Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sacred Grief -- book review

Sacred Grief: Exploring a New Dimension to Grief

By Leslee Tessmann

Loving Healing Press April 2008

This was a publisher ARC and I wish someone had given me this book fifteen, twenty, thirty, or even 45 years ago. While Freud and Kubler-Ross had much insight into grief and grieving and changed the way we grieve and watch/help others grieve, this book moves beyond the processes in which we can become trapped to free us.

The concept of each moment being sacred is not new. In fact, Ram Dass’s book Be Here Now has had a great impact on many people and many movements since its first publication. However, the concept of grief as sacred, to be embraced, as moments of recognition, is very new and very needed.

In addition to the references to AA and Al-Anon, to Chodron and Williamson and T. Moore and C. Myss, I would place this book squarely in the middle of the centering prayer movement, begun within the work of Thomas Merton and carried on by Thomas Keating and his brothers from the monastery out into the world. The Appendix with its self-reflective questions for each chapter, intended for journaling, for use with a partner or a group, would be as much at home in the context of spiritual direction and discernment as in the world of psychology, as some of the choices in the too-short bibliography indicate.

The very last page of the regular text states: “The true essence of world peace lies in being with things just the way they are. Achieving that will require compassion on the part of every human being to have a world that is willing to be with things exactly as they are for longer than a few fleeting seconds” (121). She talks about hiding for twenty-five years, about losing herself in her attempts to keep herself safe. Those pieces of information tie me to her uncannily, as does the fact that I’m reading this book at almost the same age that she was when she wrote it.

Her short list of “rules” on pages 25-26, juxtapositioned with the “shoulds” on page 21 are familiar inhabitants of my world. More importantly, however, is Tessmann’s recognition that there are the big griefs in life – deaths, unwanted divorces – but also the little griefs that come with inevitable changes in our lives, daily grief that must be handled in order for us to find peace.

It has been a couple of months since I read this the first time, in one long night, laughing and crying at the content. It has taken time for me to work through the concepts in my heart as well as in my head. I recommend the book for anyone and everyone who has experienced loss in his or her life.

Thank you, Leslee Tessmann for a book that is both beautiful and useful. Thank you Loving Healing Press for publishing such a magnificent book.

F. Holt 8/12/2008

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sex Appeal Book Review

When I got this book, I wondered "why me?" However, it has turned out to be a great read. I love the pastel pages but could do without all of the squiggles and dots on them. In a way, I wish the primary information was in the white boxes and the secondary material was in the multicolored, multihued, hard to read parts. With that said, this was a very hard book to read in bed, with less than ideal light and the pretty designs became distracting after page 30 or 40.

As for content, this book contains a no-sense, practical approach to being more feminine even though the title is a guide to being sexier. Written by two coaches who walk people through presentation makeovers, it contains little boxes with research done on various related topics. I really liked that though the placement of the books could be distracting at times. Otherwise, the content was 1) what I was taught in high school about how to act like a "lady" (and that may give away my age because I don't think many place offer such classes now), 2) mixed with the type of instruction that modeling schools or agencies charge a couple of thousand dollars for -- how to sit, stand, walk, preen, pose to draw attention to your body, plus a smattering of 3) Dr. Phil-type psychology and lessons on reading body language and NLP training on mirroring, leading, and pulling.

My favorite chapter was the 6th one, in which "Sally", the invented client, gets to try it all out on "Stan", one of the authors and he throws her a couple of mixed message curves.I also liked the drawn illustrations although in a couple of the more subtle ones (like the how to smile in three different ways), I could not see the difference in the printed pictures.

Overall, I would highly recommend to anyone who needs to adjust their confidence levels in meeting, greeting, and relating to others. I also hope that the dropped lines in the middle and the end (one was about charisma coaching) indicate additional books that are in the works.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lori's pay it forward

Okay, I am including the URL for Lori's post because I don't know how to copy a button for the Pay It Forward book contest which ends tomorrow. Here it is:

Book Review Gifts From the Child Within

Gifts From the Child Within, 2nd Ed. By Barbara Sinor

This book is subtitled: “A Workbook for Self-Discovery and self-recovery through Re-Creation Therapy”. The content is based on the hypnotherapy practice of Dr. Sinor, the educational theories of Dr. Milton Ericson, and the general therapeutic ideas of Alice Miller, all of which advocate that each of us has a wounded child within which needs to be freed and embraced and that children who have been abused are more damaged than most and more easily reached by hypnotherapy than standard therapy.

This book is divided into four sections – “The Child Within”, “Re-Create Your Own Reality”, “Adult Child Games”, and “Gifts From the Child Within”. Each chapter offers opportunities to visualize, interact with/change the visualization, create affirmations that affirm the reader’s progress and destination, practice self-generated techniques of age regression, as well as offering opportunities to draw, play, or journal, and more. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels of consciousness are each addressed throughout the book. As a self-help junkie for many years in the 1980s and 1990s, I am familiar with many of the techniques and exercises that Sinor uses and with many of the books she recommends.

I appreciate that she suggests working through the recovery journey with at least one other confidant, that she acknowledges that there are times that one might need professional intervention, perhaps a therapist, a 12-step group, a spiritual director, and that she stresses that fixing a broken self is not an instantaneous process, but can take many years to work through. I found most of the exercises powerful and helpful. I like that she frames her therapy in terms of “total adventure” (33) and gives copious examples from her cases, from mythological/archetypal sources, from her own experiences. My one real dislike is that, at times, when she is discussing various examples, the discussion seems very condescending, with such simplified words and sentence structure that I wonder how capable of understanding she sees her audience as, except that in other places, her content is very clearly clinical, technical, and requires a high level of understanding. This switching back and forth disrupts my reading and annoys me. In addition, adding the “channeled entity Emmanuel” (44-46 ff.) into the mix of therapists and doctors Sinor cites might make some readers question the whole because of this small part. Also, I wish the bibliography contained all of the books that Sinor mentions in her text, rather than being just a tiny selection of works.

All-in-all, even though this book is intended for adults who were abused as children and who are now codependent and wounded, I think anyone can benefit from the examples given and the exercises provided. Even as I write this, I continue to work my way back and forth through the exercises.