Meditations for the Soul: Pathways and Practices to Strengthen Your Soul for the Journey Ahead, by Neale Lundgren, PhD
Llewellyn Publications, 90738764306, 236 pages, December 2020
Meditations for the Soul: Pathways and Practices to Strengthen Your Soul for the Journey Ahead by Neale Lundgren, PhD is a beautiful little book that fits comfortably in your hands. The cover artwork is inviting and a soothing image of water colored birds on tree branches. Before you open the book, the heart, mind, and soul are engaged in its simplicity and inviting visual presentation.
Everyone is a seeker. Everyone longs for a soulful purpose that sets the heart ablaze… We are seeking to make sense of life. But, we will find it difficult to make sense of life until we have made sense of the soul…1
These words are shared on the first page of the introduction and set a very clear path that Meditations for the Soul will offer more than your standard collection of thoughts and affirmations that make the reader “feel good” without addressing the beauty of cultivating a practice of deepening the connection to the gifts of the soul. The reader is guided towards a space of being both a student and a teacher of the soul’s lessons as a (or many) lifetime’s pursuit. The inclusion of a robust Recommended Reading list and a Glossary at the end of the book also support a tone of learning, exploring, and engaging in an active way.
Meditations for the Soul is separated into thirty chapters that are further organized into three parts. Each chapter provides a bite-sized offering that includes an introduction to the purpose of its work and concludes with a “Soul Journey.” This begins as a brief guided meditation and flows into an “Awakening Exercise.”
The content, although brief in words, speaks directly to the soul of the “seeker” as a tome of great wisdom. I appreciate the designation of “seeker” Lundgren uses throughout. It engages the reader in a deeper way and implies that awakening to our purpose at the level of the soul requires a commitment that extends well beyond doing a specific set of exercises or contemplative work. To be a “seeker” is to always be actively inquiring and doing in a way that is infinite in its possibilities.
It is evident in the offerings throughout Meditations for the Soul that Lundgren brings a perspective of both analytical academia and practical experience. This is supported in his sharing of his personal journey to the soul from successful musician to time spent at a monastery as the result of a back packing trip through Europe and the eventual attainment of a degree as a psychotherapist. Lundgren addresses the needs of the soul for reflective and inward journey as well as the practical outward actions and exercises required to bridge the spiritual and the material expressions of the soul’s work.
The purpose of this book is threefold; to provide you with ways to connect your body and mind to the senses of your soul; to give you strengthening practices and pathways for your soul’s journey through the material world; and to impart to you teachings based on ancient wisdom that will help you bring more soulfulness to your relationships with others…2
Each of the three parts of the book carefully aligns with one of the principles of Lundgren’s threefold purpose and builds one upon the other. “Part One: Awakening to Soul in the Material World” provides the reader with an introduction to the work of revealing and collaborating in awareness with the soul and its purpose in the realm of material and physical existence. “Chapter 2: The Seeker Awakens” will definitely appeal to those drawn to the psychoanalytical process.
The seeker’s journey proceeds in gradual awakenings, along with many stages and trials. These are questions you can ask yourself to help you figure out where you might be… Let these serve as useful indicators of the adventure of soul that lies ahead…3
The questionnaire that followed served both as an eye-opener and a space of claiming the journey as your own unique experience. Anything that allows you to know more about yourself will be an opportunity of growth wherever it is applied. I found this to be an insightful tool of first steps.
“Part Two: Strengthening Soul in the Material World” takes the reader through an exploration of the yogas Lundgren has identified as unifiers of soul and matter within the seeker. This “strengthening” is engaged through the overlay of each of the specific energies of a form of yoga. This approach also allows the reader to open to the awareness that what we as Westerners typically refer to as yoga is much more than the physical expression; but rather, a whole and unified way of being. I was particularly drawn to “Chapter 11: At the Threshold of the Paths,” the first chapter of this section.
Throughout the centuries, masters of the inward journey have provided a rich variety of practices called “yogas” for the purpose of strengthening the soul for its journey through the material world… The word itself comes from the Sanskrit juj meaning to “yoke” or to “unify”…4
This unification is expressed as the energies of the yogas of mind, heart, energy, action, integration, and more. I found this to be a powerful way of reinforcing the concept of all aspects of our being and soul are in alignment with one another, informing each in a connected and unified way.
Having built on the practices of personal revelation of and active participation in the soul’s journey, “Part Three: Bringing Soul to the Material World” engages the reader at a soul level as part of a collective of souls, each finding their own way. The encouragement here is one of continued personal work, now with the understanding that we all become the light for one another, an example and an inspiration of life as a fully integrated corporeal being of soul.
Many of the writings in this concluding section of chapters involve the pitfalls and the joys of realizing your soul’s nature. Chapter topics include stress, relationships, companionship, the language of the soul, and more. This section explores the practical nature of soul work reinforces the knowingness that soul and matter are not separate from one another. They are indeed collaborators and reflections of the other.
Meditations for the Soul is user friendly, but is not an easy read if you take the contemplatives and practices to heart and allow yourself to be open to the journey, from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the first read through, but I will most definitely be starting at the beginning and allowing myself the space and time to fully digest the material and work with the recommendations and wisdom held between its covers. The statement below eloquently summarizes the intention of this book. They are words that should be accessed and contemplated routinely as each new journey unfolds.
Wander, seek and find new treasures within your soul and within the souls of others. Aspire to expand your heart until it encompasses the universe. Through the refined soul senses of empathy, compassion and forgiveness, impart this healing balm to others in the world, beginning with yourself…5
Robin Fennelly is an Elder within the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition [www.sacredwheel.org]. She is a dancer, teacher, astrologer, author, ritualist and seeker of all things of a spiritual nature. Her writings and classes incorporate a deep understanding of Eastern practice and Western Hermetics and bring a unique perspective towards integration and synthesis of the Divine and Mundane natures of our being. She is a mother of five and lives in Eastern PA with her husband of 45+ years.