Dawna Markova is a psychotherapist, teacher, and leading consultant to individuals and groups about the uses of creativity. In this illuminating work, she explores "reconnective learning," which is "a fusion of learning through awareness, imagination, and compassion that enables us to see problems, challenges and obstacles as spiritual teachers rather than enemies out to destroy us." She presents an unusual blend of stories, ideas, and experiences in her examination of the shadow elements in our lives. The paperback is divided into four sections:

• Meeting the Demons: Healing as Liberation
• Bowing to the Demons: Calming Your Mind, Opening Your Heart
• Singing to the Demons: Thinking for a Change
• In the Mouth of the Demon: Bringing Compassion Home

Markova spices the text with many fine quotations, imagery exercises, and teaching stories. Here's one of them:

"Many years ago, when visiting Japan, I saw a group of monks carry a cage of white birds to the top of a hill. It was an unusual sight, so I followed them. I was as discreet as I could be with my heavy Nikon camera hanging around my neck from a thick, red embroidered strap. It was a long and hard climb. I began to tell myself I was nuts and should turn back. My chest heaved. My calves screamed. It was foggy, damp, cold.

"And then we arrived. Encircling the cage, the monks chanted in low and resonant tones, their palms pressed together, their shaven heads bowed, their orange robes dancing as the mist rolled around their ankles. One of them leaned over and opened the cage door. A score of white doves erupted into the sky — rising, circling, flapping their way to freedom.

"I was clicking the shutter wildly when one of the monks tapped me on the shoulder. In very halting English, he asked me about my camera. I put it in his hands. As he was looking at the lens, I asked him why they had released the birds. He smiled softly, responding, 'One of our brothers has passed. These birds will be companions for the liberation of his soul.' "

Dawna Markova makes a good case for befriending our demons and seeing them as spiritual teachers.