Christian, spirituality

The Path of Centering Prayer

Author: David Frenette
Publisher: Sounds True
Genre: Spirituality
ISBN: 978-1-60407-673-8
Pages: 255
Price $24.95

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While many people associate prayer with speaking to God in words, a different kind of prayer also exists. In comtemplative prayer, we commune with God in silence, using either a sacred word or symbol. And if we want to go even deeper, we can use only the silence to bring us closer to God.

The Path of Centering Prayer focuses on those who have been practicing contemplative prayer for a while. In it, David Frenette offers insights into his own practice, as well as using examples of others who have followed this path, as a guide for the serious practitioner. For those who have never tried this type of prayer, he explains the process and encourages them to begin.

Contemplative prayer is much like meditation, but with a focus on God instead of simply the quieting of thought. However, the practitioner may experience many of the same frustrations with this form of prayer. Frenette reminds us that this is normal, and the best thing to do is to continue the practice anyway, noticing the root issue behind the frustration. If you’ve been practicing contemplative prayer for a while and need some freshness in your routine, or if you are interested in beginning a new practice, this book will help you on your journey.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, inspiration, spirituality

Fruit of My Spirit

Author: Deanna Nowadnick
Publisher: Rhododendron Books
Genre: Spirituality
ISBN: 978-0-9835897-2-3
Pages: 114
Price: $12.95

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Modeling her actions after Paul’s words has not been an easy task for Deanna Nowadnick. As she reviewed
her life, intending to provide her sons with a short story, she realized she wanted to share her insights with a larger audience. Fruit of My Spirit was born.

Each chapter focuses on one of the fruits of the Spirit. In it, Nowadnick tells of an incident in her own life relating to that particular characteristic. Her strong faith in God and humility shine through, helping the reader see her struggles and giving hope that we too can overcome. With God’s help, we are all able to be better people.

Nowadnick is warm, open and vulnerable in sharing her life stories with us. The reader will come away with the sense that they already know her and share a common bond. A woman who tries to embody the fruits of the Spirit is a true role model for the rest of us. I highly recommend this inspirational book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, spirituality

Untie the Strong Woman

Author: Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD
Publisher: Sounds True
Genre: Spirituality
ISBN: 978-1-60407-635-6
Pages: 400
Price: $27.95

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The Virgin Mary has long been seen as a serene paragon of the Christian faith. Usually portrayed with the Christ child on her lap, she smiles sweetly from behind her veil. But what if she had another side to her – a wild side?

In Untie the Strong Woman, Clarissa Pinkola Estés shows us that the Blessed Mother does, in fact, have a wild side. This strong and vibrant woman challenges the author to do things she wouldn’t ordinarily do. Estés spent time working with incarcerated girls at her leading, and hired an alcoholic for mason work outside her home when she felt Mary was guiding her. The wild woman also includes the Black Madonna, and Estés shares her story, as well as many others.

For those who only see the Virgin Mary as a peaceful mother of Jesus, these images may come as a surprise. Getting to know her and following her leading may cause us to wind up in places we might not have chosen to go. But we can be sure we’ll be in for a wild ride.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Buddhism, meditation, spirituality

A Lamp in the Darkness

Author: Jack Kornfield
Publisher: Sounds True
Genre: Meditation / Spirituality / Buddhism
ISBN: 978-1-60407-642-4
Pages: 103
Price: $19.95

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Trouble is an inevitable part of being human. Although it’s tempting to simply bemoan our fate when something bad happens, it’s far more effective to accept these upsetting issues and integrate them into our whole life experience. In A Lamp in the Darkness, Jack Kornfield shares his thoughts on dealing with difficult times, in an effort to help us get through them.

Suffering can be caused by many things, and Kornfield reminds us that we already have an inner light – “The One Who Knows” – who will guide us. We may be in so much pain that we don’t feel we’re capable of compassion, forgiveness, healing, and wisdom, but these are some of the topics discussed, followed by meditations to explore these characteristics more deeply. An accompanying CD provides audio recordings of these meditations.

Difficulty doesn’t need to destroy us. We can rise above what happens, with our sense of self and peace of mind intact. A Lamp in the Darkness shows us how.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Buddhism, spirituality

Tibetan Sound Healing

Author: Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Publisher: Sounds True
Genre: Spirituality / Buddhism
ISBN: 978-1-60407-095-8
Pages: 120
Price: $14.95

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The Bön Buddhist tradition of Tibet has been practiced for a very long time, through the efforts of a few dedicated lamas. In Tibetan Sound Healing, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche teaches us the Five Warrior Syllables from the Bön practice, and shows us how to use them in our own lives.

First Rinpoche introduces us to the syllables. These are A, OM, HUNG, RAM, and DZA, each of which has its own energy as we sing these sounds. Then we’re instructed to read the chapter about each syllable, turning to the CD to listen to it being sung by Rinpoche. A final track on the CD is three chanted prayers.

This book and CD set complement each other nicely. Rinpoche explains the syllables with clear images, describing our feelings as if we were in the desert, and adding more elements as we move to the next syllable. As the sounds reverberate, we can easily place ourselves in the images he’s created, and work with these Five Warrior Syllables to activate our own healing potential.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

health, spirituality

The Undying Soul

Author: Stephen J. Iacoboni, MD
Publisher: SJI Publishing
Genre: Health / Spirituality
ISBN: 978-0-983-05380-4
Pages: 166
Price: $24.95

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Treating those who are diagnosed with cancer is a difficult path. An oncologist knows there is a strong possibility his treatment won’t work, or that the cancer will show up again at some point in the future. Facing death is a regular occurrence and a feeling of helplessness can easily become overwhelming. But when Dr. Iacoboni discovers the undying soul in his patients, his whole outlook changes.

After struggling with treatment protocols that felt more like guesswork than a real cure, Iacoboni needed to find a purpose. Meaningful soul connections began to occur, and he noticed that some people could find peace in their passing, while others struggled to the bitter end. With this new revelation, he could now help them in ways he hadn’t been able to in his early days. No longer just cancer patients, they were now undying souls.

The Undying Soul is Iacoboni’s story of how he reconciled his beliefs in modern medical science with his almost-forgotten faith. Sharing the experiences he had with the angel-saints he believes were sent to help him, he reassures us that cancer doesn’t need to scare us. We too can have the peace of knowing we have an undying soul, and there is a better place awaiting us.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, spirituality

God & You

Author: Raymond Wolf
Illustrator: Briana Weekes
Publisher: GoldRay Publishing
Genre: Children / Spirituality
ISBN: 978-0-9832195-3-8
Pages: 40
Price: $14.00

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When God created the heavens and the earth, and all the trees, flowers, birds and animals, He was building the place he would put His most beloved creation. Then he made man in His image and placed him in the garden. In God & You, Raymond Wolf tells the story of this creation from the perspective of the loving God who created us.

Although God was surrounded by the angels and other heavenly beings, He wanted to feel the joy of sharing love with His creation. Man was given free will, and can choose to love God. And God experiences great joy in man loving Him as much as He loves us.

This poetic work demonstrates the love God has for us, and how much He wishes it will be returned. Briana Weekes, now eleven years old, created the illustrations over a period of seven years. Through the eyes of a child, God’s tender care is expressed. Jesus once said that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your being. God & You is a gentle reminder that doing this will make God so very happy.

Reviewer: Alice Berger