Blog-Buddies, this is my second review column for Pathways Magazine, MBS Books with Muscle
Pathways distributed the first copies by September 1 throughout the Metro D.C. area. The online edition is coming but takes a bit longer. Look for it in a few weeks at www.pathwaysmag.com. Meanwhile, here is my piece of that fall issue. My formatting is a bit different.
Of course, one reason for posting is that you can add your comments. Another is that I can link to related blog posts I did about some of these writers. One of them, Karen Maezen Miller, has gone onto my Enlightenment Life List, for instance. Enjoy all these fabulous writers!
Here’s good news. You can find all four of the books reviewed in this issues at stores belonging to Pathways Advertisers:
- Terra Christa in Virginia: 130 Church Street NW, Vienna, VA 22180, 703-28l-94l0
- Breathe Books in Baltimore, 810 w 36th St., Baltimore, MD 21211, 410-235-read (7323)
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Meet these fine books with muscle:
- Full Body Presence by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana
- Hand Wash Cold by Karen Maezen Miller
- Karma and Reincarnation by Barbara Y. Martin and Dimitri Moriatis
- The Myth of Stress by Andrew Bernstein
MBS Books with Muscle, Fall 2010
Four practical books, reviewed here, can help you feel better than you have in years. You’ll flex muscles you didn’t know you had. And, if you’re like me, you’ll suffer surprisingly little pain the day after. After trying any of these spiritual workouts, you’ll feel less sore, less stressed, more you.
Let’s start our spiritual workout with the local author in this muscular group of writers.
Full Body Presence by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana
Publisher: New World Library
232 pages, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-57731-860-6
Author website: www.fullbodypresence.com
It’s rare to find a teacher and healer who has brought forth something genuinely new. But Scurlock-Durana is just such a teacher. For 25 years, she has taught an extraordinary series of exercises that Help. You. To. Fit. Inside. Your. Body.
You know, that physical container neglected by so many of us New Agers!
Full Body Presence published by New World Library is actually a second edition of a self-published book so allow this success story to inspire all of you struggling Pathways self-publishers. If anyone has earned huge success, it’s Suzanne.
This much-loved teacher and healer has carefully worked out a systematic introduction to help any reader develop a stronger, more grounded, physical presence. Her method is unlike any program I have encountered during my 41 years of fascination with the woo-woo.
In this how-to, the discerning reader can find a full explanation of Suzanne’s underlying and highly original theory base. It’s laid out carefully, like building a Taj Mahal out of Legos. Meticulous craftsmanship, in Suzanne’s case, reflects hours and years of refining her system.
How best to explain those life-changing exercises? You learn to pay loving, non-judgmental attention to your physical body, how it feels from the inside. Once you have established contact with the infinite inner variety of your physical presence, Suzanne’s method coaches you to use your awareness to heal, to relax, to live as a much stronger body-based human.
Hey, you want to see a sample of how expertly this guide takes you on an internal voyage? Below, Suzanne leads us into one of her brilliant discoveries, an exercise for Healing the Internal Resistance to Life. (In quoting, for readability, I have added extra paragraph breaks.)
Whenever we are consciously waking up and becoming more energized, there is a part of us that is afraid to take the next step, the step that brings us into more aliveness.
The word for this feeing is “resistance.” It surfaces when we want to do something beyond our comfort zone, something outside our known world.
Resistance is different from having a healthy boundary and saying “no” when something is not right for us. Resistance is that part of us that is afraid to move forward; it says “never,” “I can’t,” or “I shouldn’t.”
Many of our unhealthy and unproductive behaviors originated as a means of self-protection. We learned to withhold our opinions, do what we were told, follow an unacceptable career path, marry an acceptable partner, keep our anger under wraps or use it as a shield, dress in a way that doesn’t draw attention the list goes on and on.
Until we start to wake up, to explore what’s inside us, we hardly notice we are living by rules that stifle us.
That’s resistance, all right. By contrast, don’t resist buying this book! It’s a huge bargain. The cover price of $14.95 brings you even more than the illustrated 232 pages. You gain free access to sound files. To me, that’s Suzanne’s even greater teaching talent than her writing:
That flow of instructions! That Mother Earth voice! Suzanne coaches you into an unforgettable Be Here Now with your physical self.
Either way, through her sound files or this book’s clear prose, what happens when you learn how to pay loving, inspired, oomphy attention to your physical self?
- Healing, that’s what.
- Imagine, the opposite of attention deficit. Full-bodied attention paid to you, that’s who.
The result is a very special kind of muscle: Presence.
As an aura reader, I delight in an author who practices what she preaches. It’s really worth learning how to read auras from photos just to check out details about Suzanne’s own energy presence. When she enters a room, you can feel it.
To sum up, if ever you have wanted to have a big, juicy, freed-up, muscular presence, try the well tested techniques in this book. Discover what a difference it makes, inhabiting your physical body more fully. Suzanne’s aura is her own best advertisement for a book that really delivers.
Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life
Karen Maezen Miller
Publisher: New World Library
181 pages, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-57731-904-7
Author website: www.karenmaezenmiller.com
Buddhists and not only Buddhists you’re going to love this book.
Here’s how the author introduces herself: “Errant wife, delinquent mother, reluctant dog walker, and expert laundress, as well as a Zen Buddhist priest and teacher, or sensei ”
Part memoir, part how-to, what makes this book so charming? Maybe because the author isn’t trying to charm you so much as to help you.
The helpful intent to share her wisdom rings clearly through that author’s pages. You’ll also find a delightful and wry sense of humor, as when Karen ruefully notes, “The year of my grieving I must have lost two full sizes in saltwater weight.”
Using special muscles well toned by years of dedication to Zen, you’ll find many big sizes of intellect. I just loved encountering multi-leveled paragraphs like these:
In the attic that last day, kneeling over a bag of stale and wrinkled recollections, I had a hint of what I had been missing. Laundry. And not just laundry, but what laundry gives us: an honest encounter with ourselves before we’re freshened and fluffed and sanitized. Before we have ourselves put together again.
Do your own laundry, and the tag inside will tell you exactly how to care for what you hold in your hands. Every bit of life comes with instructions when we are attentive enough to notice .
Have you guessed yet? This isn’t really a book about laundry. It’s more about finding happiness. Also, it’s an enticement to learn that specialized cleanup activity called Zen meditation.
Under the pretext of sharing her personal story, Maezen Miller gives the clearest introduction to Zen I have read since the 1960s.
Admittedly, I do find the first half of the book stronger than the second half. (Editors, for future editions, please consider completely deleting one chapter with some highly questionable advice about “What children do not require.”)
But here’s one thing about the author I would recommend not changing at all: Her state of consciousness.
What does this reviewer find even more fascinating than laundry? Even more compelling than clothing sales at the mall or TV commercials for cleansers? Consciousness.
Over the years, I have started keeping a life list of people whose auras proclaim spiritual enlightenment. Using the photo on the back cover, I was highly impressed with the author because she does (to my perception) have It.
Read about my definition of an enlightened aura, as well as my running “Enlightenment Life List,” at my blog, www.rose-rosetree.com. Just use the search box to find our squeaky clean author.
Karen Maezen Miller, my #25, is the author of a truly kickass book that is not really about doing laundry.
Karma and Reincarnation
Barbara Y. Martin and Dimitri Moriatis
Publisher: New World Library
232 pages, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-57731-860-6
This is not a casual book. It is not high-concept nor trendy nor purposely flashy nor so many of the other pushy-pushy attributes that make me embarrassed, sometimes, to consider myself “New Age.”
You can’t read far into this book without developing great respect for the main author, Barbara Y. Martin. Her work over the decades has been expertly summarized and shaped by co-author Dimitri Moriatis. But the real spiritual bodybuilder here, unquestionably, is Barbara Y.
She delves into every aspect of reincarnation and karma you can think of. And then some.
Replete with stories and fascinating insights, there’s a systematic exploration of such topics as The Karma of Nations, Races, and Religions and The Collective Karma of the World.
Here’s a favorite sample of the author’s gently forceful voice, intrepidly speaking her truth:
Then there are the misguided spiritual teachers. These can be good-natured people who wish to help others, but have put themselves on the teaching platform before they were ready to teach. They do this either because they were encouraged by others, or because they have a burning desire to be in a spiritual place where they have not yet earned the right to be.
What many do not realize is that you are held karmically accountable for misleading any soul, whether intentionally or unintentionally. When the Higher first encouraged me to become a spiritual teacher, I hesitated, not because I didn’t see its value, but because I understood the responsibility involved and I wasn’t sure I was up to the task.
In today’s growing metaphysical arena, there are many people who want to teach. This is noble, but my strong advice is to wait until you are ready and prepared for such responsibility. Don’t rush in half-baked. The last thing you want to do is inadvertently generate negative karma in your effort to help others. If you are meant to be a teacher, you will be. But first go through the necessary steps.
By the time you have read this far into Karma and Reincarnation, there will be no doubt in your mind that Barbara Y. has taken necessary steps galore. However, she uses a model that I believe many of us in the mind-body-spirit community have outgrown, where clairvoyance is supposedly is the be-all and settles-all gift for aura reading.
Can you count how often you have been exposed to The Myth About Auras? According to this viewpoint, auras are colors seen by people who are spiritually superior. Again, according to myth, everyone is supposed to see exactly the same thing, so the goal with aura reading is to duplicate the perceptions of the really talented clairvoyants.
I can’t disagree more strongly, both as a healer who depends on reading auras and as a teacher who aims to help all students, not only the ones who happen to be like Barbara, whose gift set for perception involves seeing auras in color and having visions. (See the related blog post about The Trap of Clairvoyance.)
Many of my students had their greatest breakthroughs when they realized that useful information is the purpose of reading an aura, not being able to say, “I see green. If you see green, too, that means I am reading auras correctly.”
The purpose of aura reading is information, right? I believe everyone has a complete, sacred gift set. Not everyone has the same gift set. Yet each gift set works perfectly, once you learn how to find your way into the perception, then how to interpret your findings.
One trap with clairvoyance is that it becomes extra easy to confuse perception with a full reading. Seeing may be believing, but seeing something in somebody’s aura doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as finding useful information.
Another trap with clairvoyance is assuming that information must show exactly the same way to everybody who reads a person’s aura. However vivid, auric perceptions are subtle and subjective, not a literal form of truth for all people on earth.
What if instead of an image you get a feeling, a fragrance, truth knowledge? Often perceptions like these come with a bit more humility. Here is an example of the opposite situation, where Barbara Y. took a vivid perception literally as though it must have an obvious universal meaning for everyone. Here she is describing her beloved mentor, Inez Hurd:
She had a gorgeous star formation of pink light emanating from her heart chakra, demonstrating the bounty of love she expressed. She also had this amazing sphere-like energy of pale pearl-luster pink above her head. It showered down on her a perpetual pink light, indicating that she had reached that state of universal love where she was truly able to love others unconditionally.
Inspiring Inez! Inspiring description! So what’s the problem?
The INFORMATION was about Inez Hurd having a bounty of love, a connection to universal love, the ability to love unconditionally.
As an aura reader, you might find information like this and be wonderfully inspired. But is it also necessary for you to see the star formation or swoon over the pale pearl-luster pink?
Reading Karma and Reincarnation, I was curious about rest of the information, the best part. What was the MEANING of that “gorgeous star formation”? An image doesn’t explain that. I wish Barbara had investigated what that perception of hers actually meant!
My goal here is not to criticize a colleague, who is having a justly deserved fabulous career. I’m trying to make the point that all of us can benefit from reading auras for information.
Seeing something beautiful doesn’t have to be the full set of information, does it? How would you like this for an epitaph?
“Pat sure looked great.”
Also related to the trap with clairvoyance, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Barbara’s book about reincarnation emphasizes using your will to overcome problems. Her perspective, in this book at least, is that you have free choice. You must be sure to use your will to avoid making mistakes. How? You must discover your purpose.
Personally, I’m not that big a fan of “Purpose.” I find that a person’s need to know “Purpose” can be directly proportional to how stuck that individual is energetically — you know, at the level of auras.
When my clients worry about “Purpose” I request permission to facilitate aura healing instead of simply doing a reading. Together with Divine help, we permanently move out STUFF from that person’s aura.
This means using aura reading skills to go into specific details about problems, then using dedicated skill sets, such as cutting cords of attachment with quality control. Afterwards, I will show my client in very practical, human-type terms what has shifted in her/his aura as a result of our session. And I know that many of you Pathways readers who are my colleagues, as healers, do the same with your clients.
Clients come to us because STUFF in auras really can be healed permanently. We need energetic literacy plus skill sets for healing in order to make this happen, but happen it can.
I have never tried to count how many of my clients had what Barbara Y. calls “weak willpower.” Instead, I have found people whose auras were jammed with STUFF; I can count thousands of sessions where healing removed STUFF and then my client’s life improved. And it sure wasn’t because of just trying harder and summoning ever more will, inspired by knowledge of purpose.
Barbara Martin is wonderfully knowledgeable, using the traditional version of aura reading from the second millennium. But look out, you muscle-building Pathways readers. Energetic literacy in this third millennium is bigger and stronger. As you may have noticed, aura reading is changing now, with the global rise of consciousness as humanity moves into the New Age, the Age of Aquarius.
Reading auras as colors is usually not full energetic literacy. It isn’t fully practical. Rather, depending on clairvoyance alone brings inspiring ideas about purpose and grand patterns about various lifetimes.
By contrast, in this still-new millennium, aura reading can become an everyday skill to help everyday people, invaluable for holistic healing. The language of energy is needed to appreciate how human consciousness is growing right now.
So I’ll admit that I fought a lot with Karma and Reincarnation, making many a note in the margins, often expressing strong disagreement.
You may fight with parts of her book as well. But how many mind-body-spirit books speak their truth such strength that you tussle and tug and keep reading?
The Myth of Stress
Publisher: Free Press, Simon & Schuster
320 pages, Hardcover, $26.00, ISBN 978-1-4391-5945-3
Author website: www.mythofstress.com
Meet a talented new kid on the MBS block. Andrew is, as he’ll tell you early and often, the founder of ActivInsight.
He also tells you, early on, that his degree from Johns Hopkins University was in English literature. Do you realize what that means? Counting me, there are now at least two of MBS authors in the world with this seemingly strange preparation for life.
It’s even possible that, like your humble columnist. Mr. Bernstein has had to slog through The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett or other over-ripe fruits of the noble tree of English literature.
Yes, there really can be life after English lit. And up-and-comer Andrew has learned a lot from his training in how to think about everyday life, then communicate his findings clearly. Technically, I’d have to call The Myth of Stress one of the best books I’ve seen yet in the Self-Help genre.
It’s a simple book, really. Andrew has developed a foolproof method for reframing stressors in life. He helps readers learn to face reality. Here’s one of my favorite parts of this book (with extra paragraph breaks added for readability):
Essentially, what happens with ActivInsight is that you learn to lose. Initially this sounds terrible, because you think that winning is what makes you successful and happy in life. And if you can win, go right ahead.
But whenever you experience frustration, anger, or other negative emotions, you’ve already lost in the sense that you’re not longer in contact with the real world and you don’t realize it.
How many relationships have ended bitterly because individuals were unwilling to see their part in a disagreement? How many businesses have lost enormous talent, money, and experience because both sides of an internal argument were determined to win?
Knowing how to lose doesn’t mean that you want to lose going forward. It means that when you do lose, you can recover quickly.
Everyone loses sometime, but those who don’t know how to lose will continue to dig themselves in deeper and drag others down with them. Those who do know how to lose, on the other hand, are able to quickly see their mistake and take full responsibility for this, making things easier for themselves and others.
Deep stuff, right? Bernstein’s method has you tackle one tough chunk of stress at a time.
I really admire how he simplifies this method, making it as easy as pie. (Even the chapter on weight loss!)
Pathways do-it-yourselfers, I don’t want to summarize his method step by step, because Andrew’s intellectual property deserves to be honored. Besides, much of his method’s effectiveness lies in doing it properly. And this innovator has worked really hard to develop, refine and teach his method.
This much, however, I can share with a clear conscience:
- Using ActivInsight, you heal one problem at a time. You formulate a sentence with the gist of your gripe, such as “My boss at work should appreciate me more.”
- Next, you go through a sequence that pulls the passion out of that statement, where you rate the intensity of the feelings and list the practical consequences of your basic assumption.
- Later, you flip your viewpoint around to appreciate why, in reality, your problem exists. That includes an objective (but not harsh) way of taking responsibility for that problem.
- By the time you finish Andrew’s healing sequence, your emotional charge will have diminished. The stress, or sense of “It’s not fair,” will have shifted. Welcome to a better life.
Throughout The Myth of Stress, Andrews talent and experience as a teacher are impressive. He perceptively elucidates a wide range of problems that readers may have, all the while coaching us systematically in his technique.
You may love this book. It may help you to build gigantic self-help muscles.
I didn’t quite adore it, however. My radar went off for high-concept meaning the way that big publishers like Simon & Schuster focus hard on making as much money as possible by positioning each book in its over simplified niche. To the suits in New York, “high-concept” spells profit; to this reader, “high-concept” often means thinly disguised books for dummies.
Fortunately, high-concept or not, Andrew’s technique isn’t for dummies. As the chapters unfolded, I quickly mastered his technique and found it to be utterly brilliant.
My only problem was that I began looking for more greater depth, greater scope, more self-disclosure. Which there wasn’t.
But in reality …
Compare Andrew to all three of the other authors whose books have been reviewed in this column. Each one has helped students for decades, which brings intrinsic depth to the writing. By contrast, Andrew is a mega-talented young author who has been coached to perfection about how to publish a how-to whose main purpose, clearly, is to sell, sell, sell.
Whenever MBS books help a reader gain muscle, I’m all for it. When a book uses author-or-editor muscle to wham you over the head, hmm. Not quite so impressive to me
But that Andrew Bernstein is a writer to watch. And his technique really does work. You may want to make it your life, as he evidently does at this time. Or you may be more like this reviewer, someone for whom five hours of sitting down with his book was plenty.
Yet they were treasured hours, for sure. And I especially love my fine new muscles, courtesy of Andrew, for losing with grace.
Rose Rosetree is a pioneer in the mind-body-spirit field. A graduate of Brandeis University, over 330,000 copies of her books are now in print which equals more than two national bestsellers. Her how-to on energetic literacy, Aura Reading Through All Your Senses, is a bestseller internationally.
This local teacher and author has given over 900 media interviews. Her work has been praised in The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Catholic Standard. Steven Colbert didn’t exactly gush in his segment about her on “The Colbert Report,” yet Rosetree is still a huge fan.
Based in Sterling, Virginia, the author of Aura Reading Through All Your Senses is the only American so far to have trademarked systems for face reading, aura reading, cutting cords of attachment, and empath empowerment skills.
Learn more about Rose Rosetree’s personal sessions of healing, workshops, Mentoring Program, and books at www.rose-rosetree.com. Join the conversation about “Deeper Perception Made Practical” at her blog: www.rose-rosetree.com/blog. And, yes, do stop by Rose Rosetree’s booth at the glorious Pathways Whole Life Expo this October 3.