Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Guest Post [The Last Faith]


Xenophobia as a primordial instinct, arose with the appearance of living beings on Earth as a natural response to the threat posed by other species, and even members of the same species who belonged to external groups. We have all witnessed a child between the ages of 1-3 start to cry when they are approached by a stranger.

The phenomena of racism, nationalism and patriotism exist among humans as a result of the kind of xenophobia that existed when primitive humans, gregarious by nature, could only survive and Preserve their Gene with members of their own tribe existing on the same habitat, considered the homeland. Exactly the same phenomenon can be observed in the animal kingdom only then we use different terms to describe it. This same behaviour can be clearly observed in a pack of wolves for example, who will fight other wolf packs as ferociously as other species of animal such as bear.  

Unlike xenophobia, neither racism, nationalism nor patriotism can be said to be biologically inherent in human beings. Take children’s pre-school groups for example. Children of different races will play together without it ever occurring to them that they are in some way different from their play-pals. All racial prejudices are adopted from by the child from their parents as they get older, who in turn adopted the prejudices from their own parents etc, going back to the era of race wars.

Aside from ethnic racism, other forms of discrimination exist in the world against religion, gender and class. Why do these forms of discrimination continue to exist in modern society? The answer is simple – apartheid. Wherever schools exist in which children are separated into groups on account of race, religion, sex or class, discrimination in all its forms will continue to exist. The adoption of desegregation laws in the USA more than half a century ago, represented a significant step forward in achieving the eradication of ethnic racism in America. On the territory of the former Soviet Union, class racism proclaimed by Marxism-Leninism that asserted the superiority of the proletarian class, receded into oblivion together with the Communist regime that fostered the ideology.

Whereas racism born of xenophobia is condemned throughout the world and nationalism disapproved of, patriotism is universally encouraged. Yet even this tendency is changing. In united Europe attempts are clearly being made to foster in children a feeling of pan-European patriotism in place of an ethnic, state-based patriotism. There is every reason to suppose that the consequences of xenophobia will be mitigated by examples of rapprochement between nations and increasing globalization as all these developments are accompanied by an increase in global Freedom of Choice driven by the Law of Human dynamics. And yet, it is still very early days.

The Last Faith
“The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer” provides a clear and convincing answer to all the questions listed above. The answer which will cause the reader to reconsider many established moral principles and notions about the world around us. The answer which will help the reader to understand the nature of human actions, dilemmas, dramas and passions, in their true light. The answer which will elucidate the current stage in the development of human civilization and offer unexpected predictions for its future.

“The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer” is aimed at a wide audience and does not require any specialized knowledge. The author’s thoughts and reflections are presented here in the form of a fictional conversation with God which unfolds over the course of just two hundred pages. The author (PhD in Physics and Mathematics) gives concise and clearly expressed explanations and evidence for his ideas. He cites abundant examples from the world around us which are drawn from his extensive travels through Russia, America, Europe, Africa and Central Asia.

All this makes for an accessible and enjoyable read.

About the author: Karmak Bagisbayev was born on the shores of Aral Sea in Kazakhstan, graduated from Novosibirsk State University and currently holds PhD in physics and mathematics. He has worked and travelled throughout Europe, the United States, Africa and Asia. This is his first book. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Review [Learning to Drive into the Now: PRND]

"Mindfulness is about focusing without focus. It is about a dynamic attention that is free flowing. Once you experience it, you will know it. It can't really be described, but only alluded to. It must be experienced directly."

For the metaphysically inclined mind this quote is refreshing and intoxicating. And for a writer to entice my mental with a new yet familiar way of achieving the above is worth reading and writing about. Which is just what happened when I read Learning to Drive into the Now: PRND by Solan McClean. When I received this book in my P O Box I was immediately drawn to the feel of the quality of the book and plus two of my favorite colors are olive and black, so it got my attention. I was also curious to know how driving and self-help would mesh together.

Voice is very important and you will clearly know that this is a man talking. In lines like..."I've noticed that my car is really an extension of my physical self and to a large degree, a very revealing part of my mental self or the way I think and behave." Whoa! That was truly a masculine feeling I've never felt before. LOL! But hey I'm not a man, so again my interest was peaked to see how this practice of PRND would play out. In the beginning chapters Solan makes many good points on the validity of using the car as a private place to have time to yourself. I like the way he articulates the car and person's inner and outer connection. Also in the beginning I did get little confused on the transitions from one topic to the next which to me was a clear indication of a new professional writer.
However, even as a novice, Solan was very clear on who this book is intended for and I agree those who need a simple way to recondition the mind to a more peaceful existence and you don't have a lot of time, the PRND is a viable practice.

Now getting to what the practice really entails is going to take you a while through the pages, but is it worth the wait. The PRND acronyms were a cute and memorable touch to the point of the book. Also if you are in need of a pep talk to get yourself on the path to doing something positive for yourself, Solan offers the best pep talks I have every read; very encouraging and motivating throughout the entire book. Another nice point in the book which was a great reminder and lesson for seekers of truth was the reiteration of seeking the thoughts in between the thoughts. If you can grasp this concept you will be enriched by the PRND practice. The book also comes with a good trouble shooting chapter (Chapter 9) to help maintain consistency in the PRND practice.

This could have been a 5 ankh book for me but, I had to give it 4 ankhs because there were to things that I struggled with. One was the consistent dwelling on the ego mind. I felt he was repeating the same things over and over in fact the last four chapters of the book could have been shortened and combined into one. Two, there were no references or bibliography. I look at references as being inspirations to writing in self-help. It is vital to honor those whose ideas and sacred words help to change our lives and inspired us to write.

I hope Solan does an audio book for Learning to Drive into the Now: PRND, because this book would be great for driving instructors, new drivers, old drivers that need a change of pace, audio learners and those who are seeking to learn to let go and just be in the moment.

K. Akua Gray
April 21, 2017
Houston, TX

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Book Review [DON'T: Unlock the do in don't... by Bob Selden

Imagine every word that was ever said to you was positive, enriching and encouraging, you would probably be a different person today. The power of the spoken word in everyday living is the focus point in Don't, Unlock the do in don't: How Using the Right Words Will Change Your Life by Bob Selden. I received a free copy of this book via mail from the author. I was a bit surprised because when I saw the package, I was wondering what I had ordered from Australia. Being a professional communicator, I knew I wanted to explore the pages to see what could be learned.

My first impression was that there is a distinct difference in writing the English language between Australians and Americans, it was not difficult to understand but clearly different, so that took some getting used to. Mr. Selden takes a very stern research perspective in the book which could be a turn off for the lay man in reading this text. I find I just like to flow with the ideas of the writing instead of having to be told what researcher came up with the idea or proved the idea. This makes the text long and sometimes boring. However, the majority of the ideas that are presented in the text are very useful in helping to move from a negative frame of mind and a negative way of relating to yourself and others, to one that is more positive and nurturing. With the knowledge that everyone has dealt with negative communications in life, the author touches on several areas that most people need a change in like handling difficult conversations in love relationships, when those words "We need to talk." come up, conversations between parents and teenagers, critical conversations between friends, and conversations with yourself when no one else is around.

The book is written in three parts and I found the first part most for those who need to change their words to change their behavior to bring about an increased level of peace in life, but this is the part with a lot of research jargon that interferes with the flow of learning the tips. Mr. Selden however, has a nice way of summarizing and he included exercises to get you refocused on the main points he's trying to convey. The second part deals with some of the toughest lessons of change to more positive interactions in communications, using the words you, but and the tone of voice. When having a difficult conversation how often do people immediately play the blame game in "You never do..., Why don't you..." instead of taking responsibility with I in relaying their feelings, like, "I feel hurt." or "I'd Like my instructions followed." These changes in communication could help many people from personal and social misery when relating to each other. Part three of the book is a nice coaching part for communication in specific difficult relationships. The ideas are not necessarily unique but definitely good reminders of changing for the better when communicating.

Mr. Selden mentioned in his intro letter that Don't, Unlock the do in don't, was for every body, however based on my reading, it is not. I would recommend this book to business professionals who have the job duties of motivating and organizing people like HR departments, teachers, and parents who want to create positive effects in the minds and hearts of those they care for and have the responsibility of coaching and motivating. Don't reminds me of an academic book, but it's not however, it is for the professional who can understand this level of writing. I give 4 ankhs.

K. Akua Gray
April 11, 2017
Houston, TX

Friday, March 10, 2017

Book Review [Creating an Abundant Practice by Andrea Alder]

When I first started reading this book I had no intentions on writing a review. I heard the author on an internet radio show and I liked her style and original ideas and services she provided to wellness professionals and decided to get a used copy for my leisure reading. However, as I got into the book I realized that I needed to spread the news about Creating an Abundant Practice: A spiritual and Practical Guide for Holistic Practitioners and Healing Centers by Andrea Alder.

Being a wellness instructor  and naturopath teacher, I offer a business component in all of my classes that deals with the business of business however, what Andrea does is nurtures the soul of the business through providing the individual or the group with excellent strategies to make their business everything they want it to be by tapping into the metaphysics of business growth and progress. It was very exciting to read about the internal requirements of vision, repetition, clarity and self-healing first. I was particularly impressed with the Future Vision Exercise and even tried it myself!

After boosting the reader's confidence to excel beyond their own expectations, Andrea then encourages the reader to do the work. This is a resounding mantra when it comes to any change for the better, however, the layout of chapters 4-13 gives a step by step process that works lovely for building a powerful brand, producing professionalism, working the target market, building partnerships and alliances, expanding business, and getting the attention of the media.

As a holistic health professional for more than twenty-five years, I have seen many many businesses and well intended holistic health professionals come and go in the field of wellness. For many it is the business aspect of healing that becomes the turn off and makes it easy to give up. However, with a guide book such as Creating an Abundant Practice and consistency it can make the journey to success more organized and doable.

It is quite noticeable that this book is self published and possibly self-edited because there are quite a few typos, typesetting errors and unclear photography and illustrations, however it doesn't take away from the information. The cover also doesn't portray the richness of the content, but it's colorful.

Every new and old healer should take a stroll through these pages, do the activities and keep the book as a reference manual if you know health and wellness is a part of your life purpose. I recommend Creating an Abundant Practice: A spiritual and Practical Guide for Holistic Practitioners and Healing Centers by Andrea Alder and give it 4 ankhs.

K. Akua Gray
March 10, 2017
Houston, TX

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review [Vibrant Hair by Elaine Destiny Bey]

Positive information is a plus in my book every time, all day. Vibrant Hair: African-American Hair Care, Knowledge and Culture by Elaine Destiny Bey is a tiny little book with a serious mission to educate and inspire those with natural curls and the original man's hair. It is a very brief book for beginners and is more like a pamphlet than a book. It's only 34 pages.

Vibrant Hair is great for those who know nothing about the African hair experience and its evolution through time in the new world. Elaine also includes a few details about hair during American slavery that I had never heard of. It would have been good for her to include the sources from which she received the historical information. There are no references at the end of the book.

The writing is basic and very easy to understand although it does come off a little preachy in some places. There are also areas of repetition in the text that could have been left out. The author does include relevant photographs throughout the book to accent points made in the writing. My favorite part of the book was the natural hair tips at the end of the book. All of them are in alignment with good care for whole body in general. I would recommend this book to anyone working with pre-teen and teenage girls of African descent who need a lesson in loving their own natural hair.

I hope one day there is an updated edition, the book has potential and can be developed as a viable source of modern information to encourage self love and understanding. Vibrant Hair gets 3 ankhs.

K. Akua Gray
September 22, 2016
Houston, TX

Monday, September 19, 2016

Book Review [The Millennial Mentality by Elan Carson]

I like books with impact and The Millennial Mentality by Elan Carson has that from the very beginning. The cover gave me the first impression of being global and the chapter titles gave me the second impression of a fun read with titles like "It's Complicated", "The F-Word" and "I Can't Stand the Rain". However, when I got into the Introduction I kind of felt like someone was shouting at me about something I had nothing to do with and it kind of put me on the defense since I am not a "Gen Yer". short for Generation Y.

With the commitment to read this book, I ventured on into the chapters and had a change of heart by the time I got to Chapter 3 which gave some really good info about student loans that young and old people can benefit from. Chapter 1 and 2 struck me as being silly stuff about dysfunctional relationships and cats, however it did spark my compassion for the lonely.

Now by the time I finished Chapter 4 "Quarter Life Crisis", is where the book began to bring out it's value to the reader. This chapter had the most enlightening information and heartfelt truths that I see in my own children. I loved the part about connecting with nature, and having the freedom to choose in every life situation. I would have to say that chapters 4-6 spoke some profound truths about Generation Y and the current events that touch us all including suicide and helping others through selfless service.

Chapter 7, "All in a Day's Work", is the longest chapter that revealed some interesting concepts about Gen Yers in the workforce and business today. The one problem I had was the author's suggestion for transparency from the company's that they work for. If a company reveals everything to every employee and you have people who are still operating on low levels of emotional immaturity some information can cause tantrum like results that can be unfavorable. And judging from all the baggage the millennial generation are carrying according to the author, tit for tat would be present more than not. The author even expressed this in an earlier section of the chapter where in so many words she said that someone else in the company she worked for got a raise and she didn't, so she quit.

In the later chapters 8-11 Elan touches on some good social issues that still need to harmonized in the American society like feminism, gay rights, race issues, and body image. The final chapters of the book 12-14 seemed like fillers and returned to some silly stuff like Harry Potter and Selfies, but I did find the chapter on gen yer lingo interesting.

I also got a chance to be in the company of a few Generation Yers while I was reading the book and threw out some of the topics that were covered in the book as a conversation and they verified a lot of the points that were made in book and seemed quite interested in getting a copy to read. This let me know that Elan was right on the money when it came to bringing forth a book that will fulfill its purpose in educating other generations and her own generation about what living as a young adult in today's society is really like. Let me also mention that Elan's writing style is very user friendly and reflective of her formal education in writing. I like good writing.

With that being said I would recommend this book to those seeking clarity on what's going on in the minds of young adults today and to those young people who want a peer perspective on what's important as they travel into maturity and fulfilling their life purpose.

The Millennial Mentality gets 4 ankhs.

K. Akua Gray
September 19, 2016
Houston, TX

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Book Review [Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin]

This is an interest specific book and a good read for all birth workers and families who are interested in learning more about pregnancy and birth. As a certified midwife and holistic doula instructor I like to read as many books about birthing that I can get my hands on. Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin is a book that is on every recommended reading list about midwifery. Ina May is a legend in her own right by being one of the pioneers of birth rights and an advocate for natural birthing for almost 50 years. So it has been a pleasure for me to read this book by one of the icons of midwifery in the United States.

Spiritual Midwifery is an easy read for anyone. Ina May uses plain language and lots of photographs and -illustrations to view the important points in her writing. It is clear that she wrote this book as an empowerment tool for everyone with an interest in birthing. The book is divided into three distinct sections: birth stories that documents a brief history of The Farm and the births that made this community famous, a section for families to learn how to take care of themselves during pregnancy and prepare for birth, and the third section is designed to give an overview of what a midwife does in the birthing process. The birth stories are plentiful, in fact I think there are too many of them that kind of repeat the same things in a different way, however there are some unique ones that give a different point of view like breech birth stories and the twin birth stories.

The information given in part two is invaluable for families as a guide to having a successful pregnancy and birth by creating a loving atmosphere with synergy that is beneficial for both the mother and her birthing partner(s). She includes such topics as nutrition, advise to husbands, and after baby exercises.

As for the section for the professional midwife I learned a few things to take notes on that I can use in my midwifery services including more supplies to add to my midwifery bag. She also talked about some strange diseases that I had never heard of in pregnancy and birth. Ina May leaves no stone unturned in sharing the vitals of developing good midwifery skills including the female anatomy, prenatal care, a very detailed section on presentation, and infant care once the baby arrives. However, these are not complete for midwifery training and should only be used as an enhancement to a formal training program or apprenticeship of midwifery. As a holistic midwife, there are some medically learned procedures that are taught in the book that I would use caution on and some chemical medications that I would deem unnecessary in a truly natural birth.

This book is a beautiful testimony to the miracle of birth and the strength that women have in bringing forth humanity for the survival of the world. A person cannot read this book without changing their view point about birth and the beautiful journey of creating other people!

I give this book 4 ankhs and recommend it to all birth workers and all families interested in empowering themselves in procreation.

K. Akua Gray
September 4, 2016
Houston, TX