A debut self-help book mixes recollections and religious instruction.
After a 1998 car accident left her with damaged nerves and chronic pain, Schelling realized she had to use her faith to change her situation. She delved into the spiritual lessons she had learned during her decade studying with Sri Lankan holy man M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. Several mystical experiences followed her rational exploration of her beliefs, including seeing her own glowing green “light-body, or the soul that is one with God.” Schelling soldered a new connection to the inner guide in her heart and thereby discovered the secret to managing the symptoms of her pain. Her desire to help others manifested in the creation of this book, which she completed in a matter of days. Bawa’s nondenominational spiritual tenets form the foundation of the work, though they become more prominent in the instructional section. The guide portion is accompanied by several sprinkles of specific steps, such as understanding life is a gift, and advice on working with breathing. Schelling’s central metaphor is the inner heart as a plot of land, fitting, since the key to liberation, the author writes, “resides within our very own hands and heart.” The narrator switches from a lively first person to a subdued third person with the move from memoir to instruction. The prose strives to be inclusive but sometimes falls flat: “Many religions exist,” and “No one can say that difficulties are not difficult.” Concepts such as negative energy and life without faith are rendered too abstractly to have much impact. “We all share the common experiences that comprise life in this world” offers the “Life without Faith” section. The book’s modest size counters Schelling’s multiple aims, which include helping others to “discover the exaltedness of our birthright.” But the author’s sweet and sincere personal encounters with the divine bring the high-minded spiritual concepts comfortably down to Earth.
The lessons of a Sri Lankan holy man allow a woman to transform pain into faith in a work that delivers inspiration more than guidance.