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Thursday, May 24th, 2007

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another "attraction" approach ...
I had Dr. Wayne W. Dyer's The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-create Your World Your Way recommended to me as being less "newagey" than many of the "laws of attraction" books that I've been beating myself over the head with of late, and I will admit that, for the most part, it's not as fluffy as the others. However, I never quite was able to get into synch with this. Dyer goes for substantial chunks of this sounding very reasonable, providing applicable "coaching" for various approaches to intention, but then will drop in something that seemed (to me, at least) to come completely out of left field.

Now, over the years when I was publishing "metaphysical" books, I had to wade through a whole lot of B.S. to get to the things that I felt were of sufficient value to actually get into print, so maybe I'm a bit sensitive about stuff that is pretending to be "science" but isn't. I was rather disappointed to find Dyer using "resistance testing" as a basis of saying that "studies have proven" some thing or another ... I've seen enough of this to have no confidence that it proves anything. I also had the "B.S. meter" redlining when he quoted "research" as to how "high-energy people counterbalance the negative effect of low-energy people", complete with "levels of vibration" and impressive-looking numbers (with no evident substance) for how many "negative" people would be balanced for each "higher" person. It's a shame that a book that didn't need this sort of crap is tainted with it.

On the positive side, The Power of Intention has some fairly practical advice for "aligning with the source" (much like concepts of the Tao), and being able to bring that "creative energy" into one's life. Unfortunately, the useful parts are burdened with all the "newage" baggage. One part that I particularly didn't "get" was the "Seven Faces of Intention", a concept that Dyer outlines over a few pages in an early chapter, and then refers to off-handedly at random times through the rest of the book, as if this was something functional like gravity or magnetism! These "seven faces" are creativity, kindness, love, beauty, expansion, abundance, and receptivity ... but what than "means" as a symbolic unit never becomes particularly clear.

Now, this sounds like I didn't like the book, which is not exactly true. I found his approach to energy, perception, awareness, the whole "source" concept, etc. very interesting, and fairly useful (in fact, putting Tolle's The Power of Now into the context of this book made those concepts far less muddled) ... it's just that it would have been so much better had the egregious twaddle (as discussed above) been edited out! I will admit that there were times where Dyer was drifting into that "no abundance for you" believe-or-be-screwed stuff (ala The Secret) but on the whole his focus on constantly steering away from "low energy" thoughts and behavior patterns made this a whole lot less strident and far easier to put into practice!.

I see that this was presented in some form on public TV, and I wonder how that played out ... needless to say, it's still in print, so should be available at your local bookstore if you want to get a "retail" copy. The good news of the media exposure it had is that there are tons of copies out in the new/used channel, with "like new" copies available (at the time I'm writing this) for under a buck via some of the Amazon vendors (and "new" copies for only $2). I might be hesitant to recommend this at the $25 cover price, but being that it can be obtained for so little cash at the moment, I'd say "go for it" ... it certainly is one of the better "law of attraction" books that I've seen, so it could be a good place to start if you were wanting to look into that genre.

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Blew through this one ...
Yes, for those of you paying way too close attention to the goings-on of this space, this is, indeed, the second book review penned today. Since it only took me a couple of days to plow through this volume (as opposed to two weeks for the Dyer book reviewed earlier today), and I didn't want my recall of it to "get cold" over the course of the holiday weekend, I figured I'd just get this done now.

Frankly, I don't really know why I ended up reading Rhonda Britten's Fearless Living: Live without Excuses and Love without Regret ... the "how", I have a handle on, though. You see, I had been trying to get some time to "pick the brain" of an old acquaintance of mine regarding details of setting up a counseling practice, and he recommended his cousin Rhonda's book, saying that a lot of what I needed to know could be found in there. So, I dutifully ordered a copy of it, and set it in the stack to be read. Unfortunately, there was even less information on the ins and outs of running such a venture in this than there had been in that insufferable Shelly Stockwell book that I wrote about last month!

In a phrase that regular readers are no doubt sick of hearing, "this is not to say this is a bad book", but it was not what I had been expecting to get into, and so was both a bit of an irritation and disappointment.

Personally, I would have preferred to not have followed up the Dyer book with this, in terms of "where things are going" in my head. Whereas Dyer spends a lot of time coaching the reader to disengage from "low energy" thought forms, Britten has a tendency to almost wallow in a quicksand of emotions and fixations on past events in her life. Fearless Living reminds me of a "chick flick" ... while it may be well done, and have solid points, its tone is just too Fried Green Tomatoes for my tastes. Now, Britten's "system" (also called "Fearless Living") that she outlines in the book does seem to be very well structured, with useful exercises, helpful guidance, etc., (and interesting paradigms of "the wheel of fear" and the "wheel of freedom"), but it all seems to be targeted to people who are having major emotional "issues".

Britten, herself, has had to deal with serious emotional trauma, and she spends a lot of the book dragging the reader through these various scenarios. While I'm sure this was quite therapeutic for the author, I'm not sure why all this extensive "sharing" is in there unless she's trying to "build empathy" with her readers. As I did not come to this book looking to salve some psychic wound, though, it does seem like a whole lot of unproductive verbiage which immerses her audience in a lot of negative emotion ... and, for what? ... showing her readers that she's had it bad too? ... that she understands? ... what? The effect is that of a "self-help" book crossed with a pathos-soaked autobiography, and just reeks of "TMI".

Much as I wish that one could retroactively edit the Dyer book to remove the "newage twaddle" bits, I feel that this would be a much stronger book if Britten would have left her own scarring experiences at the door. It's fine to take a "clinical" look at your clients' stories, but to constantly be dipping back into your own history for stuff (that in some cases make you seem clueless!) you've been through begs the question: is this a book to help others, or to make "poor Rhonda" feel better about herself?

Again, the actual system that Britten details in the book looks fairly decent, but it's too bad that it takes so much "filtering" to sift the substantial bits from the tear-jerker autobiography. Of course, I'm sure there is a significant demographic who would find this viscous mix quite appealing, but I am (thankfully) not among them. As noted, there is useful material in this book, and if you're interested in checking it out, it does still appear to be in print in the paperback edition, with used copies of the hardback running around three bucks via the usual suspects. Just to let you know, this has a five-star rating over on Amazon, so there are a lot of folks who think it's just marvy ... so you might want to take that into consideration as a counter-point to my typical bitter cynicism!

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