Book Review – The Journeys of Socrates

Book cover Journeys of Socrates by Dan MillmanThis book is a prequel of sorts to the Peaceful Warrior books.  I was quite excited when the book was announced and I haven’t been disappointed.  I’ve now read it multiple times.  Beyond his exceptional ability as a storyteller, Dan Millman succinctly captures the essence of our modern yearnings for lives that make sense, embrace sanity, and cultivate warriors.

The book is set in Tsarist Russia and follows the life of Sergei Ivanov from early childhood through his adult years. He is the one who is called Socrates in the other Peaceful Warrior books.  there is a blend of culture, tragedy, violence, mysticism, and martial technology that keeps the reader fully engaged no matter what their preferred genre.

More than just a novel, The Journeys of Socrates can be viewed as a parable or metaphor for living in today’s complex world. Sergei learns many lessons (most of them the hard way) and they have definite application in our current society.

One of his mentors, Serafim, was a monk. Sergei sought him out because he had previously been a great warrior and master of the martial arts. Serafim obviously believed in experiential learning, but occasionally dispensed words of great wisdom such as this, “In an instant a life may turn around; a heart may open in a moment of grace. But preparing for that moment can take a lifetime.”

The following quote is listed as being from Socrates’ Journal:

“When I was young, I believed that life might unfold in an orderly way, according to my hopes and expectations. But now I understand that the Way winds like a river, always changing, ever onward, following God’s gravity toward the Great Sea of Being. My journeys revealed that the way itself creates the warrior; that every path leads to peace, every choice to wisdom. And that life has always been, and will always be, arising in Mystery.”

For more information about Dan Millman’s work check out www.danmillman.com.

 

Book Review – Energy Tapping: How to Rapidly Eliminate Anxiety, Depression, Cravings, and More Using Energy Psychology

Energy Tapping: How to Rapidly Eliminate Anxiety, Depression, Cravings, and More Using Energy Psychology by Fred P. Gallo and Harry Vincenzi was one of the first books on Energy Psychology (EP) that I read and I’m delighted to have re-read it again several times.  In addition to being a great introductory text for EP work and tapping, this book has features that truly set it apart from many other books in this genre including a chapter about energy toxins, a great description of the beliefs and their impact on feelings and behaviors, and perhaps the best chapter anywhere on psychological reversal and self-sabotage.

Beyond the basics of how to do tapping, the authors provide easy to follow instruction and numerous case examples so that the reader can feel confident in addressing a variety of emotions and situations. The page formatting and easy to understand graphics add to the experience and the ease of use. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in improving their life circumstance. From a seasoned health provider to the lay person, this book has something to offer.

Book Review – Breaking Free

I’m not sure what I thought Breaking Free by Chet Vosloo was going to be about.  It was on my Kindle and I was bored and needed something to read so I opened it up.  At first I thought it was going to be a contemporary romance.  It seemed to be a guy hanging out in bars, sleeping around, and generally sailing aimlessly though life. Then, it seemed to be an adventure story. He started traveling to remote places and bicycling across continents and getting altitude sickness while climbing a mountain.

Then came the spiritual and psychological stories. The main character experienced significant anxiety issues and had physical consequences from that anxiety. The book then follows his quite interesting and unique journey to “Break Free” from his limiting beliefs while living in Asia, an ashram, and in an entourage following a guru.

There were several things that really captured my interest.  First was the author’s description of monkey mind, that distinctly annoying thing that happens when one first attempts to meditate and control one’s thoughts. The weekend meditation workshops that I participated in were some of the most physically, emotionally, and mentally draining activities I have every chosen to attend. When I first became aware that I couldn’t purposefully harness my thoughts for more than a few seconds at a time it was quite an eye opener.  Even more shocking was the “no way, no how” reaction that my brain expressed when I made the attempt.

Second, the author did a fantastic job describing the physical manifestations of emotional dis-ease.  The physical problems are real, but the origin isn’t necessarily in the body. This is something I experience personally and have seen in my professional practice for decades.  This is proof again that the body, mind, and spirit and completely and inextricably intertwined.

If you enjoy reading about intercontinental adventures, this book is for you. If you benefit from reading self-help books, this book is for you.  If you suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, or low self-esteem, this book is for you. If you need an entertaining reminder of the importance of self-control, spiritual development, and the connectedness of the universe, this book is for you.

Book Review – Mind Over Medicine

I had two thoughts when I first read Mind Over Medicine: Proof That You Can Heal  Yourself by Lissa Rankin, M.D.  My first thought – “I really like this”.  My second thought – “This is a lot of work.”

I waited a while after finishing this book before event attempting to write a review.  There is a lot of information in this book.  Some of it, quite frankly, really annoyed me.  This wasn’t because I think Dr. Rankin is wrong, but because I didn’t want to hear it.

The beginning of the book is about the placebo and nocebo theories.  I understand what she was trying to communicate and I think the inclusion of this information adds credibility to what came later in the book. There is a negative connotation associated with the word placebo in the medical facilities in which I have worked. Therefore, each time she mentioned any CAM treatments and labeled the effect as placebo, I felt my energy shift and I was aware of strong defensiveness. Again, not necessarily a bad thing – but quite uncomfortable.

The other sections of the book in which she gets into the prescription for healing were wonderful and helped to restore my energy. Warning: if you want to get the most out of this book you have to really do the exercises, and they are not easy. You will learn some things about yourself that might just blow your mind.

For me, this won’t be a read it and you are done type of book. I expect to go back and read it several more times.  I highly recommend it to you too.

Book Review – People of the Blue Water: A Record of Life Among the Walapai and Havasupai Indians

I had this book on my shelf for many years before actually reading it.  As I was packing to move to the southwest I found it and decided that it was the perfect time to put it at the top of my to read list.  I’m very glad that I did.  My primary complaint with the book is that it was too short.  I wanted to know so much more – about the Native American people and customs and about the author and her motivations and experiences.  The author’s abiity to evoke that sense of wonder and curiosity is a testament to both the subject and her writing style.

There were times when I was horrified by some of the customs and found it difficult to keep reading.  I almost quit several times.  If you are an animal lover – beware.  While episodes of what I would call extreme cruelty were explained within the culture and zeitgeist, it didn’t make it any more palatable.  On the other hand, there are certainly positive lessons to be learned as well.

 

The book was highly readable and is really a compilation of events that were shared in letters with the author’s family.  I could imagine these tales being retold in social gatherings and probably gaining a life of their own.  I can only imagine what a mother far away must have thought about her daughter’s adventures.  I am sure I would have been both proud and horrified.

The description of the location made me remember fondly my own trips to the Grand Canyon and to yearn for another trip.  Now that I live closer, that might happen more often.

Live vicariously – read People of the Blue Water by Flora Gregg Iliff.

Book Review – Presenting To Win

Presenting To Win: The Art Of Telling Your Story by Jerry Weissman is a fantastic book.  I’m not sure what drew me to it since I am not necessarily in a position where I give formal presentations very often and frankly avoid using audiovisual aids if at all possible. Prior to reading this book I also couldn’t have told you what an IPO was and I’m not in an industry where I’m likely to give presentations to investors from multimillion dollar corporations. (At least not yet.)

I have given presentations though and they haven’t always gone the way I wanted them to. Now I know why.  I’ve committed almost every one of the “cardinal sins” of presentation, both with and without A/V assistance.  After reading this book, I feel much better prepared should I be called upon to give a presentation in the future. In fact, I’m almost hoping that a chance to put these principles into action presents itself.

I could also see many applications for the same information in other aspects of my personal and professional life.  We are all “selling”, whether it be a product, an idea or concept, or a relationship. We want others to get it, to understand us, and we really want them to agree with us or take a desired action. The way that we communicate that is critically important to whether we achieve our goal. All of these corporate-tested presentation techniques have useful applications in many life areas if applied creatively.

The author practiced what he preached, and the use of the techniques was evident in the way he crafted the text, diagrams, and captions. Since I was reading on an older Kindle, some of the formatting wasn’t the best, but even with that said, the attention to detail and the use of great communication techniques was evident. I learned a lot – about presentations, about writing, about communication, and about myself.

Book Review – Gifts From Eykis: A Story of Self-Discovery

Gifts From Eykis is another magnificent book from Wayne Dyer. This is a bit different than most of his other books because it is written in the form of a novel, rather than a typical self-help book.

Eykis is a visitor from the planet Uranus. First, the main character from Earth visits the planet Uranus and observes many oddities that seem to resemble Earthly emotions. While on Uranus, Ekyis introduces the Earth traveler to anxiety attacks, worry, guilt, fear, dependency, and other emotions. The difference on Uranus is that these emotions exist only for a purpose, never just as a perception or neurosis. That wouldn’t make sense and everything on Uranus makes sense.

Later in the book Ekysis visits Earth and is quite troubled by the suffering the inhabitants of Earth inflict on themselves and others with these emotional states. In the end, Ekysis shares some “gifts” for all mankind. These words of wisdom include:

 

  • Learn to cultivate your own garden
  • If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
  • These are the good old days.
  • There is no way to happiness; Happiness is the way!

To receive more of your “gifts” from Eyksis, pick up the fascinating book and take a humble look at the ways in which we create our own suffering. I bet you will be soon wishing for a guilt-prodder or a worry-ware.

 

Book Review – The Song of Annie Moses

I loved this book. I already was in love with the Annie Moses Band, having attended one of their concerts in Ohio. I knew a little of their story before, but this book made me fall in love with them all over again. The writing is captivating, the story compelling, and the wisdom is priceless. I believe this book deserves a spot on the top shelf of all parenting books.

Robin Donica Wolaver is the author. She writes books with the same mastery and clarity as her song lyrics. By the end I felt as though I really knew these strong and inspired women through the generations. I was impressed by the congruence between their beliefs and their actions.  I felt challenged by the depth of their spiritual lives. As the book ended, I wanted more.

Book Review: Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl

This was a surprising read for me. Why? Because I had preconceived ideas about the content of the book.  I expected to find a story of severe allergies (I did) and a belief that everyone should chage their lives to accommodate the person with allergies (I didn’t).  This book had balance.

Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an allergice life by Sandra Beasley expanded my knowledge of allergy research and gave me food for thought (pun intended).  I haven’t always known that I had food allergies and mine are generally not as life-threatening as Sandra’s.  It seems that mind have had a more subtle and cumulative effect on my health.  Nonetheless, my food allergies significantly impact the way I live.

Her writing style is engaging, even in the more technical descriptions of allergy and medicine.  I found myself laughing at the descriptions I recognized all too well and deeply pondering the more challenging viewpoints.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that even thinks they may have food sensitivities and it is a must-read for anyone that loves or lives with someone with life threatening allergies.

Book Review – Mars and Venus in the Bedroom

SEX. Now that’s a word that gets your attention. Men and women spend great amounts of time thinking about sex, wishing for sex, having sex, and complaining about sex. Few couples have the skills to discuss, request, or negotiate sex successfully.  Couples also don’t appear to understand why sexual expression is so problematic.

Would you like to learn about sex and passion, increase your sexual confidence, rekindle passion, and keep romance alive?  If so, consider reading Mars and Venus in the Bedroom by John Gray.  This is an older book but continues to be relevant today.  Dr. Gray’s books are easy to read, but be forewarned, he writes about sex, sexuality, and intimacy with the same candor that you would expect of a weather report.  Perhaps that is the important first lesson of this book.