There are decades’ worth of self-help/self-improvement books, DVDs, YouTube channels, workshops, retreat weekends, and so on out there. So the first question for both a reviewer and a reader when another book like this comes out is, “What sets this one apart?” In this case, there is more than enough that is new and insightful to recommend it, even if, like me, you have been on this path for most of your life.
First and foremost, this is a workbook, and I am impressed with the thoroughness of the various questionnaires. I also like how closely they align with the text that precedes them. There are hours of work (and many revelations and ah-ha moments) ahead for the committed reader. As you engage with the text and complete the questionnaires, you’ll begin to resonate with the twin goals of “awareness” and “awakening” that are fundamental to the journey.
Another plus is that the book is designed for you to become an active creator of your life. This aligns with the work of currently popular Dr. Joe Dispenza, and my three decades using spiritual practices in storytelling to train actors, directors, and writers. The author identifies eleven attributes of a creator (typically there are seven, correlated with the chakras), which you’ll need to read the book to discover. Being a creator keeps you from falling into the familiar patterns that constitute a life lived under repetitive loops and a semi-conscious hypnosis.
The reader should know that this book is “based on transcriptions of the actual first level of the Human Mastery Course, which is an audio e-course with twelve months of teleconference group … and/or private sessions.” So, if the exercises and advice help, there’s plenty more available.
What is “human mastery?” Because it sounds like something worth pursuing. According to the author, it is “the integration of your personality, your ego and your spirit.”
A good portion of the book is spent on childhood and qualities of energy and vibration. This may not sound new, but Cavallaro approaches these subjects with unique insights that I found valuable and immediately applied to my own self-development journey. It helped that our upbringings were similar. His teasing out of the good, bad, and neutral child’s tendencies and what they might mean for adulthood is refreshing reading. A good litmus test is to assess if you act differently around your family. If you answer yes, fear not—most of us do.
I am also what other authors and spiritual guides have termed “a highly sensitive person,” which links the childhood experiences with the qualities of energy and vibration at the heart of the book. It took me until well into my thirties to understand why being in a roomful of people I didn’t know (or sometimes even ones I did) was so difficult despite my being a performer and teacher and why the overwhelming feelings I would sometimes get with an individual I was meeting for the first time were so hard on me.
Cavallaro breaks down these dynamics and offers strategies for communication that will help you understand, manage, and even alleviate those overwhelming feelings. Managing them is important. Low energies/vibrations cause disease and are a barrier to a well-lived, fulfilling life. And those whose energy is so sharp as to be invasive can be a harm as well.
Some of the exercises and advice, while couched in Cavallaro’s own terminology, call to mind seminal spiritual practices. When he says, “Be aware before you speak, and speak consciously” I think of Don Miguel Ruiz’s first of the Four Agreements: “Be impeccable with your word.” It also connects with the other three. Cavallaro’s exploration of the frequency of words is a fresh take, even if you know and practice other systems that call attention to the potent power of words.
I was pleased that quantum physics and reincarnation are included. These are ever-more prevalent in the study of spirituality and the (para)normal and (super)natural and traditional science is also making progress. I was recently involved in an investigation with my wife, a psychic medium, where the assertion made by Cavallaro that we choose our parents prior to reincarnation was confirmed.
The exploration of the different energetic systems of the body and the chakras was a highlight. When Cavallaro suggested that ADHD is a mechanism to ignore what he terms the “sensate” body, it was an a-ha moment I shared with family and friends that struggle with attention and focus.
It takes a lifetime’s work to undo the patterning and programming on which this book is focused. The roles with which we identify, the stories we tell ourselves and others, are so thoroughly constructed it takes the introduction of new energies and foci to change them. As Cavallaro advises, you can’t move too fast through the changes. They won’t be lasting and could actually do you harm as the ego/personality “pops”; also, the shock to family and friends can cause negative feelings when you’re suddenly engaging them with different dynamics. I know; I’ve been there.
I found two errors. The author says, “You will not find any novels about Jesus having a romantic love affair.” Nikos Kazantzakis’ 1955 novel, The Last Temptation of Christ (made into a film in 1988 by Martin Scorsese) is one example, but, as more is learned about Mary Magdalene and her probable relationship as wife to Jesus and mother of his children, there are other novels being published as well.
The second is Cavallaro’s limited definition of bliss as “just another way of being high.” In the 1970s, Joseph Campbell introduced Western audiences to the Sanskrit sat, chit, ananda (“Follow your bliss”). This is not a literal translation. Sat, chit, and ananda are distinct phases in a complex journey. And Campbell was always careful to remind us that bliss does not mean “easy.” And those who taught me the concept, and those to whom I have been teaching it for 30 years, all know this.
There are a few other terms and conceptions with which I disagree, but that is to be expected in a work of this depth and complexity.
Speaking of, the author tells us, “[A]round 1985 … this work began. By 1995, I had the system designed and began its refinement. By 2000, it was finally ready. … By 2009, I was ready for the next evolution and I withdrew from the public in order to upgrade the process and my own frequencies. Now, I am finally ready to move out to the public and share once again.”
All of this effort has resulted in a notable tool for the journey of self-discovery.
TITLE: The Self-Discovery Book: Inner Self-Improvement, Book 1
AUTHOR: Michael Cavallaro
PUBLISHER: Leaders Press
ISBN: 9781943386734 (pbk). 9781943386727 (ebook)