4 out of 4 stars
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In 2020, Rockridge Press published Benjamin W. Decker’s Modern Spirituality: A Guide to the Heart of Mindfulness, Meditation, and the Art of Healing. I stumbled on this book at a time in my life when I needed to gather all my inner resources and overcome some painful personal experiences. In all honesty, I can say it helped me find the strength to keep things in perspective and look at new obstacles with energy and positivity. The author focuses on spiritual challenges and provides concrete techniques for leading meaningful lives. I was impressed by his openness to all faiths and religions sharing the same principles of unity, compassion, responsibility, forgiveness, eternity, and infinite possibilities. Not accidentally, Benjamin W. Decker is a meditation teacher, yoga instructor, energy work practitioner, and coordinator of a religiously pluralistic center.
The author is the best guide you could wish for to take you through the extraordinary journey of spiritual evolution. Each of the eleven chapters breaks down one concept and ends with a follow-up exercise, enabling you to practice what you have learned. These exercises range from meditations to journal prompts. The powerful Latin mantras (“terra firma” – “solid ground,” “omne remedium” – “complete remedy,” “semper fidelis” – “always faithful,” or “caritas acta” – “love in action”) were the things I liked most. There are many sub-sections in all chapters; hence, you will have no problems following the steps indicated by the author.
With great ease, Benjamin W. Decker veers through many principles but does so in a professional manner. For example, I enjoyed the principle of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change old synaptic connections and create new ones through learning and experience. This principle stands at the core of our ability to reframe our inner narrative negatively influenced by bad experiences and toxic people. Similarly, the Law of Attraction and Repulsion says that we magnetically attract what we are and repel what we are unlikely to be. I keep remembering the author’s suggestion to adopt the attitude of the positive onlooker for whom “failure becomes a learning opportunity.” (p. 21) This suggestion and many more in the book helped me realize we could all move through pain and be ready for spiritual transformation.
The book abounds in practical pieces of advice. Apart from the mind, we should also engage the body through exercise, yoga, dancing, resistance training, or stretching. However, the psychic diet is a must to lead a fulfilling life. I often stopped reading and pondered on the author’s ideas. He made me ask myself what I watched, listened to, read, and exposed myself to and how all these affected my mind, heart, and body. I loved the author’s friendly and encouraging tone. He teaches us to laugh at our mistakes and hold some space for setbacks because the journey can sometimes be “a spiritual cha-cha.” (p. 158) Last but not least, Benjamin W. Decker shares some enlightening personal stories. A touching one is that of Annelise, who was sick with cancer but had an incredibly positive attitude that taught him tremendously about love, acceptance, and forgiveness.
Modern Spirituality is a very well-written and edited book. I only noticed a single minor typo. Considering its strong message and practical side, I am rating this book 4 out of 4 stars. Nothing is disturbing or offensive in the book. I wholeheartedly recommend it to all those interested in spiritual self-help books. I think those who have passed through difficult moments or traumatic experiences will find this guide a great asset too.
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