Love It Forward

Author: Jeff Brown
Published: 2013

I was given this book as a “way to go, you did it!” prize for completing a 30-day yoga challenge: 30 yoga classes in 30 days. How hard it could it be? Well I was able to do 27 classes in 30 days. I would have been able to do all 30 classes by doubling up on some days, but I was exhausted. I had way too much on the go and I needed a break. My knees were killing me!

So I was pleasantly surprised to receive this book from the yoga studio. I didn’t win the main prize of a new mat and a one year subscription to the studio, but I thought this book would be a good consolation prize. I had high hopes, after all Love It Forward sounds like a great cause I can get behind and support. But the book was extremely disappointing. I feel like one man’s search for a better way to live in a hectic, fast-paced, cold-hearted world, was so uninspiring I’m glad it was only an hour worth of reading time. (Yes, I do finish shitty books, if only to check one off from my yearly reading goal of 80 books).

To redeem the book, there were some good quotes but far too often I just felt like Brown spewed forth whatever he thought was ‘enlightened’ positivity without actually sitting with the thought long enough to see if it was relevant and valid. For example: Brown talks about women failing to see the bigger picture about men who wear layers of armour around their hearts/souls/being/etc. because men have traditionally been cast in the role of warrior-protector. Brown states that men are not consciously withholding intimacy, it’s just that “they see perpetual surrender as a threat to their duty as protector”. Hmm…I wasn’t drinking a strong enough tea to dissect that page. I flagged it thinking I would spend time analyzing it later on while writing up this post, but frankly I’m still not drinking something strong enough to get this horrible thought out of my head. Brown wants people to pass love forward but yet he feels that it’s acceptable to say men can’t do it because they have to be strong protectors, and protectors don’t show any sort of weakness. If Brown professes to share his “spiritual graffiti” with the world through “grounded wisdom that heartens and elevates” (back cover synopsis), I feel he has missed the point but refusing to show an enlightened path for how to break the cycle of stoic, armoured, protector. Oh, and what about those self-rescuing princesses out there that don’t want a knight in shinning armour to rescue and/or protect them? How about some spiritually enlightening advice on that aspect, Brown?

But to salvage the negative attitude I have towards this book – it’s not the topic that bothers me but Brown’s inability to actually think critically about what he’s saying – I will give him kudos for trying once again to dissect the ‘armoured man’ trope. Later in the book, Brown confronts the aspect that men and women are intrinsically linked and that the armoured man is afraid of the empowered feminine, which is why he wears the armour. Ok, yeah, maybe he’s sort of redeemed himself with this passage, but then the next line down he throws in one of his made up words, “soulebrates”. Like WTF, man? He calls on the armoured man to bow down to the divine feminine, dance in her wisdom and love. She is the path home. Well, that would have been all fine and dandy but the word soulebrate pissed me off. All the tea in the world would not have made this sentence, or any of the many made up words scattered throughout the book, any better for me.

IMG_2707Truthfully, I don’t remember what tea I was drinking. I recall that I thought this book would make a great blog post because it’s short at 182 pages, and mostly written in short blurbs taken from his Facebook and other social media platforms. That just screams ineptitude to me. People use social media to expound on topics that they know nothing about to willing audiences that embrace their visions. Brown obviously has a loyal following with someone from the yoga studio I attend. Everyone who completed the challenge received this book, and I estimate maybe 50 people signed up.

But take what I’ve written with a grain of salt. Maybe this book and a cup of tea is exactly what you need to get you through a dark time in your life. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a pearl of wisdom somewhere in his passages:

Suffering in relationship is one path to waking up, but only one path. Sometimes we can grow in the heart of joy. Sometimes we can grow in the heart of peace. Sometimes we can grow in the heart of compassion. If they don’t help you glow*, then let them go.

 *Yes, he wrote glow.

I didn’t track my tea selection on this one – but feel free to tell me what you would drink while reading this one!

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