BOOK REVIEWS

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by Sally Petersen

Breathing Room — Open Your Heart by Decluttering Your Home

By Lauren Rosenfeld and Dr. Melva Green

Okay, I confess. I am a bookaholic. In fact, I have 35 books on organization, decluttering and living simply. I thought each book would be the answer. Oh, the irony. And yet, I have clutter (mostly books!).

This book, Breathing Room, is very promising. In fact, if I weren’t writing this review, I’d be decluttering right now. I’m eager to begin!

The authors view decluttering as “a spiritual process that involves coming into communion with what is truly important.” They show how emotions and habits and relationships and roles and schedules can manifest as clutter in the home and in the heart. The process they present is about creating and maintaining breathing room in your home and your heart.

Dr. Melva Green is a psychiatrist who has appeared on the “Hoarders” television show. She recently left her psychiatric practice and moved to Costa Rica in order to find her authentic voice as the spiritual intuitive healer she has always been. Lauren Rosenfeld is a Soul Declutterer and educator who authored Your To Be List and blogs at LGRosenfeld.com. She believes it’s better to ask ourselves “What do I want to be today?” rather than “What do I want to do today?”

The title comes from a talk by Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, in which he suggested we all need a breathing room in our homes “for seeking peace, solace, compassion and reconciliation.” Since our homes reflect what’s in our hearts, we need to look at the internal clutter along with decluttering our physical spaces.

The clutter in our hearts presents as backward-looking emotions such as resentment, regret and guilt, or as forward-looking emotions such as fear, worry and anxiety. These need to be examined and released through a spiritual method of decluttering beginning with the steps: Stop, Listen, Intend, and Clear the Energy.

The authors take you through each room in your home, discussing its spiritual importance, providing a blessing, and suggesting specific decluttering exercises for the area. For example, the home entry is the room for open invitation, and the kitchen is the room for collaboration and creativity.

The last part of the book covers the Ten Principles of Spiritual Decluttering, such as “Don’t attack, clear with compassion,” “Accept where you are,” and “Pass your clutter through the three gates of meaning.” Each principle is explored as to how it relates to decluttering your home, your heart, your relationships, and your roles and responsibilities.

Throughout, the authors include insightful stories about a variety of clients and their decluttering process.

This book will be available in stores and online on April 1.

I Can See Clearly Now

By Wayne Dyer

This memoir by spiritual teacher Wayne Dyer relates how events in his life led to realizations that formed his life philosophy and informed his books and teachings.

As a small child returning from foster homes to live with his mother and an alcoholic stepfather, he determined not to let external things bother him, and to have a mind of his own.

With the goal of becoming a teacher, he began leading lectures on philosophical ideas while in the Navy. He then earned a doctorate in psychology, became a college professor, a therapist, and an author.

He relates how the work of Abraham Maslow, Albert Ellis, and Victor Frankl influenced his teaching and his therapeutic approach. His first popular book, Erroneous Zones, draws from these ideas, teaching the reader to “Change your thinking, take responsibility for everything in your life, and conquer your erroneous thinking.”

In a sense, this memoir tells the story of Dyer’s lifetime journey of self-actualization — the peak of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model, whereby one realizes personal self-fulfillment through personal growth and peak experiences. In his process of personal growth, Dyer conquers his personal demons and experiences a miraculous healing from leukemia. He teaches that we can all become self-actualized.

Dyer shares how synchronicity leads him to people and topics that spark further study and lead to writing his books. Through years of study, lecturing, and authoring dozens of books, he evolves from an academic psychologist to a self-development teacher into a teacher of spirituality and higher consciousness. This book shares his formative experiences along the way.