This book is a good introduction to that most fundamental constituent of our life, breathing. It is short, with 75 brief chapters, most of which contain practical advice and a breathing exercise, plus many wise words on embodied spirituality.
In this book Marija Gimbutas provides us with a scholarly but also readable account of the Goddess tradition of Europe from the late Palaeolithic and Neolithic eras, through the megalithic and henge building periods and into recorded history.
Gabrielle Roth’s dance system or ‘the five rhythms’ isn't about definite steps, but about responding directly to music and moving however you feel. The five rhythms are supposed to be the five basic types of process which underlie all music, even though they are often found mixed together.
Ramon maintains that Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake in 1600, is the true founder of modern cosmology, and that he goes far beyond modern physics in linking cosmology and spirituality. Bruno put forward a view of the Universe which is close to that – indeed goes further than that – which is held by early twenty-first century physics.
Peter Ackroyd has provided a very readable, comprehensive, thematic biography of the river Thames. The feature that makes it relevant to GreenSpirit is that throughout, the river comes first. People and places are considered in the context of their relationships with the river.
In this book, Chris links his extensive, first-hand knowledge of modern physics with a deeply-felt creation spirituality, aided by a powerful grasp of the history of science and philosophy. He wants to tell us what it means to really live in moment-by-moment connection with all-that-is, or, to use a favourite term of his, with the Other. To do this, he sets out the new world-view that makes living in connection possible.
The book is written as a journey of discovery and Russell writes in the context of his own search to find a theory of consciousness. Apparently this is one of the major unsolved conundrums of psychology and even of quantum physics. It is possible to explain most human activities in terms of conventional science but how and why we should be conscious has still no satisfactory explanation.
‘Eternal Spring: Taijiquan, Qi Gong, and the cultivation of health, happiness and longevity’ by Michael W. Acton
Many Westerners who take up Eastern practices like Yoga and Tai Chi never really understand—or even take an interest in—the layers and layers of ancient, spiritual wisdom that underlie such practices. Knowing this, many authors and teachers pay but scant attention to the theory and focus only on the physicality. In other words, both instructor and student concern themselves only with the tip of the iceberg. 'Eternal Spring' is very different and Michael Acton a very different sort of teacher.
‘Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World’ by Bill Plotkin
Depth psychologist and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin, well known for his earlier book, Soulcraft, begins this one with a quote from Thomas Berry, a poignant poem from Drew Dellinger, five succinct sentences outlining the mess our species has made of the planet in the last two hundred years and the following statement: “True adulthood, or psychological maturity, has become an uncommon achievement in Western and Westernized societies and genuine elderhood nearly nonexistent.”
Our Western culture does have a few standard rituals for marking significant events in our lives but we all experience other events and other special moments and decisions for which no prescribed form of ritual exists. Yet we are often dimply aware of the impulse to mark these moments in some meaningful, symbolic way, particularly when they concern something as emotionally laden as procreation.
This is not the first book I have read on the subject of simple living, but it is as yet, the only one which tackles the psychological implications of making life changes in as much depth as the practicalities. We all have some resistance to change, especially when the outcome runs counter to the attitudes and values prevalent in our materialistic society. To summon the energy and willingness to do this requires both awareness and effort (qualities which the author has aplenty). So, if you are willing this book could be a useful companion.
Readers of GreenSpirit will be profoundly aware of the ecological stress now facing our planet as a result of human action, and of the call which many of us feel, to respond by embracing the earth more closely, connecting with it more intimately, so that we can know in our bones what is happening and respond more with our whole being. Many of us also feel that the underlying cause of what is happening is the progressive loss of any meaningful worldview within our society.
When I was a child, everyone went to church (or chapel) on Sundays, or so it seemed. Spirituality and religion appeared synonymous. That is so no longer. The winds of change have blown hard in my lifetime, and you and I now live in a predominantly secular society – one of many in the Western world. But there is another strong weather pattern coming up against the wind. Religion may be in decline, but spirituality has never been so much in evidence. In a culture that now worships at the shopping mall yet comes away empty-hearted, there is a swell of yearning for a deeper connection – or a reconnection – with the sacred.
‘Green Spirituality: One answer to global environmental problems and world poverty’ by Chris Philpott
From GreenSpirit member Chris Philpott comes a book, many years in the making, that is a compendium of attitudes and sources of wisdom about the spiritual basis of what it is to be green. In an inspiring Foreword, the author, scientist and activist Vandana Shiva suggests that this book could help us to rediscover what she calls a ‘spiritual sheet anchor.’
Emma is head of the international Druid Network and the author of ten books. She teaches courses worldwide, and lectures at universities and conferences on Druidry, environmentalism, healing, and women's spirituality.
The Kids' Book of Awesome Stuff is filled with information, ideas, and activities to develop awareness in children that they are “...part of a wonderful web of life.” Grounded in scientific facts – including explanations of the Big Bang, nuclear fusion, evolution, photosynthesis – the book is engaging and inspiring and should leave any receptive young reader enthralled and sparkling with enthusiasm. Charlene Brotman’s accessible style and creative use of activity-based, interactive learning techniques combine with Jelia Gueramian’s friendly illustrations to make this book a treasure for children and adults alike.
Jesse Wolf Hardin's book bears an accurately descriptive title. Gaia, the living, conscious, inspirited Earth, and eros, the love of the Earth. Gaia Eros – Earth love. Its thirty-eight small chapters felt to me more like a collection of love poems than a series of essays. Unconnected by a logical, progressive unfolding of ideas, each is complete in itself like musical variations on a theme – the theme of Earthly love.
“Ever felt stuck?” asks the publisher of this highly accessible book. “Here is an approach”, they claim, “..that helps us overcome obstacles, improve our relationships, supports our values, and moves us towards our goals.” For once, I’m pleased to say, the publisher’s blurb has not overstated its case.
‘Hope for Humanity: how understanding and healing trauma could solve the planetary crisis’ by Malcolm Hollick and Christine Connelly
As can be verified from Google, it has often been said that “what we do to the planet we do to ourselves.” An even more chilling thought, however, is that what we humans do to ourselves we may also do to the planet. A significant proportion of us have, today and throughout our history, routinely inflicted the most horrifying suffering on each other, on scales from the individual to genocide, despite widely spread contrary teachings from the major religions and despite – or maybe because of – the power and sophistication of our mind. So what is it about Homo sapiens that makes us the scourge both of other species and of our own?
How many of us, staring up into the unfathomable reaches of the Milky Way on a clear, moonless night, have felt a shiver run through us? Who could not feel a shiver of awe – perhaps even of terror – in contemplating his or her puny insignificance against a background of stars? Compared to the immensity of even this visible fragment of the mysterious universe, we are mere specks of dust. And yet… perhaps we are less puny and less separate than we think.
Sheila's book, Towards Wisdom, is in part autobiographical, exploring the author's own journey of personal and spiritual growth through the membership of various groups and circles in which she has taken part over the years. It details the techniques and practices used in each of these and how they might be used by other groups or individuals, particularly groups of women entering -- or already in -- the second half of their lives.
Finally, I suggest that this book is for women just as much as for men. Partly because, as Matthew rightly says, we all have our inner masculine and inner feminine to honour. And also because the more understanding and dialogue there is between the sexes, the more chance there is for a sacred union between these two polarities. Although as he says, the dance between the two polarities never ends; they need to be in creative tension.
‘Presence: Exploring Profound Change in People, Organisations & Society’ by Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski & Betty Sue Flowers
I’ve always wondered what manner of ‘profound change’ it would take to alter how individuals think and act. Individuals make up society; if enough of them did change, that would mean society itself would undergo some kind of transformation. Thus it was with great curiosity and anticipation that I waded in and began absorbing the discerning logic and experiential wisdom the four experts had woven in and out of all kinds of background qualifications and assembled into one gigantic platter of prescriptions for how to make sense of who we are, how society functions, the consequences of our interactions and the kinds of scenarios that result because of the choices we make, both personal and public, at all levels of human conduct.
Neale Douglas Walsch has probably done more than anyone in this last couple of decades to assist people in outgrowing their infantile images of 'God' as some old, judgmental, sky-dwelling patriarch in a nightie, and replace them with something closer to the Perennial Philosophy. His Conversations with God series of books and tapes has been remarkably popular, not least because his main tool is humour and he uses it so well.
In Peace is the Way, Deepak Chopra speaks of the choice that contemporary people face concerning religion. Not religion per se, but religion in the ossified, tradition-encrusted form in which it appears to so many people today.
“Our most dangerous characteristic is our propensity to develop and rely on our conscious purposes…until we see the world as a network of relating, as a vast interrelated process of which we are dependent members, we will not be fit to survive in it.” (p.29).
Healing, at least in part, can come through making sense of suffering and learning from it. So, for those who have suffered from mental ill-health or those who meet people who do, this book is particularly helpful.
...Nevertheless, I liked his book for three reasons. Firstly, it teaches a slow, careful and highly conscious way of interacting with – and appreciating – place.
From my experience of a career in the so-called ‘helping professions,’ I think I can safely claim that in these industries geared to health, healing and helping, scant attention is ever paid to people’s spirituality. We train our medical, paramedical and mental health workers in the mechanical workings of the body and the mind, but speak rarely of the heart and never of the soul.
Is it a novel? Is it a screenplay? What on earth (or in heaven) is it? Vincent Tilsley's Holy Night is unlike anything else I have ever read. It also stirred up more excitement in me than any book I have read in a long time and stretched my mind to its furthest limits.
A main thrust of GreenSpirit is the ‘re-membering’ of ourselves in Nature, the awakening of our sense of belonging to Earth and the deep connection with the more-than-human world that our ancestors probably had and which we, in our fool’s paradise of modern, consumer society, have largely lost.
What I like most about this book is that it genuinely celebrates the late afternoon and evening of our lives. Most biographies draw the human life as though it were a hump - starting small, growing towards the prime, and then downhill all the way, leading to death often in depression and failed faculties.
Sally Andrew is a sublime storyteller. Her brand of delightful whimsicality is so captivating that I predict she is headed for literary fame in the coming years—and not only in her homeland of South Africa, either. Meanwhile, right now, her energy and passion are channelled into raising awareness about climate change and the need for urgent action to avoid eco-catastrophe
BBC presenter Peter Owen-Jones puts his finger right on the spot when he describes Mark Townsend as “a priest on the edge.” As he reminds us, edges are always the places in the biosphere where we find the most diversity and the greatest creativity. In the noösphere, the same applies. The edge is where one finds people bold enough to move out of comfort and familiarity, to seek, to question and to birth new ideas.
‘Enlightenment Ain’t What It’s Cracked Up To Be: A Journey of Discovery, Snow and Jazz in the Soul’ by Robert Forman
At the beginning of his book, Forman points out that: “the thought that you can be utterly ego-less , that you can remember to attend to your thought processes often enough to change them, that your guru is utterly egoless, that your everyday life is or will be complete and entirely easy and that these are or should be our goals, has been a damaging fantasy, at best, and counter-productive at worst…it is high time that we turned around and looked squarely in the maw of our own daydreams.”
Like most people in the Western world, I’d had little or no exposure to Shinto, the ancient, traditional spirituality of Japan. It was never included in my mental list of wisdom traditions and, I am now ashamed to say, if I thought about it at all I’d dismissed it as merely a set of rituals that Japanese people traditionally observed out of habit rather than conviction. How wrong I was.
The old mechanistic paradigm under which most of us grew up has trained our thought habits so thoroughly that those of us struggling to express an ecocentric worldview often find ourselves literally at a loss for words. For example, we hear ourselves using phrases like ‘walking outside in Nature,’ even though we know that Nature includes us also, whether outdoors or in. We talk about ‘caring for the planet’ as though it were a thing and separate from ourselves. And if finding a vocabulary for ecocentrism is hard, how much harder is it to live it?
In the summer of 2010, Caroline Brazier co-led a week-long eco-therapy group in her Buddhist community’s retreat centre in the French countryside. At the conclusion of the week, she began to write down her thoughts and reflections. In her words, “This book is the result. An account of a group and of a summer, interwoven with the ideas and therapeutic theory which framed our work, it is an invitation to share, to join the exploration and to experience the process of engagement in a healing relationship with nature.”
The book has ten chapters ranging from Spirituality as Ideal and Practice through to Spiritualities for Life. The reader will find out how spirituality affects us at various ages and how it relates to education, health, gender, Nature, science, arts and Gaia.
“I have learned so much from God That I can no longer call myself A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew.”