Delving into the book

What comes first; the book or the blog? The answer of course is neither. The inspiration for the central idea comes first. But then it is written and these days it could be either the book or the blog that precedes the other.

This piece of writing is about the process of reading not writing. How do you read a book? Do you read the book and then move onto the next? Or does your involvement and curiosity extend beyond the book? Do you delve further? Do the central ideas in the book excite and interest you to look further? Does it make you want to investigate new ideas and learn new things?

A successful book for me is one that I read with interest, learn new concepts, then go on to investigate more on the central themes of the book. So I search online for the author to see if they have a website. I read their biographical details either on their website or on Wikipedia. I look at the other books they have written. I read on the see if they have a blog or if they are on twitter. I follow the links provided on their website for further investigation.

For example: The Buddha, Geoff and Me by Edward Canfor-Dumas prompted me to locate this website and his bio and other links. The book had made me curious about the chant mentioned but not described. I found the notes about the chant nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and then wondered what it sounded like. So I searched online for the audio of the chant and found this one on Youtube and this one by Tina Turner.

So then to the further reading: Edward Canfor-Dumas is the ghost writer for The Buddha in Daily Life by Richard Causton. I could not find a copy of this book available through public libraries so I bought a copy online. Returning to the important but under-valued library catalogue I did a cross-referenced search by subject entries from the original book The Buddha, Geoff and Me. This led me to Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck that I am reading now. Her discussion of zazen has intrigued me and provided me with new avenues for investigation.

This process happens whenever I read a book that I enjoy. Frances Mayes books lead me to learn more about Italy and Art and Architecture and The Renaissance and poetry and more. Reading Gluten Free Girl led me to investigate eating and cooking with a gluten free premise and to her blog.

I will also continue on to see if there may be audio or video versions of a favourite book which can sometimes enhance the content of the story, but other times detract.

As a life-long lover of reading I thrive in the online world and the opportunities there are to expand my mind.

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Your thoughts

You think too much.” This has been said to me many times over the years. I disagree. I think most people don’t think enough. I value thinking as our most powerful tool for self-development and actualisation.

I admire people who commit their whole life pursuing one train of thought trying to work something out: scientists and mathematicians for example. Einstein is one of my heroes, but I guess I am not alone there. The Dalai Lama is another unique and remarkable person intent on making positive change for us all through applied thought.

In our own small lives we can make grand improvements simply by applying our thoughts. Many mistakenly believe they are thinking when they are merely reacting. A day spent in constant stimulation and consequent reaction to the words of others is a day wasted in my opinion. Anxiety and worry is not productive thinking. Automatic thought patterns repeated time and time again, year after year, are not beneficial, locks us into repeated behaviours, and deepens the tangled crevasses in our brain.

Have you experienced those “light-bulb moments”? Often these are the impetus that moves us out of our former patterns of thoughts.  Like an electron jumping out to a larger orbit of a nucleus, our world expands.

As a design student I learnt lateral thinking, creative thinking, thinking outside the box; but these do not come naturally. Most of us stay inside the box, unaware of our own individual power to do more. We might react, complain and worry but nothing more.

There is so much helpful advice available that is practical in teaching your brain into new ways of functioning. Edward de Bono’s books are a great place to start: Lateral Thinking and SixThinking Hats are easy to read, understand and apply. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is more complex but new gems of understanding can be found each time it is read.

Intentional thought is an interesting concept approached from various angles by different people. Meditation books tell us about “the gap” when emptying our minds, and the power of dropping our intentions into this gap. James Redfield illustrated “intention” in his colourful The Celestine Prophecy. The Law of Attraction has been given dubious attention by some authors, and yet the thinking methodology is a true gift for those who choose to add it to their box of thinking tools.

If you wish to really challenge thought, existence, purpose, reality, then A Course in Miracles may be the one for you. Or for a lighter, fun-filled parable about thought and reality try Illusions by Richard Bach. (The undisputed Top of My Best Ever Reads List)

Feeling bad? Then apply your mind to the problem. Is it physiological? Perhaps environmental? Don’t just feel bad and react badly. Step back and think. There is a way forward and it is up to you.

Of course, not-thinking can be a valuable and necessary respite from our busy days. Emptying our minds of rubbish allows the new positive brain activity to continue afresh. It has been documented somewhere (?) that repetitive physical movement is the perfect activity that empties the mind and allows the fresh ideas to appear: walking, swimming, running, exercising, dancing, and cycling.

So switch off the TV and your computer, get off your arse, go for a walk, empty your brain, then ask yourself, “Why am I thinking this way?” Then apply your amazing natural ability to think your way forward in creating the life you really want and deserve.

But it is not a “one-stop-shop”. It is a daily practice and commitment. Some days we will do better at it than others. Fortunately these days reminders and prompts are readily available online from the blogs of great thinkers, or by connecting via social networking tools to discussions on these topics. For example: http://twitter.com/ACIM_lessons and http://twitter.com/Edward_deBono and http://twitter.com/DalaiLama