When the Game is Up

Christine’s Story When I was asked to share my story, I didn’t hesitate. I think it’s so important for people to see that everyday, regular people can have a gambling addiction. And by telling my story I hope I can help others and reduce the shame of compulsive gambling. Looking back on it, I guess it’s not surprising that I developed a gambling problem. I had a risk-taking personality and was exposed to various forms of gambling as early as age 9. My father was a bookie and sold football tickets. I’d spend my allowance and purchase tickets from him. … Continue reading

The Heart and Science of Yoga: Empowering Self-Care Program for a Happy, Healthy, Joyful Life

By Leonard T. Perlmutter with Jenness Cortez Perlmutter AMI Publishers In this revised and expanded edition, readers will find a well-documented introduction to Yoga Science and how it can benefit one physically and mentally as well as emotionally and spiritually. For example, it can help relieve stress, enhance the immune system, lower blood pressure and reduce pain. Additionally, practitioners may learn how to love themselves, cultivate loving and nurturing relationships, as well as learn their life’s purpose. Perlmutter describes the basic tools needed and step-by-step instructions for a practice to help reduce distractions by stretching (pictures showing how are included) … Continue reading

Emotional Rescue: How to Work with Your Emotions to Transform Hurt and Confusion into Energy That Empowers You

By Dzogchen Ponlop Tarcher Perigee Do you use your emotions and harness their power or are you at their mercy? Rather than letting emotions control you, Ponlop, a Buddhist teacher, recommends that readers learn to relate to their emotions so they can benefit from that knowledge. He shares his own experiences as well as those of students and teachers he has worked with. He suggests writing mindfully and reflectively. At the end of each chapter there are short mindful practices with an Ask Yourself Questions to reflect on, such as “How do my thoughts and feelings interact?” There are also … Continue reading

The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness

By Culadasa (John Yates), and Matthew Immergut, with Jeremy Graves Dharma Treasure Press The authors believe that anyone can learn to meditate and improve their lives. They encourage the reader to use meditation to practice mindfulness and describe what the body and mind go through during the process. They provide the ten stages of meditation to help a meditator advance from the novice meditator to the skilled meditator to the adept meditator. Their step-by-step process is easy for anyone who wants to start or improve their meditation practice. The first steps to prepare to meditate include: “Fire up your motivation, … Continue reading

The Science of Shame and Its Treatment

By Gerald Loren Fishkin, PhD Parkhurst Brothers Publishers Fishkin trained as a psychotherapist. He describes how he developed an interest in understanding how shame influences the choices people make. He provides real life stories to help readers who want to understand and change how shame adversely affects their lives. He explains the difference between guilt and shame. He also discusses how shame is included in the addiction process. He believes that core shame trauma and negative self-talk can be resolved by increasing awareness and self-compassion. He provides several clinical examples of how cognitive behavior therapy can be utilized to do … Continue reading

Keep on Learning

 “We are by nature observers, and thereby learners. That is our permanent state.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson Fall is heralded as the season of new learning–time to put on the mantle of student for the return to school. While I love taking classes, trying new things and enhancing my skills, I am not limited to the school year. Summer offers rich learning opportunities, too. The natural world is a wonderful teacher. I walk through the woods noticing nature recycling, replenishing and renewing itself. The downed decaying tree becomes a “nurse log” full of spiders and insects that provide food for birds … Continue reading

Jim’s Story

I grew up in your average Minnesota small town. We were neither rich nor poor, just like most everyone growing up in that area. My father was sporadically employed as an accountant. However, he was also a big gambler and a big drinker. His addictions affected our family in ways that have taken me a lifetime to fully understand. My father’s gambling problem resulted in our losing our house twice – once when I was four and again when I was 12. We were lucky in that the mortgage company felt sorry for us and allowed us to keep the … Continue reading

Retreat into Deep and Meaningful Recovery

When I think of the word retreat, it conjures up an image of sitting a log cabin, dressed in a white robe, sipping a steaming mug of hot tea. My woes have melted away on the massage table and I’m transported into a state of bliss and contentment. I can see an expanse of water on the horizon, as I relax into an oversized chair and exhale any remaining tension. But it is so much more than just relaxation; retreats today have expanded to include workshops that help develop self-care rituals which nourish the body and soul. When I leave … Continue reading

The Healing and Spirituality of Tantra

The word Tantra is often misunderstood by Westerners, incorrectly ascribed to uninhibited or marathon sex. In fact, Tantra is a technique that originated in India to connect the physical body to another dimension and can be practiced alone or as a couple. In contrast to many other spiritual practices, Tantra regards the human body as the necessary means for enlightenment, as opposed to seeing it as something requiring purification. Just a small proportion of Tantric texts —less than 10 percent—deal with sexuality; well over half the texts focus on the use of mantras, while others focus on the worship of … Continue reading

Living a Meaningful Life

  “Being empty is a lot like knowing the words to a song but not knowing the music. Feeling full is just the opposite. You know both the words and the music to the song and are able to sing them aloud with your whole heart.”   “I don’t know why I’m I so unhappy. I’m proud of being successful. I make a comfortable living with a good job. My wife is gorgeous and we are reasonably happy together. Our kids do well in school. We have savings for our retirement years. We go to many parties with our friends … Continue reading

A Homemade Retreat is Delicious

Some years ago, a friend offered me her cabin “up north” for a week and said I could include friends. Overjoyed, I quickly called the two women whom I met with weekly for mutual spiritual support. “How about creating a week of silent retreat together?” I suggested. Both responded with a rousing “Yes!” Quiet, undistracted time for reading, meditating, walking in the woods, floating on a lake – what a splendid contrast this would offer to our frenzied lives. But could we really spend a week together in silence? And also have fun? We were going to be at a … Continue reading

Retreat: Regaining Perspective

When I visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art I always stroll through the Impressionism Gallery. I love the spontaneity and movement of impressionist art. It piques my curiosity as to how it is put together. What is the magical technique? I pick a composition and view it from various angles. First I look from the center of the gallery, scanning from left to right, top to bottom, taking in the whole impression. Then I step in to focus on a particular detail or interaction or slice of the scene. Finally I retire to the back wall and view it from … Continue reading

On Retreat: Waiting for the Summer Lightning

Whether you create your own mini-retreat or take part in a retreat gathering with several hundred people, the intent is to truly retreat – pull back, get away from the usual, disengage, create downtime for all levels of your being – mental, physical, spiritual, emotional. In today’s fast-paced, always on, tech-connected culture, idleness or downtime can be difficult to come by. But not impossible. Ferris Jabr, in an October 2013 article for Scientific American entitled Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime, quoted writer and meditation teacher, Michael Taft, who refers to cerebral congestion: “In a normal working day in modern … Continue reading