Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings


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

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

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

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

On December 10, my son will draw the names of the two lucky winners who will each receive several books in time for Christmas.

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 10.32.21 AMHere are some of the books you can win:

Cristina Smith has donated her books in the Yoga for the Brain Series including The Word Search Sage, and The Word Search Oracle. These puzzle books offer a creative, fun, meditative respite from the busy chatter of the mind… while flexing your brain.

These books combine fun word games with profound insights, and are remarkable tools for spiritual development and self-realization.

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 7.34.25 AM

The subtitle of Joy! Joy! Joy! says it all: 7 Mind Body Spirit Self-Help Practices to Relieve Stress, Reverse Memory Loss and Live Happy – I Did It! You Too Can Bust the Blues. Ellen Wood shares how she transformed her many physical and emotional problems to remain peaceful and joyous by making these practices into daily habits: observing your thoughts, releasing toxic emotions, using affirmations, power posing, dry skin brushing skin, meditating and doing good for others.

 

 

A Few Minor Adjustments front cover

A Few Minor Adjustments is the tongue-in-cheek title of Cherie Kephart’s memoir of surviving undiagnosed illness. It is an astonishing story of how many of our modern diseases (such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Epstein-Barr virus and Lyme disease) can easily go undiagnosed or disregarded.

Kephart’s account of her own incredible journey to find life-saving answers should inspire anyone to continue to fight on all levels – physical, mental and spiritual – to heal.

 

 

Implicit-10-16-17 CoverIMPLICIT: Soul Invictus contains both wildly imaginative stories of a woman’s many incarnations, worlds, and adventures, and a profound discussion on the meaning of life, love and forgiveness.

Maya Lee is a law professor holding a grudge, but as we follow her soul through many other incarnations in both ancient and modern times and places, a theme emerges – about forgiveness, about love, about what is real and what isn’t.

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 7.50.09 AM

How can a book of poetry bring magic into your life? Louis Alan Swartz has done this, writing of life and death in a way that stirs your soul and makes your heart sing in Magic Realized and Other Poems on the Human SpiritReading this volume from beginning to end, you feel like you’ve had a glimpse of a blessed life, as the author touches on Love and Marriage; Children; Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Mothers and Fathers; Human Sanctity; Aesthetics; Ideas, Images, and Places; and Death, the Spirit and Immortality.

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 11.39.46 AMAre you living the life that you truly want? We ALL need to improve certain areas of our lives, but HOW? In Joyful Transformation, Debra Meehl, D.D., and Kristin Smith, L.C., help you figure out what you want to do differently and how to more easily make that happen.

The 22 Keys to Reclaiming Your Authenticity contains offer a holistic, positive approach, focusing on what you want, not on what you don’t want.

 

book-cover-full

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.

 

 

 

thaddeus_squirrel_frontHow does passion lead to purpose? In Thaddeus Squirrel: A Spiritual Fable, a YA novel, 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… 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.

 

Hiebert_cvr_comp3

One of the most useful guides I’ve ever read for self-healing and for energy healers is Be Yourself and Be Well: Connecting with your Soul’s Power to Heal. Dr. Steven Hiebert provides inspirational words and exercises to help the reader access the power of their own spirit… the power that makes healing possible.

Dr. Hiebert emphasizes the loving energy that is the basis of everything, the energy that provides all the answers to who you are and what you want.

 

 

PrincipleofOnenessMany have said “We are all one,” but what does that really mean? In The Principle of Oneness, Author Russell Anthony Gibbs explains the science behind the connections of everything — both physical matter and nonphysical energy. He supports his points with quotes from scientists, enlightened beings, spiritual leaders, philosophers and others. Great minds like Albert Einstein, Buddha, Aristotle, Rumi and Jesus all understood the profound Oneness of the Universe. Gibbs further clarifies some of the misconception about the Universe/God as well as explains how to live and experience the Principle of Oneness.

 

The Chakra Energy Diet coverIn The Chakra Energy Diet, now available in paperback, I share my passion to be mindful of how we choose to nourish ourselves. I have found that the best place for EVERYONE to start is by eating fresh, whole foods, focusing on the colorful array of vegetables and fruit that are available, and using my helpful tips to eliminate the stress that is affecting your health and your waistline.

No one diet is right for everyone – take the quiz and find out which of your chakras need more nurturing to balance your energies.

 

Remember, to be entered to win, please comment below with a wish for the world in 2018. Be sure to include your email address so that I may contact you, or send your comment to Becca@theChakras.org to enter.

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 


Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 10.32.21 AMThe Word Search Sage is the second book in the series of word puzzles, known as Yoga for the Brain, that offer a creative, fun, meditative respite from the busy chatter of the mind… while flexing your brain.

You can read my review of The Word Search Oracle, which won the 2017 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, and download a sample puzzle here.

The Word Search Sage takes you a little deeper into your thoughts and spirit, as the solutions to these word puzzles are called Meta-Thoughts, providing insights and deep wisdom.

I like to open the pages at random, and undoubtedly, Cristina Smith’s introductory comments on the topic of the puzzle and mystic Ingrid Coffin’s Meta-Thoughts are always relevant to my life at that moment in time. In fact, each word in each of the clever puzzles put together by Rick Smith relate to the Meta-Thought and help you discover your own truth, your own purpose in life.

For example, the puzzle on Love is introduced with a note that includes:

“Affirm your love for yourself. Shed all of the self-negatives that life has draped over you. When we fear criticism, we are not free to be ourselves. If we feel less than, our lives reflect that.”

The Love puzzle on page 30 is a little harder than those in the beginning of the book. You’ll see that after you’ve found all the applicable words in the puzzle, the letters remaining make up this Meta-Thought:

“Be thankful for being yourself.”

These puzzles sound magical and mystical and they are. I’m amazed at how they are both relaxing and good exercise for the mind, while providing inspiration and profound introspection for the soul.

MT Puzzle
Strewn throughout the book are also beautiful photos with words of wisdom from Ingrid Coffin, like the one above, “You are the finest puzzle in your life…. Enjoy putting yourself together.”

Enjoy this book whenever you need a little time to yourself, a break from work, to keep entertained while waiting for someone or something, or as a daily ritual to give you food for thought and inspiration.

INTERVIEW with Ingrid Coffin, author of the inspirational Meta-Thoughts you reach at the end of each puzzle in The Word Search Sage

The solutions to the word searches in these puzzles are called Meta-Thoughts. Can you explain that term?

Meta-Thoughts are broader, more abstract thoughts that address life from a higher level than the thoughts we might have about what to have for lunch.  They are intended to be a bit cheeky.  Kind of like a sassy Jiminy Cricket reminding us that we create our own world and that much of what we create begins with our thoughts.

Where do you get the inspiration for the Meta-Thoughts?

I communicate a lot and hear myself saying Meta-Thoughts almost every day while working with other people. The trick is to catch them before they float away. I’m finally getting pretty good at that after more than 15 years of practice.

How can the reader best use these Meta-Thoughts?

I use Meta-Thoughts in a variety of ways.  Often I write them in my journal. Sometimes I just print them from my computer and post them in strategic places in my home and office. Of course, they are also there every Monday waiting for me on my phone.  The secret is to place them as a constant reminder of what I am working on.

For instance, if I am starting a new venture, I might post “First Feet. Then Wings” to encourage myself to start at the beginning and carefully navigate my way to successful completion.  Or I might choose “Have I left myself out of my schedule?” to remind me of my priorities.

The way you can use them is limited only by your imagination.

What do you think is the most important benefit of the Yoga for the Brain puzzle books?

Keeping your brain sharp and active is crucial to enjoying a long life.

Exercising the mind is the way to do that, and Yoga for the Brain provides the exercise it needs.

Personally, I use the word puzzles to help me relax at night and get to sleep, to keep me occupied in waiting rooms and on airplanes and just generally to enjoy a pause that refreshes.

Cristina Smith, author of The Word Search Sage, describes you as a “mystic.” What does the description mean to you?

Everyone is part mystical and part magical. The right-brained people are more mystical. The left-brained more magical. I am a right-brained, mystical person, which means I create the image of the result I desire in my own imagination, using my intuition as a drawing board.

Fortunately, I have been trained to work magically as well as mystically. I am able to take the vision from within my imagination and craft it in the physical world. In my opinion, a cooperative relationship between mystical and magical is what works best for everyone in all aspects of life. This is what I teach to those who work with me.

How can readers learn more about Meta-Thoughts?

It’s easy to subscribe to my weekly Meta-Thoughts.  Just go to http://www.Meta-Thoughts.com and provide your name and email address.

What other ways can readers connect with you and learn about your work?

In addition to my love of Meta-Thoughts and The Word Search Sage, I am an evolutionary astrologer, a teacher in the western esoteric tradition and the founding director of Blue Sky Ranch in Lakeside, California.  More information is available at http://www.ingridcoffin.com.

The Word Search Sage and The Word Search Oracle are both available on Amazon.

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 


Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 7.34.25 AMThe subtitle of Joy! Joy! Joy! says it all. Read this book and you’ll discover 7 Mind Body Spirit Self-Help Practices to Relieve Stress, Reverse Memory Loss and Live Happy – I Did It! You Too Can Bust the Blues.

Ellen Wood, author of the award-winning Think and Grow Young, now shares how she transformed her many physical and emotional problems to remain peaceful and joyous by making these practices into daily habits: observing your thoughts, releasing toxic emotions, using affirmations, power posing, dry brushing your skin, meditating and doing something good for someone.

Her gripping memoir of depression, Alzheimer symptoms, cancer and other distressing situations are interwoven with how she coped, and then miraculously freed herself of chronic stress and the blues.

Ellen cites many experts and clinical studies that show how these quick and simple Mind-Body-Spirit practices help people remain calm, productive and joyful no matter what is happening in the world around them.

She also sprinkles words of wisdom throughout her story:

“When something bad happens, say ‘Something good will come of this,’ then expect something good and watch for it.”

You can take charge of your thoughts and emotions, says the author, for example…

“Stress doesn’t come from what’s happening to us, but from our response to what’s happening.”

The book is entitled Joy! Joy! Joy! because if you put these techniques into practice, you’ll find yourself, like Ellen Wood, filled with joy for no reason, with a closer connection to your inner knowing and to spirit.

“Love is often an action first, then a feeling. You love yourself by taking actions in the direction of your wellbeing.”

Ellen Wood, at 80, is an inspirational speaker and writer, and I encourage readers of Joy! Joy! Joy! to follow her blueprint, using the bonus Daily Practice Checklists in the back of the book to help you anchor new habits that will transform your life too.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW with Ellen Wood, author of Joy! Joy! Joy!:

What would you like readers to take away from your new book?

 In just minutes a day, by making these 7 mind/body/spirit practices into habits, you can change your life forever. If you’re stressed out and have the blues, and it seems like the whole world is going crazy, these habits can calm your mind and help you access inner peace and joy. If you are experiencing mild memory loss (and perhaps worrying about Alzheimer’s because a parent died of it), take heart: through these practices I was able to reverse early Alzheimer’s – even though I have the Alzheimer’s gene, APO-e4. Meditation alone has been proven in scientific studies to reverse memory loss, in addition to reducing stress, anxiety and depression, among other benefits. Some of these studies are cited in my book.

You write of reconnecting to your true nature. How does one do that?

By practicing Meditation (Daily Practice #6) and by experiencing “life” in the present moment through our senses (as explained in Daily Practice #7) – inviting our divine nature to see through our eyes, hear through our ears, taste with our mouth, smell with our nose and feel through our skin or fingertips – we can reconnect to our true nature. Observing our thoughts (Daily Practice #1), Releasing Toxic Emotions (Daily Practice #2) and Affirmations (Daily Practice #3), especially surrendering control and allowing our Inner Self to lead, are also techniques for reconnecting.

How can a person have joy – no matter what?

Our essential nature is JOY and we have access to that joy when we stay rooted in the present moment. Joy and love are innate. (On the other hand, HAPPINESS is dependent upon a situation or circumstance – often fleeting – that delights our human nature.) We suffer when we dwell on something terrible or regretful that happened in the past or we fear something that might happen in the future. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychologist and author of the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, survived and even experienced BLISS in the concentration camps of the Holocaust.

 Why is it so important to be in the present moment?

There is POWER in the present moment. And we can access that power when we still our mind and experience the NOW moment.

Can you summarize how we can love ourselves just as we are, when we want to be better people?

Loving yourself just as you are is part of the PROCESS of creating a more magnificent you. I’ll give an example of why I say we can love ourselves just as we are AND want to do practices to CHANGE the way we are: Suppose you buy an old house – one that had been neglected and has a garden that is nothing but weeds. Shortly after fixing up the house and moving in, you go to the nursery and bring home flower seedlings. As you stand there for a moment and look at that garden full of weeds, if you’re like most people, you won’t think: Oh, I hate this garden. It’s so ugly.

No. You feel a thrill of creation as you decide which patch of earth to start on. Then you kneel down and pull out the weeds, turn over the soil, dig some holes, put the seedlings in, cover the roots with earth and pat around each one with both hands. And you love the feeling of creating your beautiful garden. In fact, you love your beautiful garden already even though most of it is still full of weeds.

Think of yourself as a garden you’re creating. Love yourself just as you are as you weed and till and plant the seeds of a more magnificent expression of you. Celebrate every sprout and the eventual flowers. Loving yourself just as you are is essential for creating happiness.

How would you recommend this book be best used?

Read it all the way through once or twice, then commit to making those 7 practices into habits. In the back of the book is a section that contains 12 weeks of daily checklists to prompt you as you go about each day. (Or request a Word doc of the checklists by writing to ellen@bookofjoyjoyjoy.com.) Start with just two practices. Choose the two you feel will be the easiest for you to do for 21 consecutive days. Then after three weeks with the first two practices, add two more for another 21 days and three weeks later add two more and when you start your tenth week, you’ll integrate all 7 practices into your daily routine. If it works better for you, aim for 5 days a week for three weeks instead of 21 consecutive days. Check the box to the left of each practice to indicate which practices you’re working on that week. This is the process I used for myself beginning 13 years ago. It totally changed my life. I no longer need the checklists or sticky notes or other reminders. Well, actually I still have sticky notes in my life, like the ones on my desk that say, “Something good will come of this” and “What marvelous things do you have for me today?” Here’s one I recently put by my TV, “Where my attention goes, energy flows. (Do I really want to be stuck in politics?)”

To sample Ellen’s inspiration, sign up for her free gifts, including Affirmations to Grow Younger, plus sample Chapters from Think and Grow Young and Joy! Joy! Joy! at http://bookofjoyjoyjoy.com/. Both her books are available at Amazon.com.

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 


A Few Minor Adjustments front coverA Few Minor Adjustments is the tongue-in-cheek title of Cherie Kephart’s memoir of surviving undiagnosed illness. Her beautifully written yet brutally honest story starts with her time as a young Peace Corps volunteer in a remote village of Zambia where she has to adjust to absolutely no sanitation (she’s sent there to help build community latrines) and where she contracts malaria as well as a variety of grotesque ailments.

After recovering back home in California, her adventurous spirit and desire to know more of the world and its people take her to graduate studies in New Zealand. Once back home in San Diego, she works as a technical writer until a severe, mysterious illness lays her at the door of death.

Her persistent health challenges (ranging from unrelenting neck pain, seizures and tachychardia) led to years of suffering, during which her symptoms were continually undiagnosed by medical doctors and alternative healers who were sometimes competent, sometimes careless, sometimes absurd, and always baffled.

She was cared for by faithful friends and a mother who showed her unconditional love and kept her from simply giving up and ending her life – although she came close. But, having lost so many people in her life at a young age, she wrote:

“I had to find a way to alleviate my mental anguish, and live, if not for me, for all of my friends who were no longer able to experience the wonders of this world.”

A Few Minor Adjustments is an astonishing story of how many of our modern diseases (such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Epstein-Barr virus and Lyme disease) can easily go undiagnosed or disregarded.

Kephart’s account of her own incredible journey to find life-saving answers should inspire anyone to continue to fight on all levels – physical, mental and spiritual – to heal.

Here, Cherie Kephart answers questions about A Few Minor Adjustments

What transpired during your time in Africa, and how has your experience as a traveler influenced your personal journey on the road to better health?

When I traveled, I was forced to open my mind, to pay attention, and to be adventurous. I had to learn to be comfortable with my fear of the unknown. Living in Zambia taught me that. I stayed with a local Zambian family, ate dishes such as boiled millet and fried-caterpillars. I built makeshift wells and latrines near a crocodile-infested river close to the border of politically unstable Zaire. Each day was an adventure, especially when it came to my health. I had giardia, dysentery, a putzi fly infection resulting in maggots in my butt, and almost died from an uncommon case of malaria. Almost dying in Africa was a pivotal point for me. I realized I needed a fierce will to live if I was going to survive. Now all these years later, that has never changed. It’s the one constant that has kept me going.

After you returned to the United States from graduate school, you had to cope for several years with dramatic, mysterious health issues. What were some of the high and low points of that time when you were first struggling to figure out what might be causing your symptoms?

The worst part was the not knowing why I was so sick, if I would ever heal, or if I was going to die. Every day I woke with the same questions, and each night I went to bed with no answers. It was terrifying. And it went on for years. I saw hundreds of doctors, healers, and therapists: rheumatologists, cardiologists, integrative medicine specialists, neurologists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, and eccentric healers such as a Russian ex-physicist who waved fertile chicken-eggs over my chest to try to reset the rhythm of my heart.

I came close to committing suicide. But that’s the miraculous part. We don’t realize what we are capable of until we are faced with enormous challenges. I learned to respect my inner strength, to know how much I could endure and how much I could rise above. I kept finding ways to change myself and my situation, like changing my attitude, changing the foods I ate, trying new therapies and treatments, including an exploratory heart procedure. I stayed open and stopped looking back. What a magnificent lesson.

There are many individuals, including medical personnel, spiritual healers, therapists, family members and friends, who helped you along the way. What impact did these people have on your attempts to both live with and diagnose your illness?

That was one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever been given; to see how much people cared and feel their compassion and love. My family and friends never gave up on me. That kept me strong. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. I’m certain of that, especially with regard to my mother and my grandfather. Both of them helped me financially, since I lost the ability to work. They were also there for me emotionally. My boyfriend Alex, the one I dedicated the book to, was amazing. He went to doctor appointments, did research on my health, cared for me while I was bedridden and unable to walk unassisted. I will never forget it. People often tell me how strong I am. I always reply the same way, “I’m only as strong as my support system.” As horrendous as my physical health was, I always had love.

During the course of documenting what was happening with your health, you decided to turn your personal story into an inspirational memoir. What do you find the most fascinating about the memoir genre, and how has writing this book helped with your own healing?

I’ve always been fascinated with memoirs. Reading a memoir, I get to dive deep into someone else’s world, to understand their most intimate struggles and triumphs. I got to know them. It’s like I get to live another life for a little while. I also feel that memoirs connect us, bridging the gaps between different aspects of our humanity.

Writing a memoir is deeply cathartic. I believe we write a memoir twice. The first time we write it, we write it for ourselves. We write to release emotions and energy surrounding everything we have endured. Then, when it is at the point where we feel clarity around it, we re-write and fine tune it to make it accessible and ready to release to the world. We prepare the story in such a way that enables people to easily come along our inner and outer journeys and gain insights from them. Ernest Hemingway said it best, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” That’s what I did.

It’s difficult to explain how writing this memoir contributed to my healing. I certainly don’t think it made the process go any faster. But it made me go deeper into the crevices of pain where I didn’t necessarily want to go. So the healing I’ve experienced is more profound and lasting.

What would you like readers to remember most about your story?

We all have pain and suffering, but we all have joy and beauty. It’s really about perspective and choosing each day to show up in a positive way and to have more compassion for each other, and for ourselves. If we don’t understand something, like an undiagnosed illness, then it is our duty as human beings not to turn away, or reject the unknown, but offer compassion, even if it is something we don’t understand. Actually, especially if it’s something we don’t understand.

You’ve often said that you would like to give a voice to those who are also struggling with an undiagnosed illness. What would you say to those who are on a similar path as yours?

If I could survive all that I have, and it’s a lot for one person to endure, then anyone else can, too. Even when we feel like ending it all, we have to find a reason to live for just one more sunrise and then one more sunset. Because we never know what is around the corner. There were so many times I was ready to end it all. I was barely alive. Now, I look back, and I’m so glad I didn’t give up. As long as we have the will to live, you can heal.

Are you working on a new book and, if so, what can you tell us about it?

Absolutely! My next projects are companion books to the memoir: The Healing 100 and The Symptoms 100. The Healing 100 is the top one-hundred things I did to heal, and The Symptoms 100 is the top 100 symptoms I had and what helped me. I also have a collection of poetry, Poetry of Peace, which chronicles four stages of life, Seeing the World, Through Darkness, Into the Light, and With Peace. It’s really about the emotional and spiritual aspects of healing. Lastly, I am creating a cookbook filled with allergy-free recipes: The Cookbook for People Who Can’t Eat Anything. I’m excited about these projects since the goal is to provide insight, a touch of humor, and ideas on ways to heal. I believe people can learn from my experiences, be inspired, and have some tools for their own healing journey.

For more information on the author, see www.CherieKephart.com.

A Few Minor Adjustments is available on Amazon in Kindle, paperback and hardcover.

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 

 

 

 

 


Implicit-10-16-17 CoverIMPLICIT: Soul Invictus contains both wildly imaginative stories of a woman’s many incarnations, worlds, and adventures, and a profound discussion on the meaning of life, love and forgiveness.

Maya Lee is a law professor holding a grudge, which we might all do if we were in the same situation – being unjustly fired. But as we follow her soul through many other incarnations in both ancient and modern times and places, a theme emerges – about forgiveness, about love, about what is real and what isn’t.

“It’s not what happens in life, but our opinions about what happens that trouble men… Or women,” she learns in one of her incarnations.

In another incarnation, as a lawyer in ancient Rome, the protagonist Marcus learns, “…try your best, right? But then just let it go. Stop thinking about it.”  

As the reader, we learn along with the characters – “Forgive, and only love remains.”

The life and death stories in this novel touch on everything that makes life profound, beautiful, absurd, and heartbreaking. We follow each incarnation of Maya into the afterlife and learn:

“Love is. Love doesn’t go anywhere or come from anywhere. No thought of love is ever lost. You take it with you. Love is all that there is. And love is everywhere.”

Thanks to author Mark Tiro for this inspirational novel, and for answering my questions here about IMPLICIT: Soul Invictus

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Have you incorporated any of your own past into your writing?

A lot of people ask me after reading the book if the character of Maya Lee is real. Before I started to write, like Maya, I had worked as a public defender in Los Angeles. I’ve tried to incorporate snippets of a lot of things, personalities and places, that I’ve gotten to know – to see – close up… Once I was able to sit down and reflect on it all though, I realized just how deep and profound – how much of an impact – some of these things I’ve seen have had on me.

“Still waters run deep,” as Marianne Williamson used to say. And so, the closest thing I can say about Maya is that she’s arguably the best lawyer I’ve ever known… But of course, maybe that’s why I ended up a better writer than I ever had been a lawyer. Somewhere deep down, I’ve always known not to get in a fight with Maya because she’d probably win.

What inspired you to write IMPLICIT?

I used to work out at the gym, years ago, a lot more than I do now. One day, a friend of mine who lived within walking distance invited me over for lunch, after our workout. Well, on his bookshelf, he had all these books – some I’d heard of, some were new to me. Everything from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to Way of the Peaceful Warrior to Paolo Coehlo’s The Alchemist.

He also had a tattered, old paperback copy of Richard Bach’s Illusions. He lent it to me that day, and I took it home and read it. That book – the ideas in it, I think, was what really set me on my life path.

I then read The Celestine Prophecy, The Prophet, Man’s Search for Meaning… even Mitch Albom’s Tuesday’s with Morrie. Eventually these all led me at some point, to a trip to Temecula and a quiet afternoon where I was able to meet Ken Wapnick. I really did come to appreciate his non-judgmental/forgiving take on A Course in Miracles.

What would you like readers to take away from the book?

I wanted to, above all, let readers get to know characters they would actually care about. So many spiritual parables seem to be so wooden. And so much spiritual non-fiction is just not as easy – at least for me – to read today as it used to be, years ago, before the internet.

Most of us now, because of the internet, Twitter, Facebook – being so interconnected – our attention span’s basically shot. The cardinal sin or maybe ‘cardinal rule’ now of anything, whether it’s a book, TV, a movie or a Facebook post, is just this: ‘Don’t be boring.’

And after years of ‘searching,’ I’d finally hit on something that helped lift the heaviness, the depression… something that helped me to just relax and not feel self-conscious when I was with people. As far back as I could remember, I’d always been on my own elusive search for the meaning of life, always trying to find an answer that just ‘felt right.’

I tried to show how this stuff actually looks in life – in this world we all seem to live in here.

Also, a lot of people don’t catch it the first time they read IMPLICIT: Soul Invictus, but I was curious how it would look in the real world, as someone goes through the stages of the ‘development of trust’ that A Course in Miracles describes. Maya’s journey takes her through all of it, and I was as surprised as anybody by the time I got to the end. It turned out that Maya’s journey didn’t look anything like I’d expected it would when I first sat down to begin writing.

In your Author’s Note, you say some of Maya’s lifetimes involve real people in history, such as the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus. Why did you want to include them?

One of the themes that runs through and permeates the book is that in reality, time is not linear. Epictetus taught what we call ‘stoic philosophy.’ But Epictetus’ stoicism was only about one step removed from the Freudian Vedanta of A Course in Miracles that we know today. It’s also quite in line with a lot of the Gnostic teachings, and had quite a lot more in common with the Gospel of Thomas and non-dualistic Buddhism, than with what we think of today as ‘stoic.’

Plus, here was this great teacher – he was a giant, even in his own time, who at the end of his life, settled down with a woman he didn’t marry, and whose name has been lost to history, in order to raise the child of a friend (one who’d presumably died or been sent off) so that the baby wouldn’t die or be sold off into slavery. It was such a human thing to do – it really embodied all his teachings. I was really excited when I discovered I’d have an opportunity to write about that.

And of course, it just so happens that I knew of someone [an incarnation of Maya], who by complete coincidence, happened to be on a ship sailing to just the right place, at just the right time…

How is IMPLICIT connected to the next book you’re publishing in December and what can you tell us about that book?

A lot of people don’t know this, but IMPLICIT: Soul Invictus is actually the second novel I’ve written about Maya Lee. The first one I wrote actually slots in perfectly right behind it. So while IMPLICIT: Soul Invictus really is the beginning of Maya’s story – of the entire Spirit Invictus Series for that matter – in December, Book Two, ALL THESE THINGS: Maya Invictus, comes out. That book will actually go even deeper into Maya’s younger (and slightly wilder) years.

That book will tell the story of Maya and David [a client and spiritual teacher], and how Maya’s toughest and most brilliant courtroom battle jettisoned her off on an unplanned detour into her own personal dark night of the soul. The favorite feedback I’ve heard from my early readers is this quote: “Inner peace with an attitude – could be called Way of the Peaceful Lawyer!”

I’m also giving away a free novella called ONE MORE THING: The Lost Interview. It’s a small little snippet of Maya’s life after the events of – and complimentary to – ALL THESE THINGS.

You can download the free novella and learn more about the Spirit Invictus Series at www.MarkTiro.com.

IMPLICIT: Soul Invictus is available on Amazon Kindle at the special price of just $.99 through November 4, so download it today.

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 

 

 

 

 


Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 7.50.09 AMHow can a book of poetry bring magic into your life? Louis Alan Swartz has done this, writing of life and death in a way that stirs your soul and makes your heart sing in Magic Realized and Other Poems on the Human Spirit.

Reading this volume from beginning to end, you feel like you’ve had a glimpse of a blessed life, as the author touches on Love and Marriage; Children; Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Mothers and Fathers; Human Sanctity; Aesthetics; Ideas, Images, and Places; and Death, the Spirit and Immortality.

Each section has an intriguing note under the title. For instance, Love and Marriage is subtitled, “I intend to make you ridiculously happy.” Under the section title Ideas, Images, and Places, are the words: “Living is the finest art.”

I found all of the poems uplifting, even when I skipped ahead to read about Death, as I mourned the loss of a dear friend. In Eulogy, I resonated with his words: “I do not mourn a loss. I protest an interruption.”

All of the poems gave me another way to look at things, “An idea of what living could be. A small inkling of infinity.” ~ from Claire at the Piano

The poems in Magic Realized are accessible, their meaning, their message, instantly clear and full of color and feeling. The author even provides definitions of words at the end of some poems to make sure they are not misconstrued. And the beautiful poetry is embellished with beautiful illustrations throughout the book by Diane Woods.

Here, Louis Alan Swartz answers my questions about Magic Realized:

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

My overall intention in writing is to draw out the magnificence in individuals. It is my firm certainty that each person is an immortal spiritual being. I also believe that each human is possessed of abilities much greater than they have been permitted to believe. Their ability to perceive, understand, create, love, help, know and do good is for each one beyond our current earth imaginations. There is a Hindu myth about the god, Shiva and the goddess, Maya. In short, they had a loving relationship for 9000 years and then they ran into some trouble and things got a bit rocky. First of all, I believe that story is true and second of all, I believe that a “regular human being” here on this earth is capable of a love of that duration and magnitude. I won’t go into all the other legends and myths. Suffice it to say, it is very real to me that these things really did happen and that we can return to that level of intensity of life.

What I want the reader to take away from this book is that he is wiser, kinder, more loving, more creative, more useful and more beautiful than he ever imagined. I want to help him regain his capacity for amazement, astonishment and awe. My purpose in writing this book was to speak to the miracle each person reading it is.

Is your poetry based on your own life experiences?

Definitely. I have travelled widely to South America, Europe, The Middle East, Africa, India and back and forth across the U.S. countless times. I saw many things. I learned many things. I know that each individual, living being has great value because I observed them at their work and lives. I listened to them. I eagerly heard their stories. I witnessed their suffering and their elation. I tried to save a young boy from dying for no reason along the Nile in South Sudan. I saw a food riot in India. I ate with the farmers in Madhya Pradesh in India. I told them about the miracles of America. They brought a child to me and asked me to cure her of polio. I could not.

I have been married for 30 years. I have a joyous marriage. My children are walking miracles. It is all there in the writing.

Why did you select the title – Magic Realized?

It is my belief that there is vast magic in each individual. By magic I mean able to create things not explained by nature, even able to create miracles. I am talking about the outrageous expression of genius. I do not believe this is limited to a gifted few but that each person walking this earth has these abilities inherently. I use both definitions of realized in the title. The first one is to become aware of. I want them to become aware of their own personal magic, such as He realized he could sing. The second meaning is to accomplish or achieve as in He realized his goal to be a concert

pianist. I am looking to accomplish both meanings in the reader. I want him to become aware of his personal magic. Then I want him to accomplish magical things in his life. Thus – Magic Realized.

Why do you think people these days need to hear that “You matter.”?

I think that in the main people have lost belief in themselves. I found this by listening to people. I have been told too many times to count things like “I used to have a dream but I lost it and it’s too late now.” That is plain not true! And it pisses me off. They might as well tell me that they are dead and would I please close the coffin. Each individual on this earth does matter! You cannot tell them that too much. My tenth grade English teacher, Miss Helen Hilliard, got up in front of the class with a paper I had written and said, “This kid can write.” That changed my life forever.

Why did you select poetry as your means of expression?

I believe poetry is a concentrated, fine language with which, if you make yourself very understandable, you can communicate directly to the spiritual being.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I get it by looking and listening. I look at wild flowers like the bright yellow California Poppy or the blue Mountain Lilac. I look at the Maple trees and Birch trees in the New England Fall. I listen to the old man from Italy in the restaurant telling me about the Second World War as if was yesterday. I devour what has been said and written whether it’s good or bad. I do not wait for inspiration. I go find it and eat it up.

How would you recommend someone read your poetry?

It doesn’t matter to me in which sequence they read my books. Sometimes they may have need of a poem about love or loss or death or immortality. I am thrilled if they find the one that helps them. It is important to me that they understand the words in the poems. I recommend having a dictionary at your side and using it.

Can we expect a Volume 3 of your Magic poetry?

Yes, there is a Volume III in the works. I am well into it and very excited about it. It goes deeper down into the themes of the first 2 volumes.

Do you have a favorite writer or poet who has influenced you?

The poet I most admire is Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet who lived at the end of the 19th Century, beginning of the 20th Century. My favorite work by him is The Duino Elegies. It was from this book that I got my first inkling that a spiritual world existed. By the way, the best translation I have read is by Stephen Spender and J. B. Leishman.

What advice do you offer to aspiring poets?

Write! Write a hell of a lot! Don’t worry if it’s good or bad to begin with. Just write, write tens of thousands of words, even 100,000 and more. Read, live, see, hear. If you’re going to be a poet read all kinds of poetry. See what you like, what you understand and most importantly what moves you. Listen to the people, children, old people, people of all ages.

What I feel is most important is to make your poetry very understandable. It is my personal viewpoint that cryptic, obscure, vague and esoteric poetry is garbage and has given poetry a bad name and turned people off to it. MAKE YOURSELF UNDERSTOOD!

Magic Realized and Swartz’ s first volume of poetry, Constructed of Magic and Other Poems on the Immortality of the Human Spirit, are both available on Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback.

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 1.31.21 PMJaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart is a mesmerizing memoir by Ya’Acov Darling Khan that recounts his initiation as an “Everyday Shaman.” 

The title comes from how he learned to blend the raw power of the jaguar with the parts of him that were quieter and more sensitive, like a butterfly.

He learned what shamans have always known: all things are connected. A basic practice that he says everyone can follow is the simple act of noticing these connections.

Khan’s story is one in which he struggled to balance the parts of himself that wanted to fit in and be acceptable to his parents and society, while having the existential need to stay in touch with the magical world of pure spirit.

From the time he was a young boy, he had visions and dreams that foretold the future. Working with numerous teachers, including Gabrielle Roth, indigenous shamans of the Amazon, as well as shamans from Mexico and the Antarctic, he and his wife created Movement Medicine, which invites us to stand up and do all that we can to bring our visions and dreams to Earth as an act of gratitude for the great mystery that gives us life.

“I have learned that we weren’t given this Earth to do with as we pleased, but we came out of it and we are part of it.”

What is a shaman? A shaman is traditionally the medicine man of a tribe, able to connect with the powers of nature and the spirit world. How does one become a shaman?

 “A shaman is called into being by their own predilection for matters of the spirit, a journey interspersed with healing crises through the shadowlands of their own psyche and, finally, by their community and elders.”

What is the healing task for shamans of our time? Khan believes it is changing the debilitating mantra that is doing so much to destroy the fabric of life on Earth: “I am not enough. I don’t have enough. I need more.”

Today, the essence of Kahn’s Movement Medicine is the Long Dance ceremony, a contemporary ritual that is open to anyone, that has the power of indigenous ceremony, and raises money for amazing causes, like saving the Amazon rainforest.

Getting to where he is today, Khan went through the magical world of ritual, working with shaman teachers around the world. His story is a fascinating one that gives us an inside look into what shamanism is and isn’t. Through his journey, we learn more about the roots of shamanism.

Khan believes everyone can rise from the ashes of their suffering and create a new story… one that gives you purpose and dignity and, in this way, become an Everyday Shaman. 

In this crucial time for the Earth and its inhabitants, Ya’Acov Darling Khan explains the path of the shaman. His story is a beautiful one, an empowering one, an important one.

Here, he answers my questions about writing Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart:

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

Sad to say, our modern world is dominated by the story that the only thing that matters is having as much stuff as possible and impressing as many people as possible. More than that, we are constantly being told how to do that. We must have the latest gadgets. Our bodies must be a particular shape. We must wear the right labels, eat the right food, be seen in the right places and we are told that those that follow the modality of the time will be the happy ones. Our screens are full of images of apparently happy people doing the apparently right things. And don’t worry if you haven’t got there yet. If you keep trying, you too can join the ever-growing elite circle of those who have given their lives to this never-ending chase to reach a constantly moving target that is almost entirely devoid of soul.

The loneliness, the disconnection from a genuine self, from each other and from our environment and all that we share it with that is so apparent on the faces of so many of the people I meet reflects the crisis of our times. When Gandhi was asked what he thought of civilization, he replied that he thought “it would be a good idea.” A shaman’s job is to help us to remember the health, creativity and unbroken force of life that surges through us with every beat of the heart, reminding us what matters to us and what gives us a sense of purpose and meaning.

At the same time, the shamans I have worked with have constantly reminded me of my responsibilities as a human being who is part of a complex, delicate and massively intelligent web of life upon which we all depend for our survival. I have walked a road for the past three decades dedicated to discovering who I am, finding out what matters most to me and making that into my offering. I am so way beyond grateful for where that has brought me. I’ve been touched and inspired by many people’s stories on my journey and so I decided to share my own with the intention that it will remind you of that golden thread inside you that whispers to you in dreams and in sunsets and through the eyes of the ones you love.

Given all this, here’s the essence of the message I’m bringing: Learn who you are.

Learn to listen to who you are and find out what really matters most to you. Follow your dreams. Not anyone else’s. Do it now. While your heart still beats. Dedicate everything you’ve got to this quest for self-discovery. And don’t do it in a cave. Do it by thoroughly engaging with your life. With your friends, with finding out who and what you love and giving yourself to serving that. Do it through your work, through what you contribute to this world. Recognize that though you are absolutely unique, you are part of a vast intelligent web of life that deserves your utmost respect and care.

What if life were a spectacular gift, a magnificent mystery? What if you realized that though you cannot decide how life happens, you are always free to dance with whatever life brings? I had to learn that it’s simply not possible to dance my dance if I don’t give time to discovering who I am. And more than that, there was no way to discover who I am by following other people’s ideas about who I should be. It has not all been a joy ride. I have faced my fair share of demons along the way but I can say this… There is no greater adventure on this earth than to discover your own medicine, your own gifts and there is no greater satisfaction than finding the way to share them. Holding back our medicine is a dead-end street and my heart tells me that now is the time for us all to step up to the plate and give ourselves totally to the creative project of bringing what we dream to this earth.

Can you tell us a little something of the roots of shamanism and why people are gravitating to it so much in today’s world?

There are a growing number of human beings in this world who are awakening to the recognition that we need a new story if we are to survive our adolescence as a human race. And they are working in a huge variety of ways to put this understanding into practice. What was once seen as outlandish and irrelevant is now becoming much more central as we see where our human story has led us and the effect it has had on the many other forms of life we share this planet with. In order to survive, we need to evolve. As we recognize the deep unhappiness that our way of life engenders, we have to seek new ways. When the rich and varied landscape of our connection to inner and outer nature becomes a desert, both inside us, outside us and between us, our suffering leads us to want to find new answers. Shamanism in its many forms is a very effective way of mending our connection with ourselves, each other, our environment, the spirits (including our ancestors and descendants), and the Great Spirit. Maybe that’s why it’s becoming popular again.

There are so many shamanic traditions around the world but there are some universal principles that I have met again and again in the different shamanic cultures I have been lucky enough to meet. Shamanism is about the soul of any individual life form and its connection to the system it is part of. It is about maintaining connection and balance between the physical and the non-physical world. It is about the living recognition in an everyday lived sense that far from owning the web of life, we are part of it and we depend on it. It is about recognizing the importance of the health of all parts of the system as it is a common understanding that there is only one system of life on this planet that, once again, we depend on.

Shamanism recognizes that what we dream is what we create. In other words, the power of our imagination or the power of the story we tell directly effects our perception of life, our experience of it, and therefore, the actions we take and the outcomes we create.

What we call “Engaged Shamanism” is one set of practices, alongside many others, that invites us to take responsibility for how powerfully creative we are and to be more conscious about how we use this power. In my own life, I got fed up with telling the story that other people and external circumstances were responsible for my unhappiness. I got fed up with the never-ending spiral of not feeling good enough, not feeling I had enough and basically feeling victimized by life. I was tired of my own disempowerment. So I went in search of my power. And though this journey is always at the beginning of a new chapter, I discovered it. I think my experience is typical of the times we live in.

Can you describe your relationship to spirit and what it feels like?

It is my experience that spirit is everywhere at all times, everywhere and everything, always present. I come and go. But this invitation to be in connection, it’s sometimes so overwhelming, terrifying even. But when I pluck up the courage to open and feel this awe, this force of spirit that is present even in times of suffering, and I give myself to it, then in those sweet moments, everything makes sense again and I remember who I am and what I love and what I’m choosing to do with the life I’m given.

I’m writing this in my garden. It’s an early autumn evening and the sun is still strong enough to warm me through. The wind is blowing strong and I can hear the stream nearby. My bare feet are on the uneven, grassy ground. Gold finches are perched on the feeder twittering away. There is plenty of food in the garden and it’s recently been mowed. Occasionally, a buzzard lazily floats by on a thermal before soaring and then sharply swooping for its dinner. I’m breathing slowly and deeply as I type these words. This is a good moment. I’m giving thanks. I recognize how fortunate I am. My body is well. I feel strong today. I’ve had some renewal time at home with my wife and we are preparing for a new season of travelling and teaching. I recognize the melancholy of the change of season. I can see the leaves on the oaks have turned. They’ll be taking their last flight soon and all being well, they’ll become compost for another season of growth in the spring. So it is. Seasons. Cycles. Who knows when it will be my time to take that flight? The way things are now, I’m making it known to the winds right now that if there’s any choice in the matter, I’d love a few more good decades to live and love and learn here. I love my life. Thank you!

For me, life is an ongoing ritual. There are so many opportunities every day to shatter the illusion of separateness and to remember and experience my connection to life all around me. A plate of food, when you look at it, is the result of so much work by so many people, by the earth and the sun and the waters and the air, and it’s being given to me right now. What a miracle!

Walking in the city, the ground under my feet, the fire burning in my trillion cells as I walk along the pavement. People around me and the hustle and bustle of the city, and the lights burning lighting my way, solar powered people, solar powered life. And this good earth, gravity and the same force of life that moves through me and you and through everything that lives. What a miracle!

You mention in your book how important it was to free yourself from the learned habits of the past. Can you share what this did for you?

When we are unconscious of the past, it asserts a force of habit on us that dictates our responses to what life is offering us in any given moment. In other words, we interpret what is happening through the lens of what has already happened. If I have suffered, then I have learned to expect suffering and usually, that is what I will experience.

Even more than that, our undigested childhood experiences are still playing out full force in our daily lives in the ways we relate to ourselves, each other and even our environment. Most of the human population are running around unconsciously trying to repeat what happened in the vain hope that this time they will vanquish the suffering of their childhoods. Do you recognize how the same patterns that made you leave your last relationship blaming the other person for being the cause of your problems are the same ones you run into again next time round?

But no matter how many times we enroll others to play the roles in our suffering, we cannot change what happened, only our relationship to it. Only by finding the courage to feel the pain we feel can we let it move through us and let it go. As Gabrielle Roth used to tell us as we sweated like crazy dancing so deep in her ecstatic dance classes, “the only way out is through.” Once we have found the courage to recognize the everyday suffering of coming into this world, felt it and let it move through us, we are able to see it for what it is. It happened. It was difficult, often horrific, but here we are, alive, breathing and capable of so much creativity. Through doing and continuing to do my own work on this level, I have come into the present. And in the present, so much more is possible. I have discovered that I am not defined by my past but inspired by it to make a difference in this world.

I have recognized that I am no longer a child who deserves love but an adult who has so much love to give. And the less I withhold myself from life, guess what, the more I receive. And the more I allow the creative force of life to move through me, the more there is to offer. From the vicious circle of repeating the pains of the past to the virtuous spiral of dancing in the unknown of the present moment and taking up life’s invitation to create. We all have this power within us. No matter how tragic the past has been. There are a growing number of spaces and methodologies where we can be heard and seen in the suffering of what was, acknowledge it, and move on. And this is so empowering and, more than that, this planet is crying out for human beings to step out from this cycle of suffering and take responsibility for what we are creating so that we can pass on a world to those that will follow that still supports life to flourish. It may be difficult, but the harvest of this kind of work is immense and, in my heart, it is what I hear life asking of me again and again. Turn your power not towards vainly attempting to vanquish the past but towards bravely creating the future.

How would you recommend a person start incorporating the ideas or practices of shamanism into their daily lives?

We are setting up an online learning community precisely with that intention in mind. There are so many opportunities every day to remember our connection with the web of life and to feel it. If you’re interested, please check out our new website: www.darlingkhan.com and take a look at the courses we are offering in engaged shamanism.

You can also connect with Khan on Facebook.

Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart is available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback.

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 

 

 

 

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: