How Meditation May Change the Brain, by Sindya N. Bhanoo, The New York Times, 1/28/11.
The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thich Nhat Hanh (1999)
In this classic text, Thich Nhat Hanh explains in simple poetic language the basics of meditation practice; what to do, what to expect, and why it’s important and meaningful. The operative word in Hanh’s teaching is PRACTICE, as it is necessary in the accomplishment of anything meaningful. This is just one of Hanh’s books. His teachings offer anyone the potential to create peace and joy.
A Path with Heart: A Guide through the Promises and Perils of Spiritual Life, by Jack Kornfield (1993)
Although written from a Buddhist perspective, this book will appeal to anyone interested in living an authentic life. Jack Kornfield has written numerous wonderful books. As a former Buddhist monk, a psychologist, and a seasoned meditation teacher, Kornfield has much to share. “What matters is simple,” he writes. “We must make certain that our path is connected with our heart” (p. 11).
In Chapter Two, Kornfield encourages his reader to stop the war with oneself. In Chapter Seven we are encouraged to to name our demons, e.g., greed, fear, doubt, judgment, confusion, anger, boredom, sleepiness, and restlessness. “A genuine spiritual path does not avoid difficulties or mistakes,” Kornfield observes in Chapter Six, entitled “Turning Straw into Gold,” “but leads us to the art of making mistakes wakefully” (p. 72). A favorite passage: “Everything we do in life is a chance to awaken” (p. 291).
Cultivating Lasting Happiness: a 7-Step Guide to Mindfulness, by Terry Falich (2007)
This book does not have the poetic beauty and depth of Kornfield or Thich Nhat Hanh; it does not present any new ideas. Mindfulness is centuries old. What this book does is present the ideas in an especially easy way to understand. There are useful techniques such as the practice of ~STOP~ BREATHE~ REFLECT ~CHOOSE, and others.
Hold Me Tight, by Sue Johnson (2008)
Sue Johnson, the developer of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, is a brilliant clinician and researcher, and a force of nature. If you ever have an opportunity to see her present, jump at it. This is her first book for the general public about Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy and it is fill with gems. One of my favorites is how she described emotional responsiveness in its three components: ARE. Accessibility (Can I reach you?), Responsiveness (Can I rely on you to respond to me emotionally?) and Engagement (Do I know you will value me and stay close?)
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman (1999)
Of all of John’s books, this is the one I recommend the most frequently. It succinctly and eloquently maps out the seven conceptual levels of the Sound Relational House, in a format that is readily available. Many couples have found this book to be very useful.
Silencing the Self, by Dana Crowley Jack (1991)
Dana Crowley Jack’s book Silencing the Self broke ground by uncovering the insidious link between loss of self and depression for many women. Looking beyond the standard root causes of depression such as biochemistry, stress, loss, poor adaptive skills, etc. Jack reveals how the lack of meaningful connection – with oneself and with others – is perhaps the single most important factor in women’s depression.
Though a two-year longitudinal study looking at twelve women, all of whom were diagnosed with depression, Jack examines how sociological pressures to live up to the ideals of femininity leads women to self-alienation, and ultimately to depression and despair. Her analysis, lucidly composed, has offered a welcome – and much-needed – inroad for clinicians everywhere working with depressed women.
Behind the Mask by Dana Crowley Jack (1999)
Behind the Mask is a bold discourse into the previously-uncharted territory of women’s thoughts and feelings surrounding anger, aggression, repression, creativity, power and powerlessness. She argues that feelings of aggression can arise from a wide range of sources; everything from failed relationships to an aggression rooted in a newfound strength. I recognized myself on practically every page and gained insight into how I’ve internalized my own anger over the years.
With great sensitivity, Jack weaves together common themes in tackling this topic, shedding light upon, while also validating, this dark cave in women’s inner worlds. She explores the positive side of a woman’s aggression and illustrates that these once negatively driven acts, can be transformed into a journey of finding courage and strength within ourselves.
Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood, by Suzanne Braun Levine (2004)
Suzanne Braun Levine’s book looks specifically at the group of women who have been everything from daughter, to wife, to mother, to part of the work force. “Second Adulthood” gives new insight into how these women are changing themselves, and how the world is changing them. Levine draws on scientific research, personal stories, and stories from women around the country who are facing dramatic and sometimes life altering challenges. Levine addresses the questions that many women have: what matters, what works, and what’s next?