Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Wonderful Book on Mindfulness

     I found another wonderful book on mindfulness, which is perhaps different from any you might have seen before.  It's called Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening by Joseph Goldstein. 

     The author takes the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha's discourse on the four foundations of mindfulness, as his source and expands on a brief section with every chapter.  It's a bit like reading lectures based on a founding text.  Not only does Goldstein explain some of the more hidden meanings of the text, but he gives real, humble examples from his life about the challenges of developing mindfulness.  He also gives some ideas about techniques that will help the mind become less chatty and more aware. 

     I saw that he wrote other books about the benefits of mindfulness and some guided practices in developing mindfulness.  If you are interested, they might be good to check out.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Happy Summer Solstice!

     On or about Monday, June 20, 2016, our planet will experience its summer solstice.  The word "solstice" means "sun-stopping," because after this date, the place where the sun rises and sets reverses course.  For example, from the winter solstice on, the sunrise and sunset points move further and further north until the summer solstice, when it reaches its northernmost point.  That's why in the northern hemisphere, it's the longest day of the year, and in the southern hemisphere, it's the shortest.  After the summer solstice, the sunrise and sunset points gradually move more and more south until we reach the winter solstice, where the sun rises and sets at its southernmost point. 

     Happy summer solstice.  Let's celebrate the sun.

(photo courtesy of

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Terrific Book on Personality Types, Part 2

     Last week I was praising the book The Five Elements of Self-Healing: Using Chinese Medicine for Maximum Immunity, Wellness, and Health by Jason Elias and Katherine Ketcham.  It is an easy-to-read, descriptive presentation of the traditional Chinese view that personalities can be divided into five types:  Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.  The first part of the book details the strengths and challenges of each of the personality types, along with physical symptoms, emotional tendencies, and spiritual issues. 

     The second half of the book delves more into how these elements come into play when working on healing oneself.  Not that I, or anyone else, is advocating that you follow this book solely when trying to overcome any kind of illness, not at all.  Always check with your doctor first.  Of course you know that, don't you?

     But to continue, this section describes, in a way that made total sense to me, the different levels of illness, and how to combat illness at each level.  Most helpful is how they tackle modern illness, everything from adult-onset diabetes to yeast infections, describe how Western medicine would treat the illness, and then detail how traditional Chinese medicine would heal the illness.  In the Asian view, the whole person is considered, and the treatment would address the physical symptoms with herbs, exercise, and acupressure or acupuncture; and the emotional symptoms with questions to ponder.  In this view, emotions and imbalances within one's life are often the cause of illness.  A very interesting and useful way of thinking.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

A Terrific Book on Personality Types

     I know that I covered the five Chinese personality types a few weeks ago, but if you want to know more, I found a terrific book.  It is The Five Elements of Self-Healing: Using Chinese Medicine for Maximum Immunity, Wellness, and Health by Jason Elias and Katherine Ketcham.  If you want to understand more about your personality type, along with your physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges, this book is for you.

     What I found most helpful in this book is its conversational style.  Rather than very detailed charts and graphs, along with more technical medical jargon, this book presents its material with easy-to-read description and plenty of examples, gleaned from patients' and the authors' lives.

     After a long questionnaire, the authors describe the five personality types according to Chinese medical tradition.  Here, they call the Wood type "The Commander," the Fire type "The Lover," the Earth type "The Peacemaker," the Metal type "The Artist," and the Water type "The Philosopher."  They also presented a chapter on personality types with two almost equal domains, such as Metal-Water or Fire-Metal. 

     One of the "aha" moments I had was when the book, in passing, finally answered a nagging question I've had all along:  What about the air element?  Most other traditions call the (usually four) elements fire, water, earth, and air.  The Chinese tradition doesn't name air as a specific element.  However, I found that the Metal element is described as a mountain filled with gems which reaches for the sky (air!) and is the domain for the lungs (more air!).  No doubt you already figured that out.