April 09, 2020


Ignite Your Light: A Sunrise-to-Moonlight Guide to Feeling Joyful, Resilient, and Lit from Within. By Jolene Hart. Running Press. $23.99.

     You can’t get much more New Age-y than this unless you start collecting crystals and chanting to them. “Be the light you want to see,” urges Jolene Hart in the first chapter of Ignite Your Light. “If you’re on a healing journey, so much of the process is in your own hands,” she states a bit later. “Morning is the time to put on your energy armor,” she opines. “If life’s work and the creativity journey were all sunshine and heart-eye emojis, we definitely wouldn’t be talking about them here,” she admits. It helps to indulge in “ideal food for daylight energy: slow-burning fuel that will power your body through a long stretch of activity, like beans and lentils, raw nuts and seeds, protein-rich chickpeas, or wild salmon; mildly stimulating teas or chocolates that encourage energy and focus; ample liquids for hydration.” Oh – and speaking of crystals, they “have been prized for centuries for their energetic influence, and this perspective continues to dominate in [the] present day.”

     And so on, and on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of this if these sample thoughts are ones that you find congenial, helpful, even meaningful. In times of great stress and trouble, and we are certainly in one of those now, grasping for any source of comfort, anything that promotes resilience, anything that brings a feeling of control to an almost entirely out-of-control world, makes perfect sense. Hart does overdo things a bit, though, through trying to take assertions that are at best unprovable and at worst flighty and silly and attempting to give them some sort of solid underpinning – by including occasional references to carefully chosen, out-of-context scientific matters. “Thoughts and moods (which, when repeated, have the power to reprogram the pathways of your brain, thanks to neuroplasticity) can be altered with small shifts.” “Quantum entanglement demonstrates that the tiny particles that make up energy become connected, or entangled, with each other when they come into contact, and then subsequently remain entangled even when separated across great distances. Applying this to our lives, it means that the separation we feel from one another may only be a perception, not reality.”

     It is best not to think too closely about anything in Ignite Your Light that purports to have a testable scientific foundation. It is better, and far more useful, to decide whether Hart’s style is one you will enjoy experiencing for 200-plus pages; and, if it is, to accept what she suggests at face value and try her approach to see whether it works for you. Thus, for example, she writes, “The energy that makes up our bodies and everything around us is constantly in vibrating movement, giving us all that ‘vibe’ that you’ve likely heard of in reference to your personal energy. …[T]he vibrations of specific emotions, objects, states of health, and the like are often labeled ‘high vibe’ or ‘low vibe.’” Instead of those terms, though, Hart says “I use words that describe light – ‘bright energy’ and ‘dim energy’ – to discuss the overall spectrum of effects that the energy influencers in our lives have on the way we feel, the way we look, and the way we respond to and experience life.” Ignite Your Light is intended to identify various energy boosters and energy depleters tied to specific times of each day (sunrise, daylight, sunset and moonlight) and help readers be more productive, happier and more connected with their inner selves and the world around them during each portion of the day. In Hart’s formulation, sunrise is a time for “the energy of your mindset,” daylight for “the energy of work and creativity,” sunset for “the energy of play and laughter,” and moonlight for “the energy of spirituality.” Readers need to find out just how she uses and defines each word and each time of day to judge whether her approach to enhancing a particular form of energy seems helpful. Each of the book’s sections concludes with “recipes to nourish” each specific form of energy, and here too, readers need to decide what will work for them: “Vacation Vibes Avocado Smoothie Bowl” for sunrise and “Savory Chickpea Pancake with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato” for sunset, for example, may or may not be appealing to all readers; and, even if they seem worth trying, they may or may not be energy-enhancing in the way that Hart says they will be.

     Ignite Your Light, like so many other self-help books and New Age tomes, takes itself very seriously and really, really wants to give readers ways to cope more effectively with the troubles and stressors of everyday life. If any of these many, many books had the answer, it would be the only one that anyone needed to read; but of course there is no panacea for trouble, trauma, uncertainty, stress and everyday negativity of all sorts. So, like all other books of its type, Ignite the Light will likely prove useful to people who enjoy the author’s style and believe that her light-based formulation of an approach to energy enhancement will work for them. For anyone who does not find the book’s “vibe” satisfactory, there are plenty of other equally well-intended ones to try instead.

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