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Posted: July 08, 2005

Spiritual Caregiving

Looking for Summer Inspiration? These Books Can Help

(Editor's Note: As the summer drags on, hopefully with a few lazy days -- or even hours -- for reading by busy caregivers, here are some books to inspire you year-round.)


Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue,
Stress & Fear into Vibrance, Strength & Love

Judith Orloff
Harmony Books 04/04 Hardcover $24.00
ISBN 0609610104

"A hidden energy crisis threatens our world. Our high-tech, volatile society thrusts many of us into chronic physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion," writes Judith Orloff, assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA and pioneer of what she calls "energy psychiatry." She sees this new field as a sub-specialty of energy medicine, which views our bodies and spirits as manifestations of subtle energies. Chinese medicine calls this force chi or qi, to Hawaiian kahunas it is mana, and to Indian practitioners it is prana.

In this very accessible work, Orloff presents a daily program of positive energy for unifying spirit, emotions, and body. Those familiar with her last book, Dr. Judith Orloff's Guide to Intuitive Healing, will recognize her special blend of lively illustrative material, practical exercises, and testimonies by those who have used her revivification techniques and opened their lives to new possibilities.

The first prescription establishes that intuition is one of the key resources in bringing a surge of positive energy: "It offers a direct line to your life force and also, as I experience it, to a divine intelligence." Developing a heart-centered spirituality is another way to rejuvenate yourself and bring forth your best. Another prescription recommends opening yourself to the flow of creativity and inspiration: "Creativity frees energy by connecting you with joy, getting stagnant life force moving, bettering health and mood, and providing a break from problems."

One of the most practical prescriptions covers ways to protect yourself from "energy vampires," those difficult individuals who suck you dry, including the blamer, the drama queen, the fixer-upper, the go-for-the-jugular fiend, and the unintentional sapper. In a time when people of all walks of life feel drained and worn down, this illuminating resource has many good suggestions for the spiritual process of rejuvenation. Orloff makes zest for life into an achievable goal.


The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book about Living

Ira Byock
Free Press 03/04 Hardcover $23.00
ISBN 0743249047

Dr. Ira Byock has devoted more than 25 years to caring for seriously ill patients and their loved ones. He is the author of Dying Well: The Prospect for Growth at the End of Life and currently serves as director of palliative medicine at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

In The Four Things That Matter Most, Byock looks at four simple statements — 11 words in all — that can bring immense relief and healing power to those facing death. They are: Please forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you. He notes: "These four short sentences carry the core of wisdom of what people who are dying have taught me about what matters most in life."

We are happy to see that these pivotal statements are part of the alphabet of spiritual practices highlighted on this website: forgiveness, gratitude, and love. Byock uses many stories from his work to relate how individuals have dealt with unfinished business during their last days. Many begin by forgiving others, healing the rifts that have caused pain and grief in the past. Byock writes: "Forgiveness is a passage to a sanctuary of wholeness, that nurturing place where we feel intimately connected to the people who matter most to us. It is a place of healing and transformation. In it, we feel the perfect fullness of the present."

Others use their dying days to acknowledge with gratitude the good things they have experienced. Finally, the dying usually make an effort to express love to those who are near and dear. Byock has put his finger on some simple and elegant truths about what matters most.


Loving Yourself: Four Steps to a Happier You

Daphne Rose Kingma
Conari Press 04/04 Paperback $12.95
ISBN 1573249246

We have all been told in countless ways that we are unique and valuable, yet the message doesn't get through. We fumble when complimented; we shy away from nurturing ourselves because we feel that we don't deserve it; and we sabotage our attempts to be compassionate with ourselves. Daphne Rose Kingma, a psychotherapist for 25 years, has helped many individuals and couples improve their relationships. In this handy volume, she turns her attention to the love of self.

Self-love is not narcissism, says Kingma. In Loving Yourself: Four Steps to a Happier You, she takes a hard look at the blocks that prevent us from taking good care of our bodies, minds, and souls, including self-criticism, self-blame, self-deprecation, self-doubt, self-deprivation, self-destructiveness, and self-pity. All stem from bad self-esteem and can be rectified.

The four steps to loving yourself are speaking out, acting out, clearing out, and setting out. These can be applied to all arenas of our lives — how we take care of our bodies; our relationships with colleagues, friends and family; the ways we bring our creativity to fruition; and how we pursue our life dreams or chosen careers. Living with self-compassion means consciously making choices that will sustain us in this busy world. It means nurturing ourselves with mini-Sabbaths, retreats, or whatever it takes. As Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg states: "One must endeavor to love oneself abundantly."

This article originally appeared in Spirituality & Health magazine, For subscriptions call 1-800-876-8202 or see Editor Stephen Kiesling and his staff contribute weekly columns, features and articles published every Friday as "Spiritual Caregiving" at Contact staff directly via email at

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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