Warning: Do not read Gail Evans' Meditations in my Favorite Places in Southern Africa while watching television, listening to the radio or cooking a five-course meal. Your orange chakras will turn out pink and your meditations will devolve into damage-control sessions.
That being said, when you have a bit of quiet time, try out a few of these enlightening, refreshing meditative exercises for a glimpse of what it's like to slow down. Actually, Evans herself gives you a pretty good picture of that in her brief new-age-y memoirette. Each chapter takes the reader to a separate part of southern Africa, showcasing different animals, different emotions and a truly different style. Evans does her best to transport readers from their media-enhanced lives to moments of simple pleasure, wherein hiding from a large and potentially vicious lion takes the place of Must-See TV.
This isn't your usual light summer fare, nor is it a particularly heart-pounding read
-- which is kind of the point. Evans is at her best when describing the various meditational chakras, and not when confronting lions or tigers or bears. Descriptive tracts, the cream-filled center of every travel book, become sticky in Evans' hands. That's not to say the prose is excruciating, but rather limpid where it should be vivid. It's as if she's looking at a photograph and trying too hard to explain it. (Speaking of photographs, several appear in the book, and they're a nice way to tie the chakras together, better than Evans' more heavy-handed metaphorical chapters that lead into each meditation. Those quickly morph from boring to semi-repetitive.)
But the chakras... let's just say you can't help but come away a little breezier, a little brighter and a little less worse for wear. The writing in this section shows marked improvement; the instructions are clear and straightforward, the thinking points well-mapped. You're just as well-off skimming the short intros and getting straight to the meat of the seven meditations.
As an added bonus, there's even a helpful travel section at the book's end listing appropriate Web sites. In this day
and age, it's not tough to find the stuff on your own, if so motivated, but Evans takes some of the guesswork out of it. It's a welcome surprise.
Even if you're the type who devours a book in one sitting, that's not the approach to take with this work. Evans' meditations are best doled out in chunks, sweet pieces of pineapple to savor and yet not let an OD spike the blood sugar. Turn off the TV, the radio, the oven and take a few minutes to cleanse the soul. Then get back to cleaning the dishes.