Dr. Charles Hershkowitz, Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist and certified Imago Relationship Therapist working with couples in Brussels
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Isha Book Review  


Book Review on

“Why Walk when you can fly?”

by Isha Judd[1]

Author : Sana, 37 years old, female, married, 2 children

I decided to write a few words on one of my favorite books – a book which was the first big step towards the exit from my mid-life crisis. The title “Why walk when you can fly?” is an inspiration in itself, isn’t it?

The book charms us with its simplicity and depth at the same time. In a way which is easy to grasp, Isha explains the reasons why each of us is, at best, just partially happy, and then shows the path towards liberation from fears and towards embracing a love-based concept of life.

One of the first core roots of unhappiness for Isha is that we hardly ever “dive” into the present moment, with our heart and soul. We often suspect that something is fundamentally wrong about it and the present moment is hardly ever as it should be ideally. In reality, what makes our present very often difficult to appreciate is not the present moment itself but the fact that we badly pollute it with regrets and anger about the past, on the one hand, and fears about the future on the other hand.

Let’s take quite a typical example from my everyday life (luckily it is becoming less typical thanks to Isha!). I might be rushing after work to the kindergarten and feel 100% miserable. Normally, I would be scolding myself and asking myself why, once again, I had not managed to leave the office 5 or 10 minutes earlier. Then I might immediately jump into the future worrying that either my child will be traumatized by being one of the last picked up or that my husband (on days when we pick up the child together) will look at me as if I owed him a fortune. And so I would jump between the past and the future.

After reading Isha’s book, when I find myself once again caught in the same mental scenario I say to myself “Hang on a minute! Is there anything actually wrong with the present moment??”  Surprisingly, it is extremely difficult to find something which is clearly wrong. Somehow the mood starts to immediately change in a positive direction. I tell myself “Yes, I am running at light speed or almost, but so what? Is it really bad?”.

 I would say that it’s even good after working the whole day in the office. It might be raining, but so what? The rain washes away the working day and gives the opportunity to continue the rest of the day afresh. To help to bring or to keep ourselves in the present Isha proposes a simple mantra (or “facet” as she calls it): “Praise love for this moment in its perfection”.
A facet is to be repeated several times per day so that it really works. Don’t bother to think that this is boring or stupid. You do many more even less “intelligent” things everyday like moaning non-stop “what an awful day!” when the traffic is running slowly or the sky is a little greyish and a drop or two of rain falls now and then. Try something different for one month – just out of curiosity – and you’ll be surprised by the result!

Isha also stresses that we normally suffer from the lack of capacity to accept things as they are, without judgment.  This is the kind of capacity that young kids have in their innocence.  They accept things as they come, when they come. They are not pre-programmed as to what is good or bad, right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate, etc. It is with time, as we grow older, that society imposes on us certain binary ways of thinking which create a lot of dissatisfaction and suffering.  The mind developed under these “normal” circumstances is never satisfied: it always finds obstacles, divisions and we feel like victims. Even if it is not easy and takes time, it is completely realistic to cleanse oneself of this matrix of unhappiness and get closer to the feelings of innate innocence.  As we progressively get rid of our prejudices we see more beauty, more positive things around us.

For instance, I find it amusing to get away from fixed judgments about weather (so typical in Belgium!). One can spend hours complaining how one’s life is affected by the “bad weather”. For me, this notion does not exist anymore and this is a tiny, but nonetheless still positive, step towards happier framework of looking at life.  Is it a problem if there are a few clouds? It may still be pleasant enough for a walk. Is it raining? – we might joke with the children that all the animals in the forest will finally have a good wash and that the grass will grow greener. We might head to the indoor swimming pool which is just as good in any weather conditions or we might find it a good time to invest in sorting out some things at home.

You can also try and do an experiment on your kids, partners or friends: the more you are able to accept them as they are and emphasize the positive things they do, the more positive things will be coming and the more nourishing your relationship will be with them. Or you can risk the opposite experiment: say to them as often as you can that they are always late or lazy or always getting everything wrong – I can bet, even if they are not such bad people, that they will adjust to your judgment and will satisfy your self-fulfilling prophecy!  You develop the things to which you pay attention!

Don’t be afraid to embrace your human experience because you fear that it will result in stagnation or in neglect of your thoughts. Acceptance is just the first step necessary for subsequent development.

Also important : Isha’s idea of not endorsing our usual practices of non-stop lying to please in order to be accepted or loved, praising when we don’t feel like doing it, or offering something that we don’t feel like offering. For her, embracing the world as it is should go together with absolute honesty, albeit kindly expressed. When we lie to please, we abandon ourselves and create unhappiness as we suspect that even if somebody likes us, he likes us for our lies and not for what we truly are. It takes time to get lies out of our lives, but it is a great feeling to go progressively in this direction. Isha’s system gives the necessary courage for this, by helping to reprogram ourselves from fear to a love-based perception of the world.

To be better able to accept things as they are, without judgment, while moving forward, Isha proposes the following positive affirmation “Thank love for my human experience in its perfection”.

Another big issue for Isha: the lack of love for ourselves that we are all suffering from to a varying degree (even the most arrogant people), without necessarily being conscious of it. For all of us, the bottom line is that “we are not good enough” – the unhealthy idea we all bring from our childhood. Even the most loving parents and care-takers used to threaten shame and punish their kids with the noble idea of making them better and more intelligent people when they grow up.  
We can’t reproach them for this – this is what was done from generation to generation and unfortunately our parents couldn’t benefit from more nourishing parental approaches (both positive and strict) such as John Gray [2] or Harville Hendrix[3]
 would propose.

At the end of the day, this old approach towards parenting brings us to think that we are full of weaknesses and problems and leaves us with insufficient love for ourselves. Therefore we strive to compensate the lack of love for ourselves by seeking love from the outside – from our partners, our friends, colleagues or children– very often driving everybody crazy with this need. However, even if we manage to squeeze something out of the outside, we never really feel whole and complete. What we miss is unconditional love and acceptance that is locked within ourselves. Only when we manage to embrace ourselves as we are, with all of our imperfections, can we become both happier and slowly change for the better. We have scolded and punished ourselves in one way or another all our lives: “I have to become more productive and assertive”, “I have to be more organized”, “I have to get fitter”, “I have to stop drinking and worry less”, etc. At least in my case, such types of messages never helped. Indeed, the opposite occurred. They simply added unnecessary stress and pressure. So, it would be a good idea to try something completely different, wouldn’t it?? Try to look at all your weaknesses and uncomfortable feelings with understanding, compassion and the curiosity of a best friend.

Isha suggests the following positive affirmation for going forward in this direction: “Love creates me in my perfection”.   In my opinion, this message from Isha’s book is even more developed in Louise Hay’s book “You can heal your life”. There you will find many more positive affirmations that you can use for reprogramming yourself and for giving yourself the unconditional love and acceptance that you deserve.

Another cornerstone of Isha’s method is to help us to experience more unity with everything and everybody around us. It is just a traditional intellectual belief that “for a man another man is a wolf in sheep’s clothing”. This idea materializes only if we believe in it.  Most of us unfortunately do believe in it. Indeed, the traditional method of education normally produces adults who believe that, on the one hand, they are not good enough and, on the other hand that the external world is dangerous and not to be trusted.   A perfect recipe for anxiety disorders and depressions, isn’t it? In fact, we are all the same, at least in our core essence, as the only thing every person is really longing for is unconditional love – something that is available for everybody, not only the “winners” in the traditional meaning of the term. All our other features, such as special talents, tastes and preferences are just our outer facets.

As we progressively move from a state of fear to a direction of love, by living increasingly in the present moment, by learning to love ourselves more and more, we finally reach the stage when we can feel true compassion towards everybody and jump over intellectual divisions to experience oneness with everything around us.

Isha’s positive affirmation “Om unity” helps us to become more and more conscious of the unity that exists in the world despite apparent conflicts and differences. 

Practicing positive affirmations regularly, like a daily prayer :

Isha insists that we have to invest in repeating the above positive affirmations at least one hour per day (an hour that can be split into several sessions) in order to get rid of the fear and unhappiness matrix that pollutes our brain. I am sure you will first start screaming like hell that your agenda is exploding, that you hardly have time to go to the toilet and that this will never work. The day you decide to do something positive about your life (sometimes we wait till the moment of breakdown or crisis) you’ll find the time, I can assure you. There are plenty of things, activities and people you can throw out of your life and free up the necessary space. We can start with typical fear compensations which don’t have any long-term positive effect on our well-being like the Internet or TV-zapping or reading magazines about celebrities. Shopping can also always be scaled down. Moreover: have you ever counted just how much time you spend with superficial acquaintances chatting about everything and nothing? How important is all of this when compared to your happiness?

You can also realize how much daily spiritual practice is important when you manage to spot at least one happy person around.  None of the happy people I know personally are truly happy just because everything is perfect about their external circumstances.  Actually, perfect external circumstances do not exist. Therefore we can only be happy when we invest sufficient time on a daily basis in finding internal joy and peace which makes the external imperfections unimportant.


December 2012

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[1] "Why Walk When You Can Fly: Soar Beyond Your Fears and Love Yourself and Others Unconditionally” by Isha Judd, ISBN 978-1-57731-637-4

[2] See e.g. “Children Are from Heaven: Positive Parenting Skills for Raising Cooperative, Confident, and Compassionate Children” ISBN-13: 978-0060930998

[3] See e.g. ”Giving The Love That Heals” by Harville Hendrix, ISBN-13: 978-0671793999






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