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 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 and Iuniverse ( 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 ( 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, 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

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.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Art of Anxiety By Tracy Shawn, M.A.

(First published in Psychology Tomorrow Magazine)

            When I was thirteen years old, I bought a wall hanging depicting neon-yellow lemons converging into a sea of lemonade. Emblazoned across the cloth was the now-clich├ęd phrase: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” At the time, I thought it was one of the most profound things I had ever heard. I would stare at those words, listening to Joni Mitchell, my young, teenage self just knowing that Joni’s exquisite music would not exist without a deeper anguish beyond what her already self-revealing lyrics divulged.  
            Though it’s been some four decades since my melancholic youth, I understand even more now that artists struggle with a higher-than-average rate of anxiety (as well as other mental and emotional issues). Our culture has even normalized the tormented artist syndrome, with drugged-out, depressed, and on-the-brink-of-nervous breakdown characterizations of musicians, painters, and writers in movies and books as a kind of anguished-soul archetype. But that torment isn’t just about the artist’s ongoing struggle of creating in a world that may or may not appreciate that person’s talent. It also stems from both the pre-existing anxiety and creativity—which can, in turn, further fuel the anxiety.
Co-founder of the Midwest Center for the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression (, Lucinda Bassett notes in her bestselling book “From Panic to Power” that anxiety-sufferers tend to be highly creative people with fantastic imaginations. Bassett explains that this innate creativity can also exacerbate the anxiety. By using their imaginations to create the worst—and sometimes quite irrational—fears, people who suffer from anxiety may know that they are creative, but are unaware that their talent is actually stoking their fears.   
Interestingly, a study by The Surrey Institute of Clinical Hypnotherapy ( released on February 17, 2013, notes a higher propensity for anxiety amongst people who believe that they are creative in some way. Paul Howard, an anxiety specialist at the Surrey Institute of Clinical Hypnotherapy, surmises that creative people may be more prone to anxiety because they’re so talented in imagining quite vibrant visualizations of the “what-ifs.” Howard’s sentiments are in clear agreement with Bassett’s, with many anxiety-sufferer’s first-hand accounts in articles, blogs, and books attesting to the same finely-tuned talent in imagining the worse.
The October 17th, 2012 edition of the BBC news ( by health editor of BBC News online, Michelle Roberts, touches upon the question of what kind of treatment options are the most beneficial for someone who may be suffering from emotional issues and at the same time is highly creative. Roberts notes that lead researcher Dr. Simon Kyaga suggests that disorders should be viewed in a new light—with certain traits actually being beneficial or desirable. Roberts quotes Dr. Kyaga as saying, “If one takes the view that certain phenomena associated with the patient’s illness are beneficial, it opens the way for a new approach to treatment.”
With this in mind, perhaps when artists engage in their work, what is happening beyond the outward expression of creativity is an inward kind of practical self-medication. And when creative people do not actively channel their abilities, their talent can turn on them, a rush of what-if imaginings flooding their minds with anxiety. The challenge for anxiety sufferers is to be able to acknowledge their creativity, then actively use it in whatever ways they can so that their talents become a positive force rather than a negative drain. As the renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell reminds us, the greatest weakness that a hero struggles with—and then overcomes—may very likely become that hero’s greatest strength.
Tracy Shawn, M.A. lives and writes on the Central Coast of California. Her award-winning novel, The Grace of Crows, is about how an anxiety-ridden woman finds happiness through the most unexpected of ways—and characters. Dubbed a “stunning debut novel” by top 50 Hall of Fame reviewer, Grady Harp, The Grace of Crows has won the Jack Eadon Award for the Best Book in Contemporary Drama, Second Place for General Fiction for the Readers Choice Awards, and Runner-Up for 2014 General Fiction with the Great Northwest Book Festival.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

You Don’t Have to Be Gay to Appreciate This by Rick Bettencourt

It’s amazing the changes the gay community have gone through over the last few years. Regardless of your views on gay marriage, and the like, the general opinion in the United States is in support of lesbians and gays. As a result being gay, is much more accepting. You’ll find gay characters common in television shows, movies and books; more so than they were just a decade ago. And it’s not just the LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender) who are enjoying this entertainment.

As someone who knew he was gay when he was five years old, I was fortunate enough to have lived in Massachusetts when gay marriage was invoked. To me it was like a blessing from God. I remember saying to my partner, at the time, (we’ve since divorced, but we’ll save that for another post), I said, “Oh my God! We can now marry. I can get on your health insurance!” I know. Probably not the most-romantic thing to say. (Now you are probably thinking you know why I got divorced—again, topic for another day.)

I bring this personal issue up because sharing benefits—such as health insurance, tax discounts, being able to see each other in the hospital in the event of an emergency—can provide security and allows people to take risks. Today I write fiction. I probably wouldn’t have gotten here had it not been for me venturing into entrepreneurial endeavors way back when.

While most of my writing involves gay characters, I’m astonished that over fifty percent of my fans are straight women. I think this is a testimony to the general acceptance of homosexuality over the last few years. Tim on Broadway, my latest book, is a case in point. Tim is an overweight twenty-something virgin. He’s infatuated with theater, divas, music and the bag boy at the grocery store from which he got fired. As one of my readers wrote, “It’s less a romance than a romantic tale of someone's self-discovery.” They went on to say, “You don't have to be a Broadway fan (or gay) to appreciate this work.”

Tim on Broadway deals with the complexities we all face: personal growth, career choices, religion and finding your purpose in life. Tim, the protagonist in the story, not only struggles with his weight but also battles anxiety. As the story unfolds, we learn the true nature of his psychological scars, and he turns to God for answers. It’s a story about finding oneself, experiencing love and discovering joy.
Here’s a short excerpt when Tim finally meets his favorite singer. I hope you like it.

“We all have our faults, Tim,” she said. She was still holding me. “You may think I’m some big star, some big celebrity without any problems but I’m not. I’m no better than you. I’m not an idol to worship.”

I hugged her a little tighter. The sequins on her shoulder strap pressed into my chin.
She let go and held me out by my shoulders. “You ready?”

“I am.”
“Good.” She gave me one more hug. She then went over to her make-up table to grab another tissue and fix her eyes.

And as she was cleaning the smear of make-up on her cheek, I noticed a note taped to her mirror:
I am God.

“Uh, that’s good enough,” she said to her reflection in the mirror. She looked down at the note at which I had been staring. “Oh, that,” she said, “it’s not what you think. I don’t think that highly of myself. Well, then again, in a sense I have to. We all have to.” She turned around. “We are all God, Tim.”

I took it in, thinking about those Judy Blume books I read as a kid. Are you there, God? It’s me, Timothy.

“As I was saying earlier, there’s a spark of God in us all,” she said.

I nodded.

She started toward the door, stopped and put her hands on her hips. “Tim, God’s not external from us. He, or she, is a spark in us all, and it’s our job to stoke the fire from it.” She held a fist out in front and put her arm out for me to escort her. “Sir?”

I moved over to her, and she put her arm in mine. “My lady,” I said and led her to the stage.
Rick Bettencourt lives with his husband and their little dog, Bandit, in the Sarasota area of Florida. Rick originally hails from Boston’s North Shore where he learned to speak without pronouncing the letter “r”—and say things like “tonic” when he wanted a Coke, or “bubbler” when getting a drink from the park’s water fountain. You can follow Rick on Twitter @rbettenc or subscribe to his mailing list at

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