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JUST SIT: A Meditation Guidebook For People Who Know They Should But Don’t ~Sukey and Elizabeth / Illustrations ~Niege Borges

Monday, January 8th, 2018

JUST SIT is just a perfect, perfect book for me to kick off the New Year just right.  It is delightful – encouraging and it fully takes on the resistance movement that might just reside in the reader.   There are no excuses that are not demystified in this tome.   I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, trying the exercises, chuckling at the little asides and the great happy drawings.

TLC Book Tours sent me my copy – I’m just really lucky!

Sarah Lacy, author of A Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug, on tour November/December 2017

So who are Sukey and Elizabeth?

“Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz are two of the founders of the celebrated newsletter THE WELL DAILY.  Together they have traveled the world to study meditation and learn from its many renowned teachers.  Elizabeth is the coauthor of DOWNTOWN CHIC and HOME BY NOVOGRATZ and lives in Brooklyn, New York.  Sukey is an executive producer of the acclaimed documentaries THE HUNTING GROUND and I AM EVIDENCE.  She sits on the board of the Joyful Heart Foundation and lives in New York City. “ (Book cover)

I have practiced the art of meditation for many years.  I was relieved that in the beginning of this book they take on the myth that one must fold themselves into fantastic positions and use the floor, specialty cushion or wee bench to have meditation success.  My left knee does not bend correctly and getting off the floor is nearly impossible for me and lets face it when I do yoga I need a helper at all times.  It is perfectly fine by these authors to use a chair and they promote the correct postures to do it well and successfully in a chair or your chosen spot.  Whew!  This felt like even better good news to me.  Breathe!

There is good evidence based material about all the positive features of meditation and how to use it for pain relief, writing focus and finding joy, which was greatly appreciated by this reader.  There is playfulness to the book that is an added bonus.

Better than resolutions, there is even a section on a 8 day practice run or a longer trial.  They are just suggesting that you pick 5 minutes to start and just do that everyday until you are ready to move on; no excuses really work with this program.

Meditation is not a religion and yet nearly every known religion has a meditation component within its parameters.  I began meditation during the years I was singing and performing and it was perfect after running for me.  JUST SIT will take you where you want to go/where you need to go with a just do it attitude.

We Have Met The Enemy
The Wisdom to Know the Difference

ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire ~ Gabriel Constans

Monday, December 15th, 2014

How do you handle Satire?   This is a very tongue in cheek lesson reference the arrival of Buddhism to China and one needs a keen wit and a good twinkle in the eye for these lessons, koans, and questions!  What a Zen Master to discover!

ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA is Amazon Editor’s pick for Book of the Month and if you like satire you will not be disappointed by making this choice.

What the editors said on Amazon’s site:

“This fictional short-story collection challenges perceptions and illusions about religious masters, spiritual teachers, gurus, charlatans and holy men and women of all persuasions, while simultaneously tickling our funny bone and exercising the muscles our faces rely on for laughter. Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba takes liberty with questionable material from the living sea, near Egypt; tofu paper, in Okinawa; a tomb, in Italy; a shaman, in Ethiopia; and a half-sister, in India. The words, quotes, koans and stories, of this soon to be classical work, include the timeless insights of Let the Worm’s Go, Dead Food, Reality Bites, Stealing the Buddha, Drip After Drip, Sound of One Eye, Catching Wind, Looking Good, My Cat’s Enlightened, Chocolate Box, and Sex, Drugs and Sushi Rolls.

“Enlightenment or laughs? With Gabriel Constans’ book you don’t have to choose. Zen masters usually have a sense of humor, or need one. Gabriel’s got it, and he gives us a world of illusions to laugh about.” Bob Fenster, author of Duh: The Stupid History of the Human Race “

Truly I am having difficulty writing this review, because I start to say something and then dive back into a story and get lost in laughing or crying over a concept explanation or questionable answer.  My Kindle says the book is about 2 hours of reading, but I dare you to read it cover to cover.   Why I just had to deal with my health insurance company and ended the call by picking up this book and learning about Wandering and Meditation by relentless napping.  I just think you should get this book and then do not drink anything while reading the chapters randomly.

Gabriel Constans biography on Amazon:


He has written for numerous magazines, newspapers and journals throughout North America, Europe, Africa and Asia; has 13 books published in the U.S. and continues to discover great stories, provide editing and consultation services and write fiction and non-fiction. His latest work of non-fiction is DON’T JUST SIT THERE, DO SOMETHING: GRIEF’S WAKE UP CALL.

Dr. Constans has worked as a trauma counselor in a variety of situations and environments, most notably with local and international non-profit organizations such as hospice, the coroner’s office, hospitals, state prisons, the ROP Center for Street Children and the Ihangane Project (both in Rwanda).

His classes and books on grief, loss, hope and transformation, can be found at The Figley Institute and Quantum Continuing Education Online.

Gabriel’s favorite writers include Deena Metzger, Isabel Allende, Wallace Stegner, Toni Morrison, Bell Hooks, Zora Neale Hurston, Dave Eggers, Ann Petry, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Alice Walker, Barbara Kingslover, Joan Tewkesbury and James Bladwin.

Oh yes!  Constans sent me a copy of his book for review – Lucky me!

I highly recommend this book, I enjoyed this book, I will return to re-read this book often, I so enjoy this kind of humor and I know you know someone who needs a great laugh and twinkly insight.

The Last Conception
Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death
The Garden Plot
US: A Novel 


Monday, January 28th, 2013

red_robinEvery year I pick a NEW  word to focus on as a guide to how I approach my endeavors and to hopefully become a better person.   This year the new word is not coming; nothing is resonating.  I thought my word was going to be Happiness, because I have a number of books to review with happiness in the title, and yet I have found this not to be the one – I think it was the real word for last year.

I also pick a Native American Animal Guide for the year and I do that on Epiphany which was January 6th  this year.   I did a  workshop on that day and I think assisted several folks in discovering their word and Spirit Guide.   It was very fun.   My guide turned out to be DOG  in the contrary, which means I am loyal and trustworthy and an incredible supporter of other people ( like being a counselor, clergy, listener, guide, or caregiver.)  In the contrary position though, it means I need to work on being my own best friend.     I took an action right away that opened the door to feeling better about myself and my work/ history and enabled me to let go of some hard feelings – instantly.

I discovered that I do indeed need something NEW in my life and I focused on looking from the ground up.  How did I start each day? What are my habits? What is my thinking, and how do I respond?  Right away I discovered how much I like the feeling of waking up on my own – coming to the day without alarms or buzzers or bells and whistles.  I like feeling the cozy sheets, feeling safe and extending my toes and shifting my feet before I even open my eyes.  I like feeling ready to be aware, and the word JOY kept popping into my head.  I changed a habit right then and there; I now do not run over all the tasks which must be completed on this new day, instead I think of 5 things that I am grateful for – even if ZIP is wanting his breakfast and to go out.

This new exercise was feeling very good to me and I thought if I just started changing my habits who knows what will pop into my circle.   So the next thing I did was not write for a whole week.  I still went on my meditation dog walk first thing after dressing, but I did not sit down to write right away after that.  I did not open my journal at all during this week.  I did not bring up a blank sheet on the computer.  Now, I am going to try different 3 hour slots of time during the day and night to write; a week at a time.  Change a habit, this was a dramatic move but it broke down a boundary in my thinking and my actions. How else could I use this new discovery?

Then my friend Kathie posted this little riddle poem on Facebook.

Food for Thought…
I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest asset or heaviest burden.
I will push you up to success or down to disappointment.
I am at your command.
Half the things you do might just as well be turned over to me.
For I can do them quickly, correctly and profitably.
I am easily managed; just be firm with me.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with the precision of a
machine and the intelligence of a person.
You can run me for profit, or you can run me for ruin.
Show me how you want it done. Educate me. Train me.
Lead me. Reward me.
And I will then…do it automatically.
I am your servant.
Who am I?
I am a habit.

And I was empowered even more.  Rather than try a resolution, or picking a goal, or a word, I am going to change my habits, one by one and see where this leads me.  Hopefully to be a better person and one with some NEW thinking that assists the more authentic self to emerge.

I made a list of all the habits I could muster and I put them in my journal; some are very small such as moving the stool by my closet to over by the window.  I did not find this very convenient, but it did open me up to being thankful that I have natural light in my closet and to know that a quick glance at the weather was enough to make a decision about my walk.

Maybe my new word is HABIT or maybe it is CHANGE?  What is your focus for the New Year? Did you make resolutions, did you pick a word, or did you start a new class or activity?   What works for you?

I have been asked to do a book review on the 31st of this month – so I will be changing my posting schedule a bit too. Very neat book about happiness!

If you purchase anything from this site from Amazon or Powell’s   I will receive a few beans in my bucket. Thank you.  Donations also welcome.

Related Reading:
Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit
Our Bodies Our Selves ( The Change)

Emotional Chaos to Clarity: How to Live More Skillfully, Make Better Decisions, and Find Purpose in Life ~ Phillip Moffitt

Monday, August 27th, 2012

The Life Balance Institute   sent me an email and asked if I would review Phillip Moffitt’s new book Emotional Chaos to Clarity.  They sent me a copy of the book and told me I could pick my own time to post the review.   They also let me know that Moffitt would be at the Seattle Insight Center in November.   Several years ago I had attended a workshop where Moffitt’s book Dancing With Life had been used as a primary reference.  I was delighted to be given the opportunity of this new book.

I knew I was going to be taking some recovery time from some body work that needed to be done, so I planned an INTREAT around the reading of the book and the exercises contained within.  A healing vacation, right in my own home during the reading experience and this experience totally changed my healing process and attitude;  I was even celebrating the itchiness that signaled healing was taking place!

There were 20 major chapters in the book and I had 2/ 5 day sessions for my INTREAT with a busy weekend in between.  I read the introduction pages when I was doing the planning phase and the Epilogue the day I began my draft writing.  I took two chapters a day as my morning and afternoon workshop sessions and I completed all the exercises for each chapter.  I did a short meditation as recommended before getting up for the day and focused on my emotional intentions and my large glass of water.   I kept my first meditation period of the day as an hour long walk through the neighborhood, focusing on being mindful and not allowing my mind to wander and problem-solve.  When I lost my way, I focused on the breathing or jogged for a moment to bring my full attention back to center.  I was able to relax tensions, joints and discovered that my limbs were moving with more freedom and swing.  I found with each practice I was ending in a state of contentment.

“…values come from understanding what is important to you and part of your personal philosophy, whereas intentions are the applications of your values in daily life.”

By Chapter 10 and 11 Emotional Chaos to Clarity found me truly wanting more and truly aware of how I was not understanding Loving-Kindness, Compassion and Gratitude and thus was not working those practices in a way which would enhance my well-being and sharing of my values.  As a matter of fact, the way Moffitt explained what I was doing and his good examples indicated I was just tapping the surface of these practices and being rather “Pollyanna” to myself and others.  I was avoiding the depth of these practices and avoiding the focus of how I was treating myself.  I set aside a whole day in the future to spend on these two chapters.    This was not new information, it was the way the author presented it that I could comprehend how shallow my practices had been towards myself.

“Sometimes we shortchange gratitude because our mind is stuck in problem-solving mode; it only notices what isn’t working and sets about trying to resolve it.”

I ended up with 10 quotes I wanted to put on this post and highlighted about 45 other paragraphs in the book;  I then thought maybe I would not inspire folks to read this book because it might seem too much and not convey what I gained from my reading/INTREAT experience.  I was nearly driven crazy wanting my partner to read this book.  He is a very silent person who loves nature and the planet and cares for it with a passion.  He is an architect and he shares his passions in the design of the buildings he creates and makes energy efficient.  He avoids his own emotions and using them to create fullness in his life.  Moffitt’s writing increases the emotional IQ of the reader/participant in a clear and deepening manner, and this book creates a heart opening and provides the useful tools for centering on the authentic self and how one approaches daily living with a clear and mindful outcome.

“It is a deeply satisfying experience to feel that your life is authentically your own.”

 It was a satisfying read and an interesting experience to undertake. Thank you Life Balance Institute for asking me to do this review.

Life Balance InsituteI was glad to have the weekend to make fresh foods and get all prepared for the second week ahead.  I added a journal writing segment after each morning and each afternoon session/chapter.  I included stretching, music, 3 documentaries, and a lush novel to each days INTREAT activities.  I was never once tempted to throw a load of laundry in or clean the bathrooms!

Have you ever planned a day off and then followed through on your plan?  Do you think you would ever try an INTREAT?

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site I will receive a few beans in my bucket!  Thank you.

Related Reading:
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Search Inside Yourself  
The Courage To Be Free