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Millions of Americans know yoga as a superb form of exercise and as a potent source of calm in our stress-filled lives. Far fewer are acutely aware of the full promise of yoga as a 4,000-year-old practical path of liberation—a path that fits the needs of modern Western seekers with startling precision. Now Stephen Cope, a Western-trained psychotherapist who has lived and taught for more than ten years at the largest yoga center in The us, offers this marvelously full of life and irreverent “pilgrim’s progress” for today’s world. He demystifies the philosophy, psychology, and practice of yoga, and shows how it applies to our most human dilemmas: from loss, disappointment, and addiction, to the eternal conflicts around sex and relationship. And he shows us that in yoga, “liberation” does not require us to leave our on a regular basis lives for some transcendent spiritual plane—life itself is the path. Above all, Cope shows how yoga can heal the suffering of self-estrangement that pervades our society, leading us to a new sense of purpose and to a deeper, more satisfying life on the planet.
Regardless of skeptical jibes from his well-meaning friends, Stephen Cope set off for a four-month yoga retreat in rural Massachusetts. Ten years later, he’s still there. A psychotherapist left in the lurch after a long-term relationship, Cope used to be experiencing the same deep questioning of life that he had witnessed so ceaselessly in his practice. His self-prescribed antidote used to be to pursue a lifetime of contemplation and inner discovery that he had felt drawn to for some time. Yoga and the Quest for the True Self is Cope’s chronicle of self-discovery. Cope is at turns frank in describing his own obstacles and epiphanies, brotherly in relating anecdotes of friends and patients on similar quests, and clinical in his trenchant psychological summations of why we find ourselves estranged and how yoga and meditation bring us back to clear awareness. Like Mark Epstein’s Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self is a milestone in the melding of Eastern and Western methods of personal transformation. –Brian Bruya