Books

Detox Your Heart

‘a self awareness book working with anger, fear and hatred’

Published  – Wisdom Publications

Preface by Angel Kyodo Williams and Christopher Titmuss

“If you suffer from anger and don’t know what do about it—this is a book for you.”—Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness and Loving Kindness

Valerie Mason-John has a well-grounded series of meditations that transform anger, hatred, and fear to heal emotional trauma. Drawing on her own experiences with abuse and addiction, Mason-John presents a clear exploration of what it is like to be filled with toxic emotions—and how to release them. After years of abuse and struggles with addiction, she was mired in anger, resentment, and fear. But through meditation and willingness to forge a new path, she learned how to disarm such toxins and find peace.

In Detox Your Heart Mason-John helps us recognize our emotions, good and bad, and to develop the self-care to heal ourselves. Chapters that explore and clearly define negative emotions are paired with chapters on how to transform them. Meditation exercises based on the Buddhist principles of mindfulness, loving-kindness, and compassion provide tools to help us heal our own hurts and to close the gap that toxic emotions create between heart and mind.

This edition of Detox Your Heart has already drawn great praise from leaders in the mindfulness movement. Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC says, “Valerie Mason-John knows trauma from the inside out, and also the practices that can heal and free our hearts.  For anyone who wants to engage with emotions in a transformational way, this book is filled with practical and powerful wisdom.” Ruth King, author of Healing Rage, find the book’s timing “crucial.” She goes on to say, “Detox Your Heart calls us to our power.” The celebrated author Sharon Salzburg author of the celebrated book Loving Kindness, writes, ‘If you suffer from anger and don’t know what to do about it, this is the book for you.’

Mason-John has an online course Detox Your Heart, and gives workshops and public presentations on this theme internationally. Please contact for more information

Sample Chapter

The Different Faces of Anger

The Explosion

When James Watt, who invented the first practical steam engine, was a young boy, he took a tea-kettle, filled it with water, plugged all the openings, and tied on the lid. Then he put it on the fire. Of course as it got hotter and hotter the steam pressure rose and the tea-kettle finally exploded. This is exactly what happened to me. I was the tea-kettle, meditating on my cushions with all my feelings stuffed down and corked up, and after a few months of bubbling away in blissful heightened states, my anger, hatred, and fear came to the surface and I finally exploded. I couldn’t keep down my toxins any longer.

In the field of anger management there are traditionally two models of how we as human beings contain anger. There are the bottlers, who do ‘in’ anger, and the volcanoes, who do ‘out’ anger. I was a bottler, pushing everything down and screwing the lid on tight, in the hope that even the strength of twenty elephants wouldn’t be able to unscrew it. I didn’t disclose my past to anybody until I was in my late twenties; in fact, people assumed I came from a privileged background. I was successful at presenting a front that I had nothing at all to be angry about.

The Bottler

Are you a bottler? You might be a bottler if you act out one or more of the following.

avoid anger

be polite

withdraw

walk away

stay inside

seek revenge

ignore people

drink, smoke, use recreational drugs

not eat, overeat, eat compulsively, binge, or purge

often use antidepressants, sleeping pills, painkillers

fall asleep, get headaches or migraines

take it out on the wrong person

scratch, cut, or burn yourself

take it out on yourself

sulk

Bottlers are people who hold their anger in, travel with it, go to bed and wake up with it. Their anger has become a piece of rotten luggage in their hearts, weighing down on them, causing their shoulders to sag. Many people who bottle their anger will say, ‘I’m not angry. What are you talking about? I never get angry.’ Some of these people never actually pop the cork of their bottle; instead they become depressed, perhaps using food, alcohol, or work to help stuff back down the discomfort in their hearts. Eventually, some of these people become like the tea-kettle, exploding when the pressure finally becomes too much. Bottlers often see anger, when it finally pops out, as something separate from them. It is as if some living being has jumped inside them and made them angry.

‘I don’t know what came over me,’ ‘I can’t believe I got so angry. It’s just not like me,’ ‘I only get angry when I’ve been drinking,’ ‘I’m not angry, you’re the one with all the anger, it’s your issue, not mine.’ These are some of the statements bottlers will come out with.

Some bottlers are so expert at swallowing, repressing, and suppressing their feelings that they believe they never get angry. But they are always at risk of erupting into a fit of rage. Some bottlers put their anger on ice, and become completely detached from their feelings. They have convinced themselves that anger is something that is not part of their lives.

Bottled-up anger is highly toxic and can become depressive, as well as explosive, and eventually cause ill health. Ailments like boils, constipation, migraines, and tension that causes backache or slipped discs, can all be associated with the bottler.

The Volcano

Are you a walking volcano? You may be a volcano if you act out one or more of the following.

channel anger outside yourself

criticize, or put people down

deliberately wind others up

be sarcastic

interrupt

be aggressive, threaten, argue, shout

break things

stamp your feet

pull your hair out

push and shove

throw things

get into fights

Volcanoes walk around with anger bubbling away in their stomachs. Their responses are like reflex emotions. Do you remember when we were children and the doctor tested our reflexes by tapping a hammer on our knees, and our legs would automatically fly up? This is what often happens to those of us who walk around like murmuring volcanoes: somebody says the wrong thing, and we fly off the handle.

These are the people we feel we have to tiptoe around, through fear we will provoke their anger. They always want their own way, but they don’t own their anger and, like the bottler, they claim they don’t have a problem; it’s everyone else who has a problem. Volcanoes walk out of meetings, slam doors, lash out, bang things about, smash things, use harsh language, and are often unable to listen to anyone else’s point of view. Alternatively, these people can be extremely cold in their communication whilst seething deep down inside.

These people are sometimes called exploders, because their angry responses to situations are immediate, as if they are vomiting all their anger out of their hearts. But the toxic residue of anger still swirls around inside them, lying dormant until the next thing comes along to trigger an explosion.

Ailments associated with this type of anger include insomnia, addiction, back ache, ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Of course, we can oscillate between the two types of anger and have all the ailments too. What didn’t upset us yesterday upsets us today. Conventionally, women tend to be bottlers, and men volcanoes. Women are perceived to do ‘in’ anger, holding on to it, taking antidepressants, and becoming more depressed. Men are perceived to do ‘out’ anger, going down the pub, getting drunk, and causing criminal or physical damage. As children, young girls are often told not be angry, and boys are encouraged not to cry. But between both sexes you will find those who bottle their anger and those who erupt like a volcano.

Wisdom Publications
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Phone: (617) 776-7416
Fax: (617) 776-7841 
http://www.wisdompubs.org/contact-us

 

 

The Great Black North – Contemporary African Canadian Poetry

With an intro from George Elliot Clarke. The first national anthology to document African Canadian poetry.

The Great Black North has won TWO Alberta Book Awards: The  Best Education Book Award and The Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award. The jurors said

The Great Black North is both enlightening and entertaining. Like our vast and cosmopolite country, this book’s strength is its diversity.”

“The publication is a major cultural achievement….it uniquely defines a piece of Canadian culture and history in a completely new way. It will be remembered and cited for many years to come, as it gives voice and visibility to an entire community.”

“Combining delight and purpose in powerful ways, these poets open a doorway into a particular national experience that needs to be shared with a wide audience.”

Here are a few more comments on the book:

“National in identity and universal in scope. Not since 1976, when Harold Head published Canada in Us Now, has there been such a definitive assemblage of black voices telling their own stories through poetry.” – Quill & Quire

“It’s significant, it’s important, it was overdue.” – Shelagh Rogers, CBC, The Next Chapter

Borrowed Body

‘A powerful debut about growing up  in 1970s London Black, female, in orphanages, on the streets and in children’s prison.`

Published 2008 by BAAF
Published 2005 by SerpentsTail

Borrowed Body – third edition published by Demeter Canada 2013

  • Winner of the Mind Book of the Year Award 2006
  • Winner of the Shorelines and Culture word Competition
  • Short listed for the Young Minds Award 2005
  • Book of the month  – Precious Magazine
Sample Chapter

I could have been born and raised in Africa. But my Spirit was in too much of a rush to be reincarnated. Instead I borrowed the body of a Nigerian woman who was trying  to escape her life by setting sail to the land of Milk and Honey. I jumped inside her body by mistake. I thought I saw two lovers making out in a bed of flowers strewn along the river banks of Oshun. So I said to myself, here’s the opportunity I’ve just been waiting for. I inhabited her womb in the hope that this time round I would be a love child.

Last time I was aborted at three months, pierced through the uterus by a knitting needle. I was the 11th child. The children before me had used up all my parent’s time and financial resources. And so I vowed this time I would be the first, conceived out of true love to ensure my survival and wealth. Unknown to me, this woman had given birth before. She had dumped a girl aged four onto her relatives who lived in the outskirts of Lagos. Arriving pregnant in England was most definitely not this Nigerian woman’s plan. However, in my past life I had learned the reasons why women opted for abortion. So this time I played dead in the woman’s stomach to avoid termination.  Until one day a Doctor said: “Sorry Miss Charles it’s not fibroid cysts after all. It’s a 20-week healthy baby snuggled up inside your womb.”

I could tell from her heartbeat that she resented the fact I had chosen her, and knew she wanted me out of her body as soon as possible. Her blood was red with fury and whipped its way through the umbilical cord, as if I was being flogged to death. I realised then; I had made a blunder. It was not love, which was bringing me into the world, but hate. She had been a victim of rape.

So my impatience got me into trouble, and I’ve been paying for it ever  since. Should have remained dead until it was my appropriate time to be reborn. But I was restless. I had been roaming in the ether for hundreds of years, and I thought it was about time I was reborn. So I could only hope that I was smart enough to choose a rebirth with the potential to change my lot. I was cut out before my time, five weeks too early.   I arrived before the festive season. Aged six weeks I was chucked out into the new year of 1965, which wasn’t prepared to welcome an unwanted African baby, abandoned on a harsh English winter’s day.

Praise for Borrowed body

Talking Black

Lesbians of African and Asian descent speak out

Published by Cassell 1995

Valerie Mason-John brings together a host of writers including Linda Bellos, Maya Chowdhry, and Dr Anita Naoka Pilgrim, who celebrate and document the lives of African and Asian lesbian living in Britain. This is still one of two books in Britain  which dares to document these women’s lives.

It is the first and only anthology of African and Asian writers exploring lesbian sexuality, its representation in the mainstream as well as within the dominant white lesbian culture. Through an examination of  film, photography and literature this book explores the issues of African and Asian descent lesbians coming out and growing older in Britain.

Praise for Talking Black

Brown Girl in the Ring

A collection of poetry, prose and plays

Published by Get A Grip 1999

This books documents a part of black British culture which is often ignored. Through poetry, prose, plays and autobiographical anecdotes the author brings alive Black lesbian culture in Britain.

Sample Text

THE WINDRUSH

They say she was pregnant
Came to see full of me
Weighing her down in shoes dem
Baggy and all

They say the ship nearly sink
Me mudda never sleep a wink
They say Inglan full of promise
All my mudda do was reminisce

A stowaway she was
Hidden between the trunks
But she came
Coz my poppa came
She was full of me
And I was gonna make her rich

Her tummy bulging
Sea sick
Morning sick
Home sick

She had heard, London streets
Were paved with gold
But what kinda nancy story was dis?
Obia playing his tricks
Me mudda and poppa feeling his licks

London streets are paved with sleet
Me mudda cried every night
And me granny wrote back
I thought you sailed on the Goldrush
No Granny, the Windrush
And the streets are paved with sleet

Sleet what dat?
Some kinda fancy name for your man
Granny wrote back

I arrived on the dot
What happened to black fella time?
Me mudda ask the nurse
Me poppa sneered
Inglan is a bitch

This was Inglan’s crime
No rice ‘n’ peas
No stew pot or dumpling
No ackee ‘n’ salt fish
No cassava leaf
But me mudda and poppa survived

Malnutrition
Humiliation
Interrogation
Assimilation

Welcome to the land of honey and milk
The posters said back home
Sweet honey and money
Obia playing his tricks
Giving me mudda and poppa his licks

But their baby gonna be all right
Me mudda prayed
While me granny cursed
The only gold she see when she visit Inglan
Was gold pon me poppa’s teeth
And tea what dat?
Where the bush tea? Gunja tea?

But me mudda still sing to me every night
Cooing in my ear
All her babies gonna be all right
Despite the night
She set sail
Pon  de Windrush.

Praise for Brown Girl in the Ring

Making Black Waves

By Valerie Mason-John and Ann Khambatta

Published  1993

The first ever book to document the lives of African, Caribbean, South and South East Asian, Middle Eastern lesbians living in the United Kingdom.

The concise and conclusive discussions outlined in this milestone of a book provide  the first documentation on the lives of Black lesbians in Britain, It tells the herstory, the first ever conferences, groups and publications in the UK. Lesbian lifestyles in other countries and the debates. Explores black as an umbrella term for several communities including African. Caribbean and Asian, race versus sexuality, separatism, the struggles, coming out, homophobia in the black communities, racism in the lesbian and gay communities, the future.

 

Sample Chapter

Myth. Homosexuality is a White, male, upper and middle class, able bodied phenomenon found in Europe and North America. When it is found anywhere else it is the a result of colonization. – Response. Much of the history of women, Black people, working class people, and people with disabilities and people from Africa, Asia and South America has been lost- but where it exists there are many examples of same sex relationships.’ RISC Human Rights for all, Reading 1972, p. 74

•There are always have been and always will be lesbians in India and in fact we have quite a long and rich history and tradition of lesbianism and homosexuality. Radio interview aired on WBA, New York City, 29th April 1984

•In Nigeria marrying women is old. It’s bush ways. Femi Otitoju

•Where I come from we use the term wicka. It means women love women. Marie from the Caribbean

In south-west Kenya and north-west Tanzania there are tribes called Kuriar. In the Kuriar tradition, marriage between two women is a legal and accepted ceremony which has been practiced for centuries. A wife who is unable to conceive  children , especially boys, can marry a surrogate mother. The mother chooses the man she want to father her child, but then brings up that child with her wife. It is unusual for the child to know who its father is. Some of these marriages are clearly lesbian arrangements.

Today it has become acceptable for a wealthy Kuriar woman to take a wife rather than live with a man, regardless of whether  or not she could have children. This form of marriage can be found in Nigeria among the Yoruba, Akaka, Nupe and Gana Gana tribes, and in other parts of Africa.

It’s known that communities of women into which men were not allowed existed in India. As far back as the fourth century, it is recorded that autonomous societies made up exclusively of women and known as Stirajya were set up in various parts of India.

If you look at early Hindu scriptures you will find a lot of homosexuality suppressed by British culture.

Praise for Making Black Waves

Broken Voices: ‘Untouchable’ Women Speak Out

By Valerie Mason-John

Published Apr 1 2008

These previously undocumented stories reveal the lives of the Dalit—or untouchable women—in India by highlighting the continuing issues of human rights and discrimination. Recording such experiences as working in rice fields and living in slums, this work includes oral histories and covers a wide range of topics, including dowry burnings, marriages, beggars, human traffickers, and political and social activists. An exploration of the effects of Dr. Ambedkar, the architect of India’s constitution and the advocate of positive reservations for untouchables in education and employment, and other historical movements and religious texts on these women is also included.