Each month, FPQ will feature favorite products to help our readers relax, rejuvenate and promote a tranquil lifestyle – everything from calming teas to soothing CDs, sound neutralizing machines to inspiring artwork. Enjoy our Serenity Store, and visit often to see what we've added to raise the quiet quotient in your life.
Gift From The Sea
By Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Written as a series of essays in 1955 while on a summer vacation at the shore, Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From The Sea continues to offer its calming perspective and simple wisdom a half-century later.
She said she wrote the book as a way to work out her personal problems and transition through a series of pressing life challenges. In publication, however, she discovered that her themes on marriage, parenthood, friendship and career – elegantly woven through metaphor and observations on the sea – strummed a universal chord.
Ms. Lindbergh’s book speaks of issues she believes confront women uniquely through the course of their lives. But I read past the gender references easily and have drawn great comfort from every page since I first picked the book up 20 years ago in my thirties.
Writing of her time alone, Ms. Lindbergh says, “Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core, the inner spring can be best refound through solitude.” On page 116 of my edition, she writes about holding silence while together with others at the beach: “At home … time is so precious we feel we must cram every available instant with conversation. We cannot afford the luxury of silence. Here on the island I find I can sit with a friend without talking. Then communication becomes communion and one is nourished as one never is by words.”
This is a book that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page and turned to the next chapter in your own life.
To orderGift From The Sea, visit amazon.com.
with David Nichtern and friends
The liner notes for At Ease call it the perfect CD companion for meditation, massage, restorative yoga or late night listening. I have enjoyed it immensely as background music while writing. Grammy nominated composer David Nichtern plays both guitar and synths, while also producing this marvelous serene compilation with musical friends for his Dharma Moon label.
With acoustic guitar in hand,
David Nichtern is totally At Ease.
I asked David about the experience of creating At Ease and performing on a selection of tracks alone and with his band Drala: “We were going for a very deep, musical and consistently serene listening experience — ideal for massage, chilling, or a lower key yoga session. It was a joy to create with an extraordinarily wonderful and diverse group of artists. I think your FPQ listeners will discover lots of subtle flavors and great musicianship.”
I'm particularly fond of the tracks with the sultry vocals of Falguni Shah (Falu), the classically trained Indian soloist, and Steve Gorn on bansuri flute. At Ease always serves to settle my nervous system and restore equilibrium, and now that's it's loaded onto my I-Pod, it's the CD that will keep me company on take-offs and landings.
“Transports the imagination to a peaceful place and the body to a world of blissful abandon.”
– Music Editor, Spa Finder Magazine
“Here, all is peace and good vibes.”
– Otto Coca, Muze
Being Home by Gunilla Norris
I first stumbled upon Gunilla Norris’ soul-nourishing book, Being Home, while browsing a now defunct Soho bookstore about 10 years ago. I remember sitting on an old radiator in the shop, losing myself in the rhythm of Gunilla’s delicately worded tribute to everyday experience.
It was my first encounter with the notion of living consciously, moment-by-moment, engaging with the immediacy of my life, right now. With the sounds of the store fading, I began to understand as I read that there are no meaningless moments, no throw away time, that there is magic and mystery in the simple acts of sweeping the floor, sorting the wash, taking out the trash.
I read the 80-page book as I sat there, purchased it, then brought it home and read it again. This time, halfway through, I cried. I’m not sure why. Maybe because my life seemed humdrum and repetitive at the time, and Gunilla’s words assured me that there was power and sacredness in the cycles of my simple day. Or as she says in her preface, “As human beings we have a strong intuition that deep within our dailiness lies meaning, a huge dimension.”
Being Home has become one of my “refuge” books, kept on a nearby bookshelf ready to pluck for inspiration, comforting, and for those times when I forget that my life, every day, is awesome.
“This is the single best book I know on the subject of the sacrament of the present moment, and a great work of devotional literature.”
– M. Scott Peck, MD and
author, The Road Less Traveled
To order Being Home, visit amazon.com.
Tara Aromatherapy Candles
These beautiful Ayurvedic Pillar Candles from Tara Spa create a lovely ambiance in your home while serving to balance each specific Dosha (or personal constitution). Tara developed the beneficial recipes for these unique candles herself, based on the 5000-year-old healing science from India called Ayurveda.
Each candle is made with pure essential oils and lead-free wicks, with a hidden gemstone slowly revealed during use. With a burn time of up to 100 hours, you’ll enjoy many soothing evenings of calming light with these Tara Aromatherapy Candles.
- Balancing Bindi (Purple) with Amethyst Gemstone (and essential oils of cinnamon, sage, fennel, clove and more)
- Soothing Pitta (Red) with Tiger's Eye Gemstone (plus essential oils of sandalwood, palmarosa, tangerine and more)
- Purifying Kapha (Green) with Aventurine Gemstone (including essential oils of clove, basil, peppermint, eucalyptus and more)
- Calming Vata (Blue) with Sodalite Gemstone (and essential oils of orange, cardamon, geranium and more)
Size: 3 x 5
To order visit taraspa.com and mention FPQ.
Sacred Sounds for the Spa
by Debbie Danbrook
I enjoy putting this CD on about a half hour before going to bed. Better than melatonin, the soothing sounds of Debbie Danbrook’s shakuhachi (an ancient Japanese bamboo flute originally played by monks as a type of Zen meditation) allow me to close the page on my day and put my busy mind to rest. Debbie is one of the first women to have mastered this difficult instrument and the sensitivity of her music is one reason why her CDs are embraced by healing arts practitioners worldwide and are particularly popular in spas.
About her CD, Debbie says, “Sacred Sounds gives the listener an important tool for coping with the pressures of a hectic life. Listen to it at home or at work and it will help to create an atmosphere of relaxation.”
I like that you can occasionally hear Debbie’s breath as she works her flute, giving me the sense that she’s there in the room, playing a serene song just for me.
“Debbie uses her unique talents … to heal the soul and enrich the spirit. Her music resonates with our minds and bodies as a powerful antidote to the stresses of life.”
– Pam Peeke, MD
Medical Advisor, International Spa Association
To order Sacred Sounds for the Spa, and to hear a sound clip, visit www.healingmusic.com/spa.
Relax and De-Stress
Created by Dr. Andrew Weil
Years ago when I was doing research for my Peace and Quiet books, I came upon an interview with best-selling author and physician Dr. Andrew Weil about the relationship between noise pollution and our nervous systems. At the time he was talking about developing a series of CDs as a palliative for the stress-inducing impact of offensive sounds. And here’s the first of those CD compilations.
According to Dr. Weil, great composers like Beethoven, Bach, and Chopin intuitively understood the innate healing potential of music on our emotions and physical bodies. That’s why he used classical music when joining producer and sound researcher Joshua Leeds to create Dr. Andrew Weil’s Music for Self-Healing series.
With Relax and De-Stress, the first CD of this new series, FPQ readers will enjoy a selection of soothing classical music for inner healing. These are scientifically selected pieces, arranged and performed in a way that reduces physical tension and anxiety, while creating calm. The award-winning players of the Apollo Chamber Ensemble perform each piece on Relax and De-Stress with the guidance of the sound-healing research of Dr. Weil and Joshua Leeds.
For those FPQ readers not familiar with Dr. Andrew Weil, he is a Harvard educated MD and now clinical professor of internal medicine and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona’s Health Sciences Center. Dr. Weil is a highly regarded expert on medicinal herbs, mind-body interactions, and integrative medicine and the author of nine books, including bestsellers like Spontaneous Healing and Eating Well for Optimum Health.
We all need a CD in our music libraries like this one, ideal for unwinding after work, preparing for a good night’s sleep, or taking the edge off our everyday variety, existential angst.
1 hour CD, accompanied by 20-page booklet
To order Relax and De-Stress, visit soundstrue.com and enter product number M1099D.
New York’s 50 Best Places
to Find Peace and Quiet
If you’re planning a trip to New York City, pick up a copy of Allan Ishac’s, New York’s 50 Best Places to Find Peace and Quiet. Allan, who is also the creator of FPQ, wrote the first edition 15 years ago and it’s still considered the ultimate authority on Big Apple calm.
For this completely updated and revised 5th edition, Allan once again scoured the quiet side of the city to find soothing urban sanctuaries — including a dozen new entries, plus 15 bonus locations that every serenity seeker will love. From serene gardens and rooftop sanctuaries to soothing spas and meditation centers, this book is a reliable antidote for city noise and stress:
- A unique loft space filled with 280,000 pounds of topsoil – and plenty of peace and quiet
- A floatation center where you can unwind weightlessly in your own “private sea”
- Secret seminary grounds in Chelsea designed specifically for refuge and relaxation
- A glass-enclosed tropical rain forest just steps off of 42nd St.
- An underused public garden where you can inhale the sensuous scent of 2000 rosebushes
This is the perfect pocket guide to New York’s urban sanctuaries and unhurried hideaways, and it also makes a unique gift for friends living here who want to escape the city without ever leaving. Welcome to the quiet side of New York.
“If you're at your wit's end and frantic for tranquility, relax...you can buy this sweet little book.”
– The New York Times
Chicago’s 50 Best Places
Find Peace and Quiet
Following the success of Allan Ishac’s New York edition, the peace and quiet train rolled westward to Chicago. There, publisher Rizzoli found Karin Horgan Sullivan, a freelance writer who moved to the Windy City in 1987 without a job because she fell so in love with it. Karin put her vast city knowledge to work and came up with 50 jewels of solitude scattered throughout Chicago.
With the largest parks system of any U.S. city, there are some wonderful areas of natural beauty throughout this friendly Midwest urbanopolis. But Karin has uncovered some quiet little corners that are perfect places for taking a breather and going inward. Most are free or very low cost, because she believes that peace and quiet should be accessible to everyone, including visitors on a budget, students, or cash-strapped residents.
Chicago's 50 Best Places to Find Peace and Quiet reveals hidden pockets of calm like these:
- A peaceful tea salon reminiscent of old-world Russia
- A unique folk art grotto designed for quiet contemplation
- A place to breath the scent of earth and flowers in the middle of winter
- A meditative space that glitters with reflections from 300 precious gems and crystals
- The city’s only nature preserve where deer gambol freely
- A Zen-like gallery filled with ancient and soothing Japanese art
- A remote and serene pond side restaurant that’s reached only by walking through an underground tunnel
Whether you’re looking for a few minutes of peace or an entire day of tranquility, this little book will help you find the serenity you seek, restoring your soul in the Windy City.
Tara Eye and Neck Pillows
The Tara of Tara Spa Therapy is a real person. I grew up with her in New Jersey. I was close by when she opened a massage practice in New York City in the late 1980s, and again when Tara moved to California to develop high-quality massage oils for body workers. I was sitting across from her at a table in a Topanga Canyon restaurant in 1993 when she described her vision for a spa products company that would provide the purest essential oils and herbal products in the country.
Today that company bears the name of this remarkable woman, and you’ll find her products in virtually every high-end spa in America. What I particularly love about her offerings is that she has never wavered on her commitment to purity. I believe this is what enhances the calming effects of her therapeutic Herbal-Ease Neck and Eye Pillows.
The elegant silk Eye Pillows are filled with lavender, chamomile, peppermint, rose petals and flax seed. When placed over the eyes, the gentle weight of the pillow, along with the benefits of the aromatic herbs, help relieve stress and tension while calming the mind. I use mine at home when I feel a headache coming on, or to soothe tired eyes when traveling.
I keep my Neck Pillow in the kitchen next to the microwave for instant access. It quickly relieves that tight bite in my shoulders after hours at my laptop. The pillows are specially formulated with all natural herbs and offer the benefits of both moist heat and aromatherapy when placed in the microwave for a couple of minutes. I love wrapping it around my shoulders in the cool months for its deliciously scented warmth.
– Allan Ishac, FPQ
Herbal Ease Eye Pillow:
$18 in Café Au Lait or Green Olive
Herbal Ease Neck Pillow:
$39.00 for Café Au Lait or Green Olive
To order visit taraspa.com and mention FPQ.
Brooklyn Art Cards
A few years ago, my friend Andrea Martin gave me a gift of cards she had handmade. When I opened the packet and saw the cards — how creative they were and how each delicate collage communicated its own unique message — my mind immediately thought of all the special people I would send them to and the caring words I would write.
Here’s what Andrea says about her Brooklyn Art Cards, each one a signature piece of art: I craft these handmade cards from “shreddings of experience.” They are mixed media creations using ink, chalk, paint and shredded paper. The work is intended to inspire a single moment of observation, a desire to look closely at something small, yet layered and beautiful. The ultimate intention is not only about correspondence, but also about sending this pause in time to others — delivering to them that moment of noticing. I package the cards with coin envelopes for good fortune.
Sending cards to my family and friends, handwritten and thoughtfully messaged, is a vital part of my life. In an age when we fire off hollow text messages and e-mails by the thousands, there is still something so lovely about sending or receiving a thank you card or unexpected greeting written with conscious intention and mailed via general post. It is precisely the deliciously slow way the cards are exchanged — the words ripening through the mail — that enriches the experience.
Buy lots of Andrea’s cards. Send them often. See how they touch the ones you love.
– Allan Ishac, FPQ
Brooklyn Art Cards
Card Dimensions: 3 1/2 x 6/1/2
Envelope: Yellow Craft Coin Envelope
Package of 5 Brooklyn Art Cards – $25
Package of 10 – $45
Package of 20 – $80
To order these individual works of art, contact
Andrea Martin at and mention FPQ.