It often comes as a great surprise to anyone who decides to dedicate themselves to a spiritual life just how much personal work is first needed in order to clear sufficient inner space for the spirit to grow and develop.
Before the ‘Great Work’ can even begin an initiate into any spiritual, magickal or mystical tradition will inevitably have to experience the long, hard road through mental and emotional self-analysis and psychological clearing.
One of the more popular methods used today to prepare the ground for deeper states of mystical union is psychotherapy and every year millions of people consult professionals or experts in one field of psychotherapy or another.
For those who simply have neither the time nor the financial resources to consulta therapist an increasingly popular method for increasing personal self-awareness is breathwork.
In her book Radical Awareness: 5 Practices for a Fully Engaged Life breathwork psychotherapist Catherine Dowling distills her many years experience working one-to-one with patients into five distinct practices—each of which is aimed at easing the reader into a more rewarding life and closer spiritual connection to what she describes as ‘Peak State’ or sense of connection with the ‘oneness of life’.
The book is divided into five parts. In the first of these Dowling looks at the variety of ‘oneness states’ that can sometimes manifest in the lives of ordinary (and unsuspecting) individuals and reveals how these peak states can radically alter an individuals’ perception of both themselves and of their lives.
Here. Catherine Dowling outlines the basic principles of what oneness is, what it is in fact connecting us with and then offers her readers’ a number practical exercises geared towards helping them enter into a deeper state of being.
In this first part of Radical Awareness: 5 Practices for a Fully Engaged Life the author also explains what the five principles are that she has based her work and personal guidance around.
She identifies them as Radical Awareness, Living in the Present With Trust and Openess with the fourth and fifth practices include Growing From Adversity into Oneness.
Part two of the book focusses on the process of spirituality in action. Here she talks specifically about breathwork and the link between breathing and emotional states of being.
The beneficial effects of proper breathing upon the body for health, well-being and spiritual growth has been well known in the East for many centuries but these ideas are now only just beginning to be commonly accepted in the West as an important element to any psycho-spiritual work.
As an expert in this field the author inevitably then focusses upon the actual art of breathwork, the various forms that it can take and once again includes specific breathing exercises for the reader to try out for themselves.
Following on from this Dowling then reveals her own understanding of how it is that we manage to shape our own lives. This includes a look at the way in which we act and the various methods we emply when communicating with others through words and body language. Invariably we can get too hung up on the way that we respond to others as well as to life itself and this results in a deep sense of fear about who we are, the presssures that we feel to change as well as our ability to cope with life in general.
The author emphasizes that it is necessary to recognize these conditions and then engage with this fear first hand. Failing to do so can result in the process of moving into a state of self-victimization and the author offers specific advice on how to deal with victim mindset, the bonds of anger that can dominate us and the sense of expectations from others that we all try to fulfill.
Moving through all of this self-development work leads the author to offer her advice on how to move beyond the struggle into a state of ease where one can discover ones’ own simple truths and true love
Dowling then closes her book with a conclusion, section of recommended reading and useful contacts.
Our Review of ‘Radical Awareness’ by Catherine Dowling
Many people dive headlong into mystical and spiritual work without first taking into consideration the internal forces that pull and fight each one of us for domination and control.
These must be dealt with in a proper way before we open ourselves up to the influence of higher forces and all of the World’s major religions are a testament to what can go horribly wrong when these are not properly dealt with and become negated or ignored.
Radical Awareness: 5 Practices for a Fully Engaged Life is remarkable in its capacity to unlock—using specific practices and exercises, the true connections that can and should exist within all of us to the ‘oneness of life’.
The key principle that the author so successfully manages to transfer through her writing is that she quite clearly understands the process of awakening and arousal that occur through breathwork and is not shy at confronting the challenging side-effects that can result.
As a book it actually comes over as a deeply-revealing treatise that is offered in such a way that it clearly demonstrates the authors’ undeniably compassionate approach to her patients.
This is not, however, simply a book about breathwork for whilst its author is clearly well-versed in basic psychological principles she also presents a very self-supporting, nurturing and empowering approach to psycho-spiritual development.
Anyone treading the path toward a deeper understanding of the wonders of life will appreciate the fact that this is a book that is truly much more than the sum of its parts.