It's a feeling of being in alignment with yourself.
Interviewed by Rick Kleffel
Hearing an author speak aloud is a great guide to understanding your experience on the page, and Sarahjoy Marsh is a perfect example Her book, 'Hunger Hope and Healing: A Yoga Approach to Reclaiming Your Relationship to Your Body and Food,' is pretty difficult to describe but very easy to read. Our conversation was much the same; we talked about her life, about yoga, about neuroscience and psychology with equal ease.
The book and our conversation begin in solid memoir. Sarahjoy overwhelmed and out of grad school, heads up the mountain. At a distance this seems like a natural response, but as we spoke, Sarahjoy put it in perspective. This is her gift as a writer, a speaker and a teacher, and her mastery of this last role is evident in our conversation.
Teaching is not simply offering one information dump after another. Sarahjoy has the instinct to teach, to bring us into her world and to make her world and understanding ours. You don’t know that or even what you've learned from the best teachers until well after it has happened, so get ready to find yourself equipped with a lot of fascinating neuroscience and psychology that you never knew you needed to know.
I made particularly sure to discuss Maslow's Hierarchy, a really wonderful ranking of human needs that explains a lot of our behavior. Sarahjoy talks quite a bit about our limbic brain and the way we reward our own behavior; at first to our benefit but sometimes, eventually, in a manner that holds us back or creates more unhappiness than the instant gratification brings about.
The book applies itself (lightly) to food issues, and in this regard, Sarahjoy has a very funny metaphor about a brownie. "Brownie does not belong in the house!" It would make a great T-shirt. She has an understated sense of humor that really works. If you like what you hear, you'll love what you read, and afterwards, probably feel better about yourself. Such a bargain! (No brownie required.)
You can hear the short version of our conversation by following this link to the MP3 audio file.
Review by Rick Kleffel
Whatever your expectations are, set them aside. It's good advice in general and especially helpful when you pick up 'Hunger, Hope, and Healing: A Yoga Approach to Reclaiming Your Relationship to Your Body and Food' by Sarahjoy Marsh. Immerse yourself in her crisply written narrative and you'll find a very unique approach to well, everything, which is exactly the point. This is one big Restart button disguised as a book.
Marsh begins with a bit of memoir, recounting her time after grad school; stressed and unhappy she went hiking and took way too much stuff. Even as I wrote that sentence I saw the book in a new light, which is why it's so remarkable. Marsh has a way of evoking deep thought with light writing. She finds herself on a mountaintop, accidentally doing yoga before she knew what yoga was. The experience was her first step on a healing path, just as the book is intended to be the reader's first step on that same path. The book is much lighter and quite engrossing.
Yes, you will see and get instruction in some yoga poses, but slowly, when you're ready. Before that happens, Marsh segues seamlessly from memoir to neuroscience to understated therapy. She examines addiction in terms of food, and quickly moves to what we hunger for beyond mere sustenance. Moreover, she manages all of this while remaining pretty serious and yet easygoing. This is a very difficult tone to reach and Marsh nails it without the reader realizing.
Marsh's ability to write memoir that turns into yogic instruction underpinned with a soupcon of neuroscience ensures that she her work is pleasingly grounded. There's a pragmatic and practical tone to everything you'll find in this book. The yoga exercises are well illustrated and suited for any level of experience, particularly none. If you were thinking that yoga might have something to offer you and were not exactly sure what that might be, then 'Hunger, Hope and Healing' might very well that book.
The book is particularly attuned to addictions and discovering means of setting yourself free. The emphasis is on food addictions, but the lessons are generalized in a manner that makes the book universally applicable to more than simple cravings. Marsh may start out focused on hunger, but she gets to hope and healing which have much wider implications.
What it boils down to is control; not just of appetites or behavior, but control of your life. This is the science that all of us needs must master if we are to discover satisfaction without regret. 'Hunger, Hope and Healing' has a grounded, real-world feel that you simply won't expect to find. But that's what makes it work, what gets you past hunger, on your way to healing and hope.