On October 8, 2009, my world was shaken.  As a matter of fact, the world was shaken for thousands of people who had worked with/for James Arthur Ray and had friends in the sweat lodge that resulted in 3 deaths and many injuries.  James Arthur Ray is still awaiting trial for 3 charges of manslaughter.

This book gives an amazing insight into the happenings behind the seminars and the closed doors.  It beautifully explains WHY people would sit through a sweat lodge even though they feel like they just might die.  It explains why educated people would follow a man to their death or near death.   It also describes the amazing lessons learned while working with James Arthur Ray (JAR).

It’s interesting to see the reactions of people when you start talking about the “sweat lodge”.  Some people instantaneously start talking about how “crazy” JAR was and how even “crazier” his followers were.  Then there are those who show sincere compassion for the students of JAR and even compassion for the man himself.  Then, if you talk to some of his disenchanted students you just might find 3 camps: the irate ex-students who want him to have trial by fire, the still staunch supporters of JAR, and those who live between the two…the middle ground.  This book was written from “the middle ground”.  This “middle ground” is where I reside and is why I find this book so interesting.

Reading this book was such a healing experience for me.  Yes, there were moments when I read the book then went and vented to my husband.  At the end of the vent, my husband would ask, “Are you sure reading this book is good for you?”.  But then, I would find some deeply profound lessons that Connie learned while sitting in the seminars.  Or she would tell a story that reminded me of the deeply profound lessons I had all on my own!    The book was also a perfect example and reminder of how people come into your life for a reason and a season and when the time to leave them happens, you either learn the lesson or pay with pain.  Thankfully, my husband and I learned this lesson and walked away in time, and so did Connie and her husband.  I’m grateful for being able to listen to that “still knowing” and I’m grateful for the lessons I learned before then too :).

Like all of the other books I have read, there are some amazing quotes in this book and I would like to share them with you.

“Life is a participation sport.”

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but taking action even while feeling fear.”

“What did I learn from this exercise?  That it was a lot like life.  You can attempt to accomplish something hard.  It may even appear to be impossible, and along the way it gets really difficult and you think you can’t do it.  That point usually comes just before you break through and become successful.  Unfortunately, many people give up precisely at that point, when one more hard push would break the resistance and lead to achieving their goal.”

“After a lifetime of feeling you are not good enough, is it possible to fully realize, at a single moment, you are powerful? Or does it require a succession of moments, where you break through boards or concrete or life challenges, before you finally break through the barrier around your heart?”

“We are not here on this planet to kick  back and relax.  We are in this life to learn and produce.” ~James Arthur Ray

“The pattern of perfection is in us.  We have to put ourselves in the proper environment to grow to our full potential.”

Discussion Topic from one of JAR’s seminars:  “What enthusiastic action must I take to get where I want to go?  How am I going to act if it takes longer than I think it should to get there?”

“If you want a smoother ride through life, seek the  middle path, where logic and emotion work well together and avoid extremes.”

“Dont be in such a hurry, human!  Enjoy the view.  Enjoy the journey.”

Here are some quotes from Connie’s books that could have very well been statements or questions my husband Tracy and I thought or discussed with each other:

“We would be the first to say that we were profoundly grateful for his positive impact on our lives, but he was heading in a direction we could not follow.  We both knew it.  His attack revealed a total lack of compassion for the group, and any understanding on his part that this was our trip, not just his.”

“We were done with Dream Teaming.  As much as we loved working with the people, we knew were being taken advantage of.  We felt used.”

“Independent of how I feel about him personally, I have to acknowledge that James taught us some really good stuff.  Too bad he didn’t pay attention to his own material.”

After Dream Teaming a couple of times, we noticed that James’ cried on cue.  We also noticed the “marketing words” and “promises” he made.  They were really lies….but people didn’t know that until they were already sucked in and sold on more of his programs.  We dismissed them as, “Oh this is old information and he is just used to saying these things.  As soon as he memorizes his new script with the new changes in the way things are done, this will be changed.”  These specific comments were not changed when revisions were made; and the comments and promises continued.

James taught us some amazing things and helped us in big ways; it was very hard to believe that a man who can do so much good can also be talking out of two sides of his mouth.  You wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.  You just did.  “Surely it was a mistake…….”  but it never was!

Then the last draw…..I was hosting my 2nd 2-hour seminar here in Boise.  My first time at this was a huge success!  For all of my hard work, I received a percentage of the money from the event sales.  But the 2nd time around, the had changed the format in which people were being invited.  I got to share the profits with anyone and everyone who sent people to the event.  I was becoming increasingly disenfranchised with James and his company, and now I was being called upon to host this event.  Because numbers were low (and I was doing the EXACT SAME THING I had done the year before to advertise) I was receiving phone calls from JRI Staff YELLING at me telling me that I am not doing a good enough job!  But it wasn’t up to just me anymore.  There were LOTS of people on this “host” list; yet I was the only one getting yelled at.  James was not happy.  Oh well.  I was done.  Lots of things were happening with JRI and James during this time and changes were happening…including the start of his World Wealth Society (which you can read about in Connie’s book).  When I heard about the WWS, I KNEW it was time to get the heck out of dodge.  James had switched gears…………….

Later in the book, Connie asked this question:

“When the hell was the last time I saw Liz?  How can I not remember?”

Liz Neuman was this amazing ball of joy!  The first time I met her was at Power To Win in 2006.  That was our first paid James Ray event.  She was all smiles and so helpful.  She had a HUGE mouth as she cheered us on and got the crowd excited to see James.  There was no stopping her!!!  Then I saw her a couple of times after that event.  But the last time I saw her, she and I were both Dream Teaming a Harmonic Weekend event.  I will never forget something she said to me during that weekend.  I was James’ point person (body-guard) during the event and was always standing in front of the stage..the buffer between James and his participants.  In order to talk to James, they had to go through me, and I took this job very seriously!  Anyway, the participants were doing some work in their hand books.  The music was blaring some fun pop song (like usual) and I was in my own little world looking over the participants waiting for a hand to shoot up asking for help.  Liz danced her way up to me and stood beside me, and she said, “Smile, Martha!  Don’t take life so seriously!”

Liz, I just want you to know, that I smile a whole heck of a lot more now!!  Thanks for the reminder!  You are never far from my thoughts.  As the anniversary of your transition is approaching, I am sending love and energy to your family hoping they are well and peace surrounds them.

“Where there is no turning back, then we should concern ourselves only with the best way of going forward.” ~ Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist

The previous quote was given in one of the last chapters of this book.  There is no turning back for any of us.  For those of us that spent time with JAR and his staff and other participants, our lives have changed.  Last October, the world shook!  Now the only thing for us to do is to continue to heal and find the best way of going forward.  I have learned a great deal from James.  I have learned a great deal about myself.  But I have also learned that he is just a man….he is only human.  And more importantly, I can now separate the man from his teachings.  What he taught us were not his original thoughts; these same things can be found in a Religious Science church (which I no belong to), in Buddha’s writings, in the Christian Bible, and in many other books and philosophies.

For many of us our new motto has become, Be You Own Guru!!!!!

Whether you have attended one of James Ray’s seminars, heard about him through the movie/book The Secret, or you just heard about him because of the sweatlodge last year….this book is for you!  Connie will take you on an amazing adventure through foreign lands and spiritual temples as well as share her story and life with James as a teacher!  There is something for everyone here!  You won’t be disappointed!