My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a lovely, heartfelt, meaningful book by Salt Spring Island dreamworker Toko-pa. I was drawn to it because, throughout my life, for a variety of reasons, I have often felt irrelevant and a bit disconnected and sad (despite some great friends and a wonderful partner). I suspect most people struggle with feeling like they don’t belong somewhere, so I am confident that this book would speak to many—primarily those who are informed about and interested in self-care, holistic lifestyles, yoga, non-traditional spirituality, the divine feminine, and nature.
I do think the reader has to come to this book with an open mind and a lack of cynicism, lest they write it off as more “woo” or new age or whatever. As far as I’m concerned, this is a perfectly lucid and reliable book that speaks to deep things. It sat on my bedside table for months before I was ready to read it, and when I was ready, it was just the right thing at the right time.
The language is nourishing, flowing, and thoughtful, and the message deep but accessible and digestible for anyone, though at times I had to reread sentences and paragraphs a few times to take in what was being conveyed (I’m usually far more inclined to appreciate plain, sparse language).
The book is self-published, which was conspicuous to me as someone who works in traditional publishing, but even so, it did not take away from the clarity of the message, which was timely for me. Belonging, or the sense of not belonging, seems to be an increasingly popular topic of discussion of late—or perhaps I am aware of it because it’s something that weighs on my own heart and mind. Yep, that’s probably mostly it, but even so, I do think this book has come to be because it’s a message that people long for.
I appreciate how Toko-pa shares not only her own lessons in belonging and “unbelonging,” but also her use of quotes from other storytellers. I dig her Jungian background and perspective, and reading her book has reignited my desire to journal my dreams so I can better understand what I’m trying to sort out in my subconscious mind. Most of all, I appreciate the notion that belonging is an act, a verb, one that we can direct, and that we can choose a lifestyle of belonging by building a set of skills or competencies in belonging.
I will likely reread this book as an accompaniment to journalling so I can process some of the ideas shared within it. Indeed, the way Toko-pa writes, especially at the book’s conclusion, inspires response and action in a perfectly quiet and unassuming way, in much the same way a very grounded and compassionate and tuned-in friend would encourage you if you’ve been in something of a rut and need to move forward.
All in all, Toko-pa’s Belonging is a thought-provoking, soul-soothing, uplifting book, and reading it in bed every night felt akin to sinking into a warm, lavender-oil-and-Epsom-salt bath after a heartachey day.