A probing, useful guide to soothing the soul with Buddhist teachings.

READ REVIEW

MEDITATIONAL SELF-CARE

A MANUAL WITH 8 PRACTICES

This deep-thinking primer presents Buddhist meditation as a treatment that alleviates normal unhappiness better than the methods of modern psychotherapeutic tradition.

Psychologist Chapelle’s (The Soul in Everyday Life, 2003, etc.) discussion, built around eight “Views,” or principles, poses a radical challenge to Western notions of the psyche, identity, and knowledge. Unhappiness, he argues, rises from our obsession with an untenable sense of who we are and a mistaken belief that we have a “personal self” at all. To resolve it and attain a “profound cheerfulness,” he says, we must suspend fixed beliefs about our identities (and everything else) and open up to a vast and formless “awareness itself” that’s the true stuff of reality behind ephemeral objects and events. He also advocates exchanging judgmental moralism for an ethic of emulating idealized role models (like the Buddha) and ceasing our anxious, future-oriented busyness to live in the immediate here and now. The eight meditative “Practices” accompanying these lessons mainly consist of contemplative exercises that rejigger perspectives by defusing obsessive, particularistic thoughts with metaphors—stillness, silence, mirrors, space, seas—and activities. One practice involves imagining the mythic hero Manjushri touching his flaming sword of enlightenment to false beliefs in order to dematerialize them; another has practitioners do some mundane task, such as dressing, very slowly in order to immerse themselves in the moment. Mystical themes abound in this book: the oneness of all being; the dissolution of the individual in oceanic connectedness (the bogus distinction between “self and not-self,” the author says, is “the source of all unhappiness”); the futility of purposive action; and direct experience, not intellectual discourse, as the path to understanding. These notions have some intrinsic murkiness, but for the most part, Chapelle’s exposition of Buddhist doctrine is lucid and readable, and it broadens into insightful commentary on points of contention and resonance with the Abrahamic faiths. Although Chapelle discounts Western psychology’s central concept of an ego struggling with psychic trauma, his meditative techniques will strike many readers as a cogent approach to dealing with everyday neurosis.

A probing, useful guide to soothing the soul with Buddhist teachings.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5405-7753-5

Page Count: 260

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more