Sunday, April 20, 2014

What are Mala Beads and How to Use them in Spiritual Practice

Most of us are aware that some form of prayer or mediation is important to lead a well-balanced spiritual life. When I was a young Catholic girl, prayers were woven in my memory as strongly as “please and thank you.” And rosary beads were synchronized with every repeated Hail Mary prayer.
Mala beads, like the rosary, are used in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions for repetitious chanting, prayer, and meditation. The mala (meaning garland) helps keep track of the repetitions so one can focus on the meaning or sound of the mantra itself.

Hopefully, we all take time out of our busy lives to find comfort in prayer and meditation. Using mala beads can be a simple, 1-2-3 method to support this spiritual practice. Here are two mantras I enjoy using:
  • There is one life, that life is God’s life, that life is perfect, that life is my life now.
  • I am filled with loving kindness, I am well, I am peaceful and at ease, I am happy
Typically, the mala has 108 beads. It is thought, that speaking the mantra or phrase in a repetitive manner brings peace and clarity to the meditation practice.

Written by Alicia Carroll.

Stepping Stones Books & Gifts carries a variety of Mala Beads in our store.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Book Review: Talking Back to Dr. Phil

Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology

by David Bedrick

After hearing author David Bedrick speak at the Stepping Stones' Friday night event, I had to read his book, Talking Back to Dr. Phil.  David works with love-based psychology, or process psychology. His approach assumes that all our habits/challenges are communicating important information about the needs of the person involved. As in our teaching, he assumes that intelligence is always at work. Through investigating instead of trying to fix conditions, he uncovers the deeper wisdom that sets his clients free. The book uses his personal clients, and cases that have appeared on the Dr. Phil show. Bedrick demonstrates how traditional psychology identifies people and their issues as problems and proceeds to change behaviors, frequently making people wrong/bad. He than explains and gives examples of his approach, which uncovers what is truly wanting to be healed. Talking Back to Dr. Phil not only is useful in working with clients, but I am applying it to my own personal work and gaining great insight. It is a real gift to our understanding of the perfection of people and life.

Review by Rev. Ruth Barnharta staff minister at Center for Spiritual Living Santa Rosa.

Talking Back to Dr. Phil is available at Stepping Stones Books & Gifts.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stepping Stones Books & Gifts Safe from Heartbleed Security Flaw

Earlier this week, a security flaw known as Heartbleed was published that affects approximately two-thirds of all websites that use SSL encryption. This issue greatly impacts ecommerce websites because every online store that accepts credit cards must use SSL encryption.

Stepping Stones Books & Gifts uses Shopify as our ecommerce website.  Shopify has notified us that merchants and their customers using Shopify are safe from Heartbleed.  The following is an exerpt from the information published by Shopify on April 10:

"During the middle of day on April 7th, the Heartbleed issue became widely disclosed. The Shopify network security and operations team immediately set to work to protect our hosting infrastructure. By 7:00 p.m. they had rolled out a fix across core infrastructure, and by midnight all secondary systems had been secured. The operations team continued to work into the night, and by the following day, all keys and certificates had been re-issued.

"Because of the rapid response of our operations team (faster than Google and Yahoo, for example) we haven’t detected any sensitive data being compromised. As a general precaution, we advise that you regularly change passwords…   This would be a good time to update all such passwords."

"To re-iterate, all Shopify stores are safe from the Heartbleed vulnerability."

If you wish to read the entire text of the message from Shopify, click here.

Other websites you use may be affected by the Heartbleed security flaw.  The Heartbleed Test may be used to check if any other website you use is vulnerable to this security flaw.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Book Review: The Healing Power of Humor

Techniques for Getting through Loss, Setbacks, Upsets, Disappointments, Difficulties, Trials, Tribulations, and All That Not-So-Funny Stuff

by  Allen Klein

In The Healing Power of Humor, Allen Klein takes a serious look at humor and its importance. He addresses not only how to bring more laughter into our lives, but also how to call upon humor to support us during difficult times. Klein’s book explores smiling and laughter and how these effect us. He encourages us to allow ourselves to risk looking foolish and how this can not only set us free but also free up the atmosphere around us.  And even though Klein is thoughtfully exploring the topic, the book is lighthearted and fun to read. Filled with stories and exercises, he teaches us how to be the happiness we want to see.

Review by Rev. Ruth Barnharta staff minister at Center for Spiritual Living Santa Rosa.

The Healing Power of Humor is available at Stepping Stones Books & Gifts.

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