When Hay House publishing sent me an email asking me to do a review of Marianne Williamson's new book, A Course in Weight Loss, my first thought was that I didn't want to do it. But then I began to wonder if the book and CDs might be helpful to the people who read my blog so I decided to write the review.
I've heard Marianne speak at the Hay House conferences, and also at our local bookstore. I found her to be an inspiring speaker and person. I was honest with my contact at Hay House and told her I would prefer to listen to CDs of Marianne's book. The result was they sent me both — the book and the CDs of the book.
This "course" is aimed at an audience of "compulsive eaters" or "food addicts." It seems to me that those are two extremes of behavior and the lessons could also help people who just want to let go of some behaviors that cause them to overeat. It could also help them find ways to replace overeating with loving kindness and a greater feeling of connection with other people.
What I discovered while listening to the CDs was that her message is one that can help people with other issues besides shedding excess weight. I mentioned this to a friend, after I had listened to all of the CDs, and she decided she would like to listen to the CDs and see if they could help her become a nonsmoker. (My friend has no problem with her weight but has been a smoker for many years.) Following is what she told me this morning after listening to the first two CDs:
"I've never had anything hit such a nerve in me about quitting smoking as these CDs by Marianne Williamson. I would definitely recommend this book and the CDs for people trying to kick the nicotine or other compulsions or addictive behaviors. In fact, I woke up this morning and threw all my cigarettes away."
What made the difference for her, I believe, is that the CDs were about a problem that she could pretend was about smoking. She began to hear the message that overeating (or in her case smoking) were ways of being unloving to herself.
We both feel that the book and CDs can help people who have compulsive or addictive behaviors and want a new way to think about their behavior. Although the subtitle of the book is "21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever" these same spiritual lessons can help people with being more loving to themselves in a variety of ways.
Marianne Williamson has been teaching the principles of A Course in Miracles for many years. She found that the lessons she learned and was teaching had helped her change from someone who was a compulsive eater to someone who people thought had never had a problem with eating or her weight.
I had already changed how I looked at eating — what I eat and how much I eat — because of a desire to be a healthy person and to set a good example for my son. But the lessons in this book fit in beautifully with what has been working for me. The lessons also helped me feel compassion for "untidy me" so I can become more of a "tidy me." The lessons in this course help us be more loving to the "parts" of our behavior that make us feel bad — which just makes us want to do more of whatever that behavior consists of whether it's overeating, smoking, drinking, drugs, living in clutter, or a combination of compulsive behaviors.
The foreword for the book, written by Dr. Dean Ornish, inspired me. One of the things he said is that, "The real epidemic is not just obesity or heart disease or cancer; it's loneliness, depression, and isolation. If we address these deeper issues, then it becomes easier for people to make lasting changes in their behaviors." Dr. Ornish also states that he believes, "Fear is not a sustainable motivator." What works is for us to focus on love and the joy we can feel in living. As Dr. Ornish goes on to say, "Even more than being healthy and losing weight, most people want to feel free and in control."
Following are a few quotes from Marianne, from the book, that I would like to share with you here:
"…when you're eating wisely, you're expressing love for yourself… Love dissolves fear the way light dissolves darkness. Fat cells will dissolve permanently when they are dissolved through the power of love."
"For the overeater, food is an area where a spirit of fear has infected the nervous system… like a virus in a bio-computer."
"One of the ways you love yourself is by permitting yourself to want what you want."
"Overeating is an act of spiritual starvation, and one of the things the overeater often starves herself of is the natural right to dream. Invoking the real you begins with expanding your imagination, allowing yourself to want what you really want. You have as much right to your dreams as any other person."
Marianne Williamson has dedicated this book, and the CDs that go with it, to Oprah Winfrey. I would like to share the book's dedication here:
"This book began and ended as a communication between friends. Oprah Winfrey inspired the book, directed its course, and guided its vision. On a soul level definitely, and in many ways in a literary one, this book was a collaborative effort. Every page is a reflection of my affection for and gratitude to her; my hope is that it brings comfort to her as she has brought comfort to so many.
To any reader who may feel this book is a gift, please know it was a gift from her."
If it were up to me, I would change the title and re-design the cover of the book and CDs in order to achieve a wider audience appeal. I believe the book and CDs can help people make positive changes. All of us have our own reasons for resisting changes — even when the changes can make us feel wonderful. If you're open to thinking of your behavior in some new and loving ways, you'll want to read this book and/or listen to the CDs.
To register for the 3-Day retreat in New York, click on the link below: