Bookstore shelves are sagging under the weight of countless self-help books these days. Many preach the rhetoric of self-actualization. A few attempt to include some spiritual component - often of a New Age bent. All seek to feed the hunger within our culture for a guide to balanced and healthy living.
The Wholeness Handbook represents a welcome, Spirit-filled addition to this genre. Co-authors Elaine Emeth, a Christian spiritual director, and Janet Greenhut, a Jewish physician committed to preventative health care, claim the sacredness of life and the value of self-care. Their invitation to integrated, healthy living is punctuated with authenticity and hope. The Handbook outlines a wholeness paradigm that encourages self-awareness and change through a systems approach to understanding sickness and health.
I was first introduced to this book last fall during a seminar with Emeth. To say I was captivated by the life-giving vision she freely shared would be an understatement. As a 22-year-old seeking role models and resources in the art of living, I was hooked. The Wholeness Handbook was at the top of my Christmas wish list a month later, and I'd devoured it before New Year's Eve rolled around.
Aptly named, for it is a handbook, this work is structured for use as a reference guide and is chock full of accessible, practical information. Thorough discussions of nutrition, exercise, and disease prevention are balanced with an exploration of classical spiritual disciplines and thoughtful perspectives on healthy relationships and the building up of community.
Emeth and Greenhut are committed to demystifying both the medical and spiritual realms. I finally got clear on the difference between "good" and "bad" cholesterol, and when I'd finished the section on meditation and prayer, I felt affirmed and inspired rather than uninformed and burdened.