iUniverse’s Ari Joshua Bouse tells us about Something to Chew On, his new book on mindfulness, meditation, and improving our relationship with Nature.
Please briefly describe your book . . .
I wrote Something to Chew On: Digesting Healthy Spiritual Food for the Soul in the Calendar Year Ahead to inspire people to feel more motivated to get out in Nature, be open to receive the messages that Mother Earth has to give, and incorporate meditation into their daily lives. I wanted to create a trail guide that encourages folks to weave in a walking meditation into their waking reality, in a way that would reduce anxiety, and inspire relaxation as a way of everyday life. This book is an outgrowth of my spiritual path. I believe my book has the potential to help people transition into a New Age and Paradigm in a way that is in alignment with the flow of the Universe.
And can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and Reiki Master. I typically start my day with a mixed-meditation/martial arts practice, that includes Taichi, Qigong, Chakra Balancing, and drumming/sitting meditation. As an LCSW working in Public Schools, my role is to bring a mental health perspective into the educational setting. As such, I am passionate about helping people remember to breathe, calm down, relax, and learn positive social skills. I am also a committed husband of 17 years to the woman of my dreams, a proud dad to an 11 year old daughter, a coach, cat/general animal lover, musician, athlete, and dedicated hiker. Also, I have a penchant for cornball humor, focusing on the positive, seeing the silver lining, and a tendency for cracking puns. I have good fortune to have meaningful work, and a supportive family of my spiritually-oriented lifestyle.
What inspired you to write your book?
I remember my mom telling me that I liked it when she read to me in the womb. When I was about three years old, and my dad took me to see Star Wars, which inspired my interest for universal storytelling. My Grandma took me local libraries for story hour – eventually turning me on to the Shell Silverstein, and Choose Your Own Adventure books. An elementary school teacher read us the Boxcar Children series. My Grandpa peaked my interest in the book format of The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes comics. An aunt took me to see Gloria Steinem when I was about six years old, then gifted me annual subscriptions to Sports Illustrated in High School, and Spy Magazine in College. My mom was a regular Rolling Stone reader that particularly caught my attention in Middle, High School, and College. Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Chuck D’s prose from Public Enemy have been powerful lyrical influences, along with literary expressions of folk, and blues music. During my later adolescence, and early adulthood, spiritual and political musings of Neal Donald Walsh, Eckart Tolle, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Cornell West were strong revolutionary political influences. Growing up, I felt a personal connection to the provocative, and cutting-edge expressions of the Beat Generation, Flower Power, Native American, African-American, and other Indigenous and unconventional literary genres. Free-form style, and poetic prose feels natural to me. I see romantic poetry in everything, especially when presenting itself in everyday, mundane transactions.
What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?
I would like everyone on the planet today to remember to be mindful of their thoughts, feelings, and behavior, find their voice, and consider recording their interaction with the world in a way that resonates. Just remember to breathe consciously, in a way that will transform your inner experience with reality, so you don’t sweat the arrival of pesky worries during your day to day operations. If readers have an open-hearted, and passive attitude in their approach, then they will hopefully feel more comfortable with meditation, and welcome the experience of inner peace. Subsequently, I feel a great joy in the potential for readers to watch themselves becoming the change they want to see in the world. I want folks to awaken to the reality that we are all spiritual beings having human experiences. This can become our new multi-dimensional playground as mind-body-spirit creatures. Through co-creation, we can become the change we want to see in the world, and relax into our own true power, without being on a positional power trip. You don’t have to work any harder, just shift your attitudinal mind-set.
Are you working on a sequel to your book?
I am working on a follow-up animal spirit calendar version to Something to Chew On. This will also include my aunt Barbara’s artwork that is featured in my first book, my own novel personal mantras to focus on during each month, and key spiritual dates during the calendar year to look forward to.
Are there any events, marketing ideas or promotions planned for your book?
I am thankful to Reader’s Magnet for their help in marketing my book, and getting it displayed at the 2017 American Library Association Annual, on June 23, 2017. I am also very thankful to the Yarmouth Public Library, Gardiner Area High School Library, and Royal River Books for allowing my book to sit on their shelves. I am deeply grateful to iUniverse for publishing my book, and for their professional expertise.
What was your favorite part of your publishing experience, overall and with iUniverse?
Crossing over the proverbial fence, and taking a leap of faith to work with professionals, was a vulnerable, and humbling experience. At the end of the day, I really appreciate iUniverse’s attention to detail, critical eye, and help in developing my writing. Further, given my propensity for being a dreamer, it was good for my self-esteem to follow through with this project, and bring it into the material realm. We all have a story to tell. Thank you for being interested in mine.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Just write about what peaks your interest, what you know about, or want to learn more about. Start taking field notes, and observe your musings from a position of curiosity and empathy. Gently let yourself follow through with producing something concrete in written form, in much the same way as setting the table, preparing a meal or doing yard work/gardening. With modern technology, there are many convenient ways to record your ruminations, and then revisit them with a reflective lens for personal editing. Allow yourself lean into your feelings, and develop intimacy. For me, writing isn’t about a popularity contest, or how much accolades, recognition or money you can make. I feel what really matters is getting to know myself on a deeper level, and inspiring others to do the same. It is about my personal interaction with the world. The personal is political. Being a bit of a wordsmith, there’s something to be said brevity – that sometimes less is more. It’s good to ask trusted people for their honest feedback, in the spirit of helping you develop your ability to give and receive. See yourself as part of a collective consciousness, where you are your own unique and diverse expression of a unified whole.
Ari’s website can be found at www.classroommothershipearth.com .