Book Review: The Creative Art of Living, Dying & Renewal

Posted by – October 02, 2014
Categories: Guest Post Health & Healing Literature & the Arts Martial Arts

Book Review by Gilles Marin, author of Healing From Within with Chi Nei Tsang and Five Elements, Six Conditions.


From their first word, “Mahalo, the authors introduce us to the very heart of the spirit that gave birth to their beautiful book. Mahalo nui loa: gratitude, in Hawaiian culture, does not come as an empty word. It comes from the depths of a humble place in the heart, with the immensity and the fire intensity of the mighty Mauna Loa, the tall smoky mountain, the biggest volcano of the Hawaiian archipelago.

In this book, the authors use personal experience gained through careers as a registered nurse (Elise) and a healer (Kaleo) and as teachers of the internal healing work (Qigong) and of art and writing as healing modalities. Their combined knowledge of traditional sacred Hawaiian healing practice, classical Chinese medicine, hypnotherapy, and transpersonal psychology infuse this book with an understanding and discernment difficult to find anywhere else.

The Creative Art of Living, Dying & Renewal brings the reader to a most taboo subject in our Western civilization: death—how to face imminent personal death, and how to deal, at a very personal level, with the death of family members and friends close to us from a completely emotional, non-rational perspective. Then, the book progressively brings us to possibilities that are way beyond the scope of our ordinary Western education regarding both science and religion. Without judgment, criticism, or cultural comparisons, the reader is naturally and easily brought through stories and testimonies about death and dying, alternating with personal introversion practices, leading to an authentic opening of the senses. This is true teaching mastery, arising from the authors’ lifetimes of interacting with patients, clients, and students, bringing them to a new awakening to life. Death is part of life, and there is no true enjoyment of life without being able to face death.

Facing death is a large part of what any well-understood healing process is about. From the holistic Taoist perspective, disease is an attempt to heal. Healing, then, means changing, evolving beyond the state of suffering that triggers sickness. It follows a paradigm in which nature is always right; our body is the product of nature perfected during millions of years of evolution, and, therefore, our bodies do not need to be corrected or mechanically fixed. It is our selves in our bodies that need to evolve and change. We are born to fulfill a life purpose, and by doing so we enjoy life. If something happens to prevent us from enjoying our lives and accomplishing our life’s purpose, we get sick as a healthy reaction to that unhealthy situation. If we are not able to change or outgrow the patterns that keep us away from our birthrights, then we die…. And when we die we change.  Life goes on….

For such a heavy subject, the book is light and easy. It reads like a novel, yet maintains connection with our current reality. The authors’ use of artwork is exquisite. They include a section of color photos of their own and students’ art, which underscores the importance of art and creativity in the healing process. Although their students and clients are not always trained artists, they have produced abstract yet precise renderings of their emotional charges, thus validating their emotional state on their way toward change and healing.

This book contains the essence of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Medical Qigong. It offers marvelous guidance into the most esoteric aspects of ancient monastic Taoist practices of meditation and ancient traditional Qigong exercises. It is a wonderful introduction to basic concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Taoist spirituality and a window into the healing traditions of Hawaiian culture and other cultures worldwide.

The Creative Art of Living, Dying & Renewal is a must-read for anyone interested in opening the mind beyond the limits of conventional medical science and religious dogmas. It is an indispensable tool for any professional dealing with dying patients. And it is essential to practitioners of any form of alternative medicine.

The Creative Art of Living, Dying & Renewal is a much-needed and beautifully written book.


*The featured image at the top of this blog is part of a collage painting by Elise Ching, included with other color images in The Creative Art of Living, Dying, & Renewal.

Tags: Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture Kaleo Ching Elise Ching Gilles Marin

About the Author

Marina is the Marketing & Digital Programs Coordinator at North Atlantic Books. After living in New Orleans and Amsterdam, and exploring a couple of continents, she returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to work at NAB. She's passionate about astrology, nonfiction books, and sustainable living, as well as all things metaphysical.