Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Review: Your Life On Purpose

how to find what matters & create the life you want

by Margaret McKay, Ph.D, John P. Forsyth, PhD, and Georg H. Eifert, PhD

The first thing I encountered when I opened this book was an introduction to the histories and life experiences of the three authors.  This set the stage in my mind for wisdom to enter on a very deep level; I was very moved and taken aback by the traumatic life experiences of the authors that included everything that a life can throw your way.  I continued reading because I wanted to learn how these live events had deepened their collective wisdom about Life.  I came to the end of chapter 2 and completely stalled.  I couldn't read another word for days.  I read the sentence:  "Are you willing to have whatever pain it may take to be what you want to be in your life?  This commitment can only be real, can only be valid when you fully understand and accept the natural and inevitable pain of life.  Nothing less will give you a life that matters."  The authors spoke to this pain in their introduction so I felt they know what they were talking about from direct experience.  I had to consider this for some time.  The book is so tender and manages to stay completely away from being just another self-help regimen.  I entered their world and was profoundly moved as I felt myself guided through more of their teaching.

One of their gifts is to feel a "firm resolve" as we turn our attention to, and take action towards our values while standing firm in the pain that is an integral part of living;  "taking the emotion monsters with you" is how they phrased it.  They suggest establishing lightness towards the plethora of painful life-emotions, to know a "radical acceptance" of them that is the exercise of witnessing, observing, and exploring, while at the same time standing with a firm resolve in your Truth on your path of purpose and life values.

This book moved me to experience my life on purpose in a deeper way, and I imagine that it will serve you in this way as well.  Take your time, savor their works, and contemplate their questions.  It's worth it.

Review by Sanna Rose, RScP

Your Life On Purpose is available from Stepping Stones Books and Gifts

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Gayatri Mantra

The Gayatri mantra is one of the oldest, most powerful and sacred of Sanskrit mantras.  It is believed to be 5000 years old and thought to inspire wisdom and to remove all obstacles on our path to spiritual growth.  It is also believed that meditating on the Gayatri mantra can assist you in transcending the experience of suffering.  For maximum benefit it is best to chant this mantra 108 times.  All of the chakras of the body are positively affected, hence the importance of proper pronunciation.

Gayatri Mantra in Sanskrit

Om bhur bhuvah svah
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yonah prachodayat


Oh God!  Thou art the Giver of Life,
Remover of pain and sorrow,
The Bestower of happiness,
Oh!  Creator of the Universe,
May we receive thy supreme sin-destroying light,
May Thou guide our intellect in the right direction.

The Meaning of each word of the Gayatri Mantra

tat – that (God)
savitur – of the sun
varenyam – the best
bhargo (bhargas) – light, illumination
devasya – divine
dhimahi – let us meditate
dhiyo (dhiyah) - thought(s)
yo (yah) – which
nah – of us, our
prachodayat – May it push, inspire

I learned to chant the Gayatri mantra by listening to and chanting with Deva Premal.  Deva Premal has a beautiful voice and rhythm that transport me to that place of divine Peace.

Martha Salazar

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Review: WiseMind/Open Mind by Ronald A. Alexander

This author has provided us with a deluxe edition about Mindfulness, how to use it and how to apply it when changes in life have resulted in an emotional upheaval.  He provides a step by step plan to assist you with staying focused on the light at the end of a tunnel when you are in the ebb and flow of all kinds of emotional experiences related to loss, depression, grief and change of all degrees and intensity. You will find specific meditation exercises, flow charts to fill in, and specific steps to follow.  I really enjoyed his metaphor of one's life being like a mandala.  He offers several tools and insights in how to create and change your life mandala in a positive, life-affirming way.  Creativity is emphasized as a way of awakening "Open Mind".  He discusses something the calls "Mindstrength - the ability to very quickly and easily shift out of reactive mode, and become fully present in the moment, experiencing the full force of your emotions even as you recognize that they are temporary and will soon dissipate."  I found this to be such a helpful guide because I admit that I get lost in the emotional river and often lose sight that it is only temporary.  He teaches Mindfulness as a way of life, especially when major change is afoot.  I would describe the experience of reading this work like finding a life preserver in a swirling sea of emotion during change and loss.  Grab on, it could very well save you from drowning.

Review by Sanna Rose, RScP

WiseMind/Open Mind is available from Stepping Stones Books and Gifts

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Review: The Laws of Manifestation — by David Spangler

This little book has expanded my understanding of the process of manifestation in a big way.  The author reveals the participatory process inherent in manifesting anything.  It is a cooperative process and the involvement of other people is required.  Who knew?

He uses the term "Gaian thinking" to describe the holistic, systems based, "We-Are-One", earth-oriented act of manifestation.  I have come to realize that when I desire to manifest something or an experience I must look deeply within me to learn where it is that I must change, release, or shift in order for me to step into the complex net of relationships that will be involved in the manifestation.  One of my favorite quotes on is page 62, "As I think in my heart, so I am, so I create my world, attract my environment, manifest my being in relationship to the whole.  God is all there is ...   Through oneness with God, I am one with all things, and through this oneness I can be the supreme manifestor."

My challenge now is to do my visualizing and prayer work with this new understanding and to remember that if I fail to manifest my heart's desire there is something within me that is not in harmony with some aspect of the relationships that are inextricably interwoven with the "thing".  Spangler gives some wonderful examples of this, in particular the "new car" wish.  (You must be in relative harmony and acceptance with the gas companies, the infrastructure of roads, the noise, etc., etc.,  and if there is resistance to these relationships, well — no car folks!  It's how the law works.)  This little book is a must have for every metaphysician.


Review by Sanna Rose, RScP

The Laws of Manifestation is available from Stepping Stones Books and Gifts

Monday, September 10, 2012

Who is Gangaji?

In her own words, Gangaji wrote:

"Today I live a very ordinary life.  I like to walk, I enjoy a good movie, I like a good meal, I love being in nature, and I often enjoy the activity of the world.  Before I met Poonjaji [her spiritual teacher], every activity in my life was a search for some kind of self-fulfillment or self-definition.  Whether it was searching in the peace of nature, or in the excitement of relationship, or in the mundane thrill of acquisition, it was always a search for who I was, most of the time looking for a positive answer and running from a negative one.

"I am not searching now.  I know and I continuously realize deeper every day that no thing can define me.  However great the joy is of spending time in nature, however harmonious my relationships are, however delightful the experiences of the world, that from which it all arises, that omnipresent field of pure consciousness, is so much greater, so much more profound, blissful, and sublime..."

Stepping Stones Books and Gifts Presents

Friday, October 26, 2012
7 PM

Gangaji is coming to Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa.  Come and join us for an evening with this amazing woman.  No registration required.  Tickets will be $20 at the door or online.

For more information about this event, or to purchase tickets, click here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Book Review: a life of being, having, and doing enough — by Wayne Muller

"Do we know what even a single moment of 'enough' feels like?" asks Muller.  In his book he invites the reader to explore and reflect on the essential question of what is, for us, enough.  Muller contrasts the American Dream lifestyle, which fosters a discontent about never enough, with his experience working, living and being with people living in the slums of Peru where enough carried a completely different meaning.  This had the effect of putting things into perspective in a new way for me.  What is the next right thing for us to do?  Each choice in each moment becomes like a string of pearls making a life well lived.  Listen for the most sacred or essential "why" of your life, he suggests.

"Enough is a Verb", "The Practice of the Next Right Thing", "The Wealth of Small Things", Sanctuary is Bearing What We Are Given", were a few of the chapters that caught my attention.  Muller has a way of bringing this living thing we are all doing together into the perspective that "we are enough".  I breathed a sigh of relief more than once as I read his words.  I felt relieved to know and read that I am enough - just the way I am.  This book is a healing read and has something for everyone to breathe in and know.

Review by Sanna Rose, RScP

a life of being, having, and doing enough  is available at Stepping Stones Books and Gifts.

Friday, August 31, 2012


Incense and Incense Burners

We offer a wide variety of incense and incense burners at Stepping Stones Books and Gifts.

Some of the types of incense we offer in the bookstore include:  Hem Musk, Hem Patchouli, Nag Champa Patchouli, Hem Lavender, Satya Meditation, Satya Sai Baba Nag Champa, and Nag Champa Sandalwood.  A good friend of mine comes in regularly to purchase the Hem brand incense and he often buys it by the box.

We also carry a variety of incense burners.  We have quite a few different types and styles depending on where you choose to burn the incense.  The tower burners have a cork in the lid in which the incense is placed and the smoke wafts out of the ornate carvings in the soapstone.  The elephant ring is quite popular with the incense placed directly in the center of the elephant circle.  And, of course, we carry the standard burners in wood, glass and cut colored tile.

Martha Salazar

To learn more about Essential Oils, and fragrances in general, please join us for a Free Presentation by Dr. Edward Viljoen on Friday September 7.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Candles, Candles, and Candles

There is nothing quite like candlelight to subtly alter the atmosphere and soften the mood.  I often burn candles in my home while trying to wind down from my day.  Candlelight and my favorite iTunes playlist usually do the trick.  I purchase candles to sell in the bookstore that I personally would like to burn.

For Safety, I like the tall pillars encased in glass.  I can comfortably close my eyes knowing the flame is safely contained in the glass holder.  Aloha Bay makes candles using 100% vegetable palm wax which has a pleasant neutral scent while burning.  These candles come in a variety of rich deep colors.

I also like the ritual candles.  These smaller pillar candles come in a variety of colors and each candle comes with a ritual charm representing the quality of consciousness to be embraced.  "Gentle Healing" is one such quality and the label on the candle reads as follows:

"I have placed myself in Ritual Consciousness.  My energy is focused with a desire to create and alter my destiny.  I deliver the strength of wholeness to heal my heart from grief, pain, and fear.  Gentle healing is consuming my being."

Martha Salazar

Stepping Stones Books and Gifts carries a variety of candles, scented and unscented in our store.  To learn more about fragrances, please join us for a Free Presentation by Dr. Edward Viljoen on Friday September 7.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Essential Oils

Have you tried Essential Oils?  Here are some comments about using two popular oils.

Madagascan Lemon Eucalyptus

(Eucalyptus citriodora)

I'm not particularly fond of the scent from Eucalyptus, but this lemony fresh Eucalyptus from Madagascar is wonderful.  It's almost impossible to separate Eucalyptus from its legendary effectiveness in relieving discomfort associated with colds, coughs, sinus and flu.

So when I found Eucalyptus citriodora, I had something to add to my home stash of comforting oils that had a smell I could enjoy and would do the same thing for me that Eucalyptus would.

Edward Viljoen

South African Lavender

(Lavandula Marie)

South African Lavender is our top selling Essential Oil followed by Madagascar Lemon.  I know when people are sampling from the trial bottles, as the bookstore quickly fills with the aroma of fresh cut lavender. With a process of steam distillation, the oils from the flowers are extracted to create this lovely oil which has a soft floral and herbal scent.  The scent has a calming effect which aids in relaxation and the reduction of stress and anxiety.  I have heard from some folks that use South African lavender to relieve headaches.

Martha Salazar

To learn more about Essential Oils, join us at Stepping Stones Books and Gifts on Friday September 7 to hear a talk by Dr. Edward Viljoen on Essential Oils.  This is a Free event.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Favorite Oils

Stepping Stones Books and Gifts carries many different oils - all with unique fragrances and benefits.

My favorite is Palmarosa Essential Oil.

I am drawn to the aroma that is described as being like an herbal rose, though it also smells a bit like lemon or lime to me.  It is thought to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial actions.  So, while I use it regularly because I like the fragrance, I do appreciate that I am benefiting from the properties of the oil.

I am learning about the Essential Oils as I help customers and I’m very interested to learn which oils the customers are drawn to and why.  Each oil is unique with unique properties and characteristics just like our customers.

Martha Salazar

And, if you would like to learn more about oils and fragrances that smell good and can be good for you, come to a free presentation by Dr. Edward Viljoen on Friday September 7.

Do you use oils for fragrance, health, or other benefits?  Let us know your favorites and why you find them valuable.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Free Event: Friday September 7, 2012

Stepping Stones Books and Gifts Presents

Essential Oils

With Dr. Edward Viljoen

Date:  Friday September 7, 2012
Time:  7 pm
Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa
2075 Occidental Road

Stepping Stones Books and Gifts presents a free evening with Dr. Edward Viljoen talking about one of his passions, Essential Oils.  Not exactly oils, but truly the essences of plants and flowers.  Dr. Edward will tell the story of his own journey of studying and using these miracles of nature, as well as show how in a few short verses in the Bible you can find references to the key characteristics of Essential Oils and why they have been prized since ancient times.  We'll get to compare two kinds of lavender and discuss how you can use lavender in your shower to increase relaxation and so much more.

Come and join us to hear Dr. Edward enlighten us on Essential Oils and their use.  No reservations or tickets are needed.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Book Review: The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

The Untethered Soul

the journey beyond yourself

by Michael A. Singer

What a delightful little book.  I was taken in right away in Part 1 by Singer's narrative describing our relationship with that chattering, monkey mind that never ceases to go on and on about anything it can find to go on and on about.  I found myself chuckling as he described this chattering mind part of ourselves as if it were an annoying acquaintance that we put up with and tolerate.  The point he makes is that we can, and do, become hooked and lost in this inner dialogue, making it our identity, when in fact we are more truly the inner witness in a way that has the effect of loosening the attachment we unconsciously make between this witness self and the problem solving, busy mind ("our roommate").

Singer discusses the incredible energy within that is always at our disposal;  he talks about the heart, transcending the tendency to close our heart, about taking down the walls, and the path of unconditional happiness.  Don't close your heart, he says, no matter what is going on in your life.  "Allow each moment of each day to pass through you, and then you can be as fresh every moment as you would be on a stress free vacation."  Sounds good to me, and Singer is very convincing and helpful throughout this beautifully written piece of work.  There is more about the "Middle Way", and the "Loving Eyes of God."  I hope you have a chance to enjoy this delightful book.  I am grateful and happy to add this one to my library.

Review written by Sanna Rose.

The Untethered Soul is the recommended reading for August at Center for Spiritual Living Santa Rosa.  It is available now at Stepping Stones Books and Gifts.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review: Graceful Passages by Michael Stillwater and Gary Malkin

Graceful Passages

A Companion for Living and Dying

by Michael Stillwater and Gary Malkin

Graceful Passages is a 2 CD set and book assembled for people who are facing the prospect of dying — and isn't that all of us?  The first CD is recordings of twelve people, considered to be the foremost experts in the spiritual world, speaking with a background of music in their faith tradition.  The second CD is that same music without the spoken words.

The book contains all the prayers written out.  I, personally, use Graceful Passages as a companion for yoga practice and for comfort whenever I need it.  If my house ever caught fire and I had to run out grabbing only five things, this book would be one of the things I would grab — it is that inspirational!

Review written by Nora Lee Pearl

Graceful Passages is available at Stepping Stones Books and Gifts

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review: Calming Your Anxious Mind by Jeffrey Brantley

Calming Your Anxious Mind

how mindfulness & compassion can free you
 from anxiety, fear & panic

by Jeffrey Brantley, MD

Stop!  Pay more attention to yourself and your life!

This is Brantley's second edition of this work, adding and expanding information and specific exercises in the activity of mindfulness and how it can influence one's experience with fear, anxiety, and panic.  Gently ... his book comes with a warning:  mindfulness is not always easy to achieve or sustain.  There will be times when you don't like it, when you are filled with doubt and don't want to do it.  You must be willing to do it anyway.  Want to take up this challenge?

In addition to specific information about the practice of mindfulness he also shares real life stories by those who have worked with mindfulness during a panic or anxiety attack, or when they find themselves in the grip of fear.  These stories bring the healing experience down to earth and offer demonstrations of the pace of healing and relief which seems to normalize this journey of paying attention in the pace of our modern world.

"Making room for things means being willing to name them and to let them be as they are.  Being mindful is about being here, now, and being clear and concrete about what is here with us."  This book will help you on this journey of being with your experience, thus healing it.  We all experience fear and anxiety to some degree and I recommend this work as an addition to your library and spiritual tool box.

Review written by Sanna Rose.

Calming Your Anxious Mind is available at Stepping Stones Books and Gifts

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Thank You Note

Don't you really feel good when you receive a thank you note from someone who is really happy about something you've done?  Martha received the note below yesterday and obviously Lynn is more than satisfied with the CD Coupon Books available in our store.  Has someone done something recently for you that you appreciate, or that has improved your life?  Let them know!

Hi Martha,

Just wanted to write a little note about the new CD Coupon Book available in the Stepping Stones Bookstore. I just LOVE it! Since coming to the Center in April, I've been trying to learn as much as I can about the Science of Mind teachings and beliefs, and to simply "keep myself in the conversation". Playing the CD's from each Sunday's message, or others from workshops or presentations, while I'm driving to and from work really seems to help me get a little more clarity. I like putting them in my iTunes library, too. 

What I like best about the coupon book is how easy it is to purchase my CD's now. I don't have to worry about making sure I have money with me when I'm at the Center on Sunday, or for a class or seva or special event. I just keep my little coupon book with me in my purse and I'm set!

Plus, we get a FREE CD when we purchase the book! Can't get any better than that!

Thanks for offering this money-saving, efficient way to purchase our CD's! I REALLY appreciate it!

-- In Spirit -- Lynn Ruebush

Monday, July 2, 2012

Calming Your Anxious Mind by Jeffrey Brantley

Calming Your Anxious Mind by Jeffrey Brantley is a delight to read.  Click on the image to see the write up on our site.  I wanted to read the whole book in one sitting, which of course is quite contrary to mindfully taking in the information.  It's just that I was so excited about the style in which the author starts the reader off on a love affair with minfullness meditation studies.  And, he is an MD, and he makes it infiniately clear that mindfulness meditation is not a substitute for other kinds of professional help.  He does, at the same time, present a practical and easy to follow method for anyone who wants, needs and is interested in discovering that power of their quiet mind.

Edward Viljoen

ps.  This is July's recommended book of the month!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Free Event: Friday July 6, 2012

Stepping Stones Books and Gifts Presents

Poetry Night
Celebrating Creativity


Laura Carr
Valerie Hansen
Kathryn Jurik
Keith Kelsey
Megan Rooney

Date:  Friday July 6, 2012
Time:  7 pm
Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa
2075 Occidental Road

Please join Laura, Valerie, Kathryn, Keith, and Megan as they read some of their imaginative, original poems.  Working and playing with words is an ancient and pleasurable pursuit.  Come and enjoy the writings of this talented quintet.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Review: The Force of Kindness by Sharon Salzberg

The Force of Kindness

Change Your Life with Love & Compassion

by Sharon Salzberg

"A dedication to kindness offers us a chance to try to make a real difference despite the obstacles and unhappiness we might face."

This is an easy narrative to read as Salzberg shines the light on the many facets of practicing and embodying the act of lovingkindness.  She talks about what it means to be a human being and to experience others as ourselves, kindred spirits feeling the same pain, going through the same struggles.  She offers a list of concrete ways we can offer lovingkindness to others.  The underlying tip seems to be "stay aware", "reflect" and "remember" your own humanity, your own pain and suffering.  The act of being able to actually tune into another person's experience is key to practicing empathy, and in turn compassion and lovingkindness.  We need to practice the quality of restraint;  forgiveness is an integral component of practicing kindness.  The end result will be connection, and rewards far greater than we expect.

This book comes with a CD with the author offering four guided Lovingkindness meditations.  The 97 pages go by quickly as you journey through the softness of remembering your own humanity and tuning in to the humanity of others.

Review written by Sanna Rose

The Force of Kindness is available at Stepping Stones Books and Gifts

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sufi Poetry, The Illustrated Rumi

I was looking at the new items on Stepping Stones Books and Gifts website and I noticed a theme.  We have several new offerings that present Sufi Poetry, such as The Essential Rumi, The Illustrated Rumi, Love's Ripening, Rumi The Big Red Book and The Gift: Poems by Hafiz..

Rumi and Hafiz have beautiful and creative ways to talk about spiritual love and they are two of the best read spiritual poets in literature, I believe.

Spiritual poetry offers a different way to look at the world around us, a beautiful way with sweet language and images that leap out of the words.

And oh, the illustrations in The Illustrated Rumi are beautiful. 

Are you a poetry fan?  Let us know who your favorite poet is.  We'd love to hear from  you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rickie Byars Beckwith Supreme Inspiration

I'm looking forward to listening to this CD.  It's in our bookstore and on our shelves because Rickie Byars Beckwith brings a depth of music, soulful music to our community through her art.  "Everything Rickie does is good," said one of our members.  On our website store her products are on the top of the list when it comes to popularity, and I can understand why.

Rickie has come to Santa Rosa to perform several times and we love her music because it makes us feel good, and remember the goodness of life itself, and her art relates to a spiritual life style that we are dedicated to.

I wanted to get this album, Supreme Inspiration, on our blog right away, and if you have it or have heard it already, we would love to hear from you.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Free Event: Friday, June 8, 2012

Stepping Stones Books and Gifts Presents

Date:  Friday June 8, 2012
Time:  7 pm
Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa
2075 Occidental Road

Join Maggie Cole, RScP, for a unique evening of stories, fun, communion and community as she shares her spiritual journey and the creation of the CD, Heart of the Matter, which Michael Gott has called "breathtakingly gorgeous and deep and from the heart, just like you."

Maggie has been in service to our community for 22 years and has been a Professional Prayer Practitioner for 12 years.  Come and be a part of this transformational and inspirational evening.

Learn more about Maggie here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Free Event: Friday June 22, 2012

Stepping Stones Books and Gifts Presents

The Nature of Things
~ Navigating Everyday Life with Grace

with author Jeff Anderson

Date:   Friday June 22, 2012
Time:  7:00pm
Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa
2075 Occidental Road

We're all asking the same kinds of questions - with the same goal in mind:

How do I fit in?  How can I navigate life gracefully?  How can my life be more satisfying?  How can I experience more love, joy, awe, and wonder?  By learning, understanding, and applying the inherent wisdom that we find in the natural world, we can connect with people and with our planet, with our own hearts and souls, and create a life that is not only better for us as individuals, but perhaps together, create a world that works for everyone.

A spiritual counselor for 10 years, Rev. Jeff is currently serving at the Center for Spiritual Living in Santa Rosa where he is a regular speaker, teacher and workshop and retreat facilitator.  He has a masters degree from the Holmes Institute of Consciousness Studies, and has spoken and facilitated workshops and retreats at Centers for Spiritual Living regional and national events across the country. 

Join Rev. Jeff as he speaks about his new book, The Nature of Things ~ Navigating Everyday Life with Grace, what led him to write it, and how, by applying the information that he has collected, you can navigate life, everyday, with grace.

To learn more about Rev. Jeff, visit his website, SpiritasJeff.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book Review: Spiritual Fitness by Caroline Reynolds

by Caroline Reynolds

      Caroline Reynolds defines Spiritual Fitness as a practical way of living that fills a void left in our society by the widespread demise of traditional worship, reverence, and charity.  Her book is presented as a course in spiritual fitness with 7 weekly "workouts".  She supports her readers with practical guidance and exercises in meditation, respectful awareness, and loving kindness.  As a way of reclaiming awareness of the magnitude of the soul's journey through life she introduces "Soul Thinking", a method for expanding your awareness to embrace the higher purpose of all, and the perfection in every situation. Her 7 weekly workouts include:  Motivation Skills, Soul Detox, Language Awareness, Loving Relationships, Meditation, Your Purpose, and Power & Joy.  She is well aware of the procrastination and the excuses we all have to avoid actually doing some of these exercises, and in her narrative she calls you on it and hooks you in to participating.  Her awareness was a great motivator as I made my way through her thorough and engaging course on "Soul Thinking".  If taking a class is not an option for you this Summer, this would be a highly effective second approach for expanding and developing your spiritual understanding and practice.

Highly recommended.

Book review by Sanna Rose, RScP.

Spiritual Fitness is available at Stepping Stones Books and Gifts

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Review: A Heart As Wide As the World by Sharon Salzberg

A Heart As Wide As the World
by Sharon Salzberg

Salzberg's writing style makes this an easy, enjoyable, and eye-opening read.  She shares her experiences of interacting with many of her students in her classes based in Buddhism.  For example, she states that many of her students regard the four brahma-vibaras, or "Heavenly Abodes", of livingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity as weakness, as a vulnerability that allows others to abuse and hurt them.  Salzberg writes to impart her understanding that these qualities and practices are a source of acknowledging and cultivating our profound connection with life.  Her book is in 3 parts:  the Spirit of Meditation, The Practice of Transformation, and Living with Wisdom & Compassion.

In her "Truth Telling" story, she addresses the shadow side of being spiritual.  In our aspirations to be "someone spiritual" we can block the Truth about how we are really feeling.  She shares the story of a woman in trouble in the water as her boat is temporarily pulled way from her by a squall.  Her companions that are in the water with her ask her to think about how she would want to feel if these were her actual last moments of life.  They were appealing to her spiritual understanding and practice as a way to calm her.  Paying careful attention to how she was feeling, she exclaimed, "What I want right now is that boat!!"  It is important to openly acknowledge what is actually happening in any moment so that we can be sincere and authentic in love and compassion.

I enjoyed reading the book very much.

Book Review by Sanna Rose, RScP

A Heart As Wide As the World is available at Stepping Stones Books and Gifts

Monday, April 16, 2012

Book Review: Your Soul's Assignment by Chris Michaels

Your Soul's Assignment

by Chris Michaels

Chris Michaels starts from where he has been and draws you right into the challenges of what it means to be alive and struggling.  He uses wonderful stories of real life events from his personal experience as well as from those folks that he walked with on the path to spiritual healing.  Some favorite terms and concepts he uses are:  The "Pinball Approach" describes a person going through life bouncing from one experience to the next; The "Popeye Awareness" describes the moment in life when one stands up to a challenging situation and takes their power back, much like Popeye does when the character "Brutus" pushes him around, and Popeye finally says:  "I had all I can stands, and I can't stands it no more!"

Michaels talks about what you are - a Spiritual Being, and what you are not - a body, etc.  He quotes his father who advised:  "Keep your eye on the doughnut - And not the hole."  He cheers you on encouraging unconditional love for yourself as well as for others.  He emphasizes how important it is to be authentic by stating:  "two things can slow us down and limit our growth:  unspoken works and uncried tears";  that the "leading cause of misery in the world is because thousands, even millions, of tears have not been cried."

Claim Your Good and Take Your Rightful Place With Spirit, and Take one Step At a Time are headings and topics he knows well.  This work is like sitting in a session with a wise loving doctor/healer who has been there, has walked the trail.  You will feel a healing affect and feel grateful for a time well spent with Chris Michaels.  Thank you Rev. Chris.

Book Review by Sanna Rose, RScP

Your Soul's Assignment is available from Stepping Stones Books and Gifts

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Free Event: May 11, 2012

Stepping Stones Books and Gifts Presents

Cambodia:  An Unforgettable Journey of Heart and Hope

Date:  Friday May 11, 2012
Time:  7:00 pm
Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa
2075 Occidental Road

   The history of Cambodia is gruesome and grievous.  In February 2012 Jennifer Mann, RScP, accompanied Dr. David Ault on a "Journey of the Spirit" to this unforgettable place.  There she learned, not only of the grievances of the past, but of the real triumphs in the present and hopes for the future.  Now she has brought it home to us so we can visit the temples and tombs, see the faces, hear the stories and relive all the wonders through her sharing.  In an inspiring story and slide show about global services and the actual experience of loving and giving to the children of this gorgeous country, Jennifer shares a story of hope and heart.

   This event is part of a series of free public events brought to you as a service of Stepping Sones Books and Gifts supporting community awareness and spiritual living.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Review: Living as a River by Bodhipaksa


Finding Fearlessness in the Face of Change

by Bodhipaksa

Are you a "stream entrant"?  This captivating phrase is presented in this profound book to describe someone who has faced their fears, has loosened their grip in clinging to the illusion of permanence, and has surrendered into the flow, into the fluidity of life and has made strides in the dissolution of any idea that they are a separate, independent self.  His teachings are based in Buddhism and so integrates Buddhist concepts into something he calls the Six Element Practice.  He states:  "In this practice we reflect in turn on the elements Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space and Consciousness, noting how each is an everchanging process rather than a static thing to which we can cling.  The essence of the practice is letting go, and traditionally the Six Element reflection is said to lead to the development of equanimity and to the cultivation of the formless jhanas."  (Jhana is a meditative state of profound stillness and concentration in which the mind becomes fully immersed and absorbed in the chosen object of attention.)

This book is one of those reads that will change you.  I read this one slowly, assimilating each concept at my own pace.  Reading these teachings was a journey of confronting hidden beliefs and assumptions leading to liberation and transformation in my thinking.  My kind of book!

Book Review by Sanna Rose, M.A., RScP

Living as a River is available from Stepping Stones Books and Gifts

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Caring for Your Windchimes

For those of us who enjoy windchimes, they can be a source of both visual and musical enjoyment.  I love the gentle tones that emanate from a windchime in a gentle breeze blowing across my patio or outside in the yard.  However, those windchimes can suffer from exposure to those breezes and those other elements of nature that occur in the outdoors.  A little TLC can go a long way toward maintaining and restoring the appearance and tone of your beloved windchimes.  Often just wiping them off with a damp rag to remove dust and grime will be all that is needed.  A mild detergent can be added to the cloth if more thorough cleaning is required.  If the chimes include wood, then wiping them with an oil appropriate for wood finishing will help to restore that natural look.

Like many items, strong sunlight will deteriorate your chimes over time.  To avoid this effect, hang them in shaded or other locations out of direct sunlight.  And, avoid locations subject to strong winds and storms.  Some wooden chimes can benefit from a new coat of varnish every year, depending on their finish and exposure to the elements.  Even metal parts, such as brass and aluminum, can be restored with the proper metal cleaner, applied carefully.  With just a little care your valued windchimes will give you many years of pleasure.

For a more detailed description, I've found a review of windchime maintenance on the website of Woodstock Chimes to be quite useful.

Jim Thomason
Stepping Stones Books and Gifts

Friday, March 30, 2012

Free Event - Financial Recovery: Developing a Healthy Relationship with Money. Karen McCall

     After healing her own unhealthy relationship with money, and transforming her financial disaster into prosperity and security, Karen McCall created a recovery program she has now used for more than twenty years to help individuals, couples, and businesses large and small. In the midst of her money troubles, she saw a need for something other than financial planners, accountants, and credit counselors.  Stepping Stones Books and Gifts presents Financial Recovery:  Developing a Healthy Relationship with Money, featuring Karen McCall in another free author event at the Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa.

Friday, April 13, 2012
7:00 pm

     Karen McCall, founder of the Financial RecoverySM Institute, has revolutionized the financial counseling industry with her highly acclaimed Financial Recovery process — a compassionate, comprehensive system that liberates people from the core beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that keep them stuck in a self-defeating relationship with money. This highly acclaimed system, which was developed by Karen after she struggled for years to heal her own crippling relationship with money, has saved thousands of people from the nightmare of financial ruin and given them the insight, understanding and tools they need to sustain financial stability for the rest of their lives.

Today Karen runs and owns the Financial Recovery Institute, which she founded in 1988. The Institute trains mental health care professionals and entrepreneurs in how to use the counseling processes and practical tools of Financial Recovery to help people transform their relationship with money and create life-long financial well-being.  Successful graduates are certified Financial Recovery counselors.  A nationally recognized speaker and financial expert, Karen is often quoted in publications such as Entrepreneur, Money Magazine, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance,, Bottom Line, Women’s Day, Working Mother, and USA Weekend.

 In addition to her most recent book, Financial Recovery: developing a healthy relationship with money, she is the author of It’s Your Money: Achieving Financial Well-Being and is creator of several MoneyMinder® products. Karen lives in Petaluma, CA, where she spends her limited spare time gardening and spoiling her grandchildren.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review: Mantra Meditation by Thomas Ashley-Farrand


Change Your Karma with the Power of Sacred Sound

by Thomas Ashley-Farrand (Namadeva Acharya)

     This 90 page book is written by a Vedic priest, Thomas Ashley-Farrand, Namadeva Acharya, (1940-2010).  He was one of the Western world's foremost authorities on the application of Sanskrit Mantra to life's problems.  Everything you ever wanted to know or understand about the Sanskrit mantras are in this comprehensive teaching of 12 chapters.  He talks about the fact that there are "no rules" in life, and that we have complete freedom of choice, even though we are bound by the karma we are creating through our choices.  He shares the four aims of human life:  Artha, Kama, Dharma, and Moksha, (prosperity, fulfillment of desires, to live in divine order, and liberation respectively).  The last 7 chapters are devoted to specific mantras that address each of these aims, giving their translation and specific purpose.  The highlight of this book is the CD containing 14 mantras being chanted with authentic Vedic pronunciation and in the melodic voice of the author.  You will hear authentic pronunciation of the Gayatri, the Vasudeva, and the Great Mani mantras.  I was profoundly affected by simply listening to the chanting.  The sounds and the words transported me into an altered state and stirred emotions and feelings deep within me.  This is by far the most masterful resource for engaging with and practicing the deeply spiritual practice of chanting and using mantras for healing, protection, prosperity, removal of obstacles and more.

Mantra Meditation is available now at Stepping Stones Books and Gifts.

Review by Sanna Rose, RScP.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Album Review: Beyond - Buddhist and Christian Prayers


Buddhist and Christian Prayers

Tina Turner   Chanting and Spiritual Message
Denchen Shak-Dagsay   Buddhist Voice
Regula Curti   Christian Voice

This musical montage of East and West is a trance-inducing experience.  A Pair of women singers were inspired by the works of the Dalai Lama that encouraged actively deepening one's own cultural spiritual traditions while searching for shared values across belief systems.  This Music Therapist and Tibetan mantra singer have created a sacred cathedral/temple sound of Christian Mass chants and Tibetan traditions in chant and musical prayer with grand instruments deepening the experience.  The Ave Maria is in an intimate relationship with Om Ma Ii Pe Me Hung.  This pair of East/West women brought Tina Turner into their project by adding her soulful voice in a sacred narrative, as well as interweaving her voice in the chants.  This is something to experience.  A marriage of two sacred traditions has been consummated in this wonderful musical event.

BEYOND is available now at Stepping Stones Gifts and Books

Review by Sanna Rose, RScP

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Press Release: All Is Well, David Bruner, Lee Hartley

Contact: David Bruner (408) 294 1828
Lee Hartley (408) 891 1988 

Dr. David will be appearing at
the Center for Spiritual Living
on March 29 at a free event.

Upbeat Optimism

All Is Well 2 offers more stories of people who changed their minds to change their lives
SAN JOSE, CA.—Date Compilers, editors and producers Dr. David Bruner and Dr. Lee Hartley announce the publication of All Is Well 2, a second collection of true stories of how 29 people changed their minds to change their lives. These people overcame obstacles
such as escaping communism, debilitating shyness, domestic abuse, divorce, sexual identity, adoption, drug addiction, chronic health problems, near death decisions, and more by changing what and how they thought about those life challenges. The book offers an intimate peak into the personal struggles that we all face and inspires readers to approach their own challenges by checking and reconfiguring their “mind chatter.” Questions follow each story to encourage the reader to share the gifts of each author’s learned lessons. The step-by-step questions are thought provoking and gently expand the mind away from a previous comfort zone to new possibilities.

All Is Well 2 is the second in the All Is Well book series. It is available in print, as an ebook, and on audio book at the website:

Dr. Michael Beckwith, a featured contributor to the movie The Secret, said of Vol. 1 “All Is Well takes us into real-life territory we can all relate to but not necessarily have the courage to publicly reveal. And that’s precisely what is so special about it. The individuals who have shared their stories are humble enough to acknowledge the messy aspects of their lives as examples of what is possible when we turn within where true healing and transformation takes place. This book is a treasure trove of wisdom and heart.”

Dr. David Bruner has a devoted following at the Center for Spiritual Living in San Jose, California where he has been the Spiritual Director for 11 years. He received his Doctor of Divinity in 2009. He is a warm hearted and inspiring leader in the New Thought movement. 

Dr. Lee Hartley is a psychotherapist and has a book publishing company that helps aspiring authors to bring their “dream book(s)” into reality. Her team assists each author at every step along the way in the pre-to-post publications process. HCP’s mission is to publish books focused in the areas of psychology, education and personal mind-body-spirit development.

To receive a review copy of All Is Well 2: More Stories of Guts and Grace, Courage and Compassion, or to schedule an interview please contact David Bruner (408) 294 1828 or Lee Hartley (408) 891 1988 

All Is Well books— * *

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hindu Gods and Goddesses and Other Delights

Stepping Stones Books and Gifts has three new books available now in the store and on our website.

Have you ever tried to explain one of the Hindu Gods or Goddesses to someone else?  Or, tried to understand for yourself what “Hare Krishna” really means?  Now you can get the explanations in The Little Book of Hindu Deities by Sanjay Patel.
Or, perhaps you just want some help to simplify your life by organizing all that stuff you’ve been accumulating for years.  Get a copy of Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider, and start cleaning up all that clutter.
Most of us have had pets that became close friends and members of our family.  The Kingdom of Hearts journal by Dr. Patty Luckenbach provides both a way to express, and to release, our grief when one of our pet friends passes away.
You can always see our newest additions by going to our home page and clicking on the New Items tab.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Each year Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa creates a theme for the year.  For 2012 the theme is:

Sowing Seeds of Greatness

The themes and topics for 2012 are based on chapters in the book A New Design for Living by Ernest Holmes.  In addition to this anchor book for the entire year, there is a recommended book for each month to supplement and enhance your spiritual study.  All of these books will be available from Stepping Stones Books and Gifts.

Each month of the year has its own theme that supports the annual theme

Are you aware that Stepping Stones Books and Gifts offers special pricing on some of our popular items? To find our current discount selections simply go to our home page and click on the Specials tab.

Right now we have eight items priced at a 20% discount through March 31, 2012.   Books, Music, Message Cards and Buddha!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: Take Your Time by Eknath Easwaran

Take Your Time

    "I'm from India.  Take your time."  the author says to a harried teller in America.  She takes his advice and stops making errors, smiles, and begins to function more efficiently.  Easwaran shares his experiences of coming to America where everyone seems to be in such a hurry.  He made a resolution to help Americans get out of the rat race and refused to adjust to the frantic, rushed pace of living in the U. S.  This book is a result of that resolve.  "Just one person slowing down helps everyone around to relax, too."  His suggestions and ideas come from a relaxed, compassionate heart.  Offering wisdom and quotes from the Buddha, to an eight point program that includes meditation, putting others first, spiritual community, and one-pointed attention, Easwaren delivers a gem in Take Your Time. This book utilizes blue ink with the black to create a very soothing rhythm as the chapters unfold.  This gentle, wise book is like carrying your own personal guru with you throughout your day.  don't be without it.

Take Your Time is available now at Stepping Stones Books and Gifts.

Review by Sanna Rose, RScP.

Free Seminar: Connecting the Dots Between a Healthy Community and Food

Stepping Stones Books and Gifts Presents a Free Seminar

Connecting the Dots
Between a Health Community and Food

The Statistics are telling:  1 out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer this year.  What can we do about it?

Date:  Friday March 2, 2012
Time:  7:00 pm
Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa
2075 Occidental Road

The authors of Nourishing Connections, the Healing Power of Food and Community address the link between what we eat and our health, with simple suggestions about how to improve your own diet with whole foods.  With the experience of cooking for seriously ill people, many of The Ceres Community Project's teen chef volunteers are doing just that.

Join Cathryn Couch, Ceres Project's Executive Director and JoEllen DeNicola, Ceres Project's Nutrition Director, for this inspiring talk.  There will be sample treats from the cookbook for you to enjoy.

Cathryn Couch, M.B.A., is a professional chef and activist.  Her work centers around helping people connect with local, seasonal and whole foods, discover the joy of cooking for themselves and others, and find meaningful ways to engage in their communities.  She is the founder and executive director for The Ceres Community Project, a non-profit organization working to restore whole local and organic food to its place as the foundation of health for people, communities and the planet.  Cathryn's past experience includes 10 years running an organic home delivered meal service and 4 years as the Director of Communications for The Hunger Project-U.S., an educational organization focused on changing our understanding of the causes of, and solutions to, hunger in the world.

JoEllen DeNicola BS, NE, is the Nutrition Director for Ceres Community Project, a respected speaker, teacher and the author of Nourishing Connections, the Healing Power of Food and Community.  Her educational background as a certified Nutrition Educator and Polarity Therapist, along with 30 years of organic gardening experience, provides her the experience to assit people in making healthy dietary choices for longevity.  JoEllen developed and teaches the Healing Foods Cooking Courses for The Ceres Community Project.  She has presented for Kaiser Permentate Oncology Unit, West County Health Services, the Fermentation Festival, and Macy's.

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