DE Reading Room: Women Who Run With the Wolves and The Hero With a Thousand Faces

9780345409874_p0_v1_s260x420I wanted to share the current book I am reading.  I  kept coming upon references to Women Who Run With the Wolves , by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. so I finally picked up a copy to read.  There are many excellent reviews out there but in a nutshell this is a collection of stories and myths from around the world for women (and the men who want to understand them) about reconnecting with the soul self. It tells how society, culture and ego have separated women from their true nature, and how it can be reclaimed.  2617434

As I read Women Who Run With the Wolves, I am reminded of Joseph Campbell’s, Hero with a Thousand Faces  (you can read a review here) as they both weave archetype, mythology and modern psychology together to illustrate how myths, and ancient stories parallel modern life. In a Hero With a Thousand Faces, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey as played out in many movies and books today and of mythology and ancient stories of the past.  Campbell contends that we all get the call in our life to begin our own personal Hero’s Journey should we choose to answer.

These books take some time to digest, but both authors do a great job of breaking down the symbolic meanings as they relate to real life and the psyche.

How to Minimize Love: Give it Only One Word

Sanskrit has 96 words for love; ancient Persian has 80, Greek three, and English only one. This is indicative of the poverty of awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling. Eskimos have 30 words for snow, because it is a life-and-death matter to them to have exact information about the element they live with so intimately. If we had a vocabulary of 30 words for love … we would immediately be richer and more intelligent in this human element so close to our heart. An Eskimo probably would die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love. Of all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it comes to feeling.” – Robert Johnson, “The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden“.

With that being said, I wonder how the English language can only have one word for love?  In one breath I can say I love nachos and in the next,  that I love my kids.  At some point, I began to believe the word ‘love’ was inadequate in some situations and thrown around too casually in others.  In an attempt to understand the depth and nuance of the love given and received in my life, I’ve been guilty of minimizing it without even realizing it.  I’ve tried to label love: first love, puppy love, last love; more, best, most love; biological, familial, relational, friend, cultural love; free love, easy love, complicated love.   You name it I’ve categorized it and in doing so minimized it by trying to quantify it.

The problem with this is that it backfired because in an effort to quantify love, I began to question the love that was given to me.   All of this labeling led to quantifying which led to wondering if the love received was real or strong enough, or it left me wondering where I stacked up in the hierarchy of love. If only I had had the vocabulary to discern between the various forms of love, perhaps, I wouldn’t have gone down the rabbit hole:-) Read More

DE Reports: Dianetics

dmsmh igen nep.inddDisclaimer:  I am not, never have been, nor will ever be a Scientologist.  Now you may read on without concern for my well being:-)

During my visit at a recent conference, I noticed a vibrant booth that was promoting the book, Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health.  I love to read and apparently I’m a sucker for marketing; after all, it reads “The #1 New York Times Best Seller” across the cover so I stood back surveying the scene.  There was a large display of the book with the cover image of a spewing volcano and the author’s name in gold foil in large print, Ron L. Hubbard.  There were people milling around and a few taking a seat for some kind of assessment.  They were holding metal batons and a meter would detect their stress level.  As I was taking this all in I was trying to place the author’s name.  I knew it sounded familiar, was it that movie director, you know the one from Happy Days?  If so, I would read one of his books.  And then, I was interrupted mid thought…

A woman from the Dianetics booth noticed me from afar and literally took me by the arm from the aisle.  I wasn’t even standing next to the booth.  The next thing I know I am sitting in a chair with the metal baton in my hand.  She asks me if I know what Dianetics is.  I say, it sounds familiar, but I can’t place it.  Anyway, she goes on to tell me it is the science of mind over matter, that you can heal or cure any mental, emotional or physical ailment with the power of your mind and Dianetics is the science that shows you how.  Well of course that sounds intriguing.  The woman is very engaging and asks me to talk about something I find stressful, the meter goes all the way to the end to show verification that what I say is indeed very stressful.  Then she gets me talking about other areas of interest and I forget I am holding the baton.  I don’t even know what the meter is saying.  Damn, she is good.  As the conversation winds down and it is time to move on  she asks if I am interested in the book.   I sort of am, what the heck maybe I could learn something and it is a best seller after all.  Just as the transaction goes through I realize who the author is, the founder of Scientology, not Ron Howard!  I say wait a minute, is this related to Scientology?  The reply is yes, this book is the foundation of what Scientology is based upon.  I respond,  “Okay, well I am not really interested after all”.  She asks,  “Why not, what have you heard about Scientology?”

I can see where this is going and I am not going to take the bait anymore!  I simply say that I am not one to follow any particular path, and that I enjoy the truths of  many religions, but what I am really thinking is, I’m not interested in Scientology because I think it is cultish, the founder’s mental health has been questioned, slave ships, Tom Cruise and his divorces, bad press all around – it’s all coming to me now!  But I know she is armed and prepared for everything I am thinking and ready to defend Scientology, she knows this is the perception.  I shut it down and take the book and go with hesitation.  The woman from the booth tells me to just read it, she reminds me, “you said yourself you are interested in many truths and that you like to look at topics from all sides even when you don’t agree.”  Damn it!  She is using my own words against me.  She tells me to please read it and if I don’t like it I can get my money back.  Whatever, so I leave feeling conflicted with a heavy book weighing down my shoulder and I move on slightly irritated.

The next day I go back to the conference and I have decided that I am going to return the book and get my money back.  I realize once inside the huge conference center that I had left the book in my car the night before because of the weight.  Damn it, I am not going back to the parking garage.  I am so bothered by this.  It is only $25, but it is the principle of it.  Once back at home I am still thinking about this damn book.  I think, well I could mail it back and request a refund, but then I quickly realize that I do not want to engage anymore.  So then I think, maybe I should donate the book, but that bothers me too because its like throwing away money and supporting a cause I am not interested in.  And then it hits me.  What am I so resistant for?  I am going to turn this into an assignment.  I am going to read Dianetics with three highlighters.  One to highlight the supporting text that backs up my negative feelings.  After all, when asked why I am not interested in Scientology what better way than to cite direct quotes.  Secondly, I am interested in what the hook is for readers.  What draws people in?  And lastly, I am going gold mining.  I am going to look for the nuggets of truth no matter how buried because any religion usually has some universal truth within it, right?

I no longer feel irritated that I have Dianetics in my possession.  I am sure the stress meter would indicate the same;-)  However, I am not sure when I will begin the assignment, but I will report back when I’m finished!

Yours Truly,

~Brandi Helligso

The Reading Room: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

War of ArtI’m paraphrasing the author here, read this book if you are pursuing any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long term growth. This could be health related, the pursuit of higher education, spiritual growth, operating from true integrity, and/or any project, enterprise or creative pursuit.

I loved this book for two main reasons: Read More

The Reading Room: The Book of Awakening – Mark Nepo

9781573245388The Book of Awakening was given to me as a gift at the just the perfect time as it is what I am currently reading as I begin this blog.

The title and subtitle alone are deeply profound and convey the internal process/work I’ve been tending to for years.  Mark Nepo gives meaningful insights in small doses , but with so much depth.   Mark has given me the clarity to articulate abstract feelings I’ve had in regards to my own spiritual journey.  He’s brought me back to areas I’ve worked through to show me how far I’ve come.  He’s encouraged me through his writing to continue doing the work.  Though I would do the work regardless, it is nice to know that someone else as wise as Mark has been there too.  Awakening is an unfolding that continues for a lifetime. Read More


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