We used to do a lot more book reviews here than we have recently, largely because I haven’t had much time to read and it needs to be relevant to where WBTW is heading, which is all about having balance in our lives when we travel. Mindy/body/spirit balance is key to longevity and key to happy days on the road, particularly if you travel often. Here are five great finds, some newer than others, but life lessons are timeless. Let’s start with a new author I recently discovered in an OLD bookstore in New Hampshire on our trip back east this summer: Skye Alexander.
The Best Meditations on the Planet
By Dr. Martin Hart and Skye Alexander, think of this book as your own personal encyclopedia of specific meditations for physical, emotional, and spiritual health and healing. They offer 100 techniques to beat stress, improve health and create happiness in just minutes a day. A lot of people avoid meditation because they think there’s ‘something’ to learn, or they won’t “get it” fast enough, or they’re too busy or too frustrated when they start to meditate and start to get antsy real quickly. I’d fall into the latter category more than the others quite frankly, even though I have meditated over the years with success. What defines a successful meditation session? I define it this way: do I feel a little calmer and more prepared to deal with the stresses I get hit with on a regular basis after meditating, even if its for ten minutes?
Breathing deeply can lower your blood pressure, just as you can diffuse anger by learning how to disconnect the buttons that trigger that anger, just two of the things they cover in the book. Have performance anxiety? We’ve all been there — they offer techniques to get you through. There’s an a section on building sexual energy. You can use meditation to exercise your brain to improve concentration and focus, recover lost memories and emotions, heal the loss of a loved one, attract what you designer while you sleep, and even how to use crystals to attract prosperity in your life. Be open to their suggestions rather than fight them and you’ll find a whole new world will open up to you, whether its dealing with any of the things I mention here, reclaiming your self worth, which we all lose from time to time, learn how to forgive, unblock your creativity, or how to literally turn off other people’s judgments. For more information and to order, click here.
The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness
One of my favorite writers of all time in the mindfulness category is Pema Chodron and while most of her books aren’t new, they’re worth reading again and again. After my divorce, someone gave me her book When Things Fall Apart and it literally changed my life. While it may have a depressing title, it is anything but sad. While she does encourage you to sit with your “stuff,” – the bad, ugly and uncomfortable, she suggests that by doing so, you’ll actually get through the mess much faster than if you try to fight it, in that lovely gentle Buddhist way she has about her and her no-nonsense writing. Originally from Canada, this Buddhist has so many great reads, we could list them all, but one of the more recent re-reads for me is The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Kindness. For those of you who think this title might sound too gentle, that’s precisely the point. The word kindness is such a powerful word.
Not only does she guide you into integrating meditation into your life, but she does so in a way that doesn’t require a lot of time or ‘figuring it all out.’ Less of a bible or encyclopedia that the first book we recommend on meditation is, this book is more of a meander through kindness, especially to yourself, which means letting go of some of the old that holds you back and not beating yourself up so much. Chodron’s interpretation of the Buddhist principle of loving-kindness helps you lead a mindful, compassionate life and part of that is loving yourself. For those of you older than forty, you’ll remember the earliest of Sesame Street episodes where one fo the characters faces the screen and starts singing: “The Most Important Person in the Whole Wide World and you don’t even know it.” This couldn’t be a truer lesson to learn, and if we only could learn it as children, we wouldn’t be fighting with ourselves as adults.
We can only love others when we first love ourselves and we can only experience real joy when we stop running from pain. The key to understanding these truisms lies in remaining open to life in all circumstances. As humans, when we truly embrace all of it: the happiness and suffering, intelligence and confusion that are a natural part of life, then we can begin to discover a wellspring of courageous love within our hearts. For more information and to order, click here.
Help Yourself: Pro-Immunity and Anti-Inflammatory Guide
I personally love guides and this one by Helen Macy is a great one to tackle one of the things that plagues me when I overdue it: inflammation. We all have it at different times in our lives and as we age, it starts to build up as we don’t release stress in a healthy freeing way. With the onslaught of technology that controls and dictates our life and our day-to-day getting more packed and taxing, we need ways to cope and destress.
I typically avoid books that have the word HELP in them because I immediately think of a book that has jumped on the bandwagon of the self-help category and also because many people run from a book that suggests we actually NEED help. Guidance, yes, but help? We hate to admit it. The truth is, we all need help along the way and it’s hard for most of us to ask for it and even beyond asking for it from someone else, doing things on a regular basis to help OURSELVES.If we don’t feed the machine that allows us to thrive (our bodies), we can’t stay healthy. Think of our bodies like a car and so often we run the car ragged and don’t fill up the tank with nourishment, oh so essential if we want to be successful. Imagine letting your car get so low that you forget to fill it up with gas or change the oil. What happens? It eventually stops running and the same thing applies to our bodies.
Our bodies don’t just need nourishment, but it needs love, kindness and stimulation and we often look outside to find those things, when we can actually give it to ourselves and the best thing about relying on ourselves, we can do it whenever we need it.This plays to mind/body/spirit connection and creating a lifestyle that keeps us healthy, from maximizing the benefits of our dietary intake while simultaneously boosting and promoting your own health without the intervention of medicine. This great read contains valuable information about topics related to health and disease and their natural remedies possible that you can make and use at home. They provide you with a diverse list of preventive remedies as well as treatment option that are natural and free of any harmful side effects that western medicine sadly can have. Inflammation, immunity, and brain power are three core pieces to these lessons. When I learned about alkalinity and eating more alkaline foods to decrease inflammation in my body, it changed my life. They include foods and dietary suggestions to help, such as diets to improve body immunity, how to treat your inflammation with food (did you know that Turmeric which you can cook with has anti-inflammatory benefits?). They also have a chapter on useful food to increase your mind power. For more information and to order, click here.
The Modern Guide to Witchcraft
From the author who co-produced the first book on our list: Best Meditations on the Planet, Skye Alexander’s newer book on witchcraft is mesmerizing. I stumbled on this book back east this summer and a month later, it was on our doorstep and Anthony and I have both been devouring it. We were first drawn to her style of writing — quite simply put, it just flows in a seamless beautiful way that is both educational and engaging. For those of you who are wondering what witchcraft has to do with mind/body/balance, read on. Sure, you can learn how to create a love potion I suppose and there are remedies for this in many a’ book on modern and ancient witchcraft, but is that what you think of when you think of witchcraft? What words or images does it conjure up in your head? Scary and evil or pure and natural? Or, does it depend.
We’ve all been fed so many stories about witchcraft since the turn of time, that if you’ve ever visited Salem, read about the Witchcraft Trials or even further back in history to women who have stoned to death, because Christians felt that using natural remedies to heal or help was related to the devil. Huh? And yet, many people still have that association with witchcraft today. What if it were more about a connection with nature and the natural world, using witchcraft to create your own sacred space and promote good energy? What about if it was how to harness your own inner power and simply trust yourself to create a beautiful life and shape your own destiny rather than having others do it for you.
Incantations, potions, and charms are all part of this read, all of which are designed to help you trust your own inner wisdom and regain your confidence in your own knowledge and inner force. In some ways, it’s not unlike what many of my Buddhist reads suggest and loving kindness and feeding your own soul is all part of this journey.
Skye suggests that we are all in fact, magicians and we can not only tap into that inner magic we already know how to do, but we can get help from Gods and Goddesses in our lives — think of them as guides, guardians and other spiritual helpers and healers. Ever feel as if you had a Guardian Angel at some points in your life? The truth is we all do, but so many of us are closed off to the innate world of spiritual energy, we tend to fear it rather than embrace it. The book includes things like how to create a sacred space in your own, and in a very Feng Shui-like way (we’ll explore feng shui books later), you can do things to clear energy, such as a purifying ritual bath, setting up an altar and shrine and the significance of doing so, how incense and essential oils can help you and what their magical properties are, and how to create ‘spells’ to clarify your goal.
While she does in fact refer to them as spells, think of them as incantations if you like when verbal and natural ingredients when tools or physical items are needed, like candles, essential oils, perhaps some Bay Leaves or Blackberries. There’s a section on health as well and quite frankly, if you’re not already using natural herbs you can grow in your own garden, then why not? Massage therapists today always have lavender on hand and often will use it in their massage oil. Why? Because lavender is such a great herb for relaxation, just as peppermint is wonderful for nausea and stomach ailments and Dandelion can be useful for stomach disorders. Comfrey on the other hand can help congestion, garlic is useful for cleaning wounds and preventing infections and Aloe is great for burns. She even tells you when the best time to plant those herbs are and why. From creating more wealth in your life, to understanding the power of your dreams, you’ll be enlightened.
Dreams can actually help you work through your problems if you’re aware of what they mean and can better understand why you’re having them at a given time in your life. We learn about the magical components of gemstones and crystals. She writes, “by nature, crystals and gemstones hold on to thoughts, emotions and information programmed into them for a long time, even for centuries.” Because of this, she recommends cleansing and purifying them before using them in any of your work. Huh? Using gemstones for work? Yes, this is your own personal journey and guide and all of these useful natural things from the earth can help you in your own life work. Only by accepting that we need to do the work and by tapping into the best that nature and our internal wisdom has to offer, can we let go of some of the haunts that plague us by day and by night. Know that you’re not alone and we all face similar demons, and some of those could be left over from a past lifetime, but that’s another topic which I’ll revisit at a later time (I’m reading a useful book on reincarnation now). Two thumbs up! For more information and to order, click here.