Top Ten (10) Books to Read For Spiritual Health and Fitness in 2009

Spirituality is a global, cultural (and sometimes religious) phenomenon. People have various beliefs concerning how best to receive and participate in it. Must one have a priest, minister, pope, or other intermediary, or can one have a direct, independent relationship to experience spiritual bliss and health?There is something for everyone in this list of Top Ten (10) Books to Read for Spiritual Health and Fitness in 2009. Some have sold millions of copies worldwide, while others are not as well-known because they are not mainstream or do not have a publish date as of this article publication. Whether their format is non-fiction or fiction, the following books are on this list because they challenge and inspire people to visit spiritual beliefs and behaviors in our challenging and remarkable world.1. The Bible (and related texts)There are so many translations or versions of the bible. Why limit yourself to just one version? The version with which most people are familiar is the King James book. Theologians know there are multiple texts available for the serious student of Judeo-Christian theology, some more controversial than others like the “Gnostic Gospels of Jesus.” Interested in women? There’s “Women in the Bible,” by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Become re-acquainted (or newly acquainted) and perhaps discover something new about your own spirituality in the process.2. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Spiritual Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams (Deepak Chopra)Deepak Chopra wrote “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” in 1994. They are a guide to living a healthy spiritual life from an eastern perspective that on the surface looks fairly easy to follow; putting them into practice in daily life takes significant attention and commitment. Each person who attempts to follow them will discover which are relatively easy and which are more difficult. Try living this one on a daily basis: “In order to acquire anything in the physical universe, you have to relinquish your attachment to it” (The Law of Detachment).3. The Four Agreements A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (Don Miguel Ruiz)The author is Mexican and a master in the Toltec Wisdom spiritual tradition. He shares this wisdom for spiritual living in his book as four main principles. Just like in “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,” some are more challenging than others. “Do not take anything personally,” is similar to the Law of Detachment in Chopra’s book. It’s interesting to learn how universal spiritual principles are despite the different cultures and geographical locations from which they are born. This guy is so open-minded; he even suggests that we regularly question what others, he, or we believe as the truth.4. The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous)The “Twelve and Twelve” as they are commonly known in anonymous program fellowships were created to help people recover from a variety of addiction diseases. They are used as spiritual medicine and treatment for self-change and healthy relationships with “God, ourselves, and others.” The principles are so powerful, it’s a shame they are not used more widely by others outside the program: surrender to what you can’t control in your life, gain hope that you can change with the help of a power greater than yourself, turn your will and life over to a loving, caring power, and these are just the foundation principles.5. The Alchemist:A Fable about Following Your Dream (Paulo Coelho)”The Alchemist” is a simple story about a boy on a journey to find a treasure. What occurs along the way in this fable is engaging, thought-provoking, and utterly enjoyable. By the end of the story, you’ll find that the boy isn’t the only one who reaps rewards and riches: miraculously, so do many readers.6. Chocolat (Joanne Harris)”Chocolat” invites you into the world of a small village in France, where the inhabitants lead lives that appear frozen and uneventful centered in the guidance of a priest. A woman and her little girl (“foreigners”) come to town. They set up a chocolate café. Somehow, the café owner knows each person’s chocolate preference, and what will suit them best in their lives. A battle begins between the priest and the woman for the soul of the town. “Chocolat” takes an honest look at the positive and negative potential affect of religious and spiritual extremes.7. Standing Naked in Rose Petals (Eleanora Amendolara)What’s most precious to most human beings? Is it to know and love your Creator, yourself, and others? “Standing Naked in Rose Petals” is the true story of a woman valued as an extraordinary human being, healer, and teacher by people whose lives she has touched. This book is an account of a gifted woman in search of her place in existence with her eyes, heart, mind, and soul becoming wide open. Email the author, join the mailing list, and be notified when the book is published. (Link to the book project: What They Want You to Know: Messages from beyond the grave (Carter Shepard & Carolyn Cummings)For all you Fox Mulders out there . . . What does Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, or John Kennedy, Jr., think about United States politics today? When Leonardo DiVinci painted The Last Supper, who did he paint as the figure to the left of Jesus? Is it a male or female disciple? Read conversations with some VIP political, scientific, and arts personalities who are now in the spiritual realm, who want to share wisdom to help us lead loving, positive, spiritual lives. The authors have used their communication and channeling abilities to create this unique book, and hope readers will keep an open mind. It’s a fascinating read whatever your beliefs.9. Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small (Ted Andrews)”Animal Speak” is a comprehensive dictionary on the spiritual properties of mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles as believed and understood by Native Americans and other indigenous cultures. Have you ever felt heavily drawn to a particular animal, or wondered why a certain one tends to cross your path regularly or is in your dreams? This book identifies the particular characteristics and energies animals have to guide, inspire, or help people. Animals are crucial in many religious and spiritual traditions (e.g. Saint Francis in Christianity). Discover what it means to have Wolf or Raven medicine.10. Harold & the Purple Crayon, 50th Anniversary Edition, 2005 (Crockett Johnson)”Harold & the Purple Crayon is a story about a boy and his purple crayon. Originally published in 1955, it’s been read by millions of children worldwide for years. It’s a simple, and yet, profound book about imagination, manifestation and creation. There are eight books in the “Harold” series. Read up on the spiritual properties of color for more insight into the color purple.These are a few of the food for the spirit resources currently available in book stores and libraries, or scheduled for 2009 publication. Since the body and mind are connected to the spirit, reading these books will increase one’s fitness and wellness overall.

Urban Legends of Health and Fitness

You’ve probably been the victim of rumors about something, these are no different with health and fitness. Myths are born when we hear something about a good tip even if we don’t have the whole story and we go and tell the next person. Maybe they even didn’t hear it right. But they innocently tell something they know, and another myth is born, again.If the person giving you the tip is one of authority you are more likely to take that tip as gospel. Actually, the untruths can be dangerous if they cause someone to perform an exercise the wrong way. Keep reading for more on fitness and health facts and myths.We have all heard that swimming is a great way to lose weight. So, we will now tell you that is not so – it is not true. Losing weight is not a benefit you will gain from swimming although there are many other benefits you will gain. The buoyancy of the water supporting your body is the reason this is true, your body isn’t working hard enough to benefit weight loss. We have all heard that exercise will help you have more energy. This is true and is one of the many benefits of regular exercise. People report feeling energized all day when they exercise in the morning. Increased circulation is one of the many reasons for feeling more energized after a workout. Increased circulation leads to your cells receiving more oxygen. Exercise also help improve your strength and stamina. You will naturally feel like you have more energy if you have more stamina.In addition to all this, regular quality exercise helps improve your physical and mental performance. Increased stamina and strength will benefit your overall physical performance. Plus the greater degree of clarity will obviously help you with mental performance. The good habits of regular exercise often get carried over into a person’s diet and nutrition.It is important that you be able to identify fact and fiction where your health is concerned. Doing the research can only benefit you. Learning how to exercise properly is the best thing you can do for yourself. When you have a properly calculated exercise routine based solely on your research you will reap the benefits. This is especially true when you are not getting hung up about concerns and fears that are simply untrue and a diversion to reaching your goals.

Education For the 21st Century AKA The Hub Proposal

Creating a Hybrid Learning CommunityThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.What might a 21st-century community look in which students direct their own education? In this world, the following scenario could take place: a student, engrossed in his favorite video game, puts down his gaming console and decides that he has an innovative idea for a new game of his own. From the convenience of his home computer he signs on to his profile at his school website and posts a bulletin within the “projects” section of the school’s online network. His bulletin states the reasons why his video game idea is innovative and what kind of people he needs to help him bring his idea to fruition. After a few hours, seven other students have shown an interest in his idea and want to join him in the endeavor. The intended critical mass of interested parties having been reached, they must now seek out the relevant information and processes to make the project happen.The group is assigned a teacher/mentor that will aid them in facilitating the achievement of their goal. A meeting time is set and the interested parties meet up in a conference room located at the online school’s Hub complex. The Hub Complex is a state of the art building that acts as a meeting ground for the physical aspects of project based learning. In some rooms there are students working on massive science projects while in other rooms students are studying the fine arts related to current cultural topics. The video game designing student has contacted fellow classmates in the carpool list, but due to no one traveling to the Hub at the time he had to travel via public transit.With notes scribbled on whiteboards and paper, the student’s initial idea is fleshed out. It is determined that computer programming, graphic design, and physics are crucial aspects of the forthcoming project and, while the students have some experience in graphic design, their first challenge is that they lack the requisite programming skills. The group decides to sign up for a programming session where other groups are learning the tools necessary to write video game code. A student with a strong interest in the visual aspect of the project works with a student from another group to walk through an online tutorial in game graphic design. The project continues with the mentor acting as consultant, ensuring that the students are not getting overwhelmed and are finding the resources they need. When the video game is completed, the students reflect with the mentor on what was the most difficult part of the project. It may be determined that the project would have gone much more smoothly if a tutorial on some particular facet of the process had been made available to them. This would have saved some time on trial and error and unnecessary difficulties. The group works to publish documentation wherein their reflections won’t just benefit their own future project endeavors, but will also serve as an available resource to future student projects and other users around the world.How do we achieve this vision while working to simultaneously ensure that our students are well educated and allowed to pursue their passions? Perhaps the Internet is the answer public education has been looking for. Over the past decade, online schools and universities have opened at radically increasing rates while many colleges are adopting some form of hybrid online/traditional classrooms to facilitate learning. In the traditional classroom, students interact with other students and teachers, an interaction which creates a relationship that can be treasured for a lifetime. Online lectures and textbooks are still lectures and textbooks, which can be very difficult and confusing. Without another person to help us and without challenging projects that require human interaction the online classroom will be devoid of the life naturally attained within the traditional classroom. Lectures and textbook based learning is why the current form of “online schooling” will never be completely successful. Project based learning with a human face to face component must be included in this new online paradigm in order to facilitate personal and meaningful engagement of students.One of the principles that our public education system is founded on is the idea that a well-informed citizenry remain strong, free, constantly interactive and capable of diverse thinking. Educating to diverse communication standards (both new and old) is vital to strengthening the community of a multi-cultural society. It is becoming increasingly apparent as we move further into the twenty-first century that education should dovetail with rapidly evolving practices in contemporary communications. In fact, institutional policies are reacting to this demand across the United States. (1) Public education must be flexible enough to follow communities within its structure no matter where they exist. Online education becomes inevitable in this scenario because, as it has become the popular means of mass communication, it has also begun to supplant and augment the traditional loci of communities world-wide. The modern classroom has become the Internet, and vice-versa. Because of the limitless potential of human interaction made possible by the numerous technologies we find at our disposal in the twenty-first century, communities based on instantaneous communication have formed within a new frontier that exists worldwide. Public education, if it is to stay relevant to the needs of the modern community, needs to find its place at the forefront of this frontier.Online communities have replaced geographical ones. While many are unable to name one of their neighbors, they connect daily with hundreds or thousands of like-minded people for various reasons. These communities are in place, yet education has not effectively found a way to harness these connections for meaningful learning-even while meaningful learning is taking place within them all along! As public educators work to discern and define the function of the K-12 classroom in this new era of communication, they must strive to meet the demands brought forth by new and ever-emerging technologies while still working to create a school that will-above and beyond all things-facilitate learning for the K-12 student. But moving towards a methodology which no longer focuses strictly on the “traditional” means of communication does not mean that teachers need to abandon their basic instinct, viz. to learn we need to interact physically with one another. The traditional concept of a school as being a place where students come together to learn in the same physical environment is not a concept that should be abandoned. Rather, public educators need to change their preconceptions of how and when students come together to learn so that their education can support this new type of technology driven classroom.Since very early in American history, educators have worked to ensure that all students are prepared and well rounded. Every year more and more people are choosing to enter a college or university; choosing to go beyond their required education in order to receive training in areas about which they are passionate. Yet, in the last couple of decades we have seen technology explode onto the scene, permanently changing the way we live, interact, and learn. While schools have worked hard to ensure that students are equipped with the tools needed in today’s society, we can always ask: is technology being used its fullest extent? The above scenario, in which students utilize available technologies to the fullest extent in order to complete a complex project, outlines a possible situation in which students, rather than simply making use of technology to absorb disjointed and only marginally useful facts, employ such technology to learn and develop within a tightly-knit community.Is it possible to envision a world where an online student body is able to complete a project that they are interested in while still obtaining the skills and facts necessary to fall in line with the National Standards of Education? How can schools stay in touch with the world if they are not part of the mainstream student communities of the 21st century? All humans have a natural inclination towards learning; whether learning to walk, read a book, or to take a car apart and put it back together again. It is the responsibility of public educational institutions to mentor these natural motivations and to encourage a productive and collaborative society. Can this be successfully achieved and supported within the confines of a hybrid school? If public educators are to rise to the challenges of our times, the answer must invariably be, “yes.”The Internet has become the unofficial 21st century method for learning. Almost anything can be learned by simply watching a YouTube video or following along on someone else’s blog. News is transmitted instantaneously throughout the world creating an almost unlimited supply of information for almost any need. However, when we look in the classroom, we find information continuing to be disseminated in the same way it has been for centuries. Where information comes out of the Internet like a waterfall, students are asked to sit for eight hours a day and move through information at a trickle. This is why public education needs to follow the community, especially when the community is obviously shouting that it knows where it wants to be.So how do we tap into those communities? If there is one thing that has truly kept the fire of learning alive, it has been the library. Imagine a super-library, a kind of K-12 learning center that has been built to be alive and able to act a resource for an online community. A place that would support a kind of project-based learning that could be facilitated anywhere there was an Internet connection. This online school Hub would be filled with teachers and experts who could be present both physically present and virtually for students to interact with no matter where they are. This place would also serve as an easy meeting place for the physically interactive parts of project-based learning that are required of its online student body.We propose that this Hub be the school that actively engages with the 21st century community structures. This high tech Hub facility will be a place where teachers no longer become the gatekeepers of a rigid grading system, but rather start acting as mentors and facilitators within a complex hive of student activity. Why this hub would be successful as a base for an online/virtual school is because it would enable what public education has been seeking to accomplish all along – it would allow students to naturally gravitate to the school out of the want for learning. The basic idea is that human beings learn while uncomfortable, i.e. in new situations where they are forced to be alert. If students were able to first engage with a school from a comfortable place it is our theory that these students would in turn be not only motivated to come to school they will be drawn to it. A “Hey, what’s going on here?” attitude will be fostered when a student is able to observe the classroom before entering it.It is of our opinion that if a High School were to utilize new technologies to expand the classroom and support its communication between all parties involved the result would be a class that is no longer confined by the walls of one room. The classroom could then become earth and the world we live in would become the teacher. This “free from physical constraints” classroom would be populated with students who are able to communicate anywhere that they can receive Internet bandwidth. Projects could take place in the African bush or in a coffee shop in Bern, Switzerland.As we move into the future of learning the question of how to combine truly personalized education and online learning becomes self-evident. There are many more conversations that must come up to answer this, but none can arise until we have a core understanding as a community of what we are trying to achieve and what we are trying to teach as educators.1) For a detailed elaboration of this phenomenon, see John Watson, Butch Gemin, and Jennifer Ryan. “Keeping the Pace with K-12 Online learning: A Review of State-Level Policy and Practice.” Rev. of K-12 Online Learning. Nov. 2008: 1-163.