YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL WITHOUT YOUR HAIR
A Daughter's Journey with the Death of Her Parents
by SUZANE PIELA, R.N. Bluestar Communications $16.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Claire Krulikowski
All areas of how we, as individuals and as a people, view and live our daily lives are being opened to greater expansion and understanding including if and how we choose to leave this life. These revelations come even in answer to the desire of our spirits to live our physical existence in alignment with our soul's divine inner code. Eventually, magically, all of us somehow become beneficiaries of the course another person has taken to link heaven, in one more little way, to life on Earth.
You Are So Beautiful without Your Hair offers readers new insight into the possibilities illness and dying hold for a person's greater spiritual enrichment. Linked hand in hand, life and death will never be the same again.
The death of our parents is an almost universally experienced trauma, yet in this book we are offered more than we might ever expect to receive. This is not merely a story of a young woman coming home to her farmhouse roots to visit her suddenly ill father (who soon dies), subsequently packing up her life in Los Angeles to return to the farm to care for her mother.
Instead, we are witnesses to the spiritual commitment and yearnings of author and parents even as levels of familial "baggage" are cleared and the personal beliefs of each person are expanded beyond the realms of preconceived notions. How many mothers, after all, have asked their daughter to be with them during an illness, explaining, as Edna Piela tells her daughter, "Susie, I need your spirituality. I want what you have"?
Suzane is a person of sensitivity, with some psychic ability, and knows how events may be foreshadowed by messages offered in nontraditional forms, and that nature heals in profound ways. She looks to the sky, the wind, fire, and the earth for the sustenance and the meanings they offer. Even while fulfilling the daily duties of feeding and walking and talking with her mother, there is, first and foremost in Suzane's mind, the caring for her mother's spiritual needs.
This book demonstrates the honoring of the sacred nature of life and death and the path chosen by the individual who is in transition. It becomes apparent that by maintaining her own pure intent to assist for her mother's highest good, Suzane is somehow ensuring that her mother's decision to stay or leave is clear and wholly her own, and that her mother's life will find its place of peace during her lifetime. There are medicines beyond the scope of pharmaceuticals required to profoundly heal body and soul, and Suzane and her mother indeed, in many ways the entire family are in effect being inoculated with potent spiritual blessings. These are what drive the evolution of our souls.
In simple daily works, and through "parent and child" exchanges, Suzane herself grows so, so much. She is not the same woman at the book's closing as she was at its opening.
Yes, there is sadness in this book as members of a family touch each other, love each other, hurt each other, and heal each other. There are plenty of hugs to go around, and, more importantly, there is great beauty and joy in what everyone comes to know of themselves and each other.
Author Suzane Piela weaves her recollections in patterns, so that palpable healing wisdom sinks, in words unspoken, beneath our own skin and into our psyches. Eventually, magically, all readers of this book somehow benefit from the simple yet profound course the author and her family have taken, which has helped link heaven in one more little way to life on Earth.
I continue to give or loan copies of You Are So Beautiful Without Your Hair to people I meet whom I feel are in some need or will enjoy or benefit from it, and it has been appreciated all around.
Suzane Piela will speak on the mystery and beauty of dying at Bellevue's 106th Ave. Barnes and Noble (5/18); Kirkland's Stonehouse (5/19); Issaquah's Barnes and Noble (5/20); and at Kirkland's Unitarian Universal Church (5/21). Call locations for times.
DR. JUDITH ORLOFF'S GUIDE TO INTUITIVE HEALING
Five Steps to Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Wellness
by JUDITH ORLOFF, M.D. Times Books $24 (hardcover)
reviewed by Mirra Lee
Dr. Judith Orloff is a board-certified psychiatrist, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, and staff member at UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, St. John's Hospital, and Cedars Sinai Medical Center; she is also a gifted psychic. In 1996 she published her memoir, Second Sight, which recounted how she discovered that using her psychic abilities in conjunction with her medical training allowed her to become a more effective healer. Now, in this second book, she outlines a practical framework for that theory, utilizing her own experiences and those of patients to augment the descriptive material.
Her five steps are: 1) notice your beliefs; 2) be in your body; 3) sense the body's subtle energies; 4) ask for inner guidance; and 5) listen to your dreams. She first tackles what she feels "intuitive healing" means ("It is listening to your body's signals your inner voice and heart, your spiritual connection to find out how to become more physically, emotionally, and sexually whole"), then moves to discuss the generality of the five steps and why she feels this structure works. From there, she divides the book into three sections ("The Body," "Emotions and Relationships," and "Sexual Wellness"), and subdivides those areas into topical chapters, many of which cover subjects that are not openly discussed in our culture. In addition, each chapter is specifically draped across an outline comprised of the five steps.
I was somewhat turned off initially by the way the book is structured, but found that Dr. Orloff's skillful use of repetition (of the five steps) drew me reluctantly forward to keep reading each time I picked the book up. Had I not been reading this book for review, I might not have finished it, and that would have been a mistake. Every few pages, there are potent one-liners and/or meditative exercises to awaken one's intuitive awareness with respect to health issues; many of these are worth the price of the book alone.
Dr. Orloff is a firm believer that we are our own best healers and that information received intuitively (psychically) can be a successful adjunct to formal medical treatment, in many cases supplying missing pieces that allow a doctor to treat us appropriately. For instance, she suggests using the five steps to intuitively choose compatible practitioners; to tune in to medications for appropriateness and, in some cases, dosage; and to learn when illness (and/or death) may be a friend, or a messenger, and not "the enemy." Over and over again, she gently prods us to examine our beliefs, to be in our bodies, to pay attention to our subtle energies, and to tune in to and accept our inner awarenesses, both intuitively in waking consciousness and in our dreams.
If, in fact, it takes a minimum of 21 repetitions to set something in consciousness, then Dr. Orloff's style of presentation goes a long way toward accomplishing that end. I commend her bravery in coming forward with this material, both in her lectures and, now, in this book. It would be a "must read" for anyone just beginning to open up to one's inner intuitive processes; additionally, it easily serves as an "expander" for those of us who have long been practicing the art of medical intuition, either on ourselves or in assistance of others. Get it; read it; I think you will be well served.
Daily Teachings from the Taoist Sages
by TIMOTHY FREKE Sterling Publishing $17.95 (hardcover)
reviewed by George M. Lewis
This is a here-and-now book of Taoist gems of wisdom. You soon come to realize that although this book is just a glimpse of Tao, it is an all-inclusive one.
These ancient teachings are pervasive and have a way of centering you. Mr. Freke's "thought-for-the-day" format very nicely arranges the teachings to follow specific topics. Start anywhere you wish; it doesn't matter. You always end up centered in the presence of Tao.
The author succeeds in providing a natural, uncomplicated approach to these ancient teachings. In the beginning of each section, he gives a brief explanation of a profound concept to provide the reader with a basic idea and how it connects to Tao. This approach provides some structure to this profoundly simple way, and also dispels some of the myths about Taoist belief.
The artwork in the book is natural and soothing, depicting a natural simplicity that is conducive to contemplation and introspection.
It is a pleasure and comfort to possess this collection; it is one to cherish and revisit any time there is a need to return to basics.
SECRETS OF SACRED SPACE
Discover and Create Places of Power
by CHUCK PETTIS Llewellyn Publications $19.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Collen Marquist,
co-author, Crystalline Communion
This richly illustrated and referenced book illuminates a complex subject with simple, field-tested techniques and guidelines. Pettis' spiritual philosophy provides backlighting to the brilliance of his technical expertise, but his most valuable offering is to alert the reader to the necessity of giving one's heart and consciousness back to the earth and its sacred spaces through spiritual practice.
Rather than impress the reader with myriad details and considerations, Pettis hones down the science of earth monuments' design to the art of earth and megalithic communion. His background in psychology and design creates a template of awareness that has been sharpened by years of spiritual practice.
The book begins with an excellent visual immersion in sacred spaces. Pettis then wastes no time bringing the reader to a full appreciation of the importance of spiritual practice. In the second chapter, "The Sacred Experience," Pettis says, "The peak moments of my own spiritual growth are intimately connected with sacred space." This chapter, like all the rest, ends with sections called "Suggested Projects" and "Exercises and Secrets of Sacred Space Revealed in This Chapter."
Pettis describes how to find places of power and communicate with earth spirits. In chapters on entities, ghosts and haunted places, and the Seattle Ley-Line Project, he describes how to recognize and release geopathic stress. Chuck is the only researcher/designer to have map-dowsed (and field-tested the accuracy of) leys (Earth's energetic meridians) in an entire city and have his results published.
The remaining six chapters fulfill the heart's desire of geomancers by detailing how to design, code and decode sacred space; create astronomical alignments; utilize cosmic geometry to encode and represent sacred knowledge; and increase sacred energies through the symbolism of number and measure.
The book ends with an epilogue, two appendices, a glossary of terms, and a huge bibliography, which is well worth reviewing. Pettis also offers a listing of Web sites pertaining to the subjects in this book.
The author makes his most important point in the epilogue of Secrets of Sacred Space, which the reader may find affirms feelings he or she holds about sacred spaces. He says, "The power of most ancient monuments is being 'withdrawn' and depleted by visitors who come to experience and see the site, but don't 'deposit' and add to the power by meditation, prayer, and other spiritual practices." This book is all about reversing that trend before it's too late.
A Six-Point Plan to Promote Healthy Bones
by PAMELA LEVIN, R.N. The Nourishing Company $39.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Elaine Childs Gowell, A.R.N.P., Ph.D.
Pamela Levin has done it again. While her other books were about self-care and nourishing the developmental perspectives of life, this one is about nutrition and nourishing the body, our physical aspect. In 15 clear, cogent, and well-researched and -scripted chapters, Levin outlines the causes of osteoporosis and the cure, pointing out that in the next sixty years (listen up, Generation X and Baby Boomers), we will have over 135 million people suffering with this debilitating disease. The fact that osteoporosis (sick bone disease) is probably a cause of heart disease, and therefore contributes to the top two killers (heart disease and cancer), is startling. This is a serious disease, thought to have pediatric onset. It is not too late to pay attention to good nutrition and to the way we use synthetic supplements, many of which may be poorly absorbed because their synthetic nature is not compatible with the body's needs.
With the help of case studies, including her own frightening encounter with back and hip problems and devastating pain that kept her bedridden, the author outlines a six-point program to restore nutritional balance and feed our sick bones appropriately. The book gives the most cogent and coherent discussion of nutrition, food sources, and nutritional supplements for healing and recovering from osteoporosis that I have ever read. Yes, osteoporosis is not irreversible!
Perfect Bones includes a list of 84 signs of this "silent" disease, going on to review medical options and their side effects. It provides interviews with leading experts on bone health. The dangers of taking synthetic nutritional supplements are discussed, along with a list of over one hundred whole-food concentrates available in the marketplace.
The book gives directions on how you can find a qualified practitioner to research your own bone health. Levin points out that "my bones are not your bones" and that each of us is unique and deserving of a personalized program rather than the "one size fits all" approach. The program is fitted to your uniqueness through applied kinesiology and a diagnostic system known as Contact Reflex Analysis, in which your body is asked questions about your nutritional needs through its electrical system. This diagnostic process does not require complicated machinery, simply your own body's inner knowledge of what it needs and a qualified practitioner to ask the right questions.
This book is an easy and interesting read for anyone, and a positive must-read for those wishing for a healthy and balanced body and bones. I highly recommend it; having experienced and healed myself through this diagnostic process, I am very excited that this information can be read and hope that it will be accepted by professionals and all in need of it.
by KIM ZETTER Conari Press $14.95 (hardcover)
reviewed by Steve McCardell
author, The Merlin Interview
What a refreshing surprise! You know, sometimes we delve deeply into a subject and wish to move forward, ever forward. Returning to something basic might just seem a step in the wrong direction. But a basic concept of the kabbalah itself is that sometimes the step downward is required for a step further up for instance, God creating duality in order to see the glory of God's unity. While Simple Kabbalah is apparently intended as an introduction and would no doubt succeed in this for any beginner someone already schooled in kabbalistic thought may even find this a relaxed return to basics with entertaining anecdotes to spice the reading.
One thing refreshing about this read is that Ms. Zetter is actually a Jewish writer. Now, kabbalah is historically a Jewish study, so that might seem redundant. But among those exploring the numbers of kabbalah texts, it's well known that much is written from the Western mystery perspective, and so by those not Jewish. Both approaches work, but I'd say that as an introductory work, this is an excellent place to begin just where the kabbalah itself began. And as a return to basics for other readers, it's nice to remember the background of the Torah, the writings of the Zohar, and the many stories that come from these. This is some of what the author shares.
Zetter opens with a background on just what Kabbalah is: essentially the "esoteric side of Judaism that delves into a deeper understanding of the Hebrew Bibleto provide us with information about the soul; the nature of God, Creation, and the spiritual world; and about our individual relationship to God and each other." Obviously, this comprises a pretty broad field of study; one can see why this topic is becoming so hot again today, as people delve more deeply into spirituality.
Yet, in the kabbalistic tradition, this vast study becomes focused on a single diagram the Tree of Life in order to make it comprehensible to the human mind. Zetter does an admirable job of presenting this Tree simply and explaining the ten spheres (but not the 22 paths) that make up the diagram. What's more, she takes the often highly abstract subject of spheres and includes an entire chapter on its practical application. While we're only barely introduced here to the truly esoteric side of the kabbalah, we are given firm footing upon which to build later study.
Too, with a fascinating look at the Hebrew language and its biblical use (focusing on the creation story) and a number of applicable and well-placed stories, Ms. Zetter does not narrowly discuss a subject that requires a number of approaches. Rather, she whets the reader's interest for different studies, not expecting the book to give all the answers, but hoping that it gives "the curiosity to begin looking for them in your own way." With this review, I offer Simple Kabbalah as a step along your search.
THE COURAGE FOR PEACE
Daring to Create Harmony in Ourselves and the World
by LOUISE DIAMOND Conari Press $15.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Margaret Doyle
I studied this book as England suspended the government in Northern Ireland; as Israel renewed bombing Lebanon; and as the Russians destroyed Grozny, Chechnya. I would like to end the injustices that cause these conflicts, to be more courageous, to be a peacemaker.
Of course, I don't have to travel far to engage in the work of peace. As Senator George Mitchell, one of the leaders of the current peace process in Northern Ireland, says, "I have come to the same conclusion as Louise Diamond in her groundbreaking book namely that the peacemakers are each and every one of us. This book is a must-read for everyone who understands that peace in our daily lives, in our family and communities, is a crucial part of building a world where peace is truly a way of life."
Louise Diamond is one of us. Now sixty-something, she survived two bouts of cancer in her twenties to become a peace-builder, first to herself, and then outward to her family, her community (as a teacher), and further out into the international community. Her personal vision, commitment, and courage inspire her to do such things as confronting a violent child by saying, "I know where you will be left alone follow me," or demanding that an AK47-wielding soldier release an innocent bystander with the statement, "I am a human being, and this is human business."
Diamond is a personal illustration of her message that we all choose to be world peacemakers by the way we handle conflict in our daily lives. Her thesis is founded on four realities that every person alive experiences every day: we are all one, we are all in this together, we all can inflict and suffer hurt, and we all can act to bring peace into our relationships.
Diamond says, "We tend to fight the most with those to whom we have the deepest connectionthis is not just about the closeness of geography, but about the intimacy of relationships that will not go away." She describes the creation of identities and myths within relationships: the victim, the villain, the savior. She brings us to realize that multiple truths exist simultaneously.
"The challenge then," she says, "is to discover the full range of those truths held by each party and then to see how, together, these strands can be rewoven into a new story that honors the needs of allPeople who were deeply engaged in hostile, adversarial, or competitive relationships were able to change almost magically into allies simply from having a chance to be heard."
Diamond then discusses the imperative of peace-building: We all can act.
She describes ways to bring the ideal into reality: personally "risking the action" that is required to bring peace to a situation, whether by personally summoning the Spirit of Peace; or offering a sincere apology; or listening calmly; or entering into a spirit of empathy; or providing a safe place for someone to encounter grief; or offering a common project (such as gardening or carpentry); or celebrating small successes on the road out of conflict.
This book is involving and thought-provoking as it discusses my challenge to be a peacemaker, and everyone's ability to be peace-builders. Diamond presents a clear and practical perspective on bringing peace to life.
The Complete Guide
by PATRICIA MONAGHAN and ELEANOR G. VIERECK New World Library $16.95 (softcover)
reviewed by Shanti Hartstein,
Active Meditation Instructor
Since meditation has been my passion for the past 28 years, I was pleased to discover that this book is well worth reading for those who would like to get a fascinating glimpse into the world of meditation. The book describes, in general terms, the different traditions of meditation: their history, their teachings, and a variety of meditation techniques that have developed from them.
I love reading anything dealing with the history of human consciousness; this, to me, is the most relevant history of humankind. In the past, so little attention has been given to the subtle, yet immense, influence that mystics and enlightened beings have had on humanity through their presence and their teachings. This book is like a chocolate sampler, giving the reader a taste of the numerous paths that can be taken while embarking on the inner journey. The authors point out that even ordinary day-to-day activities can be used for meditative purposes, and all of this wonderful information is written in a flowing, easy-to-read style.
Having said all this, there are two aspects of the book with which I feel uncomfortable. One is the title. It feels misleading, because while the authors do mention numerous meditation techniques, they also have omitted a large number of them (which is understandable, as that would make the book huge!). I personally know quite a few that were not discussed. See, for example, Meditation: The First and Last Freedom, by the Indian mystic Osho. I feel that a more accurate title for the book might have been Meditation: An In-Depth Guide.
The second aspect with which I am uncomfortable is what I would call the author's emphasis on the importance of morality and social rules for the meditator. They write that one is prepared to meditate once one abides by the social rules that serve the good of society. It is my experience and understanding, from the teachings of many great masters, that meditation is for anyone who is willing to look at his or her own actions in a conscious manner.
There are numerous stories of Zen and other masters of meditation meeting with people of deviant behavior, and great transformations happening due to these meetings. It is also important to understand that the history of human consciousness is full of mystics who went against societal teachings and rules, who were said to be criminals by their societies and who were murdered for their "misbehavior." Socrates and Jesus are two prime examples.
My discomfort over those two points, however, is far outweighed by the value of this book. It is a worthy guide for people interested in meditation who would like to learn more about some of the different choices available to them.