An illuminating, practical guide to spiritual transformation.

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THE BIG UNRAVELING

A Far Eastern–flavored prescription for personal reinvention imbued with poetic beauty.

At first blush, the title of Naimi’s book might sound like another dire warning about an impending societal apocalypse. In reality, Naimi is offering the opposite: a pathway to personal fulfillment at the most elemental level. This journey to enlightenment is not without pain, however. “Unraveling” refers to a process that brings about “a pause in our thinking…and [an] unwinding of the movements that take us nowhere and bring us no joy.” But, as the author points out, trying to unravel a finished article of clothing is a tough proposition. Fortunately, although the author has a New Age resume steeped in shamanic training and heavy on the mind-body-spirit connection, he presents tips that are surprisingly down to earth. His metaphysical tutorial on personal reinvention hinges on three basic questions: What do I want? How do I get it? Am I making any progress toward getting what I want? Readers are expected and encouraged to devote some time to each of these questions, since, as Naimi points out, it often takes a person as long to get well as the person was sick. He writes that the three questions might smack of egocentrism, until one peels back the layers and discovers that the best questions one can ask are those that appeal to a higher level of consciousness. One may ask, for example, “How can I be more successful at my job?” But one could also ask, “How can I be of service to more people?” or “How do I become a more loving partner?” The author is a poet, and the fine verses he offers at the end of many of these chapters serve to enrich and deepen the text.

An illuminating, practical guide to spiritual transformation.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477563564

Page Count: 166

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

OPEN BOOK

The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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