A helpful guide for readers hoping to move beyond self-blame that’s holding them back.

OUT OF LOVE

FINDING YOUR WAY BACK TO SELF-COMPASSION

A writer/teacher learns to move beyond her guilt—and suggests how others can do the same—after a mastectomy, the end of her marriage, and her husband’s suicide.

Debut author Ingheim, a doctoral student at the California Institute of Integral Studies, has experienced her share of tragedy: In 2016 she received a breast cancer diagnosis and had a double mastectomy. The next year, she found the courage to leave her nearly 10-year marriage only to receive a call later that night that her husband had killed himself after receiving the news. Overcome with guilt and self-loathing, she eventually learned to move forward by practicing self-compassion, or “recognizing that the voice that wants to blame you for something that is in no way, shape, or form your fault is just that—a voice that doesn’t speak the truth.” She explains how she did it and offers tips for others with similar concerns in 67 brief chapters that blend self-help with reminiscences of her Seventh-day Adventist childhood, her challenges after her husband died, her life with a stepson by a happy second marriage, and other ups and downs. Jumping around chronologically, she offers vignettes from her own life and examples of how practicing “self-compassion” has helped her cope with difficult issues. In a chapter entitled “Scars,” for example, she describes both her physical and emotional scars and invites readers to contemplate what they’ve learned from their own wounds. Every chapter ends with a prompt that encourages self-reflection, so the people who will benefit most from this book are those who are willing to do some deep soul searching and consider questions like, “When do you beat yourself up?” or “Who or what brings you alive?” The brevity of the chapters and the frequent chronological shifts may give some people mental whiplash, but those who are willing to spend time reflecting on her prompts should be able to begin to “let go of the guilt and the ghosts” and begin their own journeys toward self-compassion and healing. 

A helpful guide for readers hoping to move beyond self-blame that’s holding them back.

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-695-4

Page Count: 216

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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