Review – The Sacred Ego: Making Peace with Ourselves and Our World

The Sacred Ego –
Making Peace with Ourselves and Our World

Author: Jalaja Bonheim, PhD.
North Atlantic Books 2015
ISBN #978-1-58394-943-6

The Sacred Ego cover

Jalaja Bonheim is a teacher, public speaker, author, counselor, and circle leader, with formal study in the art of classical temple dance in India. It is from this background, and from years of work with women leaders, activists, and spiritual seekers from around the world, that she speaks. Another part of her background is that she is a German Jew who struggled to understand the Holocaust.

It is truly all about making peace with ourselves, and with our world. It is all about heart-thinking, and how this involves our body, emotions, mind, and spirit. As a physical practice, we listen to what our body has to tell us. As an emotional practice, we allow ourselves to fully experience our feelings in a conscious manner. As a mental practice, heart-thinking transforms our process of thinking, allowing us to discard limiting beliefs. As a spiritual practice, heart-thinking allows us to move towards the acceptance of oneness as an experience, rather than a mental idea.

The whole idea with the Sacred Ego is to facilitate a more peaceful world. Bonheim has facilitated circles globally in places which carry histories of long-term conflict. From this work, she offers personal stories and insights into what is at the root of conflict, and how we can change those roots by awakening our neglected hearts and souls, allowing us to create the inner and outer peace that we all long for.

Bonheim discusses some of the obstacles to peace, such as tribal conditioning, our need to control and judge, how we hold back our emotions, how we are not educated in the area of relationship skills, and how we neglect our physical and emotional selves. She shows how we can use the simple practices – rest, silence, stilling the mind, opening the heart, and really listening to our core to create beauty in our lives, to connect in community (especially in circles), leading us to create the peace that we desire.

There are exercises in each chapter that allow the reader to apply the ideas that have been discussed.

This is a feminist guide for conscious living and personal, as well as collective transformation. I highly recommend it.

© August 2015 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission.

Review – “Mindfulness For Teachers – Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom”

Mindfulness for Teachers –
Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity
in the Classroom

Author: Patricia A. Jennings, MEd, PhD.
Foreword: Daniel J. Siegel, MD.
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
ISBN #978-0-393-70807-3

Mindfulness For Teachers cover

“Mindfulness For Teachers” is quite literally a book on mindfulness written by a former teacher, and current associate professor of education at the University of Virginia. In his foreword Siegel defines mindfulness as being aware of what is happening within us and around us with a clear focus on the current moment, which enables us to be fully present for life. In short, at the same time we are living our experience, we are stepping outside of ourselves and observing it. This concept applies to all of us, no matter what our vocation. In my opinion, this book is a must read for all people, of all backgrounds and cultures. There is no better way to be the best person that you can be than to live your life in a mindful manner.

Note: This book is part of a new Norton education series that builds on the interdisciplinary approach of interpersonal neurobiology.

This book reflects Jenning’s personal experience in a classroom, and as a researcher. We have all been in classroom situations, albeit most of us as the student, and not the teacher.  But we can put ourselves in the teacher’s place, and understand the situations being presented. And we can take that wisdom into our own professional fields, to make ourselves better people.

In her preface, Jennings notes that this book is a direct reflection of her forty year journey as a mindfulness practitioner, an educator, and a scientist. One of the first things that she learned was that mindful awareness has the power to heal.

In her introduction, Jennings talks about the challenging situations that teachers are facing, including the fact that teachers are not really prepared for the social and emotional demands of the classroom. Students are coming to school less prepared, yet at the same time new levels of accountability demand that academic improvement be demonstrated. She notes that the aim of “Mindfulness For Teachers”   is to help teachers cultivate the skills that they need to promote a calm, relaxed but enlivened learning environment.

In this book, Jennings covers an overview of what mindfulness is, understanding the emotional nature of teaching, understanding negative emotions, understanding the power of positive emotions, self-care in teaching, dealing with classroom dynamics, and transforming our schools through mindfulness. As you can see, a great deal of this information can be applied to any vocation.

Bottom line – mindfulness is present moment, non-judgmental awareness.  Sounds easy, but it is a concept that needs to be worked at to work. Jennings gives us specific examples, and solutions to those examples. Each chapter talks about behaviors that need to be developed. And how we can use our senses to our advantage. Skill sets are presented, as well as information on how to develop them. Each chapter is a stand-alone, yet it builds on the chapters before it.

At the end of the book is an extensive set of resources, including a listing of books on mindfulness, education, parenting, emotions, and children’s books; mindfulness-based programs; and an extensive reference section.

“Mindfulness For Teachers” is written in a manner that is in depth, yet easy to understand and apply. While directed at teachers, it applies to all of us. It is a book that one can use as a reference whenever experiencing difficulty. If you want to grow, if you want to make a difference,  become a mindful person!

© July 2015 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

Madenié Meets Mother Goose

Originally posted on Tarot Heritage:

The Pierre Madenié deck (1709) and The Tales of Mother Goose (1696) emerged from the same cultural milieu at nearly the same time. A small archive of letters has recently come to light showing that Cinderella, Bluebeard and their friends frequented a fortuneteller who read cards with the Madenié deck. Here’s the transcript of a reading that was delivered by post to a rather cautious prince.

The Question: While on a hunting trip, I discovered an ancient, crumbling castle in a forest at the edge of my father’s kingdom. It was so overgrown with brambles and brush I couldn’t get near it. Some villagers said the castle is haunted by ghosts. Others told me that witches hold coven meetings in the grand ballroom on the full moon. Then there were stories about ogres who drag children into the castle to eat them.

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The Marseille Sophistiqué

Bonnie Cehovet:

I have this one bookmarked for purchase!

Originally posted on Tarot Heritage:

These lovely cards are from the most antique-looking new deck in my collection.

The graphic novel artists who created the Marseille Sophistiqué followed the Conver Tarot de Marseille pattern very closely. They’ve taken great pains to make it look like an antique woodblock deck from the 1700s, giving us a standard TdM with just enough personality to make it unique, without destroying its charming, old-world character.

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Review – The Ears That Have Eyes

The Ears That Have Eyes

Author: C.L. Charlesworth
Page Publishing, Inc.
ISBN #978-1-63417-705-4

The Ears That Have Eyes cover

“I learned from my mother, who was once one of the highest paid fashion models, that great beauty opened doors. She never left home without impeccable attire, full makeup, and photo-ready hair. She said a woman’s sexuality was better than an American Express card, and if used right, the rewards were much better. Mother said her money was for pleasure and not for rent, food, or life’s other necessities. She had men-lots of men-whose generous wallets and bank accounts gladly emptied into her hands.” Excerpt from Chapter One

This, in a nutshell, describes Stephanie Moore, the main character in C.L. Charlesworth’s “The Ears That Have Eyes”. Abandoned by her mother at the age of ten, abused in a foster home, then adopted by a couple bent on replacing their deceased daughter, Stephanie was on her own (by choice) from the age of eighteen. Her mother had tutored her well – she was a mini-me who knew how to use men to her advantage.

Stephanie and her friends Rachael (partner in a law firm), Tara (a high powered real estate broker), and Jennifer (with her doctorate in English Literature ) meet monthly to share food, drinks, and stories. They live in LA, and all share a luxury lifestyle – the right cloths, the right addresses, the right parties, the right men. Each is running from her own shadows, each is walking her own path to finding herself, and creating her own life.

This is a work of literary fiction, worthy of Peyton Place status. Is a fake life worth it? Do material things make a life? Are any of these ladies going to survive their own perception of themselves and life? Is there hope, or is there only fate?

Each character has a story that is individual, and well developed. The storyline as a whole flows well, and accurately reflects the lives of its fictional characters. Perhaps readers will see bits and pieces of themselves here, and begin to ponder their own story.

This is the first book that I have read from this author … I certainly intend to keep her in my radar!

© 2015 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without the written consent of the author.

The Cartomancer: A Quarterly Tarot Journal

Originally posted on Tarot Heritage:

Something very exciting hit my mailbox today: A gorgeously illustrated, 60-page magazine devoted to Tarot, Lenormand, and oracle cards. The magazine is such a pleasure to look at and hold. I couldn’t stop flipping through it; and simply didn’t want to put it down.

The Cartomancer is packed with color illustrations (often eight or ten cards on a two-page spread) printed on sturdy, glossy paper. The colors are very crisp, and a pleasure to view. Seeing so much gorgeous art all in one place was an intense experience, and a celebration of the immense creativity bubbling through the tarot community.

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Review – Entering Your Own Heart

Entering Your Own Heart –
A Guide to Developing Self Love, Inner Peace and Happiness

Author: Carole J. (Meisner) Morton
Balboa Press
ISBN #978-1-4525-1721-6

Entering Your Own Heart cover

“Our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our
deepest treasures.”
Chapter 3, Maria Raine Rilke

“Entering Your Own Heart” is a literal journey to the center of our heart, where all love resides. The guide for this journey is Carole J. (Meisner) Morton – a licensed integrative psychotherapist with over thirty years experience in  guiding individuals to healing both physical and emotional challenges by developing self-trust, self-confidence, and self-love.

The voice that this book projects is gentle, yet strong, leading the reader into what for them may be unknown territory – accepting and loving themselves unconditionally. This is the first, very important step in becoming whole. We cannot manifest our strengths into the world if we do not accept and love ourselves. We have to do this on our own – no one can do it for us. We have to take responsibility for ourselves, and for the quality of our lives.

The message here is that we need to show unconditional love and compassion for ourselves before we can truly show it to others. Morton speaks from her own personal experience, as well as that of her clients. She writes with compassion and humor, never trying to force a way of looking at something on anyone.

The journey here is three-fold: (1) become aware of that small voice that resides within your heart, (2) actively listen to and check in with that voice, and (3) come to a state of total identification with this voice, recognizing that it is your true self, and completely dropping all identification with your personality or ego self.

A core teaching here is that our emotions and behavior are the result of our beliefs. Within us we have what Morton refers to as a personality self and a spiritual self. The personality self represents our beliefs and emotions – when it is out of sync with the vibration of our spirit self we experience pain. When the vibrations are harmonious we experience peace.

Throughout the book are appropriate quotes, as well as small side-bars that reiterate important sentences. Morton also references well-known names from today that readers can relate to. She notes that we are all made up of energy – that as individuals we are energy experiences.  We diminish our vital energy by using it to suppress our emotional energy.

We gain compassionate understanding by releasing judgment. How many times do I think that I am not judging, only to look back and see that I am. And I am the person that is being judged. It is very hard not to do that.

When we learn compassion for ourselves, the past no longer rules us. We have no need to place blame, we simply accept what was, and what is, and live in and from our place of inner peace.

While I do not agree with everything that Morton presents, I do feel that she has something important to say, and that she says it in a way that the reader can apply to their own life.

© 2015 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.