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Friday 2 December 2016

Going on an inner journey to produce outer results

Goddesses Never Age The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality and Well-Being By Christiane Northrup Hay House (2015) €22 HHHHI

Many years ago, I was channel-surfing and came across Dr Northrup giving a lecture about her ideas concerning women's health. Now, "lecture" sounds dry and "women's health" sounds boring, even though I am a woman who likes to stay healthy. Northrup was so engaging, funny and down-to-earth, though, that I stopped surfing and started listening.

This was so many years ago as to be BG (Before Google), so the very next day I took myself off to the shop to find her book, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. I had already been delving into all manner of spiritual books, looking for ideas to incorporate into my life, but this was the first time I was pursuing something worthwhile to incorporate.

The book was flipping enormous, almost 1,000 pages, and I picked it up and put it down at least three times before I went for it. Looking back, I think the way that I learned about health in my family was to always fear its lack rather than actively pursue its benefits, with large doses of denial thrown in. Northrup's book became my touchstone for caring about myself enough to be conscious about my health, and I savoured every page.

In Goddesses Never Age, we have fewer pages - about a third less - but an equal amount of helpful information and much-needed inspiration, all conveyed in a voice that is equal parts authoritative and woman-to-woman. It's like your smartest pal has some news for you, and it's exactly what you need to hear ... whether you like it or not.

That means your diet needs to change as you become ageless, and your vocabulary needs to be revised too: it took a few goes before I could get myself to write "as you become ageless" as opposed to "as you age".

Attitudes need to go under the microscope, as do old ways of reacting to triggers and feelings that have been hanging around well past their sell-by date. If it sounds like hard work, it can be, particularly if it's all new to you; in that case, it's recommended to find a counsellor or therapist to help.

There is so much here that demystifies our bodies and minds, it is as rich an experience as Northrup's flipping enormous book, and yet more direct and even more exciting.

I can't recommend this more highly

Enough Already

Winning Your Ugly Struggle with Beauty By Barbara L Roose Abingdon Press (2015) €14.99 HIIII

This doesn't offer anything new in the beauty debate, one that rages to different degrees for different women from day to day. Roose takes a Christian perspective, which may alienate certain readers right from the start, and weaves Scripture with affirmations into an uncertain alliance.

The author's own story about her struggles are what provide the greatest interest - perhaps a more personal approach, more like a memoir than a prescriptive text, would have been a much more interesting and less dogmatic read.

The Wisdom of Birch, Oak and Yew

Connect to the Magic of Trees for Guidance and Transformation By Penny Billington Llewellyn Worldwide (2015) €22.50 HHHII

Billington is taking a risk here with the general public who might dismiss her work as an extended study into tree-hugging. I loved almost every word of this, not only for its creative approach to becoming anxiety and stress-free, but because the author wasn't trying to convert anybody to her spiritual beliefs. Instead, she sets out to provide ways in which one can get back to nature - in the outside world, and inside themselves.

Each tree in the title has something different to offer, and many of the suggestions, while common sense, have a freshness about them.

As with any book that leans heavily on visualisations and meditations, reading along while trying to get into the zone is difficult.

Coming into Balance

A Guide for Activating Your True Potential By Dr Jane Ely Parvati Press (2015) €25RRP HHHII

This is a self-help guide based on the use of the Medicine Wheel, a Native American format for healing and spiritual development, a kind of road map to use through life, incorporating nature, the four directions of the compass and their symbolism, and animal spirit totems.

Ely uses this framework to set out ways to break old patterns and to reorder our lives. Absorbing the information that Levy has compiled requires a strong commitment, and I would recommend getting the bound version

The Soul of a Pilgrim

Eight Practices for the Journey Within By Christine Valters Paintner Sorin Books (May 7, 2015) €16.50 HHIII

Painter is a gentle writer - if you don't have an idea of what you want to get out of looking within, even with many supporting inspirational quotes and invitations throughout to reflect on Bible stories, you may find this lacking in direction.

If you are on a path that runs counter to the way you used to live, this is a helpful companion; those who need more structure should look elsewhere.

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