BOOK REVIEW: Spark Change: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution, by Jennie Lee
Review by Petra Fibrichova
Sometimes we find ourselves at a crossroads. We may feel unwell, unhappy, or stuck—or maybe we have a vague feeling that something is missing. We sense that we need change but may be overwhelmed and unsure of where to start.
It takes courage, time, and dedication to figure ourselves out. In yoga, we call this process of getting to know ourselves svadhyaha, or self-study. Svadhyaya is one of the five inner observances, or niyamas, essential yogic guidelines for reducing our own suffering. This process of self-inquiry entails learning to notice one’s thought patterns, habitual reactions, and emotional tendencies. Svadhyaya can also include reading inspirational texts that provide motivation and inspiration for the journey of self-discovery.
Yoga therapist Jennie Lee’s book Spark Change: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution is a great source of inspiration for those who commit to the journey, however scary it may be, and are dedicated to finding a way through the stuckness. Lee’s clear language makes the book accessible to readers who are not familiar with yoga, but it’s also a great resource for yogis, yoga teachers, and therapists who seek to develop their ability to ask potent questions for their own growth or for clients.
This collection of questions is a result of Lee’s 20 years of yoga therapy coaching work; she knows well that helping clients find purpose and meaning through thoughtful questions can be incredibly therapeutic. According to Lee, a continuous process of self-inquiry leads to knowing ourselves better, accepting ourselves more, and realizing our highest potential.
As a result of both the process and the insights that arise from it, we stand to improve our health and relationships. This is how yoga therapy works—by addressing all aspects of our health. We thrive when we address not just physical but also psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of our lives.
Dive deep to grow
The 108 questions in Spark Change are divided into 12 chapters, organized into themes that mirror the journey of transformation. We start with acknowledging the need for change and the obstacles that hold us back—negative beliefs, inability to take responsibility for our actions, lack of dedication to do the necessary work. Lee’s questions are indeed likely to provoke discomfort.
As a counterbalance, Lee brings in the inherent compassion of the yogic perspective and reminds us that we are more than our failures and successes. She writes,
“the ultimate reason we evade change is because we identify with our limited bodies and personalities (i.e., the ego self) and this separate, scared part of who we are tries to maintain the status quo at all cost. If we have not made friends with, or learned to trust, our expansive spiritual Self, we will feel unsupported by life.”
The next five chapters point the reader to the pillars of support on a spiritual journey: acceptance, inspiration, intuition, love, and purpose. In the final chapter, “Mastery,” Lee defines a master’s path as a rigorous one of mindful repetition, a life-long process. Here are some big, inspiring questions that people have been asking themselves for ages: Who am I? How can I celebrate the mystery of life? How can I be open to everything but attached to nothing?
Spark Change is a book to have by your bed or favorite chair to enjoy slowly, one question at a time. Just have your journal ready and let Lee guide you through the therapeutic process of self-inquiry.
As a certified yoga therapist, Petra Fibrichova, C-IAYT, works primarily with people affected by Parkinson’s disease. Petra also teaches group yoga classes for seniors.