Mind Body Spirit: Briefs

I guess your neighbor's stereo wins again. —Reet Rana

Soul to Sole

Broken heel? Troubled heart? Follow the lead of street anthropologist Cassy Neynesch, who showed me the handsome old school building at the corner of Bayard and Mulberry that serves as headquarters for several Chinese American community organizations and a variety of outdoor professionals, including fortune-tellers and shoemakers. For $10, a musician read my palm, gave me a five-year forecast based on my birth chart, and introduced me to a form of divination in which the regions of the face correspond to the stages of one's life. "This part of your cheeks: ages 43 to 46. Bad luck." Passersby gathered after the reading to hear him perform a sweet, yearning piece on the erhu, a two-stringed bowed instrument. Just feet away, the cobbler by the northern steps of the building mended the holes in my shoes for $4. Around the corner, by the east stairs, his competition resoled Neynesch's sandals—also for $4. Watching experts deftly handle the hammer, awl, thread, and glue made me want to seize the future more than any luck mapped on my face could. —Ellis Avery

The Book of Calm: Relaxing Ways to Manage Stress
(Time-Life Books, $12.95);

Breathe In Breathe Out: Inhale Energy and Exhale Stress by Guiding and Controlling Your Breathing
by James E. Loehr, Ed.D., and Jeffrey A. Migdow, M.D. (Time-Life Books, $14.95)

Have we come to such a sorry state that we don't know that deep breathing, soaking in warm bubbles and sandalwood oil, listening to Pachelbel, or gazing at the night sky will soothe our stress-fried bodies and minds? Just in case, Time-Life offers The Book of Calm, an attractive little volume airy in its colors and design. It suggests, ". . . when everything that could go wrong has gone wrong . . . ask yourself whether being stressed and stern about it is going to improve the situation." Instead, breathe in vitality; breathe out tension. Smile, tickle those merry endorphins with a good belly laugh, and break into song. From simple stretches for desk jockeys to sensory delight ideas for the clueless, Calm has your recipe for survival in these trying times. For a more in-depth healing program, see Loehr & Migdow's Breathe In Breathe Out. —Eva Yaa Asantewaa

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