— BOOK AND MEDIA REVIEWS —

Weekly Soul: Fifty-two Meditations on Meaningful, Joyful, and Peaceful Living

Holly Salzman, MD

Fam Med. 2022;54(1):68-68.

DOI: 10.22454/FamMed.2022.848553

Book Title: Weekly Soul: Fifty-two Meditations on Meaningful, Joyful, and Peaceful Living

Author: Frederic C. Craigie, Jr, PhD

Publication Information: Hollister, CA, MSI Press, LLC, 2020, 298 pp., $19.95, paperback

During this turbulent time of global pandemic, racial injustice, political unrest, economic crisis, and financial uncertainty, many of us have seen our lives and our practices changed in unforeseen and unprecedented ways. We are left questioning our purpose and our path. Weekly Soul: Fifty-two Meditations on Meaningful, Joyful, and Peaceful Living, beautifully written by Frederic C. Craigie, Jr, PhD, seeks to take us on a personal journey to figure out who we are and the meaning of our lives in the context of this new reality.

Dr Craigie is a clinical psychologist and medical educator, who after 37 years of work in a family medicine residency program entered “semi-retirement” as a faculty member at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine where he continues his work with spirituality and health. He has been a pioneer in the field of spirituality in medicine since the mid-1980s, and is an expert in the field. He uses this expertise with a spirit of humility to guide our soul-searching as we discover for ourselves our answers to these questions.

Weekly Soul began in 2004 as a weekly series of reflections shared with colleagues and friends meant to honor a colleague, Peter Flournoy, PhD, who had died of cancer at the age of 45, and who had said that “Happiness is a simple thing: it comes from living life, rather than planning to live life. Life is not a rehearsal; it is what is happening right now.” The weekly pieces included spiritually-informed quotations from a diverse range of sources, followed by Dr. Craigie’s meditations, and then a set of questions for self-reflection, and were sent initially to an audience of 12 that grew to more than 2,000.

Dr. Craigie has culled 52 from the hundreds and hundreds of reflections sent out over the years to guide us in answering what it means to live a good life, what really matters, how we should address suffering and woundedness, how to find joy and hope, and how we can make a difference in the world. In Weekly Soul, Dr Craigie has also added exercises to pursue during the week and biographical information about the authors of the quotations. The exercises are intended to help readers become more aware of how these ideas fit into our everyday life and add depth and insight to our daily experiences. The short biographical sketches add richness, color, and context. While deeply spiritual, Dr Craigie’s approach transcends religious traditions and preconceived notions of spirituality. Spiritual concepts instead are implied, and there is little or no explicitly spiritual or religious language in the book. Dr Craigie’s meditations are written to be inclusive and welcoming to all.

Weekly Soul is organized into 12 thematic sections including Miracles, Aliveness, Purpose, Laughter and Joy, and eight others, and can be read in order or stand alone, and as an individual or as part of a group with a group discussion. Reading the reflections on a themed basis, based on one’s immediate self-care needs, can be particularly helpful in reframing experiences in a tumultuous time into a more positive or purposeful light. The engaged reader will enjoy journaling thoughts and responses. Others may find it helpful to read them as part of a group, discussing concepts, sharing experiences, challenging thought distortions, and encouraging one another’s growth. Regardless of whether using individually or as part of a study group, the reader can anticipate personal growth while learning to live in and enjoy the present.

This book of reflections will be an asset to all who seek to rediscover meaning, wholeness, and well-being in these stressful times, and can help both trainees and practicing clinicians move beyond burnout to resilience.

Lead Author

Holly Salzman, MD

Affiliations: San Diego, CA

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