Yoga 365: Daily Wisdom for Life, On and Off the Mat
Life is decidedly busy for most people, but surely everyone can set aside a few minutes every day for a bit of inspirational reading. Susanna Harwood Rubin, a yoga teacher and writer, has put together this lovely little book to inspire readers both on and off the mat on a daily basis. Yoga 365 is full of short passages–three-hundred and sixty-five, to be exact–that use mythology, observation, introspection, and, of course, yoga poses to get readers thinking. Each passage is numbered by a day of the year, making it simple to find a daily passage to read first thing in the morning, after yoga practice, before bedtime, or whenever readers have a spare five minutes. The passages are about topics like practicing generosity to create abundance, grounding oneself, breathing, and more. This book would make an ideal gift for the yogi (dedicated, periodic, or aspiring) in your life; make sure you pick up a copy to keep on your own bedside table, too!
Susanna Harwood Rubin
The Deja Vu Experiment
Short and sweet, The Déjà vu Experiment is an interesting exercise into how the human mind works. I call it an exercise, because rather than acting as a voice of pure spiritual guidance, the author provides the groundwork for a new perspective on how to experience the déjà vu gap, as it’s referred to, through the narration of John Galt. In The Déjà vu Experiment Galt returns post-Atlas Shrugged with a transformed mentality of how the world works and what he was fighting for in a reexamination of the time old question “Who is John Galt?” But understanding the text and enjoying the story is not contingent on having read Atlas Shrugged, so this book can be for anyone, whether or not readers are familiar with John Galt.
I think readers’ opinions will be polarized; they will either really enjoy the style in which this book is written, or they will be disappointed by what expectations were set at the start. It was very different than what I thought it would be, though I ultimately found it really enjoyable. The Déjà vu Experiment is a gentle clash of fiction and inspirational self-help. The point of view is from that of a fictional character, but it alternates between fictional narrative and non-fiction advice in the way that it reads. This book does not tell us how we should view reality, but suggests an alternative way of thinking about our universe were we not to ignore those pockets of discrepancy, also known as déjà vu. Galt also narrates us through Einstein and Newton’s theories in physics, string theory, and superstring theory, the religious constructs of Heaven and Nirvana, as well as the concept of free will and the body versus the soul. What I enjoyed about this book was that it planted the seeds that made me want to research and learn further. I found myself revisiting passages often and doing more of my own reading about the variety of topics covered.
I found a couple points where the text was hard to follow; because to understand Galt’s transformation as a thinker is to understand John Galt as he was in Atlas Shrugged, which I did not. I also think that to understand the differentiation between the ubiquitous “little” déjà vu and the “big” déjà vu is to have experienced a “big” déjà vu moment the same way Galt did in this book, which I feel like I have yet to do. Even so, the conclusions drawn in this book are interesting. It postulates that the reality we know and live is a veil, perpetuated by our imagination and explains how the déjà vu experience fits into the understanding of our universe the way contemporary physicists see it.
One Foot In Heaven: Journey of a Hospice Nurse
Heidi Telpner is a nurse with years of experience, primarily in hospice care. In One Foot in Heaven, she provides readers with a brief but powerful look at the work of hospice and shares how she has witnessed many individuals and their families deal with death. Using a number of examples of people she worked with as they went through the end-of-life process, she tells readers about “good deaths” and “bad deaths” and reminds us all that while our society tends to push the notion aside, we all will one day experience death ourselves, and most of us will have to deal with family members’ or friends’ deaths in some way or another.
While one may initially think the book focuses on near-death experiences or addresses the spiritual or “supernatural” aspects to death (which it does do in small part), it primarily walks us all through what it’s like to watch someone go through the very natural and common process of preparing to die and gives basic pointers on the best ways to do so. Some deaths are sudden and unexpected, but people who have terminal illnesses and are able to prepare for the transition out of life are best served by supportive family and friends who are willing to accept the reality of what’s happening and help the dying person go through the process on the terms that will make them most comfortable.
Telpner tells about the poignant experiences she has had getting to know good, interesting people with loving and supportive families and how their deaths have been sweet and calm. She also tells about the people who personally fought death or had family who fought the reality of impending death and made it difficult for them to die peacefully. And then she shares some of the really strange or unsettling cases.
One Foot in Heaven is a quick and simple read but serves its purpose well. It’s a fine primer for all of us, to remember that death is inevitable, but how we approach it can make all the difference in how we and our loved ones live — and how we prepare to die.
The Unification by Bridges McCall is an interesting tale that will undoubtedly inspire many people. It is an inspirational book that looks at human experience through different moments in time and through the eyes of Matt and his granddaughter, Piaget. Matt has lived a life of unbridled passion, drunkenness, and gambling, until circumstances leads him to an encounter with a powerful fortune teller that completely changes his life. Set in the future, the book details Matt’s insights and memories, and the memories of those who lived thousands of years before him.
The plot of The Unification is complex, taking readers through different timelines and geographical locations, but the author does a good job in keeping readers engaged with exciting scenes, gritty historical and social commentaries, and the thought-provokingly spiritual and New Age spirituality questions that will compel readers to re-evaluate their beliefs.
McCall has the gift of keeping readers engaged by creating powerful scenes and biting suspense. He writes beautifully, a style that is accessible to the ordinary reader, but the elements of suspense are among the strong points of this inspiring story and readers will most certainly want to know what happens to Piaget and her grandfather at the end of the story.
Matt and Piaget are compelling characters that readers will love, well-grounded, and convincingly human. It is interesting to see how these characters develop, moving from a simple connection with their gifts to higher consciousness, from the slavery of their passions to spiritual enlightenment. Aside from the characters, McCall writes about things that are intimate to the human soul in the quest of its destiny, the ultimate need to define who we are. This is one of the books that will entertain and inspire readers and lead them to ask questions about life, humanity, and their ultimate destiny.
The ButterflyFree Project
In this inspirational book, The ButterflyFree Project, one can read many good affirmations. The author does an excellent job of showing, through these affirmations, that everyone, regardless of their past experiences, is special to the “Wholly” God.
The main idea of The Butterfly Free Project seemed to be that if we get rid of all of emotional baggage in our lives of past experiences and get through the cocoon of death, then we will emerge to be the best of who we can be. Hence, the symbolism of the life cycle of the butterfly and the title of this book. Let’s face it, our human lives are projects that we work on everyday. Two other aspects of this book stood out for me, which were based on the author’s creativity.
Jim Talentino did a fantastic job of utilizing his personal experiences. He did not hold back, which led to much wisdom being shared. It is through Talentino’s personal stories and life experiences that the reader can see that “poo” does happen to everyone, even to someone who, at one time in their life, was an ordained clergy person.
Also utilized creatively was the language of The ButterflyFree Project. The written words on the page were not over my head, which was good. He explained his story and concepts in a way that everyone will be able to understand. This also leads me to one of the two slight negatives of this book. As demonstrated above, the author chose certain words, of which some were made up, for emphasis. At times I found the use of words such as “Womin” and “Fluttiness” to be confusing, and had to go back to the front of the book to re-read why such words were used by the author. All of the words utilized appear in bold italics in the book. There are many more creative words utilized throughout the book than the examples I gave above.
The other slight negativity for me was that there seemed to be, at times, a repetition of the author’s ideas. Perhaps if the book length was slightly shorter, there wouldn’t have been the repetition of the author’s thoughts. Then again, for some readers, this repetition might be needed so that an affirmation can be felt.
Overall, this was a good book to be enjoyed by many. The ButterflyFree Project does not discriminate against anyone’s circumstances in life. It can easily be read in its entirety, or as a devotional, where one or two contents of a section can be read and then picked up again at a later time. Saying yes to ourselves is just one of the important themes and ideas of this book. By saying yes, our butterfly self can emerge. Say yes to yourself and see if reading this book can make a difference in your life, and help you emerge into a beautiful butterfly.
The Kingdom Within
Certainly, anyone faced with a terminal illness or the reality of imminent death begins to ponder his or her Earthly existence. In The Kingdom Within, L E Madden opens the reader’s mind to the possibilities of reflection on the meaning of life from a fresh perspective. He gives readers the true sense of what it means to be alive. The book expands on building a relationship with the spiritual power within each of us by “stilling” the mind. Apparently, we achieve this by “external awareness.” Segmentally, the book proceeds with miniature chapters. These encapsulate each new concept singularly and ultimately connect them developmentally to build the concept the author intended.
The author firmly believes that thought is connected to space and time in such a way that it flows like an electrical current, [author’s analogy]. Many of the topics discussed place us in a position to reconsider how our energies work. The book is surprisingly well documented, providing an excellent source of further reading.
Among the more troubling concepts, however, occurs under the category of reincarnation. The difficulty of accepting this belief is seated in the number and complexity of stages that are necessary to refine the soul—as it were, to a higher state of consciousness. Again, the book succeeds in superseding the reincarnation concept. Madden looks to the nature of the cosmos for answers. He claims that pure awareness is embedded in every cell; an interesting idea stilted with philosophical leanings.
Madden’s doctrine even rises above the Christian doctrine, quoting Biblical passages along the way. See The Big Picture for a fuller illustration. It appears almost at once that Madden makes a strong case for reaching within for our salvation. Indeed, Part 2 demonstrates the Plan to Eternal Awareness by way of 120 Keys [presumably unlocking the secrets of stillness.]
The book is written in a healthy, easily understandable prose style. It is literate, articulate, and ardent, driving the reader to side with the author’s views. Although it may be hard to agree with everything Madden presents, he does provide a strong argument for what he puts foreword. If anything, the reader gains a little insight into the nature of our Earthly existence.