From Anxiety to Love
As with pretty much all the New World Library books I've reviewed the last many months, From Anxiety to Love: A Radical Approach for Letting Go of Fear and Finding Lasting Peace couldn't have arrived in my life at a more ironic time.
As a yoga and meditation instructor passionate about teaching mindfulness, this book closely paralleled a lot of my favorite practices, teachings, and certifications in iRest Yoga Nidra® meditation in particular.
For me, reading this book was an excellent reminder to not disregard perspectives that speak another "language", though are otherwise promoting an almost identical message.
What I mean?
My roots to religion and spirituality stem originally and geographically from rural Ohio; members of my family and community are deeply connected to very conservative Christianity and Catholicism.
I think this book is a tremendous and absolutely worthwhile read for those who believe in God.
Needless to say, as a young woman who has now lived in a large and quite open-minded city the last decade saturated with scholars, scientists, and openly out-and-about atheists—I am intrigued by the juxtapositions between those who are religious and those who are not.
I consider myself both secular and spiritual.
Thus this book was quite a fascinating read!
For those who love Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan and other such straightforward, secular heroes of the world, I suspect you might initially meet this book, based on teachings of A Course in Miracles, with a bit of skepticism.
I think it is very important to acknowledge the message of this book, though I personally have a harder time connecting to certain "spiritual" language used in it that seems to make unquantified claims like many other self-aggrandizing religions often do—as a meditation teacher of a practice scientifically backed and proven again and again and again to achieve quite similar results, I tend to dislike blanket statements presented as given "fact".
For instance, even an innocent sentence like, "God honors our miscreations," is a tad too much for me. Says who?
I suspect that much of the spiritual jargon used in this book isn't scientifically necessary to transform anxiety to love or peace.
However, this book is still wonderful enough that as a secular reviewer, I definitely recommend this spiritual book bursting with flowery terminology.
(The capitalized words of this book like: Love, Child Mind, Inner Therapist, Oneness, Course, Source, and the many excerpts followed by "(ACIM T-6.IV.3:2)", for instance, seemed off-putting and patronizing to me pretty much the entire time.)
Perhaps this is just me being stubborn—or perhaps what I'm getting at is these concepts of alleviating anxiety, seeking spirituality, and reaching peace are much broader and more universal than any one religion or school of thought can individually claim.
(In my opinion, of course!)
With the philosophical mastermind Alan Watts as one of my greatest muses, I am interested in my strong reaction to the language used in this book, as the only difference in message was conceptual—the nomenclature and jargon I found distasteful, but not at all the message behind this book!
In my mind, truth must be able to encompass all.
This book's message is still great enough that I'd recommend trying to translate the "new age-y" speak into practical terms related to meditation for my scientific friends disinterested in "spiritual" books.
In short, I believe science and spirituality can happily sit aside each other—saying different words but perhaps referring to the same concepts—as the profound atheist Albert Einstein said, "The closer I get to nature, the closer I get to God."
Whether an astrophysicist is fascinated by the infinitely growing cosmos, a spiritual seeker is contemplating the meaning of life, or whether you were indoctrinated into a particularly harsh religious dogma, we all seem to be pondering the same universal and existential questions, no?
Life, death, and what comes after?
For my religious family members and friends, I think that this book offers a perspective on God that is so profound, I most certainly recommend they read it!
To conceive of a God that is truly all-loving does not seem to sit naturally with those raised within particularly stifling religious institutions.
I recently stumbled into an extraordinarily tense, awkward, and apparently still VERY hot topic of Hell (pun intended!) during a dinner conversation between myself and very Catholic members of my family.
While reading this book and living my life in this very modern era, I suddenly realized how taboo this fear of burning in hell still is, how real this unspoken guilt and fear about the wrath of an unkind God still is for so many people in our current society.
Real people in my very own life to this day are haunted by this underlying paranoia, anxiety, and fear of death.
(For years I've recommended Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion to those terrified of an eternity of suffering, and will now also recommend this book by Corinne Zupko as a spiritual alternative offering a perspective of a NOT violent, controlling, and tyrannical interpretation of God.)
For those who were born and raised with the threat of eternal damnation, torture, and the promised agony of Hell for disobeying the rules of their religious doctrine—from what I've witnessed, these people don't seem nearly as open to investigating new perspectives about life, death, or philosophy.
The fear of hell seems unbelievably ingrained in some people's minds.
This unspoken fear that lingers inside many of us seems like a huge topic to air out as a society, though I realize, talking openly about religion, death, or what comes after seems to be a horrifying and deeply scary topic for many to even THINK about thinking about.
For the religious and spiritual of the world, this book offers such a refreshing and wonderful conceptualization of a God that is not vengeful, violent, or oppressive.
I'd be curious to see what both secular and religious people make of this book, as I believe it's one of the few that can exist somewhere in the space between extreme systems of beliefs.
This is a truly thoughtful and practical book that offers great techniques to eradicate or diminish anxiety and find lasting peace!