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Advance Praise: Close to the Bone Life-Threatening Illness as a Soul Journey

Close to the Bone

Life-Threatening Illness as a Soul Journey
10th Anniversary Revised Edition
Jean Shinoda Bolen

Contact: Bonni Hamilton, Director of Marketing
978/465.0504 x1112
Skye Wentworth, Publicist
Download pdf version

“This book is a staff on which to lean as we ourselves walk or are called upon to help others walk into the valley of the shadow of death.”
—Alice Walker

“This is the book I needed when my daughter was sick. It would have helped me through it, like a map of the underworld. Myths, stories, prayer, touching, visualization, rituals, and especially love are some of the tools and wisdom that this extraordinary book gives us. Thank you, Jean.”
—Isabel Allende

“Jean Shinoda Bolen moves far beyond ordinary notions of medicine, treatment, and even suffering to place illness within a human framework. When you are sick, read pages from this book to be reminded that you and your illness are full of soul.”
—Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul

“If you or a person close to you have a catastrophic illness, this is one of the most wise and helpful books you could ever read.”
—Lawrence LeShan, author of Cancer as a Turning Point

“This book can be a companion to anyone in physical or mental pain or crisis.”
—Louise L. Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life

“Beautifully written…Anyone affected by a serious illness will find Close to the Bone a wise and warm companion.”
—New Age Journal

“Simple and straightforward…this book probes beneath, urging the reader to plumb the depths and then return to the surface.”
—Houston Chronicle

“Practical and accessible…The author conveys well to her readers her sense of the immeasurable gift that is each life and all life, and they can be grateful to her and with her for this.”
—New Mexican

“This combination of the spiritual with the pragmatic will be helpful and even reassuring both to those facing death, particularly those with a catastrophic illness such as AIDS, and their caregivers and companions.”

“Jean Shinoda Bolen has created a poetic rhythm that will uplift the spirit and soul. This is a deep, powerful, and gentle book, in which Dr. Bolen masterfully discusses the search for meaning as well as the power of prayer and angels.”
—Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., Founder,
Center for Attitudinal Healing

“Should be required reading in medical schools and by anyone who wants to understand how illness can be a midwife that helps the soul to emerge.”
—Natural Health Magazine

“Dr. Bolen sees with an insightful eye into the true meaning of healing. A compelling and compassionate book!”
—Marion Woodman, co-author of Dancing in the Flames

“For those who yearn for a deeper meaning to disease and death, Close to the Bone is a healing breath that will be a tremendous comfort.”
—Hugh and Gayle Prather, authors of Spiritual Parenting

“Richly Probing…A skillful assemblage of views on the harrowing experience of physical illness and mental dissociation from which we can and may emerge with a new clarity about who we are and what we want our lives to be.”
—Publishers Weekly

“The great teacher is our mortality. Let this book be a guide to your feelings and enlightenment. There are no exceptions, we are all mortal. Accept that—read this book and live a fuller, healthier, more meaningful life.”
—Bernie Siegel, M.D., author of Love, Medicine and Miracles

“A finely polished mirror for the healing heart and body. An important statement of theories and practices which have aided many in the course of their illness and recovery.”
—Stephen Levine, author of Who Dies?

“Thought-provoking and optimistic.”

“Immensely readable and revealing…this book is a godsend.”
—Patricia Holt, The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review


Review: Close to the Bone Life-Threatening Illness as a Soul Journey

Close to the Bone
Life-Threatening Illness as a Soul Journey
10th Anniversary Revised Edition
Jean Shinoda Bolen

Reviewed by Angela Hutchinson

When one faces a life threatening illness, it changes the way we view life, death, relationships, everything we knew about feeling secure in the world. Dr. Bolen shares her theories and experiences with readers to extend a compassionate hand to those currently suffering from the many facets of illness. As many historical figures before, Bolen finds meaning in mythology and relates it to this specific soul journey. Her stories are empowering and can quite possibly bring solace to those who are dealing with the enormous task of life and death circumstance.

The author begins Close to the Bone with the lotus, “a symbol of soul development because it rises through and above muddy waters to bloom”. Out of our suffering, may bring the possibility of soul development. Each experience brings us an opportunity to move toward a deeper wisdom, beyond words, from another realm.

Bolen writes, “The premise of this book is that illness can be soul evoking and that the soul realm is one akin to dream or reverie, a source of personal meaning and wisdom that can transform life and heal us.” When one first discovers an illness, it is as though the “ground gives way”. In the book, we are introduced to Greek mythological character Persephone and her journey into the Underworld. The Underworld may be depression, grief, and the shock of life taking a much unanticipated course, although Bolen describes it as a “place of great inner richness.” She directs the reader to keep a journal and be still, staying aware to the soul’s message. One never really knows how they will respond to the news of an illness or how life will change. Priorities tend to shift and we must decide how we will respond to this sort of “underworld”. The patient must collect information of treatment options while dealing with relationships that are affected. It is a daunting time to say the least. Bolen urges those enduring this challenging time to conserve energy and to tend to self as much as necessary. We must learn how much we can extend or how little we can extend to others.

There are many challenges in this journey that we must almost be as “warriors”. “Difficulties are soul shaping, depending upon how we respond. They can be lessons that lead us to know who we are, and they can stretch us into becoming larger souls and more authentic human beings than we were before.” Inanna, a mythological goddess, descends into the underworld, to be with her sister, goddess Ereshkigal, who was suffering and in mourning. Ereshikigal represents that part of us that is denied, unheard, that suffers silently until it can no longer go on in silence; it may be the illness that manifests or the parts of ourselves we repress only to have them consciously or unconsciously control our reactions to life. Inanna decides to descend to the Underworld in order to listen and be witness to her “sister” and in return, she is healed after Ereshkigal is finally heard. “In life as in this myth, to cry out in pain and anger at our lowest points and be cared about and not rejected, is healing. When Ereshkigal’s suffering was transformed into gratitude and generosity, Inanna could come back to life.”

As a response to an illness we may begin to listen to that lost part of ourselves, or acknowledge the dreams we denied to please other people. We must recover and integrate these qualities into who we are and what we want our life to hold. We are questioned in Close to the Bone…what is true for you? What is your bliss? These are the priorities of the soul.

Bolen writes of the mind body spirit connection and how our thinking can alter our physiological health. Our belief in recovering may indeed increase our ability to heal more fully. “Neuropeptides are messengers, small molecules of emotion, that can go to all the cells of the body and change them.” “Sometimes a person really does need a story-one that provides hope, nourishes the will, or provides meaning- to stay alive.” The author indeed serves the reader well as she shares her knowledge of myth and the psyche.

She also writes of prayer, visualization, supportive relationship connections, healing touch, healing energy, affirmation, and creating ritual in the journey.

Ultimately, it is not necessarily what enters the life; it is how we respond and interpret it. What do we make of this challenge? How does it change us?

Close to the Bone is an amazing lot of information given in the form of myth. It goes beyond the superficial and exterior, extending inward to the Bone of who we are and what we know. It is a time to gain Soul wisdom; to sit quietly and let the Soul chant to you in the sacred language of its own. This book will penetrate what you thought you knew and bring you into the world of your own Myth.

“I have come to my own personal conclusion that the timing is not what matters. What we do between being born and dying is what matters. The point, it seems to me, is to live a meaningful life, however long or short it may be. If a life-threatening illness or a chronic disabling illness is what the soul encounters, then this is the itinerary of the soul journey.”