Book Review: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope

Naked in a hot tub with an author is not a situation I find myself in often. In this case, it was a quite a while ago when I spent a summer at a yoga center. I didn’t know it at the time, but the writer in question was about to publish a book he must have been working on during my summer there. I’m not in the book, and the whirlpool nudity isn’t germane to the review, but I thought it might be a fun way to grab your attention. Anyway, I finally got around to re-starting and finishing his work. Yoga is an ancient tradition spanning thousands of years, and I eventually got into a daily practice, so while I doubt the author remembers me or will ever see this review, if he does, I trust he will forgive me for the tardy book report.

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The Heart of the Matter

It was the end of a cool autumn day, and I was sitting on my yoga mat. I thought back to the morning (albeit late morning); my ablutions were complete and I got out on my daily constitutional. (That means walk for those not in the American South.) Walking is good for the heart, I thought, and then I remembered that I was supposed to have some heart tests this year. They were too expensive without insurance, so I didn’t have the tests. What with the pandemic and not getting younger, I’ve been wrestling with the beast that is U.S. health insurance (and losing). So after my walk, I read some stuff on the internet and called some people.

On one of those calls, I got some bad news from a friend, a colleague, really. They were pretty ill, but getting through it. Although I wasn’t raised to pray to a deity, this person was and has a good heart; I’ve always admired their sunny disposition. I’ve also known some Quakers and always appreciated their practice of sitting in silence, and their concept of “holding someone in the light.” So tonight after my bike ride and daily yoga, I flipped my Insight Meditation Timer app over to meditate and chose a five-minute one about compassion in honor of my friend. Usually I wait until I’m hitting the hay to meditate, so I tend to pass out before it’s done, or it doesn’t make much of an impact. Today, for some reason, it stuck with me.

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