Sound Healing with the Five Elements: Sound Instruments, Sound Therapy, Sound Energy, by Daniel Perret (Binkey Kok, Holland, distributed by Red Wheel/ Weiser, Boston, MA, 2005), $19.95

Whether banging on clay flower pots to work on issues of insecurity, playing a flute to bring more joy into your life, or listening to wind chimes to overcome close-mindedness, sound penetrates every level of our being and offers a temporary window for healing. While both music therapists and sound healers work with experimental improvisations, only healers consciously observe and affect the subtle bodies of the client. Working with the Greek-Indian five-element system of earth, water, fire, air and space, Daniel Perret, a practicing music therapist and sound healer with more than two decades of study in transpersonal psychology and spiritual healing, reveals how to use sound to activate energy blocks in preparation for release. Thus, Perret ushers in transformation using easy-to-play instruments that facilitate self-expression and sidestep any lack of musical ability. Far more than simply listening to a CD of healing sounds, Perret focuses on determining the specific change you desire and what indicators will reveal your success. Rather than working with specific frequencies or elements of sound, Perret harnesses sound to affect specific locations in the energy field though a variety of techniques including: playing musical improvisations, receiving a sound bath, participating in a sound ritual, and invoking lucid trance to a CD. Using the five elements as a structure to build a bridge between the human being and music, between the inner and outer worlds, Perret helps you to "unite heaven and earth within you."

Gentle Birth Choices, by Barbara Harper, R.N. (Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT, 2005), $19.95

Is it possible to have a natural childbirth without fear and pain? Can you have a vaginal child birth following a cesarean? How does a baby breathe if born in water? Empowering women to choose for themselves rather than remain a passive participant in a process driven by technology and doctors, Gentle Birth Choices explains an array of options for what many define as life’s most profound experience. Demystifying the birthing process and the technology used in today’s hospitals, Barbara Harper, R.N., guides expectant mothers through a maze of opinions and unquestioned "best practices," while offering a host of information on both the physical and emotional aspects of holistic prenatal preparation. Relaying the history of the medicalization of childbirth and the fascinating role of organized religion and biblical interpretation in the creation of today’s common practices, Harper explains that while the U.S. offers the most technologically advanced obstetrical care in the world, it ranks 31st in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity (illness) rates, primarily due to the absence of midwives in the birthing process. She further exposes the Electronic Fetal Monitor as a leading cause of unnecessary cesareans rather than a preventer of cerebral palsy due to the easy misinterpretation of the machine’s data. Including a birth planning guide with recommended questions for your doctor, hospital and midwife, as well as a DVD of interviews and footage of six diverse birthing experiences, Gentle Birth Choices provides everything you need to join the gentle revolution.

Seeking the Sacred Raven: Politics and Extinction on a Hawaiian Island, by Mark Jerome Walters, (Island Press, Washington DC, 2006), $24.95

"When a Hawaiian dies, the soul travels to a Leaping Place and awaits its guide – one of those spirits is the alala." Also known as the Hawaiian crow, this sacred bird more closely resembles a raven, and as of 1996 only a dozen lived in the wild. Unlike the raucous crows of the mainland, alala are curious and highly intelligent. They enjoy observing the activity of biologists and delight in sneaking up on researchers then cawing loudly, all as a sort of game. Escorting you back to the time when lush diverse forests of rich fragrance covered the islands, when spirituality, knowledge and law combined to form a conservation strategy that maintained productive crops for thousands of years before European settlement, Mark Jerome Walters introduces you to the original habitat in which the ‘alala thrived. With the visit of Captain Hook and the immigration of all of those who followed, the ancient celebration of feasting turned into fasting and the hula dance was banned. Domesticated animals consumed the understory of the forests and the habitat of the ‘alala forever changed. Fighting with the ferocious passion of parents in a custody battle, in which each parent believes that they alone know how best to protect and raise the child, Walters chronicles in heart-wrenching, soap-opera like detail the conflicts and challenges between the biologists, state and federal government, private land owners all trying to preserve the species. But it is not just the lives of a few birds at stake, but rather the spiritual fate of thousands of Hawaiian families.

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