Tag Archives: New Age

The Ultimate Happiness Prescription – Deepak Chopra

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The Ultimate Happiness Prescription was the thinnest book on the stack so it bumped the 400, 500 and 900+ page monsters aside. Deepak Chopra rides to the rescue on a day hijacked by too much real life. Good message for the frazzled, in any case. The book explores spiritual and neurological dispositions toward emotional equanimity and follows each of seven keys (Deepak Chopra likes to write self-help books in lists of seven) with some simple steps to move your happiness set point up on the scale.

It’s quite sensible, not very woo-woo at all. Body awareness provides clues to how you really feel about events, circumstances and decisions. Chopra examines the interrelatedness of matter, the energy field consisting of the entire universe and you in it, as he tells you to pay attention to what you feel and where in the body you feel it. Stress affects certain areas, anger and fear others—by bringing awareness to physical feelings you can mitigate and even heal what might be making you unhappy, or unwell.

There’s a very good section on being present in the moment. Nothing new about the teaching—it is thousands of years old—but it is a powerful catalyst for change. The point is that happiness can only exist in the moment because the past is over and the future does not yet exist. That seems obvious but we cart around so much baggage that we seldom devote full awareness and appreciation to the present. Chopra recommends a mindfulness practice to increase present-moment awareness. He emphasizes the benefits of meditation as well.

I tend to like Chopra’s audio and video lectures more than his books. Those events seem to treat subjects in greater depth than the slim, nicely laid-out books. But The Ultimate Happiness Prescription is worth the relatively short amount of time it takes to read it and probably worth a few re-reads, too. The activities Chopra suggests and the points he makes apply to every type of self-improvement effort. In the end, he delivers an introduction to the quest for enlightenment—not some exalted mystical state but a better, saner, more intelligent and, well, happier way to live in this world.

The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keys to Joy and Enlightenment   Deepak Chopra | Harmony Books 2009

Awakening to the Spirit World — Sandra Ingerman & Hank Wesselman

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Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman are well-known shamanic practitioners and this collaborative book is a primer for anyone wanting to know more about modern shamanism and how it works. The book includes a CD with drumming and flute sequences that allow you to practice taking a shamanic journey by entraining your attention to the beat. There are a number of suggested exercises to give you the experience of travel to one of the three spirit worlds–the Lower World, the Middle World and the Upper World—in search of revelation.

Instructions guide the reader to discover a power animal, experiment with intentional and lucid dreaming and interpret dreams. There are applications of shamanic practices to affect weather and heal the environment, create ceremony and ritual, enter a visionary state of consciousness through making art, evaluate the resonance of sounds and words, work with light, color and crystals and redefine a relationship with death.

The work in this book is all about healing and understanding at a deeper level of consciousness. It isn’t at all airy and insubstantial, the exercises are practical and many of the underlying beliefs are accepted precepts of widespread spiritual practices. The text is sprinkled with the observations and anecdotes of four additional contemporary shamans—a Celtic shaman from the Hudson River valley, a Native American shaman university professor, a psychotherapist who studied shamanism with Huichol elders and Incan and Peruvian Amazon shamans, and a medical anthropologist who practices Andean shamanism and energy medicine.

Ingerman, a licensed therapist and shamanic practitioner who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a respected workshop leader who has written a number of popular books about shamanism. Hank Wesselman is a paleoanthropologist and shamanic teacher with his own library shelf of books about the practice. He spent years studying the indigenous shamans in Africa and today lives and teaches in Hawaii.

I found this book fascinating—it’s written in a very down-to-earth style and addresses many key issues of our times. All of them need serious healing, from environmental degradation to medical diseases to pandemic violence to spiritual confusion and mental illnesses. The narrative of the shamanic journey is a close match to the narrative in a good story. Awakening to the Spirit World teaches the rudiments of a simple, accessible practice that doesn’t involve a lot of Hollywood theatrics and props. Rather it cuts to the heart of the human relationship to the planet and all of nature, the realization that we are first spirit and then the personas we cloak ourselves in, and the power each person has to tell their own story and shape a healed and whole life. Worth reading, contemplating and trying out—on my list to acquire for my own library and further exploration.    

Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation   Sandra Ingerman & Hank Wesselman  |  Sounds True  2010