences. There was plenty I could do with groundwork with horses. The thing with forcing yourself into your fear to accomplish something is that horses feel our emotions. They will pick up on the fear and may react because of it. Like what happened with the horse refusing the fence and my falling because he felt my fear. He knew I wasn’t confident about jumping the fence, and if I wasn’t going there, he wasn’t either.

4) You mention having a psychic connection with horses – how did this play out?

This showed up in many ways. For example, one night, while working for Lee, I woke and knew one of the horses was sick. I just had a feeling. I walked to the barn in the dead of night and sure enough one of them had developed colic – kind of a stomachache that horses can get.

Another time, I had an experience with The Chestnut Pony. The barn was long with a sliding door that opened out to a grassy area, with the driveway beyond. The Chestnut Pony was in the grassy area, grazing. As I walked past the open door I saw him lift his head, with his ears pointed, listening and focused on something in the distance. I was curious what he was looking at, but didn’t want to go out there to look. It could have been deer in the trees on a distant hill and I might not have seen them anyway. I thought in my mind, What are you looking at? Immediately, I saw a picture in my mind of the farm owner, Mr. Dixon, driving a tractor up the hill. I stayed and watched, while The Chestnut Pony remained focused. I didn’t hear any noise, but within a couple minutes I could hear the distant sounds of a tractor. And then came Mr. Dixon driving up the hill on the tractor.

5) What life lessons did you learn by working with horses?

Horses teach us about our own power. Symbolically, in society horses are associated with horsepower – strength, power, and at times speed. One of the early lessons I learned was that I couldn’t use force of will on horses.

Mr. Heffner showed me this early on when I’d first met him. He asked me to put my hand on the horse’s flank to move his hindquarters over. The horse immediately leaned his body into my arm. Then Mr. Heffner showed me you have to move the horse’s head in one direction to move the hindquarters in the other. You had to move the horse’s head to control his body. Force wasn’t going to work. In my life I’ve translated this lesson into working with other people. You don’t get very far if you try and force your will on someone. You usually meet with resistance. If you bring their thinking around to what you are trying to accomplish with inspiration and motivation, you have a lot more success.

I’ve noticed this even in myself. If I knuckle down and force myself to do something, I usually get tense. But if I can inspire myself, and shift my point of view, things flow more elegantly.

6) You write of “the greater connection – the breathing in your soul that horses are.” Can you explain that further?

At that time in my life I lived for horses. They were a spiritual connection for me. I had a troubled childhood and horses were “safe” for me to connect with emotionally. They didn’t judge, and they didn’t punish. I believe, as Souls we come into this reality and need to connect and anchor ourselves to the world around us. We grow and mature, and find connection to people around us and, for most, a connection to and relationship with some form of Divinity. It was difficult for me to trust my early human relationships and horses were the way I anchored to this reality.

7) For others who want to experience a connection with horses, how would you recommend they begin?

If someone feels drawn to, they could begin by taking some riding lessons. Look for a reputable stable. The horses will look well fed, their coats sleek and bodies free of injuries and sores from ill-fitting tack.

There are also farms that offer guided healing retreats with horses and the opportunity to just be in connection with them. Here are a few:

Equinisity Retreats – http://www.equinisity.com

Unity with Horse – http://www.unitywithhorse.com/Workshops.html

Horse Journeys – http://www.horsejourneys.com/home.html

There is a very special program for Veterans run by the Saratoga War Horse Foundation. The program helps them heal and overcome traumatic experiences and PTSD by working with horses – http://www.saratogawarhorse.com

8) What propelled you on a spiritual journey that took you out of the world of horses?

When Cosnav passed away, the deep connection I experienced with horses broke. I believe that my Soul and the Divine had a different purpose for me than a life with horses. At the time, I could happily have spent the rest of my life working with horses. With the severing of that connection I had no strong attachment to this world. To find some sense of purpose and meaning to my life I began an inner search. In that seeking I began exploring different spiritual paths and started transferring my sense of purpose from the outer world to that of the Divine.

World in a Shoe: My Journey with Horses is available on Kindle and in paperback. Nicole Lawrence is also the author of the memoirDoors To Transformation: My Mother – My SelfFor more information or to contact Nicole, go to http://nicolelawrence.com.

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

www.theChakras.org

Chakra Blog

 

 

 

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

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