Wednesday, June 29, 2011

CD Review: Dancing Into Silence, R. Carlos Nakai, William Eaton, and Will Clipman

There are several book reviews appearing on our blog and I'm grateful to all the writers--I thought I might try my hand at sharing a different kind of review, an instrumental CD R. Carlos Nakai, William Eaton, and Will Clipman's Dancing into Silence.

Dancing into Silence is a very nice soothing instrumental CD that I like to have playing in the background while I am working in the bookstore. The music features Carlos Nakai on the Native American flute beautifully played along with a mild drum and harp guitar. The rhythm is not so fast that it makes me jittery and not so slow that it lulls me into a non-productive meditative state. The CD plays a continuous easy sound that smoothly changes one song to the next without any notice on my part.

Some people love complete silence for their meditation practice, others prefer the gentle backdrop of music, still others love to be outside with the sounds and sights of nature. If you are one of those who has a list of favorite meditation music, or favorite music-to-do-things-by, please leave a comment below and let us know what you listen to. We'd love to hear from you.

love, Martha Salazar

What Is The Enneagram? Free Event

Douglas and Olivia Rosestone will be hosted by Stepping Stones Bookstore on Friday, July 22, 7 pm at the Center and they will be presenting an Introduction to the Enneagram

So, what is an Enneagram? There is a lot of information about this system of understanding and working with personality types. Here is some general information to get you started.

As you think about your personality, which of the following nine roles fits you best most of the time? Or, to put it differently, if you were to describe yourself in a few words, which of the following  would come closest?
Everyone emerges from childhood with one of the nine types dominating their personality, with inborn temperament and other pre-natal factors being the main determinants of our type. This is one area where most all of the major Enneagram authors agree—we are born with a dominant type. Subsequently, this inborn orientation largely determines the ways in which we learn to adapt to our early childhood environment. It also seems to lead to certain unconscious orientations toward our parental figures, but why this is so, we still do not know. In any case, by the time children are four or five years old, their consciousness has developed sufficiently to have a separate sense of self. Although their identity is still very fluid, at this age children begin to establish themselves and find ways of fitting into the world on their own.

The Enneagram can help us see what prevents us from remembering who we really are, the truth of our spiritual nature. It does this by providing highly specific insights into our psychological and spiritual makeup. The Enneagram also helps us by giving us a direction in which to work, but only as long as we remember that it is not telling us who we are, but how we have limited who we are. The enneagram does not put us in a box, it shows us the boxes that we are already in—and the way out.

This event is free, and you are welcome to bring a friend.

Sanna Rose, RScP

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: Words That Heal Today, by Ernest Holmes, Forwarded by Dr. Michael Beckwith

Words That Heal Today, by Ernest Holmes, forwarded by Dr. Michael Beckwith, is a delightful, and powerful, immersion in the teachings of Jesus as paraphrased by Holmes, as seen through the lens of metaphysics and New Thought. I have owned this book for a couple of years and I have yet to read the entire book. This is because the teachings of Jesus are so powerful, and Holmes articulates them in such an accessible way that I have to put the book down and take it all in for awhile. The wisdom of Jesus, the Spiritual Master, offers very simple steps to follow, that as a person in the 21st century I feel like I can do this, I can practice what he is proposing; I can love, forgive, roll away the stone of the past, and the certainty and enthusiasm of Jesus’ words as presented by the confidence of Holmes will support me, and back me up. This book is a keeper for the long haul, and I keep it within my reach.

A sample: “In the exalted concept of the Illumined One no weary journeyings of the soul were necessary to gain the heavenly Kingdom, no pain other than that produced through ignorance, no series of incarnations dragging themselves out through endless eons of monotonous drabness. Jesus said: Open the door of your mind and the heavenly light will enter. Open it today! You could have opened it yesterday. You may defer the divine event until tomorrow. Someday somewhere, you will open the door and the floodlights of eternal life will flow through you.” (Pg. 20) Ahhh….men.

Sanna Rose, RScP.

If you have read Words That Heal Today, please leave us a comment or email your own review to  We'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another Review: All is Well-29 Stories of Guts and Grace, Courage and Compassion

Dr. David Bruner presented from his recently published book All is Well-29 Stories of Guts and Grace, Courage andCompassion at the Stepping Stones event on June 24th.  David Bruner is the Senior Minister at the Center for Spiritual Living, San Jose.  This was an interactive evening in which David spoke passionately about taking action to move through despair in order to achieve transformation, also the common theme in the 29 stories.  David Bruner will be appearing at the Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa on July 17 as a guest speaker and workshop presenter.  Tickets for the workshop are available at Stepping Stones Books and Gifts online and in the store.

Stepping Stones has been presenting free events to the community since October 2010.    These events have included published authors, story tellers, singer/songwriters, and an in depth look into professional music recording.  These Friday night monthly venues provide a relaxing atmosphere where folks can enjoy quality entertaining and informative events.

Watch this space for upcoming free events.  The next one is in July, An Introduction to the  Enneagram.  Click here for more information.

All Is Well Event Review

Dear Martha,

Lucky me to work in the bookstore the night of the event for book, All Is
Well, edited by David Bruner and Lee Hartley, for I got to join the pre-event buzz in the bookstore with Reverend David Bruner of CSL San Jose. Buzz is the word for his inimitable presence, for as each new person came into the store, David hailed them, and got their name and got them folded into a sudden story hive.

At his talk in Grinton Chapel, seat belts should have been issued, for his particular brand of storytelling and audience contact had us laughing like we were on a roller coaster, and yet the truths defined in the intimate stories from his congregants, chosen from All Is Well, were inviting, moving, hard-earned and healing.

Each tale in All Is Well is preceded by a beautiful, defining quote, and then followed by an inquiry for the reader to take the work of the story into the work of their own lives. These inquiries, each unique to the particular story, are written by psychotherapist, Lee Hartley, and sparkle with invitation to self-discovery.

This is an exciting portrait of the like-no-other atmosphere created by David Bruner at CSL San Jose. David is one of ten children, and he brings from that experience the natural activity of a family reunion--good fun and "we all belong." What a night of We Are One, Martha!

--Julia Vose McClung

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

All Is Well - June 24 - Free Event

david_bruner copy.jpgStepping Stones Books and Gifts presents Dr. David Bruner, co-creator with Lee Hartley of the exciting new book All Is Well.

Dr. David will be appearing on Friday, June 24, at 7 pm to talk about the creation of this book and how it has enriched his Center community.

All Is Well is a book of true stories of guts and grace, courage and compassion. Each of the 29 stories was written by the man or woman who lived it. Every one of them tells how they found a way to create forward momentum as they experienced intense difficulties in their lives. They did it by changing their mind. Even though the decisions were difficult, they made them. The moments of choice are truly turning points that were crucial to each of them, and to all of the positive experiences they’ve had since then. The stories are exhilarating. Each story shows that they have experienced the fullness of the precept of change your life by changing your mind.

The questions that follow each story encourage the reader to share the gifts of each author’s learned lessons, potentially saving the reader from having to pay the same price that the storyteller did. The step-by-step questions are thought provoking and gently help to expand the mind away from a previous comfort zone to new potentials and other possibilities.

You feel upbeat after reading the book and come away with the belief that “if he or she could do it, so can I!”

Book Review: Why Faith Matters, by Rabbi David J. Wolpe

Wow, where do I begin to summarize Why Faith Matters by Rabbi David Wolpe? Well, Wolpe begins by sharing how he catapulted out of his religious beliefs in his teen years into despair after seeing film footage of the holocaust. He completely lost his faith in God, and came to the conclusion that God didn’t exist. His journey back to faith grew out of his intense, and what seemed like a desperate relationship with the atheist Bertrand Russell and his writings and philosophy. I was intrigued as I read about his journey back to faith through asking questions out of genuine seeking and curiosity.  
He finds Einstein and his two choices: “You can choose to see everything as a miracle, or nothing as a miracle.”

Wople discusses prayer; “Deep prayer is an experience like music or love—indescribable to one who does not pray.” He writes about Free will, Gratitude, the Bible, What is Religion, and the Mystery, to name just a few topics. He uses relevant quotes, and shares personal experiences of how life is not fair, and examples of his own suffering and pain. He brings his experience of faith to the reader by example, by entertaining perspectives that introduce faith to be strong and true in service to the human experience.

The parable of the twins (Pg. 151) has been used by Rev.Edward at the pulpit in referencing the experience of the Afterlife. Wolpe quotes Milton Steinburg (Pg.131) “The believer in God has to account for the existence of unjust suffering; the atheist has to account for everything else.” 

This book will take you on a journey and will pique your interest in your own insights into the faith you have or the faith you question. I say it is a worthy investment.

Book Review: Seeing good at work helps see good in LIFE!

Seeing Good At Work by Dr. Edward Viljoen and Dr. Joyce Duffala

Review by Jennifer E. Mann, RScP.

This little book is accessible, handy, mindful and delightful. It aids in harmonizing relationships, learning to recognize what IS WORKING at the office and metes out the useful information in 52 small bites--one for each week. It helps AVOID depression, situations that could turn into possible crises, and reduces the need for authoritarian style interventions in the workplace.

It is so universal in its approach, that the exercises and the philosophy of the book apply to life outside the workplace as well. This book makes a great gift for Human Resources/Organizational Development Departments or offers a fruitful weekend retreat centerpiece for building community among your colleagues. 

For more information, reader reviews, example exercises, a peek at the text, visit Seeing Good At Work's blog. 

Book Review: Gandhi, the Man, by Eknath Easwaran

Gandhi, the Man, by Eknath Easwaran is a most beautiful work on the life of an icon of spirituality in action. Easwaran has written a tender story of the man we know as Gandhi by combining the timeline of events in history, bold, beautiful photographs, and the spiritual beliefs and practices he adhered to, taught, and preached to his followers. 

I learned that Gandhi was a very punctual man, to the minute, that he created a number of communities where he taught non-violence with the understanding that his students would need time to adjust to the teaching, time to unlearn the violent way of responding taught to them throughout their lives and culture. 

This is a story of Gandhi’s personal development as a spiritual figure and a political innovator. An appendix by Timothy Flinders is titles “How Nonviolence Works” and has many quotes by Gandhi. This book is by far my favorite on Gandhi. A must for every library.

By Sanna Rose, RScP

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope & Joy, renderings by Hafiz, Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Poems of Hope & Joy:This prize has been on my bedside table for awhile now, and I have been flipping to a page before I sleep so that I can take the warmth of his words with me into my dreams. There are 60 or so poems translated by Daniel Ladinsky with a short biography of Hafiz and a bibliography at the end. Some poems in I Heard God Laughing I have seen in other works and some I have not. Here’s one I flipped to just for you:

Manic Screaming

We should make all spiritual talk
Simple today.

Gos is trying to sell you something,
But you don’t want to buy.

That is what your suffering is:

Your fantastic haggling,
Your manic screaming over the price!

By Sanna Rose, RScP

Monday, June 20, 2011

How To Stimulate Conversation: Powerful Motivational Words - Affirmation Cards

While working on the newly designed Stepping Stones Books and Gifts I came across some of the product that I have perosnally used in my past and remembered the powerfully worded motivational cards that we carry.  The Wisdom Cards by Louise Have have come to my assistance in class room settings when I used them to stimulate deep conversations among the students.  I let them choose a random card and ask them to share with a partner what the motivational words on the cards mean to them.  I encourage teachers to consider the Power Thoughts for Teens Cards for similar exercises with teens. Thoughts for Teens is a deck of 50 Affirmation Cards to "help teens develop their inner power."  It's wonderful to listen to what young people say when asked to comment on the thoughts on the affirmation cards.

Personally, I find that using these cards can stimulate spiritual practice and creativity during those 'blah' times.  I select one of the cards randomly from the deck and give myself quiet time to think about the inspirational symbols and motivational words on the cards.  I have also used these and similar affirmation cards at parties and have not yet been let down by the fascinating conversation that is stimulated whe people are asked to share what they think. 

It's a whole lot more interesting than.... oh dear, I better stop right here.

Edward Viljoen

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book Review: This Thing Called You by Ernest Holmes

Whenever I need a gentle reminder of how it feels to be in unison with the oneness of Creation, I often turn to This Thing Called You by Ernest Holmes. I am inspired by the many positive mental statements in this book which are meant to bring about the reader’s awareness of his or her own innate creativity, abundance, happiness, and well-being.

This is one of the most positive books I have ever read on being comfortable within the human condition. I enjoy the affirmations reinforcing the principle of Spirit within and also the words one can use to release the stumbling blocks that sometimes get in the way.

Allan Yeager, Trustee

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Book Review: True Meditation, by Adyashanti

True Meditation, by Adyashanti is a tiny book that is very large in content and is a gem for your spiritual toolbox. At first the title threw me off because I tend to resist anyone claiming their way is the one true way. However, what Adya presents here in his book, and on the very helpful meditation cd that comes with it, is the reminder that we must let go of the meditator, of effort, of manipulation in meditation. 

The beingness, the stillness, the awareness within that he brings our attention to in his narration is the same that we can all come to regardless of the technique, mantra, or visualization that we may use or have been trained to practice. “The art of meditation is allowing everything to be as it is.” There is a very rich experiential of “being” within this book/cd. I highly recommend it.

By Sanna Rose, RScP

Book Review: The Ernest Holmes New Thought Dictionary edited by DeVorss Publications

Ernest Holmes's New Thought Dictionary is a gem.  Whether taking a class or reading New Thought philosophy on your own, the vocabulary or jargon can sometimes by mysterious or misunderstood.

Having this accessible guide has enlightened me in many a passage or conversation. For example the term ‘subjective mind’ always crossed my eyes. In this little pocket book, there are 14 definitive descriptions of subjective mind, clarifying my confusion very easily.

Jennifer Mann, RScP

Book Review: How To Live In The World And Still Be Happy by Hugh Prather

How to Live in theWorld and Still Be Happy is a book that I picked up well over 15 or maybe 20 years ago.  I remember that edition’s sky blue cover and how it became worn with constant use, and also from being dragged around with me to work and to the beach.  Now the spine is almost illegible as the book sits on my shelf. 

Particularly useful in this book were the exercises to help getting through the day and staying on purpose.  One of them included an invitation to make a list of every contact I had with the world in one day, including those activities such as background television before work, phone calls, and the drive to work.  At first I thought the exercise was pointless and was tempted to move on to something else more spiritually and intellectually engaging.  However, one day I took the time to map out a typical day so that I could apply the second part of the exercise: to cut back on some of the activities.

What a revelation Hugh Prather’s exercise brought to my awareness and how much more living, actual living, I started to enjoy.  I recommend How To Live In the World And Still Be Happy to anyone who is feeling dragged down by life, appearances, work and who is looking for some gentle direction and support in living as a happy person.

There are chapters on money, work, relationship and one of my favorites “What is a Happy Person?” where I found this keeper: The rule is, do not allow the criticism to leave your mind; remove its source, and repair the damage to your mind quickly.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Book Review: This I Believe - The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

Edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman
In Association with NPR

Who knew that eighty essays written by politicians, nurses, artists, construction workers, athletes, parents, and students would capture my attention so completely? This I Believe did. As I read through these short and interesting stores by unknown people as well as famous people, I found myself dipping into what each author believed, and what principles they used to guide their lives and the result was that I felt reinvigorated to look at my own beliefs.

One of the essays that stuck in my memory is the story of how a pizza delivery dude should be treated. I know, hilarious! However, I learned something from “Be Cool to the Pizza Dude.” I was reminded by the simple philosophy of practicing humility and how it can lead to forgiveness, empathy and so much more. I learned how easy it is to take people for granted. I remembered how much better my life works when I am kind.

I recommend this beautiful book for the essays themselves, and also for the short biographies of the authors at the end. I found those to be as interesting as the stories, with the details of their personal experience, current job situation and more.

For a romp in honest sharing by ordinary people, This I Believe, the Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women is the sort of book you take with you on vacation. I would love to hear from you if you have read this book. Please use the comment form below to let me know what you think.

Martha Salazar

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book Review: All is Well, 29 Stories of Guts and Grace, Courage and Compassion

Editors:  David Bruner and Lee Hartley

All is Well is a beautifully crafted book of true life stories shared by 29 individuals.  These are real experiences told with honesty, openness and sometimes humor.   Each of the 29 individuals is connected to the Center for Spiritual Living, San Jose.  These individuals tell their own stories of how through the support and love of their spiritual Center they were able to move through the painful experiences of pain, loss, drug and alcohol addiction and other traumatic events.   

These stories are told with grace and courage.  There is a generosity of sharing an inside look into the human condition.  And the photo attached to each story shows the light and joy of how lives were changed by changing their minds.

We would love to read your comments if you have read this book.  Also, please consider following this blog, or registering for email notification, if you would like to be notified when new posts and reviews appear.

Book Review: Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson

Stones Into Schools
Promoting Peace With Books, Not Bombs, In Afghanistan And Pakistan
by Greg Mortenson

Picking up where Three cups of Tea left off in late 2003, Stones into Schools traces the CAI's efforts to work in a whole new country, the secluded northeast corner of Afghanistan. Mortenson describes how he and his intrepid manager, Sarfraz Khan, barnstormed around Badakshan Province an the Wakhan Corridor, moving for weeks without sleep, to establish the first schools there. Those efforts were diverted in October 2005 when a devastating earthquake hit the Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan.

Under Sarfraz's watch the CAI helped with relief efforts by setting up temporary tent schools and eventually several earthquakeproof schools. The action then returns to Afghanistan in 2007, as the CAI launches schools in the heart of Taliban country and as Mortenson helps the U.S. military formulate new strategic plans in the region.

We would love to read your comments if you have read this book. Also, please consider following this blog, or registering for email notification, if you would like to be notified when new posts and reviews appear.

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