Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings

Posts tagged ‘Becca’s Inspirational Book Blog’

I’VE BEEN THINKING… by Maria Shriver #BookReview


Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 9.32.47 AMMaria Shriver’s new book, I’ve Been Thinking, feels like an oasis of peace in the storm of the volcanic lava flow that has taken my home on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Maria offers beautifully written short chapters, each beginning with inspirational quotes, followed by her thoughts and prayers on everything from dealing with grief to letting go, the power of positive thinking, why we should stop trying to “go it alone,” and getting back to center. 

The book ends with Sixty Life Lesson for My Birthday, and I’d like to share some of Maria’s wisdom here:

  1. There’s nothing about life that’s predictable. So stop trying to predict it.
  2. Find every excuse you can to celebrate it.
  3. Moderation in everything but laughter.
  4. Be kind, because everyone else is struggling, too.
  5. Be of service.
  6. Learn how to turn off the critical voice in your head as early and often as possible.
  7. Listen to your gut. It knows more than anyone you’re asking for advice.
  8. Get good at forgiveness. You’ll need to practice it throughout your life.
  9. Don’t expect people to be perfect. Just as you aren’t, neither are they.
  10. Don’t see yourself as a victim. See yourself as brave.

Maria said that her purpose in writing this book was “to get you to think about what constitutes a meaningful life for you. Just you. Because there is only one you, and you have only one life.”

In I’ve Been Thinking, Maria opens up about her experiences of life to the reader, and I think you’ll find yourself relating to similar situations in your own life. I highly recommend this book as a gift to a friend or to yourself.

I’ve Been Thinking…Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life is available on Amazon.com.

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

www.theChakras.org

Advertisements

WILD AWAKE #BookReview and #AuthorInterview


wild-awake-cover-final“…from time to time we need to ‘rewild’ ourselves,” says Vajragupta, and he shares his encounters with wild creatures and wild landscapes in an enchanting way, making us feel we’ve entered a secret world with him.

Wild Awake: Alone, Offline & Aware in Nature will make you want to follow Vajragupta’s example of using solitary retreats in nature to become more “fully awake,” more like the Buddha, a name which means “one who is awake.”

What are the benefits of being more fully awake? Perhaps you’ll find it easier to meditate, to get in touch with your soul, to make the right choices for your life. In solitary retreat, as Vajragupta describes, you are better able, in the silence, to hear your truth and know the solutions.

“Places, perhaps especially wild places, can talk to us; they can be full of suggestion and meaning. Inner and outer worlds can mirror each other, and this changes our awareness.”

It’s easy to understand how being out in nature stimulates and nourishes your soul, as Vajragupta describes his 25 years of taking solitary retreats. For those who have questions about how to get the most out of such retreats, he provides an A to Z guide with practical advice and suggestions for designing your own.

Read Wild Awake: Alone, Offline & Aware in Nature for inspiration, then get out there as often as possible!

Thanks to author and Buddhist teacher Vajragupta, who answers my questions here…

AUTHOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS WITH VAJRAGUPTA

What would you like readers to take away from the experiences you shared in Wild Awake?

I would love it if the book encouraged more people to try out solitude in nature. Some people take to this quite easily. For others, solitude can seem more daunting or challenging. Fear and trepidation can put us off. In solitude we are going to meet ourselves fully and deeply. And we might feel afraid of who we might meet!

I remember one place I stayed in for a solitary retreat that had a “visitors book” and it was moving and inspiring reading the entries. Quite a few of them were from people on retreat, and on their own, for the first time, and they described how those first feelings of anxiety soon gave way to a sense of joy and freedom. We all have our ups and downs on retreat, but we can learn to be OK with that, which is tremendously liberating and confidence giving.

How does it feel when the barrier drops between your inner and outer worlds?

Perhaps we won’t even be aware of it till afterwards. At the time we are not thinking about things like that, we are just absorbed in the world around us. There is a story about the Zen master Dogen that I love. He was asked what it was like to be Enlightened and he said, “it is to be intimate with all things.” In nature I sometimes get glimpses, or intimations, of that. There is a sense of closeness and connection, of love. Trees, stone walls, old winding lanes become like friends! Things become more beautiful and interesting for their own sake.

Years ago I heard a story of a man camping on Dartmoor, probably the wildest part of England. He really tuned into the place. So much so, that if he kicked a stone when he was walking along, he stopped and put it back where it came from. That might sound crazy, but I can understand how he felt. I too can feel that strong sense of care, closeness, and respect, wanting to leave things exactly as I found them, wanting to “live lightly in this world.”

How can a solitary retreat lead you to a realization of your life’s purpose or change you and your perspective?

A friend of mine who was a poet once said that in order to write we need space, and space around the space. In other words, for deeper emotions and thoughts to emerge, the heart and the mind really need lots of time and space. Our lives can often be so full and busy that those deeper parts of ourselves get crowded out and damped-down. We lose touch with what is really meaningful and significant. Of course, the day-to-day stuff we are engaged in may be an expression of what is really important to us, but retreats (solitary or otherwise) are really important for staying in touch with those depths and allowing new inspiration to arise.

How did the places you retreated to become part of your transformation?

In the book I describe some of the beautiful places I have done solitary retreats, and how the landscape and character of a place could have an effect on me. For example, I talk about staying in a lovely old stone cottage on the mouth of an estuary. It was a mile from the road, so you had to bring everything you needed in by foot. When the tide was up, you looked out over a mile-wide stretch of water, like a big lake. When the tide was out, there was an open expanse of sand, with the sea just visible on the horizon. Then the tide gradually snaked its way back again. Birds, fishes, and other sea life moved with the tides. Everything was always moving and changing. I loved the changingness of it – it totally absorbed me. It was an easy place just to be, to be still and content. I think I touched into a deeper contentment than I had ever experienced before. That was partly because of the place, the character and atmosphere of the place. It was generous, abundant, it gave so much to me. The outer world spoke to my inner world, it changed me.

How did your solitary retreats make you feel “closer to life?”

In lots of ways. For example, on retreat you can just feel more alive and energetic. Because there is less external input and stimulation, you can be more in touch with your emotions, and the dreams and reflections of your inner world. You also start to notice the senses more, and what is around you in the external world. Things can feel more raw, but also more real.

One thing I reflect on in the book is encounters with wild creatures – foxes, birds, deer – that have sometimes happened on solitary retreats. For example, I talk about meeting a fox on a mountainside and us just looking at each other for a long time. Like many people, I can find these encounters special, magical, almost like a “blessing.” I have often wondered why we find these meetings with wild animals so significant and wonderful. Again, I think it is about that sense of connection, of overcoming our human separateness from the world. We are drawn out of ourselves and into the world. At the very same time, having that creature gaze at us, in the unblinking way wild creatures just gaze, also throws us back on ourselves. We are aware of them as a creature, with their awareness, looking at us, and that makes us more aware of standing there, being there, as a human being, with our mental faculties and our particular mode of awareness. That is another kind of “closeness to life.”

How can being alone strengthen your connection with others?

This may seem paradoxical, but my experience of solitude is that it helps me be more connected to others. I go back home from a solitary retreat with a stronger sense of those I am close to, perhaps more appreciation of someone, perhaps more understanding. Again, it is about having enough space for the heart to fully open, and for awareness to broaden, so we can really take others in.

Often, when we are too busy for too long, our awareness narrows and our heart closes down. In Wild Awake, one chapter is about a solitary retreat I did quite soon after my father died. This might seem a strange time to choose to be alone, but I found it very helpful. It was a rich and special time. I brought lots of photos of my father from different times in his life and pinned them up on the walls. I had the time and space to really assimilate what had happened, to think of my father, to write down in my journal some of the things he had said in his last months. He was strongly present with me on that retreat: every time I meditated he appeared in my mind’s eye, many nights I dreamt about him. I felt very fortunate to have the time to process his death in this way. Of course there was pain, sadness, and grief, but there was also joy, gratitude, and appreciation.

I understand you are currently writing your next book, Free Time. What did you learn on your retreats that spurred your interest in the subject of time?

I noticed that my experience of time was totally different on retreat. In everyday life I could often be trying to do things fast, so I had more time later. Or trying to get everything ticked off on my “to do” list. Or always planning how I could fit more useful activities into the day, to get more done, more efficiently. But, as Jon Kabatt-Zinn says, “if you fill all your time, you won’t have any.” Time rushes by and feels thin and insubstantial.

On retreat, by contrast, life can seem almost “timeless” in a liberating way. After a few days on retreat, I often feel I have been there for a few weeks. Time feels rich, full, brimming. I am able to have more awareness on a retreat and this means my attention moves along with things as they unfold. I can move along with the day, more in its time and rhythm. Often our attention is leaning back into the past, or straining forward into the future, and this distorts our subjective experience of time. But on retreat we can stay more in the present, which means time feels more relaxed and open. To be more mindful is also to be more time-full!

Wild Awake: Alone, Offline & Aware in Nature is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. Also check out the publisher’s website for more information and a video interview with Vajragupta.

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

www.theChakras.org

 

The Other Side of Life: Book Review and Author Interview


TOSoL Front Cover ImageThe Other Side of Life is reviewed here by guest blogger, novelist and English Professor John Carenen:

Mac Kelsey, the protagonist in Andy Kutler’s novel, The Other Side of Life, is a hero at Pearl Harbor. He is also a hero in the Civil War. Do I have your attention now?

This novel not only entertains, but it inspires. It gives hope for those of us who wonder what else is there besides this life. There is a strong spiritual aspect to The Other Side of Life that encourages as it answers those questions we all have about the other side of life. Possibilities are presented in a gentle, captivating way. It will lift your spirits as Kutler proposes comforting possibilities in this world, and another.

It is hard to buttonhole the genre for The Other Side of Life. Is it historical fiction? Yes, it is meticulously researched, lending authenticity making one wonder if Kutler himself was actually at Pearl Harbor, or any of the Civil War battles. It’s that good. Is The Other Side of Life a science fiction novel? Well, how can Mac Kelsey be in two completely different eras seventy-five years apart – as an adult? Is The Other Side of Life a paranormal novel? Maybe. Things happen.

Without giving away the plot, let me say why this novel works. First, the settings are utterly believable as Kutler appeals to the sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and sights of the places where the characters exist. A good story makes the reader care about what happens to the people in the story. And believe me, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next to not only Mac, but secondary characters as their hopes and dreams were besieged by events they could not always control. No one gets through the story unscathed, but it is how Kutler weaves the various stories into a coherent whole that is so impressive.

This novel does not disappoint. It is a tour de force of storytelling, and you would be wise to buy the book as soon as possible.

Here, Andy Kutler answers John Carenen’s questions:

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? If you grabbed ten random individuals from across the globe, representing different countries, cultures and religions, and asked them about the notion of an “afterlife,” you’d likely get ten different answers. The place that Kelsey visits, I provided some description, but I also left plenty of unanswered questions because I wanted to leave much of that to the imagination and interpretation of each reader. And that, I think, is the beauty of this story.

When and why did you begin writing? I used to do quite a bit of ghostwriting for the elected officials I once worked for…speeches, opinion columns, things of that nature. Never under my own name. At some point, I realized I wanted to write more creatively, and express some views of my own. I was also heavily influenced by my father, a brilliant writer and wordsmith, who showed me how powerful written words could be.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? It was an article I wrote for the Huffington Post back in 2011, shortly after the death of my oldest brother, who suffered from bipolar mania. The response I received from that article – friends, colleagues, complete strangers – was staggering. The responses were so personal and so emotional. People I knew and didn’t know were opening up about their own personal experiences with mental illness, talking about friends, family members, even themselves. That was the “aha” moment, when I first truly understood how writing can really reach people and mean something to them.

What inspired you to write your first book? I had been toying with a historical fiction novel for some time – American history is a passion and in my blood. But when I lost my brother, I found myself struggling with a lot of personal faith issues, and asking myself a lot of “Is there a God?”-like questions. And an idea was born…where I decided to use real historical events to frame a fictional story about friendship, loyalty and faith.

Do you have a specific writing style? I would call it colloquial. When I write dialogue, I want it to sound real and authentic. I loved “West Wing” and thought the writing was brilliant and witty. But sorry, no one really talks like that. I want my characters, settings and story to be believable and genuine; I think that is what makes readers relate and really immerse themselves in a story.

How did you come up with the title? It was about the 63rd idea. I needed a file on my desktop to keep track of the carousel of working titles I came up with during the writing process. I was way overthinking it. “The other side of life” comes into play during a pivotal moment in the story. The second I typed those words and they appeared on my screen, I knew I had a title. I never opened that other file again.

The Other Side of Life is available on Amazon.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

THE CHAKRA SECRET BY MICHELLE HASTIE – REVIEW AND AUTHOR INTERVIEW


CS CoverKnowledge about our chakras can give us information on where we’re out of balance and where we need to focus more attention to improve our health and lives. In The Chakra Secret: What Your Body is Telling You, Michelle Hastie helps you understand the chakras in very easy-to-understand terms so you can use them to understand why you may be experiencing physical problems.

Throughout her min-e-book™, Michelle Hastie teaches how each energy center shares wisdom that correlates with your mental and emotional states and how that wisdom manifests in the physical body. And she explains how to tune into the chakras to find paths back to living naturally, freely and peacefully.

Michelle recommends small daily changes that can lead to dramatic results. As she moves through the seven major chakras, she discusses the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual components of each, guiding the reader to understand how to get back into alignment.

Talking about diet and weight, Michelle zeros in on the body’s wisdom, e.g., she says weight gain isn’t happening to you, but for you. She explains how weight issues can be associated with different chakras and recommends shifting your focus off of weight loss or changing your body, and instead looking at the ways you can increase self-care and self-esteem (associated with the Sacral Chakra) by choosing healthy foods and connecting to your unique abilities.

The Chakra Secret provides exercises and yoga poses, affirmations, meditations and a chakra recipe from Chef Maria Schonder for each chakra. Plus, Michelle shares her own life lessons, such as “You control nothing so stop trying.” This is especially important in balancing the Crown Chakra, surrendering to faith and trust and starting a spiritual practice.

The Chakra Secret provides wonderful insight on how we can take responsibility for our lives, living in choice instead of in reaction. And how we can live in balance and flow, trusting that all will be well.

Author Michelle Hastie has a background in personal training, weight-loss coaching, food psychology, neuro-linguistic programming, and yoga. Here she answers my questions about her latest book:

BECCA: What message would you most like readers to take away from The Chakra Secret?

MICHELLE: I want readers to feel like they can heal their bodies through many different modalities. The worst feeling in the world is when you have a pain or disease and nothing works to alleviate it. Hopefully with this book they can begin to think outside the box and take care of their body in a way that haven’t yet thought of or tried.

Becca: As a weight loss coach, what have you found to be the most common misconceptions around dieting?

Michelle: The most common misconception about dieting is that you can attack it with intellect. Most people load up on nutrition and/or fitness information to become an expert in health. The solution to losing weight is not to use your head but to use your body. Use your body sensations and feelings to guide you through your weight loss journey. Become an expert not in health but in you.

Learn how to feel hunger and fullness in your body. Learn which foods work and don’t work in your body. Learn what movements feel good and which ones feel punishing. Learn how to dress your body so that your clothes are flattering today, not once the weight comes off. Most of all become friends with your body instead of viewing your body as the enemy.

Becca: What do you find is the best way to discover which chakra(s) may be blocked before they cause physical issues?

Michelle: Assuming one knows where the chakras are located, the first place to start is with your own intuition. Do you feel as if one chakra is calling to you simply based on where it is located? Learn about the chakras and what each center represents. Ask yourself if you could improve upon these centers based on their location and what they represent. To keep your chakras in balance, live a life of balance. Be open and honest with yourself and the kind of life you desire to live. Then take every step necessary to fulfill your desires.

Becca: You emphasize becoming a human “being” rather than a human “doing.” Any tips for that?

Michelle: We live in a society that has labeled “just being” as unproductive. Most people call “just being” “doing nothing.” Therefore the first tip is to discontinue this label as it’s untrue. Then you will want to be honest with yourself and how you feel about rest. If you spend a day in rest do you feel lazy? Are you truly resting with presence or are you checking out with TV, food or drugs/alcohol? In order to be a human “being” you must become at peace with this idea of presence in all things. When you do have downtime how can you use it to relax and be present at the same time?

Becca: You recommend staying present in the moment. How can that best be achieved?

Michelle: The easiest way to stay present is to ask yourself what you want. If you are home after a long day of work instead of checking out with food, alcohol or TV ask yourself what do I want to do or how do I want to feel. Take that extra moment to answer this question before you go into auto-pilot and just do what you have always done.

Oftentimes we struggle with staying present because there are some thoughts or feelings that we don’t want to acknowledge. Prepare yourself with a journal or meditation to allow these thoughts or feelings to be acknowledged and then be honest about what you really would like to do with your time.

Becca: What makes YOU feel inspired?

Michelle: Music makes me feel inspired. Moving my body makes me feel inspired. Cuddling my dogs, kissing my husband or watching my baby laugh makes me feel inspired. But most of all, what makes me feel inspired is balance. I work very hard to never over-fill my cup. If I have been working a lot, I take breaks. If I have been lifting weights a lot, I do yoga. If I have been with my baby a lot, I hang with just my girlfriends. I seek to live a life of balance. This allows me to avoid burnout and survive so that I can thrive and truly live passionately.

The Chakra Secret is available on Amazon Kindle. For more info from Michelle Hastie, see http://totalbodyhealthsolutions.com/starthere/. For more info on her books, see http://www.absolutelovepublishing.com/#!chakra-secret/cdnk

Namaste!

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

www.theChakras.org

www.ChakraDiaries.wordpress.com

Win at Life with a Happy Mood, Positive Attitude and Good Relationships


Win No Matter WhatWin No Matter What: A Guide to Hyping Up Your Life by Nihar Suthar is a gem of wisdom compiled by a college student! Nihar Suthar offers sound advice for happiness and joy in life in this short, entertaining read. He wrote this book to demonstrate how awesome every day can be for each one of us, regardless of what he calls the terrible trio (mood, attitude and other people).

Suthar provides quotes and anecdotes showing how to adjust your mood, attitude and perception of others so that nothing can bring you down. For instance, he recommends “faking” a good mood – smiling and maintaining a strong posture until it becomes a habit. A fan of Paulo Coelho, I love this quote he includes from him: “You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent.”

He also suggests greeting and talking to as many people as you can each day… creating a better mood for you and the people you talk to. Other tried and true measures he suggests are thinking about what you are grateful for as you wake up each morning, and actively choosing to focus on what will brighten your mood.

Once you’ve made it a habit of being in a good mood, Suthar recommends changing your attitude to change your life… He recommends figuring out “why” you are doing something before you act, because it will help you achieve your goals. He writes that attitude can also be improved by actively seeking fun – making your day into a game, thinking positively, and living it up – taking advantage of all opportunities offered. He also recommends visualizing your perfect future and adjusting your attitude to get you there.

The third concept Suthar covers is changing your perception of others to change your future. For instance, focus on others’ positive qualities, put others before yourself, stay united with your family, and respect others.

Following Suthar’s advice, you can choose a more limitless path for your life, following your dreams. None of what he suggests is new, but age-old wisdom compiled in a very readable, entertaining way by this young motivator.

NiharNihar Suthar, in addition to his college work, is the founder of Hype Up Your Day, a company that designs packages for business motivation and productivity, and simultaneously provides inspiration to people around the world. He is also donating most book sale profits to Acumen, a charity investing in solutions to global poverty.

Here he answers my questions about his writing:

Q. What is the underlying message of your book?

A: My book is made up of several powerful inspirational stories with tips on how to improve your daily mood, attitude, and the perception of others. It is straight to the point, and meant to be like a guide on everyday living.

Q. What inspired you to write the book?

A. As a freshman college student in New York City last year, I often rode the subways in order to get around Manhattan. Usually, I thought nothing of the subway system. One day though, I was in such a good mood that I had to socialize with someone. I tried talking to lady on my subway car, but she just stared at me blankly. She looked like she was bored and also pretty stressed out with her day. That moment got me thinking about humans, and how we often do not live to the fullest or notice all the bright life around us because we think we have insufficient time, are preoccupied, or even tired. I wanted to help as many people as possible, so I decided to write a book from there!

Q. What do you hope readers will take away from your book? What changes do you hope they’ll make?

A. I hope readers will simply implement a few of the important strategies in my book into their everyday lives to be happier and live better. The biggest changes I hope they make are: Finding the reason behind why they are doing something first, finding 1 or 2 positive things out of every event that occurs, and putting others before themselves.

Q. Where do you find your inspiration to write?

A. I find the inspiration to write from my family and friends – they know that I enjoy writing and always support me. I also get inspiration from the people I interview for the motivational anecdotes in my book. Their stories are often so amazing that it really makes you think. I just love writing inspirational books!

Q. Any advice for others who feel they have inspiration to share?

A. Definitely share your inspiration with as many people as possible and follow your dreams! We all give inspiration to one another, and we can all accomplish whatever we dream.
🙂
Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, and Balance Your Chakra – Balance Your Life

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: