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by John Gray and John Selby
Simon & Schuster Audio, 2003
Review by David M. Wolf on Jun 8th 2005

Living Your Dream

To understand what this program is about and its use, it is essential to distinguish recovery from stress and to see the need for both in an active lifestyle. These CD programs are intended as modes of recovery; they are slow, quiet, guided for imagery, soothing, and intended to be healing. They are not motivational but the opposite: They ask you to stop, breathe, get a grip on infinity and hang out a while.

There are eleven tracks that comprise four Experiences in the program--loving what you have, focus on deeper needs, clearing negativity, and a daily "dream booster" to help focus on steps to what you want. Every one of these tracks could be called guided meditation and each Experience is accompanied by soft, unstructured music at a pace designed to slow your pace, even your breathing.

The program begins with an introduction and brief sessions by John Gray, the famous author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (Harper Collins 1992); Gray is also a family therapist. He then hands off the balance of the programs, about forty-five minutes, to John Selby who is a psychologist, writer, and musician.

The content of these programs draws liberally from the storehouse of imagery that people find in their ordinary lives--loves, friends, home, dreams. The intent is uniform: to provide voices that guide listeners to relax enough to discover their own path. This is what Gray and Selby call "The Innerlife Experiential Audio Process." The key premise of the entire program is the primacy of presence, that is, being "in the here and now," over the alternative which is to be goal-directed and oriented to the future. And, of course, this primacy goes well with recovery.

The music CD has four tracks comprising about an hour. There are piano, violin, guitars, percussion (loops) and various reed instruments. The compositions are each named for gemstones, which seems apt, because listening brings to mind things about the pace of light shimmering off the still waters of a pond. The music is quite relaxing, meditative, and the guitar, in particular, adds a hint of jazz.

Some will say that this entire program with music is "New Age," but that view, which has become an epithet, appears to have lost its meaning by 2005. There are so many currents in contemporary music, rap, not to mention new directions in counseling and therapy. What exactly conforms to a New Age now? But traditional this is not although it can sit on the same shelf with familiar "Self-Help."

Others might say these programs are largely devoid of meaningful content, that is, offering ideas well-defined and conveyed coherently to make profound impressions on listeners and, thereby, achieve desired ends. Such criticism would come quickly from any of today's very busy professionals--computer nerds, doctors and lawyers and such, wall street whiz-kids, entrepreneurs, just to name a few types--except, notably, from those among their ranks who have "hit the wall," find their health or vitality crumbling unexpectedly, and are beginning to reach out for help. So, what one finds in Gray and Selby may not be so much what they put there but what listeners need and are, as a consequence, open to experience.

 

© 2005 David Wolf

 

David M. Wolf is the author of Philosophy That Works, a book about the practice of philosophy. His book page for orders (hardback & paperback) is www.xlibris.com/philosophythatworks ; readers can also see the first chapter there.