Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The New Book- A Work In Progress

This week's blog is the content portion from the Spring Newletter that went out today. To see additional links (and the nicely laid out version) please go to

In the meantime, here is my in-the-moment description of the new book that is my spring/summer writing focus.

The New Book- What It's Not

Publishers always ask writers to articulate the "take-away value" of their book. So, for fun, I decided say something about the new book I am writing with the working title, The Choice. It probably says something about the curmudgeonly side of my personality that I start with what the book is not.

This book is not going to give you a formula for getting thin, rich or famous. It does not hold the secret to finding your soul mate, or participating in mind-blowing ecstatic sexual intimacy. It will not provide a program for becoming fully enlightened, being perpetually at peace, or setting anyone (you or me) up as a spiritual guru.

If you don't read this book you will someday die, but most likely not before you have experienced loss, sorrow, grief, and illness.

On the other hand, if you do read this book you will someday die, but most likely not before you have experienced loss, sorrow, grief, and illness.

Hopefully, whether or not you read this book, you will also experience joy, peace, laughter, love and intimacy with yourself and others.

Because that's what life is like for human beings- for embodied souls in this world. If you are fortunate your choices will line up with a multitude of factors largely beyond your control- particular genetics, early environmental influences, and the political economic realities of the place you live- that will allow you to get old before you die and so experience the gradual, unpredictable and yet inevitable breakdown of your body and possibly your mind. I don't know what happens after we die, and (at the moment) I am okay with not knowing. So this book will not offer you promises about what happens next.

Okay, I admit, as advertising copy this may leave something to be desired. But the truth is, I don't find what I have described here depressing. These are some of the realities we live, and I don't want to waste any time pursuing promises that imply I can or should transcend these realities or get rid of the anxiety, ambivalence, or ambiguity that sometimes arises.

No matter what you do- no matter how hard you work, how diligently you practise, how sincerely you want to change, how many times you fail to meet your aspirations or are not as disciplined as you imagine you'd like to be-
you will not wake up tomorrow as anything more or less than a human being, an embodied soul living in this world.

The New Book- What It Is

The Choice is about how we find our way into choosing the life we have in this moment, with this body-mind-heart-spirit, in this world- even if the present moment is filled with challenges. It's about how we find our passion for living here when the flame of that desire has been dampened by loss and pain, confusion and despair.

As many of you know my "here" has been challenging over the last couple of years. I've experienced a prolonged relapse of chronic illness (CFS/ME,) the sorrow-filled end of my marriage that had been limping painfully along for several years, and watching both of my parents spiral downward with Alzheimer's.

These kinds of challenges can stir up old wounds buried in the body and heart and all of this, quite reasonably brings to consciousness the often unasked question at the center of every human life: Do I really want to be here? How we answer this question in general terms and perhaps more importantly in our small daily choices, determines the quality of the journey we take.

When I was young, to survive I often left my body, my awareness focused on other worlds- seen and unseen, imaginary or real. Later, this gave me an ability to do some of the shamanic training, practises and healing ceremonies I came to explore, value and teach.

And now. . . I want in- all the way in, deeply in, completely in, fully in- even knowing life includes pain and loss. I'll probably always be able to leave my body, but what interests me now is how I can be fully in this body, fully in this world and this life until I am gone.

This book is about the times in life when that choice, the desire to be here, has not been clear- when I've wanted to want to be here but was unable to connect to the fire of living and wondered if I was simply "done." It's about the journey of coming back from that edge of despair, rediscovering the center of my own being, and making the choice to be here in this messy, complex and spectacularly beautiful human life.

Oriah (c) 2012


  1. Wow...beautiful Oriah. My own last few blog posts have been about similar themes. I think a lot of people are asking that central question in these difficult times we are living in. The truth is - we can't ask for the best life has to offer, its uttermost bliss, joy and peace, without also accepting the inevitable loss, suffering, and sorrow that are its givens. I am slowly learning that, and how to be fully present in my life instead of an outside observer. I have also realized that I tend to use 'spirituality' and spiritual activities as a way to escape these givens, versus using spirituality as a gateway into a deeper relationship with and acceptance of my suffering.

  2. I absolutely LOVE your honesty. Bless you! I will definitely buy your new book even if you have stated frankly what it is and what it is not, I don't care if it is "buyer-friendly". I don't want to be molly-coddled or some other such crap. You walk your talk, you are authentic. I don't need a book full of mindless blah blah crap, I want the truth as you see it, I want your feelings how you feel them. THAT's why I buy your book. THAT's why I love your blog and THAT's why all of your books keep inspiring me. Should I ever have to move to a lonely island and am allowed only a few books, it would be yours I'd take. I have treasured them throughout the years, there is always something that speaks to me, heals me, nurtures me. THANK YOU!
    Big Hugs, Sabine

    1. Sabine- your passion made me smile. There are lots of books out there that really do offer sound guidance and inspiration- what I object to is them being packaged as promising more than any book could deliver. We just seem to amp everything up continually until the claims are quite meaningless. :-)

  3. Very egoistical, I wish you a lot of energy, health, clearness, inspiration and what ever you need to work intensely this summer - as I can't wait to hold this book in my hands! :-)

  4. I think u r tapping into something I've been dealing w/ lately as I get older & grapple w/what I can now see. There is nothing but the process of recognizing becoming more skillful in detaching & viewing from more distance. Nan

    1. Nan, there's something very paradoxical that arises in me from your comment (and my own experience is that great truths usually are contained within paradoxes.) ON the one hand there is a loosening of attachment- to having things MY way, to predictability, to the illusion of control- and on the other hand there is a willingness to be firmly attached- to be fully IN this life as it is- a willingness fostered by the awareness that it will end in death, no matter what I do- and so, the lack of attachment is simultaneously reinforced and deepened. :-)

    2. Oriah: I wanted to express that I appreciate that I can pause for a moment, instead of reacting to something, automatically. And see where my sensitivities lie. It's a deepening of understanding who I am. I can take care of myself, without a need to control anything outside myself. I also, wanted to explain that I can see the process of growth & that is all that is important. For me, it seems like it is Bob & his baby steps, from the movie w/Bill Murray.
      Anyway, not sure this is what you are saying, but, wanted to let you know that I love how you make me think things through. I don't know anyone else who does this.

    3. Nan, loved the movie and the reminder re: baby steps :-) So glad I stir the pot for you as these kinds of dialogues do for me (my idea of fun!)

  5. "...finding passion for living when the flame has been dampened...unable to connect with the fire of living...wanting to be deeply engaged with life..." but living in a body that makes that challenging. I so relate to this, especially these last 10 years with chronic illness... Life has been dampened far too long! I want my Heart to sing again! I so look forward to your next book! Hope we get snippets here :)

    1. Yes, probably some snippets along the way :-)

  6. Hello Oriah, I'm inspired by your wish to remain present to whatever happens. I also find it easy to leave the scene, and have started to explore some shamanic ceremonies, as well as the tantric path. I can't wait to read your book!
    Warm wishes

  7. I love your writing and have just discovered you, I feel so lucky. I notice the older I get the more willing and happy I am to play the game of life as it comes to me, I have so much less energy to fight it and try to control it into the shapes I desire. I have been through enough sorrow and loss to know I can navigate those waters and still wake up with a beating heart and friends and there will be food on the table and I am able to love more fiercely and weep for that gift, the surprise of it! All this breaking apart to find what I probably started with as a babe. Layers of power being divested and scattered for others to grab onto and just feeling the awe of getting a chance to be here for whatever time is left. Thank you for these amazing blogs.

  8. Alice- thank you and so glad you have joined us here. Yes, I know what you mean about getting older and not fighting what is (or at least less than we used to :-) Many blessings, oriah