Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ivan Figueroa-Otero, MD - Spirituality 101

Bestselling author Ivan Figueroa-Otero, MD surprises us with an updated version of his very successful first book, Spirituality 101. Relying again on his unique insight as a scientist and a spiritual researcher with a heavy religious upbringing, he developed a guide to help our understanding of concepts like self-identity, our origins and our purpose in life. With “Spirituality 1.2; For The Disconnected From The School Of Life – A Tekkie Guide”, he now explains it all using a technological approach that bridges the “tekkie” world with the world of spiritual research with an eclectic and original delivery. Figueroa-Otero will appear the Authors School Show on TalkStoryTV.com on April 30th at 11am MT.

After the success of his first book, Dr. Figueroa-Otero wanted to ensure that his message could reach young readers and those who immerse themselves in the world of computers and internet. He incorporated technological words and concepts into his philosophical guide for understanding our spiritual nature. The result, Spirituality 1.2; For The Disconnected From The School Of Life, is a deliciously funny, tongue-in-cheek version of his work, where every concept, idea, image and advice is carefully defined with technological elements like virtual domains, bits, and RAM. Like its predecessor, this book includes graphs, caricatures, exercises and even a final test. The author plans to continue the series until it reaches seven guides altogether.

The original book, Spirituality 101: For the Dropouts of the School of Life, was a long time dream of Dr. Ivan Figueroa-Otero, a retired Pediatric Surgeon. A year after self-publishing his book, Dr. Figueroa-Otero reaps the rewards in the public recognition awarded by three prestigious international organizations:
 a finalist at the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards for self-published books, one of the only two awardees in the Religion/Philosophy Non-Fiction category of the 2014 Reader's Favorites, and a finalist at the USA Best Book Awards 2014. Its cover won the Inspirational Book Cover Poll by Storyfinds. It was favorably reviewed by Focus on Women magazine and Kirkus Book Review, among others. The book is still a bestseller in local bookstores, remaining among the 10 best sellers in the category of Spirituality.

“In the School Of Life there are no grades or organized curriculum. Everyone comes to learn and progress in specific areas, and your lessons are structured by your daily life. It’s as if the curriculum were created while you learn. Imagine our Universe as a big computer, where the quality of its computation is directly proportional to the quality of the input data. And where every programming error is reversible and re-programmable, with a little bit of patience!” says Dr. Figueroa-Otero.

Dr. Figueroa-Otero is a self-publishing author. Spirituality 101 was published and distributed worldwide as of January, 2014, and is available in print and electronic formats. Spirituality 1.2 will be published in May, 2015.

About the Author: Retired from the practice of pediatric surgery, Dr. Figueroa Otero is currently engaged in his private practice in San Juan, Puerto Rico and continues in his role as an educator, trying to achieve full integration of traditional Chinese acupuncture courses in the curriculum of medical schools and to incorporate meditation techniques in preventive and therapeutic medicine.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

THE NEW AGE AND SPIRITUAL CONTENTMENT ©Norman W. Wilson, PhD

With the entrance of "New Age" in the late 1960s and early 70s and the plethora of rambings, rumblings, and ruminations of what is and what ought to be more questions were raised than answered. What exactly was this New Age? Was it communicating with a yucca plant, or laying bare-assed with an erection on a rock in an Arizona desert attempting to soak up mother earth's energy and crying out "I am Man?" Or was it getting stoned on pot, LSD, or crack cocaine, or blown out of one's skull with hallucinogenic mushrooms. Was it wearing long hair, beads, faded jeans with the knees cut out, a hole just below the right rear cheek to show you were naked underneath? Did it mean being bearded and spouting esoteric poetry? Is it the philosophy of "if it feels good, do it?" Ah yes, it is said to have been an effort to return to a more natural world. Okay, but why all the trappings? Why all the pretense? Why not just be? Just be? Didn't I say take from each dogma that which helps you feel spiritual? You got me there; I did. So, why am I so critical of the New Agers? Aren't they seeking the spiritual? Remember I said there was a catch. I have even repeated it. So, what's the catch? Their quest is self-centered, ego based and primarily communal. From one viewpoint, man is advised to love his neighbor as himself. Not bad. In fact, it's pretty good. The Hippies of the 60s and 70s preached "Love." Unfortunately it degenerated into irresponsible sex and drug use, both of which have continued into the 21st Century. Love your neighbor has been interpreted to mean don't be selfish. You know, give it all away. Such an attitude relies upon the notion that Self and selfish are one and the same. And there in lies the rub. They are not! To love your neighbor as yourself means you FIRST must LOVE your SELF. Now you have it! The ultimate secret of secrets. You have to love your Self, that inner being, that which transcends all other identifying attributes. Any demand that negates the value of Self denies Selfhood. Recognizing the value of Self is essential for Self Love. If Self Love is not present how then can you possible say you love God (any name you choose to call the Divine), let alone love your neighbor. Without Self Love there can be no spiritual contentment. If you accept the tenant that you were created in the image of the Divine, how can you negate that which IT created by demanding that you love your Self less. You can't and remain spiritually whole, that is, spiritually content. Suppose these concepts of individuation of the spiritual experience were to catch on what might the logical projection be? It would become organized, with specific procedures, ceremonies, and demands. Traditionalism would rear its ugly head and again threaten the individual experience. What has to be understood is that all spiritual experience is personal. the late Ayn Rand's statement regarding a collective stomach eating the same meal is appropriate here. There is such a thing as a collective stomach; likewise there isn't such a thing as a collective experience. You may participate in a group that claims such experience, but the GROUP did not have the experience: Individuals within the group did and that extent it is individual—always.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Retrieving the Soul: The Way of the Shaman by Norman W Wilson, PhD



For 40,000 years or more the fundamental belief in the shamanic world has been and still is the soul or part of that soul may leave the body because of disease, being stolen, or even given away. The departure of the soul from the body causes the body to be ill and ultimately die. The idea here is a simple one, yet seldom voiced. The soul has a body in which it temporarily lives. It is fluid, and it is this fluidity that creates problems for the shaman. If the soul or its parts are missing; it is up to the shaman to locate and begin a retrieval of the soul.

     To do this, the shaman must travel to the Spirit World; there seeks out the soul or its missing part(s). He takes with him his Spirit Animal or Spirit Guide who knows where the soul or its parts are located. Negotiating for the soul or its parts is an endeavor fought with danger for both the patient and the shaman. As a cautionary measure, the shaman does not use his own powers to retrieve the soul. Any such attempt could result in suffering, a serious depletion of his powers, skills, energy, and even his death.

A patient is surrounded with healing herbs, crystals, stones, and smudged with healing herbal smoke. The shaman may begin to chant, have a drum beat, or dance around the patient. During this stage of the procedure, the shaman alters his state of consciousness. 

     Altering his state of consciousness is necessary to journey to the Spirit World. The shaman may sit down in a trance state or may remain standing in a suspended state of movement. Once the shaman is in the Spirit World his Guide will lead him to where the soul or its part is located. There, whatever entity has it must be confronted. 

     If he is successful in retrieving the soul, the shaman returns to the present world and then literally blows the soul back into his patient's body. Is this procedure always successful? No, success is not guaranteed. Sometimes, the patient is so ill or broken hearted that any shamanic effort fails. 

     Today, much is being written about shamanic soul retrieval as psychological counseling. The shift from real shamanic soul retrieval to considerations for psychological disassociation, depression, anxiety, sadness, low self-esteem, and or anger is a disservice. Caution needs to be the operative in such cases. A shaman is so much more than an early psychologist and to name modern psychological practices as shamanic are wrong. A psychologist does not treat his patient with herbs and or herbals, he does  not uses sound to change the body's vibrational patterns, nor does he travel to the spiritual world for help in healing his patient. And all of that does not lessen the value of what a psychologist does; mainly guiding his or her patient through their issues to find the answers for themselves. 

Dr. Wilson was introduced to his first shaman at the age of seven. For him, visiting The First People of Canada, actually seeing real "Indians" was a little boy's dream come true. After all, the only Indians he had seen were in the Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, and the Lone Ranger movies. That delight and interest in shamanic ways resulted in a life-time pursuit. He brings his knowledge and understanding of shamanic ways together in Shamanism What It's All About in which he answers the questions of what a shaman is, what a shaman does, and what a shaman believes.



©Norman W Wilson, PhD

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

PR Tips for Writers: Tools for promoting and publishing your dream book by Michelle Tennant

So you have written that book you have dreamed of writing for years and now want to get it published. What next?

For more than 15 years, I have represented numerous authors through my company, Wasabi Publicity Inc. I also worked in a publishing house soon after graduating college. I have seen many publishing strategies, some more successful than others.

The Web gives you opportunities not only to publicize and sell your book, but also to develop your work interactively with your readers.

Give yourself the best chance for success by using both traditional and online PR tools to build interest in your book.

Traditional PR opportunities include things like radio and TV interviews and print book reviews. Online tools include email, blogs, social networking and free media query services such as PitchRate.com that connect you with journalists seeking experts in your subject area.

The Internet offers all kinds of ways to get your book published that weren’t even dreamed of a few years ago. Just be aware there are pros and cons of self-publishing online or through on-demand printers versus the traditional route of going through a publishing house.

Many people choose to self-publish because it is cheaper and allows them to keep a higher percent of profits. Some authors create their own companies and then have their books printed on demand through a company such as Bookmasters.com (www.bookmasters.com).

Bookmasters and Iuniverse (www.iuniverse.com) are a couple companies that can help you self-publish. Keep in mind that some self-publishing companies, like major publishing houses, take a large share of profits, so carefully review any contracts you sign with your lawyer.

If you don’t want to publish yourself, you can go the traditional route of putting out queries to publishing houses and keep self-publishing as a fallback if you don’t land a deal. I always advise aspiring authors to get a book called The Writer’s Market (www.fwbookstore.com/product/1994). It allows you to see what books are planned for publication in the coming year and what kinds of books publishers are hot to publish.

A third choice that is becoming more and more popular is to publish your book initially in a digital format only. That is what our company did with our “PR Campaign Cookbook” on our Web site, www.WasabiPublicity.com. The book includes professional graphics and can be purchased online. Although it is not one of our primary products, it is a nice perk we can share with affiliates and partners.

Books can be great marketing tools, a way to parlay who you are to a larger audience. Combine them with speaking programs, book signings, radio interviews and Web seminars and you have an overall publicity program that both promotes and draws from your published work.

Many of the clients my company serves are experts in various fields who get national publicity, some before they ever published a book. One client used a series of TV appearances around the country to build a platform for a book and later got snatched up by an agent.

Several of my clients are self-published authors. Dr. Jill Murray, a California psychotherapist who specializes in domestic violence, published her book on Iuniverse and has had great success getting publicity. We were able to get her on Dr. Phil, and she has also been on Oprah and 20/20.

Another client, Dr. Amy Tieman, created her own publishing house called Spark to publish her works. She was later picked up by a larger publishing house. The PR and media platform we helped her develop helped attract the larger publisher willing to invest money to print her book on a larger scale.

However you choose to publish, keep in mind the tremendous potential the Web affords you to make your book a truly interactive experience for readers. Compile email lists of people interested in your work and share useful information, surveys and newsletters with them. Use interactive blogs to let them give input.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I'm a Writer by Susan A. Royal

     I’d be lying if I said my lifestyle has changed dramatically from what it was before I was published. It’s true there are some writers who are successful enough to give up their day jobs and concentrate full time on being a writer without worrying about eating, but in reality it doesn’t happen that way. If I had $100 for every time someone says, “You’re published? Wow…I guess you’re raking in the royalties. Why haven’t you quit your job?” I might be able to.
 
     Truth is it takes hard work and time. These days most authors work for a living, make time for their families, do a lot of their own marketing, network to make themselves known, and try to keep up with the newest literary trends. All this is done while we continue to write. That’s not counting first drafts, second drafts, edits, edits and more edits. This happens before we even submit our work. When I began writing, I was told once the author signs a contract, it can take as long as two years before seeing the finished product, and I wondered why so long. Now I know. Even more time is spent unearthing inconsistencies in a manuscript, tweaking, polishing and making it a better, more cohesive story. That takes a lot of time. After going through it so many times I loathe and despise every character and every line of dialogue and wonder briefly whatever possessed me in the first place, I’m still not done. I have galley edits. 

     In spite of all this, I continue to write. Why? There’s nothing like breathing life into a scene I may have carried around in my head for weeks. Or making one of my characters seem like a real, live person. I carry a note pad with me, because I never know when inspiration will strike. I find myself paying close attention to conversations, body language or the way some place makes me feel. When it does I write it down.

     I saw him the other day. It happened when I cut across Market Street and passed in front of the fancy new coffee shop. On the other side of spotless glass, waitresses in crisp black uniforms served expensive coffee in fancy cups and saucers. One man sat alone at a table by the window. No one I knew, just a handsome stranger who glanced up as I passed. Our eyes met and I froze in the middle of a busy sidewalk crowded with impatient people. Annoyed, they parted, sweeping past me like water rushing downstream.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Wish I Were Here by Dina Colman, MA, MBA

“Having a great time. Wish I were here.” I saw this quote on
a postcard a long time ago, and it always stuck with me. How
often are you at a party, going about your daily life, or even on
vacation without really being there? Perhaps you are still stuck in
yesterday thinking about the argument you had with your spouse
or maybe you are already in tomorrow worrying about your big
presentation.

Living in the present sounds so simple, but is actually quite
challenging. Ruminating about what happened in the past seems
to come without effort, doesn’t it? And, with so many demands
on our time, it is hard not to be thinking about the future and all
that needs to be done. How can we make it feel more natural to
simply be in this moment?

Try living in the present right now. As you are reading this
book, recognize that you are taking the time and reading a book.
Notice where you are sitting, how your body is feeling, and what
sounds you hear. Read the words on the page and just be in the
moment of reading. You have decided to take time out to read
this book, so try to be with it fully for the next few minutes. If you
are doing other things in addition to reading this book—such as
listening to music, watching TV, or eating—try doing just one
thing, reading.

Mindfulness is about being conscious of the present moment
in all that you do, filling your body’s senses with what you are
experiencing right now. Remember, you only have this moment
once in your life. You might as well savor it by fully being with the
activity you have decided to focus on. Try the Now I Am Aware
exercise to help bring you in the present moment. How can you
finish the sentence, “Now I am aware…”? For example:

Now I am aware...of the hum of the air cleaner.
Now I am aware...of a car driving by.
Now I am aware...of my dog chewing on a toy.
Now I am aware...of tightness in my neck.
Now I am aware...of an itch on my knee.
Now I am aware...of the sun streaming in the window.

Doing this exercise helps you become more present and aware
of your senses—what you are seeing, feeling, and hearing in this
moment. You can then take it one step further and allow yourself
to be in your current activity exclusively. There are times in your
life when this happens naturally because it is hard to be anywhere
else. For example, when you are riding a roller coaster or skiing
downhill, you are typically so absorbed in that activity that you are
in the now. This can even happen in a movie theater. You can be so
immersed in the movie that you don’t hear the person next to you
munching on popcorn or feel your knees stiffening up from sitting
so long.

The challenge is to bring this presence to every day activities
like washing the dishes, making the bed, walking the dog, or eating
a meal. Starting with the Now I Am Aware exercise is a great first
step to bring you into the present moment. Then allow yourself
to simply be.

The beauty of mindfulness is that it can be done anywhere
and anytime. The more we do it, the more we encourage health
and wellness by breaking the cycle of the chronic state of stress
that has become our daily lives.

In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle says that the present
moment is where we find our joy and are able to embrace our
true selves. He says it is here that we discover we are already
complete and perfect. The beauty is that this is fully in reach for
everyone. We just have to simply be. Here. Now.
Next time I’m having a great time, I plan to be there. How about you?"

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ways to prevent falling By SuZanna Mantis, creator of the DVD "I have fallen, and I CAN get Up!"

Ways to prevent falling By SuZanna Mantis, creator of the DVD  "I have fallen, and I CAN get Up!"
I never thought twice about falling...until I fell hard on black ice three years ago. Onto my knees with one knee bloody the other bruised. It hurt my pride almost worse than my knees. Now I knew first hand what many of my students in gentle seated yoga concerns were; Falling.... falling and Not being able to get up, falling and hurting themselves. I had been a hospice volunteer for years when  I began to hear stories of people falling and not getting up for hours. Even with devices to alert someone or a phone across the room, they could not get up. I realized I had the knowledge to help people. I am trained as a yoga teacher and reflexologist, and have been working with up to 70 seniors weekly since 2007. I conducted interviews and got many responses. The #1 concern was "what if I fall and I can't get up?". This was when I had to translate my knowledge into power and help train all of us over 65 How to Get Up! 

Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic. "Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention. Consider activities such as walking, water workouts, gentle seated yoga or tai chi. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. If you avoid physical activity because, you're afraid, it will make a fall more likely, says your doctor. He or she may recommend carefully monitored exercise programs or refer you to a physical therapist. The physical therapist can create a custom exercise program aimed at improving your balance, flexibility, muscle strength and gait. Wear sensible shoes. Consider changing your footwear as part of your fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. So can walking in your stocking feet. Instead wear properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles."

What can we older adults do to prevent falls? Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi and Seated Gentle Yoga are especially good. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update your eyeglasses. Make your homes safer by reducing tripping hazards(those throw rugs need to go!) adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways, and improve the lighting in your home. Lowering your hip fracture risk, older adults can: Get adequate calcium and vitamin D—from food and supplements. Ask your doctor to do a yearly blood test on your Vit D  levels. Do weight bearing exercise.
We want  to be and live in a society where we as older adults can live safe, healthy and independent lives. We need to take action toward that society for ourselves.