Book Reviews

Reviews by timlarison

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The Miracles of Archangel Gabriel

Jul 31, 2013

timlarison

I’m warming up to Doreen Virtue. Her books on angels at first glance always seemed a little too “woo woo” for me. But the more I read from Virtue, the more I am impressed. Her latest book, “The Miracles of Archangel Gabriel”, a comprehensive study of this special angel of the Bible, is her best I have read yet.

I like how Virtue starts the book laying a firm foundation of who exactly Gabriel is. “Gabriel is mostly known as the ‘Messenger Angel,’ she writes. “Since the word angel means ‘Messenger of God’ Gabriel is thought to be the overseer of human and angelic messengers. Gabriel is the first named angel in the Bible (in the book of Daniel) Gabriel is an important angel in the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.” Not only does the book give a thorough background on Gabriel, it also contains pages and pages of beautiful renderings of the angel by artists throughout the centuries. Miracles is worth a purchase for the pictures alone. Get the hard copy to fully appreciate the reproductions of these paintings. This is not a book for your Kindle.

Virtue feels Gabriel is active in the World today. The book contains a variety of stories from everyday people of their real life encounters with this messenger angel. “Two thousand years after the biblical Annunciation, Archangel Gabriel continues to announce pregnancies to women around the world,” Virtue writes. “Sometimes, Gabriel’s announcement is about a current pregnancy, and other times it’s about a future one. Either way, Gabriel’s messages bring great joy to mothers, fathers, and their extended families.” This angel also serves humanity in other ways. “As the angel of communication, Gabriel gives encouragement to writers and other human messengers,” Virtue says.

Skeptics may doubt these tales are true. Virtue has an answer for them. “Why would this powerful angel bother with ordinary mortals and their mundane experiences? The answer: God’s love is unlimited, omnipresent, and unconditional,” she writes. “The Divine is also timeless. God didn’t stop sending angels to us 2,000 years ago. The nameless and the famous angels are among us more than ever before, because our complicated world needs extra protection and guidance from God’s messengers.”

Sometimes I hear criticism of Hay House material from religious conservatives that Hay House authors only promote a “self love” message – leaving God out of the equation. Virtue, one of the most successful and popular Hay House authors, is different. While she preaches self love like the others, Virtue places more emphasis on asking for God’s help outside of ourselves. “We don’t pray to angels, as we aren’t deifying them or making them into idols,” she says. “However, we can ask God to send Gabriel’s help or call upon the archangel directly.” The Miracles of Archangel Gabriel will appeal to a wide audience, regardless of your spiritual orientation.

The first book I read from Virtue, The Angel Therapy Handbook, which I reviewed two years ago, convinced me that angels just might exist. The Miracles of Archangel Gabriel motivated me to ask for Gabriel’s help with my writing projects (assisting authors, after all, is one of the angel’s specialties!). I recommend the book to all who want support from the angelic realm.
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Directing Your Destiny

Jul 14, 2013

timlarison

At age 37 Jennifer Grace’s life had no direction. “I had no idea who I was, where I was going, or what I wanted to be when I grew up,” she writes. “I had wrapped myself up in false identities that I thought had been my life’s purpose: wife, actress, filmmaker, nonprofit director, photography manager, fitness instructor, dance-company owner. But the only thing I had really become was a walking zombie.” Grace came out of this state to become a transformational speaker and author, based on principles of the Law of Attraction. She shares what she learned in her new book “Directing Your Destiny: How to Become the Writer, Producer, and Director of Your Dreams”.

I have read a few books and I have listened to a number of speakers on the Law of Attraction, and I thought Grace’s treatment of the topic was one of the most practical and easy to understand yet. I liked her analogy of making a movie to how you visualize your own life – a metaphor she uses throughout the book to drive home her key points. Meditation, Gratitude, Journaling, Visualization with Emotion are a few of the techniques Grace recommends in her book to manifest the life of your dreams.

“Directing Your Destiny” is not just filled with pie in the sky positive thinking type messages. What if you follow all the “law of attraction” principles and nothing is happening? “No one ever picked up a guitar and became a rock star on the first day,” she writes. “As with playing an instrument, learning how to become the director of your dreams takes practice and a bit of daily discipline.” The author gives examples from her own life of when she hit roadblocks, and how she overcame those. I especially liked her story of how she did not win a Hay House writing contest on her first attempt, yet she pressed on and did eventually win a publishing contract. The key was action on her part. “If I had just visualized being a Hay House author … it would not have happened,” she recalls. “We need the ‘Will’ to get up off the couch,” she counsels, “and the ‘Grace’ to allow Source to codirect our movies with us. Nothing happens without action and surrender.”

“A life that’s produced well is a life where things flow effortlessly and synchronize automatically with your goals,” Grace writes. “When you are in alignment with your true self, you will experience a natural flow that carries you from one breakthrough to another.” I wish my life was more like that – often it isn’t. “Directing Your Destiny” did give me a number of practical tips to get myself back in alignment, and I think it will for you, too.
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Mind Over Medicine

Jul 08, 2013

timlarison

Lissa Rankin was a skeptic. A doctor trained in traditional medicine, she didn’t put much stock in mind cures. Then her health took a turn for the worse, causing her to leave the medical profession for a time. “Mind Over Medicine – Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself” is the fascinating story of how Rankin healed herself of her assorted ailments simply by changing her mental outlook, and how we can do the same. Rankin says “when you’re happy, relaxed, and free of stress, the body can accomplish amazing, even miraculous, feats of self-repair.”

The message of Mind Over Medicine is more than “don’t worry, be happy”. Rankin backs up her claims with pages of research, detailing cases of spontaneous remission, where seriously ill patients are suddenly cured. In one case study she tells of a doctor who performed “placebo knee surgery” on a number of patients – telling them they were getting surgery but unbeknownst to the patients not actually performing it. The rate of recovery for these phantom surgeries was astonishing. “The surgery was two years ago and the knee has never bothered me since. It’s just like my other knee now,” said one World War II veteran. Rankin writes that this study “showed that a significant percentage of patients experienced resolution of their knee pain solely because they believed they got surgery. That was the first real evidence I collected that proved to me that a belief—something that happens solely in the mind—could alleviate a real, concrete symptom in the body.”

The author does not totally dismiss traditional medicine – in fact she encourages readers to consult with their physicians. But she believes a doctor’s loving and positive attitude is just as important as textbook knowledge. “By labeling a patient with a negative prognosis and robbing him or her of the hope that cure might be possible, we may ultimately prove the poor prognosis we have bestowed upon our patient correct,” she writes. “Wouldn’t we be better off offering hope and triggering the mind to release health-inducing chemicals intended to aid the body’s self-repair mechanisms?”

I liked Rankin’s emphasis on listening to what she calls “your inner pilot light – the radiant, sparkly spirit of you … It’s that part of you that is a little piece of divinity fueling your life in human form. It’s that 100 percent authentic, never extinguished, always-shining-though-sometimes-dimmed part that lights the way back to wholeness, happiness, and health.” In the concluding pages of the book she encourages the reader to write his or her own Prescription, listening to that voice within, on the best course to take for the individual’s health. She provides an example of a Prescription she wrote for herself in the book’s appendix.

“You have more power to heal your own body than you’ve ever imagined,” Rankin says, but “many people feel like that’s just too much responsibility. It’s much easier to hand over your power and hope someone smarter, wiser, and more experienced can ‘fix’ you.” Mind Over Medicine encouraged me to take a fresh look at my health, especially ways I can reduce my stress levels, so that my body’s natural healing capabilities can take over.
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The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone

Jun 27, 2013

timlarison

Can a family dog teach life lessons to her human family? That’s the premise of Michael Chase in his new book “The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone: A four-legged approach to enlightenment”. I found the book full of light and fun stories about Chase’s pet, Mollie, and how her offbeat behavior showed the author how to live a better life.

“Who do I know that exudes the qualities of a great spiritual master—a person who lives in the present moment, is detached from the material world, embraces simplicity, has the joyful heart of a child, and loves without condition?” Chase asks early in his book. “The answer I had been searching for literally walked up to me and … licked my face.” I enjoyed the many stories of the author’s beloved Mollie in the book – from eating cookies under a neighbor’s Christmas tree, to an unexpected lick-to-the-face wake up call for the author at 2 a.m. one morning, to dragging Chase to navigate new streets in a circuitous walk home. These stories reminded me of my pet Sandy when I was growing up, and are sure to put a smile on any dog lover’s face.

Loving Everyone is more than just entertaining canine tales, though. Chase makes a spiritual point about each of the Mollie episodes he writes about, with chapter titles like “Wag More, Bark Less”, “Go with the Flow”, and “Dealing with Difficult Dogs”. Mollie faces each challenge with a cheerful, loving attitude and a sense of curiosity. In writing about questionable characters the two would meet on their walks, Chase observes that Mollie’s reaction “is always the same—joy, enthusiasm, and the desire to know the person better. She adheres to the suggestion often made by great spiritual teachers: See everyone you meet as God in disguise.” The book is not deep metaphysics – rather through humorous Mollie stories Chase skillfully slips in his observations on how us humans could learn a thing or two from our happy canine companions.

Chase makes changes to his own life thanks to Mollie. “I now apply four of her canine habits into my daily routine in my effort to duplicate her feel-good ways: 1) get adequate rest and take power naps, 2) make water my primary drink, 3) have portion control at mealtime, and 4) make exercise and play a daily part of life. It all may sound very basic, but Mollie’s health regimens have resulted in higher energy and lower weight for both of us—a significant reminder that tiny changes can have profound, lasting effects,” he writes.

I recommend Loving Everyone for the many Mollie stories that teach us life lessons in a fun and entertaining way.
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Your Hidden Symmetry

Jun 22, 2013

timlarison

I’ve always been skeptical of systems that analyze personality type based on birth year. Those place mats you often see in Chinese restaurants come to mind, where a person’s temperament is described in detail depending on what year he or she was born. Everyone like me born in 1956, the year of the Rat, has the same personality? Really?? So I was hesitant at first to read Jean Haner’s “Your Hidden Symmetry: How Your Birth Date Reveals the Plan for Your Life”. I discovered the Nine Star Ki system described in the book is far more sophisticated than a simple birth year analysis.

Nine Star Ki has its roots in Chinese Energy Theory, the Yin and Yang system that is also the basis for Acupuncture and Feng Shui. I’ve received treatments from an acupuncturist for several years with great benefit. I recently finished reading and reviewing a book on Feng Shui that was also very worthwhile. “Hmmm, maybe there is something to Nine Star Ki,” I thought as I browsed the first few pages of Your Hidden Symmetry. I was intrigued and I read on.

Unlike those Chinese restaurant place mats, Nine Star Ki uses your birth month and day, in addition to the year, to give you three numbers as a guide to your personality type. My numbers came out to be “8.8.5? – described in part as a “mountain” personality. Your Hidden Symmetry details the 81 different Nine Star Ki types. Was it accurate in my case? Here were some characteristics of my type as described in the book:

You’ll tend to be a deep thinker, perhaps with an interest in philosophy or personal growth, and you’ll need to think through decisions slowly and carefully. (check)

You love to study and learn and may have an extensive library in your home, take seminars, or do self-development work. And because you’re so nurturing, you’ll want to teach people what you’ve learned or in some way use all your accumulated wisdom to help them discover their own hidden treasure and become the best they can be. (check)

You tend to be quiet and people may complain that you’re hard to get to know. (check)

You usually appear calm and quiet and aren’t easily provoked, but there are times the mountain can turn into a volcano! (yep, that’s me)

I found Your Hidden Symmetry remarkably accurate in characterizing my own personality. As an added bonus the book includes affirmations from Hay House founder Louise Hay tailored to each personality type.

I liked the overall “go with the flow” theme of Your Hidden Symmetry and the Nine Star Ki system. “Trust the process,” Haner writes, “attempting to force your will on life only drains your energy and can block wonderful things that are trying to come to you, if you’ll just stop and allow.”

“You were born with a unique spirit that is yours and yours alone, yet which is also a part of the greater patterns of the whole of nature,” the author says. Your Hidden Symmetry is a good tool to understand your strengths and areas for growth. Haner concludes the book with wise words for anyone to follow:

“The more fully you can embrace yourself for who you really are, the more you can move into a place of confidence and compassion, where you can fulfill your sacred purpose in the world. I’ll meet you there.”
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Feng Shui Simply

Jun 15, 2013

timlarison

When I first had the opportunity to review Cheryl Grace’s “Feng Shui Simply: Changing Your Life From The Inside Out” I wasn’t interested. “Why would I want to review a book about interior decorating?” I thought. But with the many books I read and review, I do like to mix it up and read different material now and then. “Why not?” I said to myself. “Besides, Cheryl Grace once worked for ESPN. Maybe she’ll have some sports stories in there.”

I soon discovered Feng Shui Simply is far more than a book about decorating – it’s about a person’s internal emotional state and how that is reflected in the environments we surround ourselves with. It is one of the best books I have read this year.

Grace was a high profile executive at ESPN. “My accomplishments at the network had elevated me to a level of considerable success: high visibility, worldwide travel, a powerful leadership position, and an executive salary with perks,” she writes. “I should have been at the happiest point in my life. Yet I had to admit that I wasn’t.” She first took feng shui classes while keeping her day job, then she left the corporate world to become a full time consultant in this Chinese art of managing energy. “As I absorbed every detail and applied it to my home, every aspect of my life began to change for the better,” she remembers.

The author explains the concepts in easy to understand terms, even for a guy like me more interested in football than home decor. I liked how Grace differentiates her approach from other feng shui strategies. “The focus of conventional feng shui books is the external environment,” she writes. “The purpose of the cures we see is to alter the energy of the space in a way that connects directly with what’s going on inside us. However, the one-size-fits-all manner that’s common today doesn’t delve more deeply into the inner life of the person using it, and this can be unproductive—even counterproductive.” Her emphasis on inner transformation in coordination with outer change is effective – it’s not just a book about rearranging furniture.

Throughout Feng Shui Simply Grace treats us to entertaining stories of clients she has worked with. Grace recommends to a successful career woman that she move a large picture of Janis Joplin out of the bedroom. “Don’t you like Janis Joplin?” the client asks. “It’s a great picture,” Grace replies. “But she was a drug addict and an alcoholic, she was single, and she’s dead. We need to move her to a different space. Instead, let’s find a piece of artwork that better reflects Love and Marriage to hang on this wall that will serve as a greeter when you enter the room.” After this and other home alterations are made, the client soon finds the love of her life. When working on the invitation list for the wedding her fiance remarks,”We have to have the feng shui lady there.” Stories like this make Feng Shui Simply fun to read – it’s not all theory.

“Our own vital energy is either supported or depleted by everything in the environment,” Grace writes. “The goal of feng shui is to improve and elevate the energy around us, which ultimately boosts our own energy to a more awakened state.” After reading Feng Shui Simply I see many changes I want to make to my home office as I write this review. I think it will cause you to reassess your everyday surroundings, too.

I received a complementary copy of this book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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Life's Operating Manual

Jun 10, 2013

timlarison

Tom Shadyac had it made by conventional standards. A successful Hollywood director whose films had grossed nearly two billion, Shadyac led a life of luxury and fame. “I flew privately everywhere and anywhere I pleased. I bought expensive houses, antiques, and old masters’ paintings at Sotheby’s auctions, and paid tens of thousands of dollars for authentic Persian rugs,” he recalls. Then a near fatal bike accident caused him to reevaluate his priorities and human nature in general. Shadyac shares his insights in his new book, Life’s Operating Manual, a worthy followup to his “I Am” documentary on a similar theme.

“Our culture keeps us so busy counting money and material possessions, focusing our attention on status symbols and skewed definitions of success, that our own happiness, anchored in family, community, creativity, simplicity, and service – is passing us by,” Shayac writes. In Life’s Operating Manual Shayac contends that people are basically good, that cooperation, not competition, is the natural state in the animal world, and that our current society is out of alignment with these fundamental truths. This stance will no doubt draw criticism. Shayac addresses the naysayers in a creative way through a series of “fear” and “truth” dialogs at the end of each chapter. For example, this exchange is included after a chapter on cooperation:

“FEAR: Ah, yes. Just what the world needs, another socialist who wishes to redistribute wealth.

TRUTH: I do not wish to redistribute wealth; I wish to redefine it. When people understand that true wealth is found not in the accumulation of things, but in the advancement of love, wealth will redistribute itself.”

I thought the fear/truth dialogs were effective in summarizing the main points of each chapter while answering any doubts a skeptical reader may have.

I also liked Shadyac’s message to all of us of charging what we need for our services, earning a fair return, without getting as much as we can. “Whether in the grocery or garment industry, in education or entertainment, we are all encouraged, even expected, to charge the highest price for a good or service the market will bear,” he writes. I was moved by Shadyac’s example of St Judes Children’s Research Hospital as an organization that doesn’t overcharge and exists to genuinely serve humanity. “No cancer-stricken child should be denied treatment, regardless of ability to pay,” is the hospital’s motto.

“Society’s so screwed up because we’re so screwed up,” the author writes. “But what if this story about our inherent defects is just that – a story? What if we are actually good in our nature, divinely designed so, hardwired to help and to love?” Is it realistic to expect society to change from a competitive “me first” attitude to the utopia Shadyac envisions? Perhaps not. If the change Shadyac hopes for is to become a reality, it will happen one person at a time. Reading Life’s Operating Manual caused me to reevaluate my priorities, and I think it will do the same for you.

I received a complementary copy of this book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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Reveal

Jun 06, 2013

timlarison

I’m probably one of the few guys who is writing a review of Meggan Watterson’s new book, “Reveal: A Sacred Manual For Getting Spiritually Naked”. Intended for a female audience, Reveal tells how the feminine aspect of spirituality has been suppressed in all of the major religions. “(I believe) there is a connection between our ideas of the Divine and the status of women,” Watterson writes, “and that until there is a more balanced perception of the Divine as both male and female, masculine and feminine … women and girls will continue to be mistreated by both themselves and others. I ardently believe that if men and women could speak with equal spiritual authority about the Divine, there would be far less gender-based violence in the world.”

Watterson’s message about bringing the feminine part of Spirit to light intrigued me. She was interviewed as part of Hay House’s World Summit where she emphasized the importance of divine feminine attributes such as vulnerability, compassion and empathy. The goal, she said, is not to just “see God as male and masculine but also seeing the divine as female and feminine and embodying both. Allowing ourselves to be both.” After listening to that interview, I decided to read Reveal. I was glad I did. Early in the book she writes “what I want most for you (is) to hear and feel the limitless love and wisdom of the truth inside you, to know and trust the voice of your own soul so much that you let it guide you from within.” That message applies equally to me, a man, as it does to Watterson’s female audience.

I once had a powerful mystical experience when I was in my 20's. A realization within me of God’s unconditional love. 30 years later I still ponder what that was all about. In Reveal I read that the author had a similar experience. “The Divine for me was in the opposite direction from where I’d been told to look,” Watterson writes. “Until then, I had seen the Divine as something outside of me, beyond me, something I had to reach out of myself to attain. But now I had discovered that finding the Divine meant going within.” My feelings exactly. I appreciated the insights Watterson gives in her book for getting in touch with that inner soul voice of unconditional love that we all have.

Other parts of Reveal I didn’t relate to as much, such as the importance of women to recognize their sexuality and bodies as sacred, too. “The majority of the world religions have a negative message about the body, the female body in particular,” Watterson says. Women readers, especially those with body image issues, will no doubt find value in these words.

One of my goals for this year is to be more authentic, a strong theme in Reveal. “To me being spiritual is less about learning something new and more about remembering what I have always known,” the author writes. “Being spiritual is a process of stripping down to what is authentic for me, for my life. Getting spiritually naked is about having the courage to be radically open about the truth of who we are with no exceptions and no apologies, to reveal ourselves without judgment or shame.” Wise advice for anyone, male or female, to follow. Watterson is very open about her own personal struggles and triumphs in Reveal, and in doing so she has created a worthy spiritual guidebook for the rest of us.

I received a complementary copy of this book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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The Inside-Out Revolution

Jun 03, 2013

timlarison

Stated on the cover of Michael Neill’s new book “The Inside Out Revolution” is a bold claim: “The Only Thing You Need to Know to Change Your Life Forever”. At the top of the cover is a testimonial, “If you could only read one book in your lifetime, I’d recommend this one,” from Shama Kabani, CEO of The Marketing Zen Group. Inside Out Revolution did not have as big of an impact on me as these testimonials hinted at, yet I feel it does contain valuable insights for the reader in living everyday life.

“We create our individual experience of reality via the vehicle of thought,” Neill writes. “Thought is the missing link between the formless world of pure potentiality and the created world of form.” I’ve heard this “change your thinking, change your life” type of message before, but in Inside Out Revolution it is presented in an easy to understand format. I liked the author’s use of stories to illustrate his points. At the end of each chapter is a nice review titled “Putting It All Together” where the main points of that chapter are summarized.

Another chapter that resonated with me was “Original Grace”. “The return to this ‘original grace’ of life is always available to us,” Neill says, “and takes no particular effort to attain because it is in fact a return to our natural way of being.” Inside Out gives suggestions on how you can get in touch with the pure essence of your being and live from that place. Neill makes an analogy that our natural state of Grace is our “factory default”, and suggests we do a “reset” of our psych when our lives seem out of balance. “We don’t create abundance,” Neill writes, “Abundance (our natural state) is always present. We create limitation.”

“You won’t find the principles (Neill) teaches here anywhere else in psychology, the media, or the self-help world,” writes PHD George Pransky in the Forward of Inside Out. As an avid reader of spirituality and self help books, I felt I had read similar material elsewhere. Yet Neill does present his thoughts in a unique and compelling way (I read the whole book in four days – once I started it I was hooked). If you are new to the self help world Inside Out is worth a read. If you are not the book is a good refresher of concepts you may already be familiar with from other sources.

I received a complementary copy of this book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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The Honeymoon Effect

May 06, 2013

timlarison

Most of us have had the feeling. The joy of being in love and all the euphoric emotions that came with it. But it didn't last. Why? Bruce Lipton in his new book "The Honeymoon Effect" explains where those wonderful feelings came from, how we lose them, and how we can get them back. "Your beliefs are preventing you from experiencing those elusive, loving relationships," he writes. "Change your beliefs, change your relationships."

Lipton stresses the importance of "trusting our vibes". I liked how he gave examples from his own life. In one chapter he tells how he had a bad feeling about a "predator" neighbor while living on Barbados. When a job transfer came through to another island Lipton was relieved - he'd get away from that neighbor once and for all! He was surprised when the neighbor volunteered to help him move. After getting assistance loading his belongings from his new friend, Lipton thought to himself "maybe this guy wasn't so bad after all" as he left on a plane trip. When Lipton returned he found his neighbor had cancelled Lipton's move with the shipping company, and had stolen all of Lipton's household goods! "The loss of all my possessions was a painful lesson for me about the importance of trusting 'bad vibes' and 'good vibes'," Lipton writes.

Most of the examples Lipton gives in his book are related to romantic relationships. "When it comes to partners, there are suddenly four instead of two minds involved," he writes. "And these two extra subconscious minds can wreak havoc on Happily-Ever-After relationships." The Honeymoon Effect is full of strategies to deprogram those unhealthy messages that come from our subconscious minds.

While I valued Lipton's insights, I suspect the average reader will find it difficult to change the programming of his or her subconscious just by reading the book. Lipton encourages readers to followup on his suggestions. "There is no one tool that fits all people," he says. "If one of the processes listed in the appendix doesn't work, don't give up; try another one!" he adds. I think the Honeymoon Effect is best used as a guide for the reader to explore different healing methods.

The book ends on a hopeful note - we CAN change the programming of our subconscious minds. "By manifesting the life you choose, not the life you were programmed by your family to lead, you can have it all," Lipton writes. The Honeymoon Effect reminded me of how those messages I received in childhood still affect me today, and encouraged me to continue to work on changing those thoughts.

I received a complementary copy of this book from Hay House for review
purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
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Loveability

Apr 10, 2013

timlarison

"Of all the things there are to learn - philosophy and mathematics, poetry and law, all the arts and all the sciences - what could be more important than that we learn how to love?" writes Marianne Williamson in the Forward of Robert Holden's new book, "Loveability: Knowing How to Love and Be Loved." Holden's book is indeed a great read for those who want to take a fresh look at how love is operating in their lives.

Robert Holden did not come out of the womb as a love guru. I liked how Holden opens up in "Loveability" with his own struggles in learning how to love. In one chapter Holden reveals how uncomfortable he was with Louise Hay's Mirror Exercise, where you look into your eyes in a mirror and say to yourself "I love you". Holden remembers saying "I can't do this" when recalling his first experience with the mirror exercise at age 27. "When I said the words 'I love myself' it sounded fake." His retelling of this experience had special meaning for me, as I was uncomfortable, too, when I first tried mirror work. In being vulnerable with his own love issues and how he worked through them, Holden's lessons are easy for the reader to relate to. He is one of us.

Holden emphasizes again and again in Loveability that self love is the key to a fulfilling life. Are you still dealing with painful rejections of the past? "Every relationship in your life is a reflection of the relationship you have with yourself," Holden writes. "When you make someone your source of love, they will also be a source of pain." His words will cause me to pause the next time I feel slighted at the words or actions of another. Is it the other person doing that to me, or am I just being reminding of parts of myself I don't accept and love? It's not about them, it's about me. "The quality of your relationship with yourself determines the quality of your relationship with everything else," Holden says.

At times I felt Holden was repeating himself a bit much, stating his self love message in different forms throughout the book. Yet after reading Loveability I understood the value of his words: "Love is not just a technique you learn, a skill you acquire, or a secret you find on the last page of a book. It is a natural ability that flows effortlessly through you when you let it."

This is the second book I have read from Holden. I also liked "Shift Happens" which I reviewed back in 2011. If you are new to Holden's work, I recommend reading Loveability first to get a sound foundation in his self love message, and then read Shift Happens for short, daily inspirational thoughts.

The byproduct of self love according to Holden? Your relationships improve, too. "When you stop judging yourself, the habit of gratuitously judging others will also stop," he writes. "The more you love yourself, the more people feel loved by you. It's how reality works."

I found myself thinking of Holden's words on love often in the past week as different challenges came up in my life. I'm guessing the book will have the same effect on you - I recommend reading Loveability.

I received a complementary copy of this book from Hay House for review
purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
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The Importance of Being Extraordinary

Mar 05, 2013

timlarison

How would you like to hear a conversation between two of the top three most influential spiritual people alive? The new Hay House CD set “The Importance of Being Extraordinary” gives you that opportunity.

Wayne Dyer jokes about this designation that he first saw on the internet. “You’re listening right now to the third most influential spiritual person alive,” Dyer says. “That’s my ego. There’s two people ahead of me on this list. Now my spirit says ‘you aren’t any better than anyone else, you’re just connected to God like everyone else.’ The ego is tapping me on the shoulder saying ‘I know you can take those two guys ahead of you down!’”

The CD is filled with wonderful moments like this, giving insight to the human dilemma we all struggle with – when are we living out of our ego and when are we living out of spirit?

Eckhart Tolle’s “power of now” message comes through clearly in the discussion. The real you, Tolle says, is “a sense of deep aliveness that has nothing to do with your history or your future. If you can touch that within you that is the liberation from a false sense of self. This is why we are here. To experience that.”

I enjoyed the friendly banter between Dyer and Tolle, filled with wisdom and humor. On the second disk of the two CD set the pair take questions from the audience (recorded at a live event in Maui). Listen to the CD to hear their take on inquiries such as:

“Since you are both very popular and successful, how do you remain humble and in touch with everyday people and situations, and not let your ego take over?”

“Should I establish goals for my life, and what kind of goals would each of you place a high value on?”

“Is it possible to slay the ego? Can the ego be good?”

While I feel a reading book from Dyer or Tolle is the best way to absorb each author’s teaching, this two hour CD program captures the essence of their message in abbreviated form. “You can be an extraordinary being and still have ordinary in it. The extraordinary part of who we all are is the Soul,” Wayne Dyer says in one segment. The CD set reminded me to recognize and live out of my “extraordinary” part more often.
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You Can Trust Your Life DVD Set

Feb 18, 2013

timlarison

"I love you, Tim, and I am proud of you. You have shown great courage to get to where you are, and you have so much more life yet to live."

I now have a mirror by my desk where I look myself in the eye and say little affirmations like this during the day. Does this sound strange? If you watch Louise Hay's and Cheryl Richardson's new four part DVD set from Hay House, "You Can Trust Your Life", you soon will be telling yourself loving affirmations, too!

"Mirror Work" is one of the self loving techniques Louise and Cheryl emphasize throughout the program. Recorded at a live two day weekend workshop in London, the DVDs really capture the experience of hearing Louise and Cheryl in person. The camera work is very well done, showing the subtle facial expressions of these two teachers, as well as the vulnerability of audience members during the question and answer periods.

I reviewed the book on which the workshop was based, You Can Create a Magnificent Life, when it first came out in September 2011. The book was great but the DVDs offer spontaneous moments not possible in print format. "We certainly welcome the men. We are so glad to have you here. We love you," Louise says early in the program. "We like to acknowledge the men when they show up. We need more men," Cheryl adds. "We don't need men but we welcome them. We don't need anything because life gives us everything," says Louise, correcting Cheryl. Rather than being offended, Cheryl laughs and says, "The teaching never ends people. It's continuous and wonderful." The two women play off of each other like this throughout the sessions. Watch the DVDs for more surprises (including one where Louise uses salty language to make a point - she is a feisty 86 year old!)

My favorite part of the program was the closing, where Louise leads the audience in a group forgiveness exercise. "Being in a state of non-forgiveness is like sitting in a prison of self righteous resentment that keeps the doors closed," she tells the crowd as everyone listens with their eyes closed. "And we cannot access the love in our own hearts."

If you have never attended a Cheryl Richardson/Louise Hay talk in person as I have, the DVD set captures the energy and emotion of a live event. The message of self love healing old wounds was freeing to me, as if I was at that London workshop. "Living an exceptional life starts with loving yourself first," Cheryl says in one segment. "You are living with yourself day after day, you might as well enjoy it," adds Louise. Wise words I will remember the next time I have a self critical thought.

This is another review in my partnership with Hay House. I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the DVD from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
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Archetypes

Jan 09, 2013

timlarison

When I first picked up Carolyn Myss’ new book “Archetypes: Who are you?” I asked myself, do I really need another tool to examine what makes me tick? I’ve studied the enneagram, myers-briggs, psychology, and other introspective methods. What makes archetypes any different?

I’m glad I quieted my inner skeptic and read Myss’ book. What I found was a fascinating look at human nature through different personality profiles: The Artist/Creative, the Caregiver, the Intellectual, the Rebel, and others (10 in all).

“Archetypal patterns hold the key to the real you,” Myss writes. “They somehow know more about you than you know about yourself. By identifying and exploring your own archetypal patterns, you come to understand your true self.”

I saw myself in several of the archetypes presented – I am not just one type. The book points to the website www.ArchetypeMe.com for you to take a quick quiz to determine what mix of archetypes is your unique blend. I found the quiz gave an accurate self assessment. I came out as “Creative”, “Intellectual”, and “Spiritual”. Yep, that’s me.

I liked how Myss points out the strengths and challenges for each archetype. My dominant archetype was “The Artist/Creative”. The lifestyle challenge presented for this type resonated with me: “Can I develop my talent and express myself, or will fear of failure or humiliation hold me back?” Sometimes I hesitate to put my work out there (like a book project I’m working on) because of a fear of what people will think. Reading Myss’ words encouraged me to go for it! “You cannot wait for someone else to acknowledge the Artist in you in order to recognize your own gifts,” she writes. “It is up to you to bring your gifts to the world, no matter how small or large your world. Your talent may end up being recognized by millions of people or only ten, but whichever it is doesn’t matter. What matters is that you acknowledged your creative gifts.”

One minor criticism I have of Archetypes is that it is written primarily for a female audience. Myss leads off many chapters devoting pages to the female version of a particular archetype, and then at the end she gives a paragraph or two on the “male counterpart”. I thought the book could have been better balanced, giving more male examples for us guys.

If you are new to the concept of archetypes, like I was, this book is for you. “Archetypal patterns filter into every aspect of your life, so it’s important to discover how they express themselves in your everyday decisions and routines,” Myss writes. “They influence
recurring issues: arguments you seem to have over and over, difficulties at work that keep cropping up, and other patterns that repeat themselves. Anything that repeats is a clue to what archetypes are operating in your life.”

Yes, Archetypes may be yet another tool to understand your inner psyche, but I found it an accurate one that gave me new insights into myself.
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Secrets of Meditation

Dec 17, 2012

timlarison

Davidji’s new book “Secrets of Meditation – A Practical Guide to Inner Peace and Personal Transformation” came just at the right time for me. I have been meditating most days since taking a workshop a year and a half ago. But lately I haven’t been as consistent with my practice.

Davidji had his off and on times with meditation, too, as he writes about in the book. “I worked for many years in the world of finance and business amid the wild corporate swirl of New York City,” he recalls. “I had stopped meditating. I had replaced my 5 a.m. meditation ritual with an early morning train ride into the bowels of the World Trade Center, and I had replaced my evening meditation with a double scotch. And like that … poof … my practice had disappeared.”

Thankfully for us Davidji returned to his practice, and in Secrets of Meditation he provides a very thorough treatment of the subject. I liked how he gives an overview of different types of meditation styles (bodymind, visual, sound, energy, sensory, Buddhist, mantra, and chanting in separate chapters devoted to each). After reviewing these styles the reader can decide which one is most appealing and explore that particular method in more depth. Including in many of the chapters are sample exercises to try out different meditation techniques.

“There are thousands of schools and philosophies of meditation. And every school of meditation has its unique technique or way of helping you experience present-moment awareness. I celebrate them all,” Davidji writes. I appreciated how he honors these many varied meditation styles in Secrets, while at the same time saying why he himself practices Primordial Sound Meditation – a technique taught by Chopra Center instructors world wide.

I have come across some conservative Christians who think meditation is dangerous and unbiblical, such as Christian writer Martha West. “Followers of Jesus Christ are not to sit in the lotus pose in an altered state of consciousness seeking the “God within” like pagans do,” West says. Davidji addresses these concerns, too, in his book. “Thousands of my students who are religious – some of them Orthodox Jews, fundamentalist Christians, and devout Muslims – have found that meditating with a mantra has helped them quiet their minds so they can feel even closer to their God,” he writes. “Meditation is simply a tool to help you connect more fully with your most expansive self – the better to feel God or the Universe’s love, open yourself to it, and then pour it back into the world.” What can be wrong with that?

I do think the best way to start a meditation practice is to go to a qualified teacher with lessons in person. “Secrets of Meditation” does its best to teach you meditation, but it is only a book. Davidji does offer suggestions for meditation teachers in your area (encouraging readers to contact him).

I found the concluding chapters of “Secrets” to be the best, where Davidji covers topics like “Experiences in Meditation” (what if I fall asleep? That’s OK, he says), the Five Myths of Meditation (“Something special or transcendent is supposed to happen in meditation” is one myth addressed), and Cultivating a Daily Practice (meditating twice a day – first thing in the morning and before your evening meal is one suggestion).

Reading “Secrets of Meditation” gave me many tips to rejuvenate my daily meditation sessions. I recommend it to those who want to start meditating, or who want to enhance their current practice.

This is another book review in my partnership with Hay House. I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
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Transcendance Expanded

Nov 26, 2012

timlarison

Michael Bernard Beckwith’s new release “Transcendance Expanded” is a spiritual hybrid. It’s not just a book. It’s not just a CD. It’s both! Beckwith’s blend of prose and music inspires us reach our highest spiritual potential.

Transcendance features eight transcripts of one hour wisdom teachings Beckwith originally presented to his church, The Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles. With each chapter there is an accompanying rhythm and joy track on the included CD. Beckwith delivers the highlights of every chapter on CD tracks with catchy background tunes composed by a trio of Grammy-nominated producers.

I liked how the CD reinforced Beckwith’s teaching. “Transcendance” is not a work you will read and forget. After finishing the book you can replay the CD and be reminded again and again of the author’s powerful message. I transferred the CD to my iPod, and listened to different tracks. I especially enjoyed listening to the upbeat music with Beckwith’s inspirational narration while riding my bike. It’s a great soundtrack to exercise to.

The unconditional Love of God was stressed throughout Transcendence, a message that resonated with me deeply. “Walking a spiritual path, or being part of a spiritual community, is about being reminded, each and every day, of the love and peace and joy and harmony that’s available to us at all times,” Beckwith says. “This love has nothing to do with accomplishment. It has nothing to do with a merit or demerit system. It is simply the love of God rushing to express itself through you.”

This love awareness is not an end in itself, Beckwith writes. “It’s a beginning for your growth, development, and unfoldment. It’s where you take the first baby steps of transformation, which makes the journey so much smoother.”

The last chapter of Transcendance is different. It is not a transcript of a talk but rather in it Beckwith shares revelations of his soul and how your individual human spirit can grow to fulfill your divine destiny. I found the accompanying CD track for this chapter especially valuable – an 11 minute meditation which contains the essence of Beckwith’s teaching.

“We are meant to evolve into our highest potential,” Beckwith writes. “Whatever it is that you’ve accomplished up to this moment, whatever level of success you’ve attained, the trickster ego seductively whispers, ‘I did it. I’ve made it!’ while the spirit within says, ‘Good start!’” Transcendance combination of inspiring words and upbeat music can jump start your spiritual practice, as it did for mine.

This is another book review in my partnership with Hay House. I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
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Self-Hypnosis And Subliminal Technology

Nov 03, 2012

timlarison

Have you been curious about hypnosis as an aid to personal growth but you’ve been reluctant to visit a professional hypnotist?  Eldon Taylor’s new book, Self-Hypnosis and Subliminal Technology, is for you.  With this book and the accompanying CD you can learn about hypnosis in the comfort of your own home.

I liked how Taylor calms any fears the reader may have about hypnosis with a thorough explanation of the practice.  I learned about different altered states of consciousness (Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta).  “Self-hypnosis is all about learning how to enter the alpha brain-wave state and how to use it to create the desired experience,” Taylor writes.

More than a scientific study of hypnosis, though, Taylor’s book is filled with practical exercises that you can try out yourself to enter a hypnotic state.  I especially found value in his discussion of visualization.  I have read of using visualization to picture a successful future outcome for myself, and I have used this technique myself.  Taylor tells how you can use visualization to change your perception of past events.  He describes how if you have a fear or a past memory that grips you, you can review the image in your mind and edit the emotions “until (you) have an end product that (you) feel good about”.  I tried this with a painful experience of my past and it worked!  I felt lighter and freer after changing my perceptions and emotions related to the hurtful incident.

There are six sessions Taylor guides you through on the accompanying CD.  I found the CD effective in trying out the self-hypnosis techniques Taylor writes about in the book.  If just reading about Taylor’s methods doesn’t work for you, listening to the CD may.

While I valued Taylor’s words on hypnosis and subliminal technology history and theory, at times it got to be a little overwhelming.  I liked the practical exercises he presented best.

“Belief dictates your life as surely as magnetism directs a compass needle.  If you deem yourself unworthy, you’ll prove it to be so.  If you think you’re unfit, you’ll find a way to manifest that,” Taylor writes.  His book and CD give the reader many techniques to reprogram the mind from prior negative programming.

I was given a complementary copy of this book for review purposes.  I was not financially compensated for this post.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
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Click!

Oct 28, 2012

timlarison

It’s been said the two biggest fears people have are of death and public speaking. There’s a third one high on the list for many: having your picture taken! Professional photographer Carl Studna addresses this fear and much more in his engaging new book “Click! Choosing Love One Frame at a Time”

“I do hate getting my picture taken. It’s so damned exhausting,” writes singer Kenny Loggins in one chapter. “Click” contains short stories from the famous and not so famous expressing similar feelings about appearing in front of a camera. “I have always HATED having my picture taken,” says musician Karen Drucker in another chapter. I liked reading these stories as they gave me comfort to know my own hesitancy of being photographed is a fear shared by many others.

The true value of “Click”, though, is in Studna’s wise words on why we feel uncomfortable being photographed. He relates how our feelings about getting our pictures taken are reflections of how we show up in life. “What would it be like to be in front of a camera and fully embody the present moment?” Studna writes. “Can you imagine how powerful an experience that would be? Every picture would be a true reflection of your multidimensional, magnificent self!”

Ever since Eckhardt Tolle’s “A New Earth” was published there has been much written about “living in the present moment”. Studna delivers a similar teaching in an innovative and entertaining way. He relates different stories of people he has photographed, followed by his thoughts on human nature. “I continually witness a large percentage of folks who find it painful viewing pictures of themselves,” the author writes. “Their inner critic seems to be easily triggered along with all past conditioning related to self-image that needs to be healed.” I was so engrossed with Studna’s stories and observations that I read his entire book in two days!

“Click” also contains samples of Studna’s photographs. The hardback is printed on a glossy type of paper, different than most other books I’ve read, which makes these striking images come to life. I appreciated that Studna included pictures he had taken of different celebrities along with the stories of these encounters (with ex-Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison, for example). I wished “Click” had even more photos, as some chapters (like the stories of Kenny Loggins and Karen Drucker) were words only without pictures of the subjects to go along with them.

“I suspect the day I am truly at peace with the camera, I will be well on the road to self-realization, at ease with however I am seen, with or without a camera,” says Kenny Loggins in the first few pages of the book. “And perhaps, in this way, future photo sessions will become my signposts on my road to freedom,” he adds.

“Click” invoked similar feelings in me. To take why I am uncomfortable being photographed as a sign that I have more healing to do. To be gentle with my seeming imperfections. “We are all perfect and whole at our core, regardless of physical appearances,” Studna writes. “Click” reminded me of that fact, even though at times I have a hard time believing it.
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What Makes Us Healthy

Oct 20, 2012

timlarison

Sometimes I read criticism of Hay House authors in that they promote a simplistic, positive thinking approach to life. It's all self-centered "happy talk". Those critics have not met Carolyn Myss.

"A spiritual path is not self serving, it's about serving others," Myss says early in her six part Hay House CD "What Makes Us Healthy?". "Its about what God expects of you, not what you expect of God."

Myss' CD is not for the faint of heart. She challenges listeners in segment after segment to take a hard look at how they are operating in the world. She's critical of teachers who emphasize a self-centered approach. "The human consciousness movement has changed (spirituality) to what we expect of God. All we have to do is think and it will happen, so entitled are we. Preposterous!"

Myss harsh tone had me thinking at times "get off my case, lady!" when listening to the CD. But I encourage listeners to stick with it. Her goal is to help her audiences reach their full potential. "Everyone who I am privileged to teach is a jewel that needs animating," she asserts. While her approach may seem negative at first, she is trying to shake us out of our unhealthy, self-centered habits.

Myss believes that experiencing pain in our lives is not all bad. "There's 'good pain'. It's not all about being happy," she says. "This pain is calling me inward. I need to follow this. Something within me is not congruent and I need to find out about that. Not drug it." These words rang true with me. I can think of times of great growth in my life, and those times were often preceded by periods of personal anguish.

One segment that spoke to me was about getting my own act together before I can really be of service. "I still have issues to work through," I think to myself sometimes. "How can I be of help to others?" Myss encouraged me to not let my own struggles stop me. "Is there anyone I can help heal while I am healing?" she says to ask yourself. "If I can lift this from another's heart, I'll take them with me."

If you are looking for a CD of positive affirmations, "What Makes Us Healthy?" is not for you. If instead you are open to taking a realistic look at your life, then I recommend listening to her lessons. It made me contemplate where I am self centered. "The spiritual journey is not a trip to the spa," Myss concludes towards the end of her CD. "We are expected to care for each other. You are not here just to take care of yourself. You (can be) a channel of grace."
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Eufeeling!

Sep 12, 2012

timlarison

Enlightenment. Joy. Inner Peace. However you define it, this state is the goal of my spiritual practice. In his new book “Eufeeling! The Art of Creating Inner Peace and Outer Prosperity” Dr. Frank J. Kinslow gives tips on how to live out of this state, and how to create from it.

Kinslow defines enlightenment as “Eufeeling”. In the first part of the book he describes this peaceful place with a surprise for the reader, “This book will open your awareness to treasures within you, yearning to be discovered … You have everything you need with you, right now.” I liked Kinslow’s descriptions of the “Eufeeling” state, something not easy to define with conventional language, and his exercises on how we all can become more aware of Eufeeling within us.

“But I don’t always feel at peace!” you might think. I say that to myself, too. Is it possible to live from the Eufeeling state all the time? What must I do??!!

Kinslow has an answer to such concerns. “If Eufeeling is there with you right now and you are not aware of it, where should you go, and what should you do to find it? The incredibly simple answer is that there is nowhere to go and nothing to do except become aware of it,” he writes. “And how should you become aware of it? The answer is without trying and creating effort. This is the secret, the key to unlocking the amulet of suffering you have been carrying around your neck since you left your childhood behind. Stop trying.”

Once Kinslow establishes what Eufeeling is, and how to become aware of it within, he goes on to define QE – Quantum Entrainment. QE, Kinsolow says, “is the process that connects common consciousness with Eufeeling. QE awakens the unmanageable mind to the joy of orderly awareness.”

With QE principles defined, Kinslow goes on to describe in the latter chapters how the reader can create from this state – a process he calls “QE Intention”. He writes, “When you have QE Intention, you give the driver (Eufeeling) your destination and then sit back and enjoy the ride.”

As I was reading Eufeeling I got the sense that I’ve read about these processes before. Kinslow is talking about the same type of awareness and creation methods as Wayne Dyer did in “Wishes Fulfilled” or Joe Dispenza in “Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself”. I found Dyer’s and Dispenza’s books easier to understand. That doesn’t mean Eufeeling is without value, though. Different writing styles appeal to different people, and Kinslow technical style may resonate more with the detail oriented reader.

I feel the message of Kinslow’s book is an important one. I know as I become more aware of the “EuFeeling” inside of me, a peaceful, joy oriented life is the result.

This is another book review in my partnership with Hay House. I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
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