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Spirit of the Valley
The Magazine of Mountain Wellness









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Book Reviews


Discovering Buddhism:
Awakening the Limitless Potential of Your Mind, Achieving All Peace and Happiness

Produced & Directed by
Christina Lundberg


2 DVDs, 13 segments ~ 27 minutes each.


Whether you’re new to Buddhism or simply would like a tool to review the basic precepts of this thought system from the masters of today, Discovering Buddhism is truly an educational jewel for anyone.

The 13-part series, originally produced as a television series, is now available for home use through the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. The series offers views into the world of Buddhism as seen from many perspectives. Viewed together they offer an array of information on Tibetan Buddhist philosophy in the same tradition of HH the Dalai Lama - who is also presented as a teacher in several of the segments. Viewed separately they each offer information and ideas for daily application on specific topics such as Establishing a Daily Practice, Transforming Problems, and How to Develop Bodhichitta.

Discovering Buddhism brings the basic ideas of Buddhism to every person, in language, images, and ideas that anyone can grasp. Sweeping and breathtaking views of practitioners, leaders, and images of Buddhism being practiced around the world invite us to spin the prayer wheel we will soon have in our own area. Throughout the segments there is the conscious effort to bring the teachings to the level of everyday life, where you and I can begin to see the wisdom and immediately apply the ideas to our lives today.

Each segment begins with a setting of the intention, which acts as a grounding for us to focus our minds properly. Richard Gere or Keanu Reeves, both students of Buddhism, help to host each segment and share ideas and overviews of topics. This is followed by talks by both Western and Eastern teachers and masters from around the world. HH is featured several times, as is the Venerable Thubten Chodron, and Lama Thubten Yeshe. Key ideas are enumerated, and followed by insights given by students of Buddhism into what the ideas mean to them and how they have affected their lives. There is a calm, unrushed pace about the segments, perfectly in line with the ideas of inner peace and “calm abiding” that the teachers are talking about.

Discovering Buddhism, continued from page 9
To those of us who reviewed this piece, we found it to be a transforming experience. It was an invitation into a new and different world where we were guided and offered precious gifts and pearls of wisdom by beings whose soul purpose was to help us on our own spiritual journey. After viewing, we felt honor and gratitude for all of the people around the world who choose to live their lives in the spirit of compassion and personal responsibility embedded in such concepts as karma, learning that we were just as capable of attaining the levels of peace and enlightenment that anyone else is. Very self-empowering concepts.
In the end, I walked away with a new, firmer understanding of what it means to be Buddhist, and an eye-opening awareness of what the Dalai Lama is truly about. It is not a tool of prostelizing, but informing and most importantly, in the Mahayana tradition, of using the incredible efforts of the producers and subjects of the film to ease the suffering of all who come into contact with it.
This series is an open door through which we are invited to walk and share, and offers a different way of looking at the world that tells us we have the power to shape our own lives and that enlightenment is available to everyone.

To Order:, $50 for 2 DVDs. Many other teaching modules are available on this website for home study and retreat.




Suha’s Top : Heart OM / Pink $32:

Pants: Handpainted Cherry Blossoms $88

Laughing Goddess Yoga Wear feels so soft and luxurious, like the caress of the warm, tropical breezes of Bali island where this gorgeous clothing is created. Made of a high-quality blend of rayon and lycra, the yoga wear is a delight to move in, easy to care for and extremely flattering on all figures. Vibrant colors, as well as silk-screened prints of Indian goddesses, a Balinese OM that looks like a heart, or wild flame designs above the sacrum give this clothing line its unique, artistic beauty. Exquisite hand-painted pieces with butterflies, cherry blossoms or dragons wrapping around one’s leg are show-stoppers! Their hooded sweatshirts are fun and incredibly cozy, too. Please visit the website to see the entire collection or to place orders. ~ 707-987-9460

Don’t miss their booth at the Teton Wellness Festival!



Epi~Soothe was Sharon Cox’s first remedy and remains one of her most popular in her line of products at Azhdarian’s Herbal Therapies. Consisting of extra virgin olive oil, organically grown calendula, comfrey leaf and root, tea tree oil, vitamin E, and a blend of pure essential oils and beeswax, it goes on smooth and starts quieting the itching and irritation instantly. Epi~Soothe makes the skin more supple by increasing blood supply to the area, it forms a gentle protective layer on the surface of the skin, and contains a cell proliferator that heals wounds. The Test: Saved my life after a bee sting to the forehead (ouch!)

2 oz. $15.00


Happy Aging!


Happy Aging Facial Lotion contains natural vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids to foster moisture retention, stimulate cell renewal & to support the natural rejuvenation process. Ingredients include the expected - olive oil, cacoa butter, shea butter – and the unexpected - grape seed extract, cat’s claw extract, water lily root extract, and essential oils. What we really liked about it was it’s non-greasy nature, and that while it had skin firming qualities, we didn’t feel like we’d just gotten our skin stretched. Healthy, made with organic ingredients, positive, and feels great!


Living Earth Herbs

Begun in January, 2003 by Emily Pacheco (BA Botanical Medicine), Living Earth Herbs out of Eugene, Oregon has an extensive line of herbal products (organically certified) and made in small batches with attention to detail, freshness, quality, and global sustainability. We delighted in an array of loose herbal tea mixtures including Berry Immune Tea (elderberries, rose hips, hawthorn berries, cinnamon bark, astragalus, and eleuthero, $1.35/oz.) and our personal summer cooling favorite, Hibiscus-Lemmongrass Tea (spearmint, lemongrass, rose hips, and hibiscus flowers, $3/2 oz). Instructions for brewing are clear and concise, and teas are delicious as well as healthy. What we really liked was the uniqueness of the blends - i.e. you couldn’t find them walking down the aisle in your local grocery store prepackaged. Also available on the Living Earth Herbs extensive website are bulk herbs, essential oils, and an array of body and skin care products.

Fore more information:




Mountain bike crashes, overworked muscles, shoulders stiff from sitting in from of the computer too long…….all of these were tried and tested ailments with Wind River Herbs variety of products that deliver an arnica boost in sprays, gels, and balms. WRH hand gathers arnica in the forests of Wyoming in a sustainable manner, infuses it immediately with pure almond oil, and combines it with the purest ingredients and essential oils. The proof is in putting it on before I went to bed and waking up and not remembering I was sore…….

Arnica Oil, 4 oz. $16.95
Arnica Sports Rub, 2 oz. $13.95
Arnica Sports Splash, 2 oz. $11.95


Extraordinary Women,
Extraordinary Spirit

In Sweet Company:
Conversations with Extraordinary
Women About Living a Spiritual Life
By Margaret Wolff, 2004
252 Pages

Reviewed by Andrea Girman

“This book is about what it means to be a spiritual woman in the twenty-first century. It is about connectedness to God by any name, and connectedness to other, including Self. It is about the depth and breadth and height a soul can actually reach even in an age where global technology and Wall Street reign fairly uncontested.” So begins Margaret Wolff in the introduction to her moving book of conversations with women of extraordinary spirit, and it is a testament to the power of action in the face of the most overwhelming of challenges.

Sixteen months before Wolff began writing the book, a motor vehicle accident – what she refers to as “a momentary encounter with an oncoming car” – left her not only with significant cognitive impairments but also with a loss of 80% of her peripheral vision. Though this type of loss would be devastating for any of us, one can only imagine it being even more so for a woman whose work in the world has largely been founded on an ability to gather and synthesize information before sharing it in written and spoken form. In an attempt to heal herself from the wounds sustained during the accident, Wolff describes an intuitive sense to reach for a project that would keep her mind focused on something positive, something inspiring. The process of compiling this book began as a means of carving “new pathways in my brain, to restore function and order and meaning to my life.” By its completion, it had become a means of nourishment, self-expansion, and transformation.

The fourteen women interviewed in In Sweet Company represent a broad array of nationalities, life paths and spiritual orientations, and include the Catholic nun and anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Jean Prejean; the Vietnamese Le Ly Hayslip, founder of the EAST meets WEST foundation dedicated to easing the wounds inflicted by the Vietnam war on the people of Vietnam and America; the Tibetan Buddhist and international management consultant Margaret Wheatley; actress Olympia Dukakis; women’s rights activist and Women to Women International founder Zainab Salbi; and the Lineage Holder of the Seneca Wolf Clan Teaching Lodge, Grandmother Twylah Hurd Nitsch.

Despite the diversity of her group of participants, Wolff’s skillful questioning ultimately provides a framework for unearthing the commonalities that lay at the heart of each woman’s quest for weaving spirit into her life. Almost all spoke of the primacy of love as a guiding principle for being and acting, the illusion of separateness, the inculcation by their families and communities of a deep desire to serve humanity, the critical role of mentorship and of inner silence/stillness, and the central importance of storytelling and relationship to create meaning in life. They spoke of embracing the mystery, ambiguity and paradox of life as a way not only to expand their world-views but also to cultivate compassion for self and for others. They spoke of offering prayers of gratitude daily.

Though a number of these remarkable women reported having dedicated daily spiritual practice forms – sitting or movement [labyrinth] meditation, working with mantras and prayer, for example – a significant number of them offered the way that they lived their lives as the ultimate embodiment of a daily practice. As anthropologist and dancer/choreographer Katherine Dunham related, “My spirituality is not something I practice, but something I live.”

And the living of it even for the most inspiring among us is still fraught with challenges and the mundane. Psychoanalyst and scholar Miriam Polster poignantly offered that spiritual practice for her was about “making the bed, defrosting the dinner, and so on. It’s not magical or removed; it’s about how I discover and reveal myself as I do things that are ordinary.” Hearing Rabbi Laura Geller admit to the challenges of finding the balance between her busy duties as mother, wife and rabbi and carving out time for private prayer, provided a sense of relief and possibility for more fully melding spirit and life together, whatever that might look like, however “imperfect.”

As a woman, as a feminist and as an ardent student of spirit, Wolff’s book deeply touched me. Her words crafted moving portraits of each of the women profiled, and through their stories I found myself opened to new resources, levels of inspiration, and affirmation to action in the world. Through their eyes I was again able to feel how extraordinary the human community is, how precious life is, and how extraordinary the possibilities for our actions are – clay feet and all. Many thanks to Margaret Wolff for listening to her intuition, for rising to the challenge of this project, for bringing these inspirational voices to us, and for offering us all her labor of love.

For more information, or to order this book, go to:


Kissing School:

Seven Lessons on Love, Lips, and Life Force

By Cherie Byrd, 2005
169 pages
Published by
Sasquatch Books

Review by Angela Earle

Since any of us may die at any moment, learning to love more fully sounds like the most important, and most urgent, class to take. (page xii)

So opens Kissing School: Seven Lessons on Love, Lips, and Life Force. This is not a book about technique, the correct amount of pooch or pout, or a waxing ode to the power of love. It is about love as life and death, about love as here and now, about being fully alive in the moment, about stepping up to the plate and running with open arms into total being, bliss, and wonder. It’s about the fact that a fabulous, powerful, memorable kiss is an outgrowth of a loving, connected person - someone not afraid of their own sexual shadow. Someone willing to bring their heart into the light…..

Kissing School itself is an outgrowth. It is the culmination of a body of work that author Cherie Byrd has been doing in Seattle, Washington as a psychotherapist since 1998 in the field of Energy Psychology. It is founded on the belief that a kiss, intimacy and love are spiritual in nature, involve our whole selves, not just our bodies or just our minds, and that our level of bliss is directly proportionate to our ability to be present in the moment, deeply grounded in who we truly are, and in our willingness to share that reality with other human beings.

Kissing School is not a throw away self-help-book-of-the-week. It is grounded in passion, science, spirituality and history. Byrd’s research is exhaustive and, for some of us, might be surprising. The historic culture we find ourselves in appears to diverge from most of the ancestral knowledge found in societies around the world throughout time. As our knowledge of our world grows scientifically, it seems we run faster and farther from ourselves mentally and spiritually. This will come as no surprise to many people, but its effect on our entire life and social systems is astonishing. The fact that no one teaches us how to love, or bring our heart and soul into our lives, is very telling. We are told to hide our emotions, particularly in our business affairs, and when it comes time to step up to the plate and be passionate, how can we but arrive at this moment half asleep?! We shouldn’t beat ourselves up because of this for how would we know any differently? Luckily, guides can be found when we look for them, ranging from ancient Sanskrit texts to modern day philosophers, mystics and scientists.

Kissing School is divided into seven lessons, each with accompanying exercises, kissing tips, and supporting literature and insights from around the world. Though the subject matter is deep, and at times hot and heavy, Byrd manages to keep a light air around the topic, reminding us to not take ourselves too seriously, and that we are, after all, here because we want more love and joy in our life. Following the lessons is an exploration of the human condition, our own condition, and a journey of possibilities, new insights, and a marrying of the body and mind in intimacy.

The best news is that Cherie will be in the Wood River Valley on October 8th for our very own Kissing School. This book is great preparation for that course, and preparing us for love on new and glorious levels! As this work involves our whole selves, the effects are felt way beyond the meeting of lips, weaving its wisdom, truth, and happiness into all areas of who and what we really are.

Available: Chapter One Bookstore and on-line at:, and

Kissing School will be held in the
Wood River Valley on October 8th!!!
Contact Chapter One Bookstore
or see
for more details!