Inspiring and practical meditation primer.

Joy's Edge


In this self-help guide, an occupational therapist/yoga teacher shares personal reflections and meditation exercises on achieving a fuller, more conscious life.

For King, a “starting point” in her life, and a central theme in this book, was the value of meditation. “From that first class, I was hooked,” she recalls about her exposure to meditation in college and her commitment to practicing it thereafter. Initially working as a traveling computer consultant, she listened when “a quiet voice gradually grew louder and more insistent” to move to Colorado. Later, as part of a transformative healing journey intended to extend the life of her beloved dying dog, King decided to change careers and work as an occupational therapist and yoga teacher. “The essential process was accepting where I was, identifying my own authentic path, and then living it with compassion and disciplined attention,” she says. “Simply heading in a more authentic direction generated deep feelings of peace, happiness, and fulfillment.” Including such musings as well as discussions of chakras and other mind/body topics, King offers a series of “personal exploration” exercises, 22 in all, within a nine-chapter narrative detailing how to chart one’s own authenticity path. She starts with grounding exercises, including finding your “meditative seat,” or best pose by which to meditate, then moves on to guided activities focused on gratitude, forgiveness, and more. For King, striving for such mental “competence” is more joy-producing than the kind of dwelling that leads to less progressive thought. While this isn’t a memoir per se, King’s autobiographical details add a wonderfully engaging element to the how-to guide, because they showcase a relatable and achievable journey to mindfulness. King is no preachy Pollyanna; instead, she acknowledges her own pull toward “monkey mind” as well as the challenges in often having to go to the edge of one’s comfort zone to transform. While her exercises may seem a bit repetitive at times, they also underscore the important core elements of effective meditation practice, and her sequence of activities provides a helpful road map by which to foster self-awareness and growth.

Inspiring and practical meditation primer.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4969-3464-2

Page Count: 130

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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


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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