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Focusing Emptiness: A Mytho-Poetic Journey to the Lost Child Paperback – August 5, 2016
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About the Author
Michael Staples holds dual licenses in Radiation Therapy and Depth Psychotherapy. He is the author of over twenty journal articles in these fields, and has worked in both large academic institutions (University of California at San Francisco, Stanford Medical Center), and in a number of private clinics and community based hospitals. In the 1970s, Michael was one of the primer U.S. writers in the martial arts field, his area of focus being Chinese martial arts. He was the author of four books; White Crane Gung-Fu (the first book about the White Crane style in English), Hop-Gar Kung-Fu (the first book about the Hop-Gar in English), Tibetan Kung-Fu, and Wushu of China (the first book about the Compulsory routine in China called Chang-Chuan, or Long-Fist). He published a little over seventy feature magazine articles, served as Chinese styles editor for one of the first Encyclopedias of martial arts. Michael is also a Psychotherapist and founder of Sonoma Psycho-Oncology, a 501c3 non-profit.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you suffered an abusive childhood, with its traumas large and small, as the author did, or were abandoned, literally or figuratively as a child, as so many of us were, this book will prove a wise and compassionate companion to accompany you on your own journey. But even if you did not share the author's experiences, you will no doubt be touched by his portrayals of his relationships with his mother and his beloved dog, Poncho, his experiences in war and the esoteric world of Asian martial arts, and all his personal victories and losses along the way. His self-deprecating humor lends warmth throughout. It resonated strongly and deepened my compassion for and understanding of myself, my loved ones and the human condition.
Drawing on his professional work in psychotherapy and rich literary allusions, he ties it all together concisely at the end with a strong academic analysis-but one which the lay reader can easily absorb.
I did not want this book to end and wished only that I could join Michael Staples along the rest of his journey to see how his-and mine-will all come out. This is a wonderful book of simple, yet profound wisdom and beauty.
His childhood brought unexpected hardships again and again, and his path to the martial arts was difficult, indirect, and unexpected. Through a childhood strained by divorce, alcohol and poverty, through unsympathetic and intolerant schools, through military horrors he found his way to the unifying principles of the martial arts -- only to be challenged even more as the white male in an Asian world. Each of these confrontations becomes the points of his story -- to expect the unexpected and to profit by each new challenge. He struggled a path much more difficult than most, yet he describes his development in sympathetic, direct language that delivers to us his lessons with unassuming friendship toward the reader.
He becomes a master of gongfu, and his extended descriptions of the mind/body integration and unity with the instantaneous moment necessary to achieve this mastery are the centerpiece of his story. This description alone is worth the entire volume. But by expanding our perspective to include his basic development from childhood, we learn that achieving excellence in martial arts reflects achieving control over one's larger life process. In this, the fight is life itself in microcosm. The talents needed for victory in the fight shows the way to larger victories elsewhere. Ultimately, it is a tool for consciousness raising, and from his descriptions of the process, we are enlightened. We understand that his self-discovery in life becomes his source of power.
Mr. Staples has learned his life lessons deeply, and in this volume he delivers his message with the same focus, discipline and cutting clarity as gongfu itself. Few among us can be as honest about ourselves as he is, and the reader feels rewarded by his generosity. It is great writing sending meaningful messages to us all. My highest recommendation.
This is a book for anyone as well as for psychotherapy professionals written by such a professional who is writing from his own experience. I imagine it will resonate with people interested in the martial arts, Vietnam and rock climbing as well as any reader interested in a life filled with deep engagement. This is a person who doesn't give up and who stays with his experience till it transforms. I highly recommend it.
Micheal leaves few stones unturned as he takes you through his jagged, painful and often strange life. You will feel his confusion, anxiety, loss, defiance and determination which often provides no relief from the challenges we all face as he defies family, reality and death. His life turns and twists through many rough and tough challenges leaving him wondering the meaning of life. In the end he guides you to the understanding of his exploration to allow you a chance to understand yourself, your hidden secrets and your own path of discovery.