Gifts for heart, mind, spirit

It’s beautiful to give a thoughtful, well-chosen gift. And it’s wonderful to receive such gifts as a marker of affection and appreciation. I’m also aware how fortunate we are to be living where most of us can so freely give and receive, and take that for granted. I do hope that the breadth of suggestions below is stimulating for you and your loved ones. They include targeted donations through IWDA, books, audio books, CDs, and even retreats in Australia, New Zealand or Japan.

 International Women’s Development AgencyGifts of Change   Whatever else you are preparing to wrap and give, please consider supporting the vital work of the International Women’s Development Agency. You can choose targeted “gifts” from $15 to $250 that directly support the lives of women and children in most need. I’ve been an IWDA Ambassador for more than 10 years and am confident that your gifts will be wisely used. And the person in whose name you are making this gift will receive either an e-card or a snail-mail post card. It’s so easy!

Books, audio books, CDs

Books continue to make wonderful gifts, deepening the conversations between people, sharing ideas that matter. Of my own books, I would love you to consider EVERYDAY KINDNESS, my new book written to celebrate this timeless quality in practical, accessible and I hope inspirational short chapters. Or perhaps your loved ones would prefer SEEKING THE SACRED, a most beautifully produced book that’s still very new and is so close to my heart. Those of you in the United States may also like to find the brand new edition of IN THE COMPANY OF RILKE.  You may also like the new unabridged audio versions, read aloud by me, of SEEKING THE SACRED and, just out, of FORGIVENESS AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE. These are ideal for people who travel/ drive a lot, or who enjoy the ease of listening rather than reading. The sound is great and they can be purchased either as MP3 downloads, direct from Bolinda, or as boxed CD sets from my on-line bookstore – details below. For those of you who want to give a meditation CD, I can especially recommend GRACE & COURAGE, or the quieter, more recent PEACEFUL MIND.

This year I’m also suggesting a varied list of terrific books from other writers. These can be found widely, or on my website bookstore where I have a prominent “Recommended” list of new and older treasures. From that extensive list I’d like to highlight two fine recent novels, Anna Funder’s ALL THAT I AM and Geraldine Brooks’ CALEB’S CROSSING. I can also highly recommend Stephanie Saldana’s wonderful memoir of living in Syria, seeking the sacred in a culture both like and radically unlike her own: THE BREAD OF ANGELS.  A warm, talented American novelist I have been rediscovering this year is Allegra Goodman. I’ve enjoyed all her fiction, including the newest, THE COOKBOOK COLLECTOR, but perhaps my favourite is KAATERSKILL FALLS, about a traditionally Jewish, predictably complex family. Ann Patchett’s glorious, absorbing BEL CANTO is not new but is always near the top of my short list. If you’ve already read that, you will enjoy her newest: STATE OF WONDER.

For anyone looking for books about the rich rewards of reading, I can suggest Brenda Walker’s READING BY MOONLIGHT, Robert McDowell’s POETRY AS SPIRITUAL PRACTICE and my own book, IN THE COMPANY OF RILKE.  And for those who want intelligent reading on food for the body (and not just the mind and spirit!), Australian writer Janella Purcell offers gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options in EATING FOR THE SEASONS.

Classics worth discovering or re-reading include Piero Ferrucci’s beautiful book, INEVITABLE GRACE, Lewis Hyde’s THE GIFT, plus Andrew Harvey’s THE ESSENTIAL MYSTICS, Thich Nhat Hahn’s LIVING BUDDHA, LIVING CHRIST, and THE GOOD HEART which offers teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Christian “Beatitudes”: the famous, exquisite Sermon on the Mount. All are on my “recommended” list – but you should be able to find any book you are seeking, at reduced price.

You can choose any of these books, audio books or CDs from more than 1million, sourced by my on-line bookstore. They are all discounted, and a small % of each sale supports the Universal Heart Network and my website.

A personal email?

Because I can’t sign books sent out by Collins/Seek, those ordering books from my on-line bookstore can have a greetings email sent direct to your recipient. This will read:  “Dear ….  May the blessings of peace and kindness be with you at this holy season and always.”  You need to make that request separately from placing the order. Email me at and please put EMAIL REQUEST in the subject line. Don’t forget to include the person’s name and their email address (as well as yours!) and note whether you would like the email sent immediately or on 24 December.

Retreats, 2012

Early in the New Year, I will post a more complete list of retreats and workshops for 2012. Meanwhile you could choose to give yourself – or someone else – the priceless gift of peace of mind and inner renewal and purpose that comes with a spiritual retreat. Please book with the organisers as soon as possible. All have strictly limited accommodation and numbers.

 10-12 February 2012

Start your year with peace & purpose: a spiritually inclusive 2-nights retreat at the beautiful, peace-filled Brahma Kumaris Centre for Spiritual Learning, 150 Macarthur Drive, Wilton NSW 2571. Retreat leader: Dr Stephanie Dowrick. Inclusive cost: $350 (Friday dinner to Sunday lunchtime.) To book please send a cheque for at least half the cost now, and balance by 14 January 2012. Cheque or money order to: Brahma Kumaris Centre for Spiritual Learning. Please include your name, address plus email details for acknowledgement, and state that it’s for the February interfaith retreat.

5-9 April 2012

The annual 4-nights Easter Retreat at Mana Retreat Centre, Coromandel, NZ. Stephanie Dowrick has been teaching at Mana since 2001 and now leads two retreats each year, Easter and October. The theme for Easter in 2012 is “The grace of kindness: living the sacred in everyday life.” Earlybird bookings available prior to 16 January. Cost: A$600 (approx.)/ NZ$795. Please contact Mana immediately if you are interested in joining us as many people return annually for this exquisite retreat and places are limited. Body treatments available prior and during afternoon rest periods. You may extend your stay on either side of the retreat for a modest cost.

Mana Retreat Centre, RD 1  608 Manaia Road, Coromandel 3581, New Zealand

(+ 64 7) 866 8972

29 October –7 November 2012

 Writing in Kyoto. This is for writers or would-be writers at all levels. And especially for anyone ready to live, see and think more creatively. Writing workshops in the mornings with Dr Stephanie Dowrick. Guided explorations of the enchanting ancient city of Kyoto in the afternoons and evenings with Japanese-speaking William Suganda. This will be the third trip to Japan that Stephanie and William have led together. People can join the group in Osaka (or Kyoto) from anywhere in the world. Numbers strictly limited. Please email: to register your interest.

With Christmas fast approaching, I also want to remind those of you in Sydney that we will have a spiritually inclusive service at Pitt Street (264) Uniting Church this coming Sunday, 18 December, at 3pm, with simply glorious music from Jassen Rose and Elizabeth Lecoanet. And you are invited to the Christmas Eve 11pm service at Pitt Street , a sacred service that’s also inclusive and exceptionally beautiful.