O Books, 2008
Reviewed by Sandra White
At the core of this book is a profound understanding of the state that Jocelyn Chaplin sets out to evoke, being in “the flow”, which lies within us all but which in the West is hard to make contact with and live from. Rooted in her childhood spent in the Sudan and Ghana, and her adult years as a political activist, scholar, artist and psychotherapist, her writing succeeds in synthesising all these strands of her life.
She describes the central challenge for those of us living in hierarchical systems: how to separate ourselves enough from them to allow the to and fro rhythm of life, the interplay between the opposites and the spiralling energy at the heart of the cosmos into our lives so that we can be truer expressions of them. But she goes further than description by placing herself, her personal and professional ‘lives’, at the centre of the narrative and this brings her exploration alive. With portrayals of rituals that she has taken part in and conducted which heal places and honour seasons, of collective rituals like carnivals and raves, of intimate moments with partners and of moving transitions that some of her therapy clients have made, she gives us picture after picture – in words and in her own artwork – of what is flow, continually strengthening our connection with it. Constant, equalising flow is intrinsic to the book itself, as she moves steadily and lightly, back and forth, between extensive references to ancient cultures and modern physics, personal stories and professional accounts. She also usefully unpacks a behaviour like necessary political rebellion, exploring the value of an underpinning state of mind she calls “loving rebellion”, rooted in deep equality, rather than more reactive rebellion, which is effectively still an expression of hierarchy. I loved her image of “new wine in old bottles”, questioning some of the modern spiritual propositions which succeed in evoking flow and rhythm while still claiming superiority over other spiritual schools. At the end of each chapter are exercises we as individuals can experiment with to bring us closer to our inner “deep intuition”, our own hearts of flow and rhythm.
A powerful example of “be[ing] the change”, I found this book a delightful read; nourishing, enabling, provocative and inspiring.