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The Life We Are Given: A Long-Term Program for Realizing the Potential of Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul (Inner Workbook) Paperback – October 20, 2005
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About the Author
George Leonard has introduced LET to more than 50,000 people in the United States and abroad. He is the author of a number of books on human possibilities and social change, including Mastery (Plume 1992), and lives in San Francisco, California.
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But if you're not hungry for, and determined to work hard, daily, patiently, and into the foreseeable future to get what you want, and, along the way, deliver the gifts the universe has chosen you and only you to deliver into the world, then the book and the practice may not be for you.
I have a friend in Tulsa I met through these practices. After ten years practicing this daily, he likes to say that before we notice it, the Kata is working us. Indeed! He also pointed out to me that there is no place like the present. The past is gone; the future is only imagined; only the present is where we can ever be at any moment; and the present has more opportunities to offer than we can readily engage unless we are very practiced with being present in the moment with every breath. The more we practice being present, the more present we find ourselves being. And the more tranquil, the more calm, the more centered, the more confident because the confidence emerges from learning how to listen, look, taste, smell, feel, sense in every way more effectively, inside the present moment, inside our own center, than we've ever done before.
These practices will not likely get anyone present in the moment with every breath in a few weeks. But, depending upon the quality and the quantity and the regularity of our practices, the numbers tell the story: 88% those who do it daily within less than a year realize scientifically measurable, desired changes in their lives: changes is body, mind, heart, and soul. It may seem a new spirit is born in us; but the spirit has been here all along. We just were not earlier taught how to let this spirit emerge through us.
I could not have earlier imagined giving forty minutes a day to such a practice. Now I happily give an hour or more. I meditate more than the suggested ten minute minimum. Often several times daily. I now study meditation with a Buddhist Priest. I am more prayerful. My contemplative and reflective time is much more focused, and attuned to holding my attention in the center of the present moment.
After three months' practice, both of my grown daughters said, without being aware the other said it, something like, "Wow! Dad! What happened?!" They were obviously happy to see a dad they grew up with wearing far more residual combat stress than he could bear, now smiling, joking as well as but far more routinely and poignantly than he had ever done during their growing up. If I could get these practices into every veteran's heart the moment he steps back upon our American soil, or, better yet, before he or she departs, I would not hesitate to give my life to do so. Is there a more glorious honor? I would not have put it in writing were I unsure.
Committing to so much daily time is hardly to be easily sustained by any but the most patient, the most determined, and those who most readily find or create a local ITP (Integral Transformative Practice) group to check-in with and work routinely with. Living in a remote area of Northeast Oregon, I am creating the group I want here; I am amazed at all the surprised, happy faces when they read the book. Not everyone wants it - somewhat less than half to whom I mention the work. But, hey, practice, practice, practice.
And for those of us concerned about the seemingly all-private (if not outright narcissistic) approach: there is an all-permeating social-cultural dimension that arises slowly as we go along. I cannot tell you your priorities, your path, nor you mine. You are your own authority; I am mine. Can we work together to build something anew? To create a new authority we both love? Of course! Practice, practice, practice!
If you want a copy of the demonstration dvd, The Tao of Practice, by George Leonard, go to itp dash international dot org but leave out those spaces.
Every ITP group we create is a profoundly new and deeply sound community. Every member therein finds their own paths into the wider community, into delivering their social and cultural gifts for the wider community as well as for the ITP communities. We are rebuilding the world anew. As the poet, Dr. Willam Carlos Williams put it in Patterson: "we must rebrick up the words..../--in a hundred years, perhaps--/the syllables/(with genius)/ or perhaps/two lifetimes/Sometimes it takes longer....
Before reading on, if you are someone who is looking for a way to transform your life and to create new and healthy habits--if you don't already have a practice of your own--I DO recommend this book. The program is simple, logical and very encouraging. Not to mention it's simply a great place to start.
The book is basically a concoction of meditation, Yoga, fitness, affirmations, and a healthy diet. Obviously these are things you can practice on your own, seperately, but I suppose the ITP is a convenient way to combine these if you're unfamiliar with them otherwise.
Now for my problems with the book.
1) Despite having an acute interest in transpersonal practice, meditation, yoga, and other "spiritual" disciplines, my "New Age" radar goes off a few times during this book. Even though things like visualization and affirmations can be effective, they're just as effective in different mental forms...i.e., not so sugar-coated. I may be splitting hairs here, but I prefer my practice to be described to me in terms that will make sense beyond "your hand cares for your heart."
2) The other qualm is the self-congratulatory tone of the book. Murphy and Leonard are amazing men, who have contributed a lot, but they seem to stand on a pedestal here as if they've stumbled across something groundbreaking, when its not. The ITP is simply a recipe of practices that already exist on their own and that CAN be practiced on their own. And at the risk of sounding a bit pompous, it doesn't take a genius to decide they want to engage in healthy growth in mind, body and soul on their own.
So I reiterate, if you are looking for a positive change in your life (body, mind, and soul), and are not currently practicing anything and know very little about these practices, then this is a relevant book. Otherwise, the book says nothing that hasn't been said before. On top of that, the authors sound like they think it's never been said before, which is obnoxious.