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

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