In 1981, Gail Straub and her husband David Gershon founded Empowerment Training Programs to teach people self-actualization and social conscience. Their book Empowerment: The Art of Creating Your Life as You Want It was published by Dell in 1989. Her new book compares the relationship between soul and society to the in-breath and the out-breath of meditation practice. Straub presents invaluable tools and insights into "the rich and complex intersection between the inner life and the life of service." She also relates stories of individuals who have struggled to maintain balance while caring for self and caring for the world.

In the opening section of this timely work, the author offers some very good exercises to help us better understand ourselves. These include finding a central image that influences how we see our personal stories, identifying the legacies we've inherited from our parents, and exposing where we belong and where we hide. Straub then moves on to discuss the four qualities of mature compassion — a quiet mind, an open heart, presence, and radical simplicity. We can unspool our compassion by making a place for imagination, discipline, and support in our lives.

Our helping is tainted, however, when "the ego wants to fix, to make things perfect, to reorder someone else's life, to do something to maintain the illusion of control." We can sustain the spiritual side of service by belonging, believing, and trusting. This wise and practical book is the perfect resource for those who recognize that engaged spirituality is the right road to travel in our time.