Monday, April 7, 2008

Mindfulness and the Art of Choice: Transform Your Life

by Karen H. Sherman, PhD
ISBN: 9781932690514 - Loving Healing Press
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (2/08)

Dr. Sherman, in practice as a relationship expert for over 20 years, has written a book to help readers create a better life for themselves. Taking excerpts of her own life and experience, she explains how to live mindfully.  The book consists of two parts, the first part "How the Art of Choice Works" and the second part is "The Art of Choice Exercises." Both sections include a thorough explanation plus exercises. 
Dr. Sherman stresses that experiences in the past encode our mental and physical memory.  These are called core issues or "baggage."  She believes the feeling attained during a negative experience remains in our being, and often the same feeling comes up in other similar situations.  This in turn creates an emotional response. The experiences could be traumatic, yet on the other hand, something perceived to be very menial could also create an emotional reaction.  For example, a child is walking with her father and reaches up to hold his hand.  At that same moment the swing of the father's arm goes away from the child.  The child, at that moment, could feel rejected by not realizing what caused the father's arm to move away.  This feeling would become embedded in the child's memory as rejection.  From then on, anytime something or someone is pulled away from her, the same feeling of rejection occurs. Often the feelings are replaced with distraction, such as alcohol, drugs, or adverse behaviors.   In "How the Art of Choice Works" Dr. Sherman addresses how to embrace the feelings, yet react differently. She also addresses patterns caused by the situation and how to change them.
In a short two-paragraph section, Dr. Sherman explains awareness is the key response to making changes and gives a simple technique to generate it.  Once we are aware of the reaction, she gives exercises to become conscious of the body, observe the behavior, note thoughts, address the thoughts/fears and ultimately break the old patterns, creating a new flow in life.
There are many books on the market that cover the same issues as Dr. Sherman, however, there isn't one that is as concise and to the point as "Mindfulness and the Art of Choice" is.  In less than 100 pages she helps the reader become aware of personal issues/reactions embedded in the memory. Within a few simple exercises we can change the feelings associated with the situation. At the same time we can move away from recreating those same feelings in another situation. It may sound like a difficult task, and it could be. However, Dr. Sherman simplifies everything for us through her explanations and exercises – to a point where "Mindfulness and the Art of Choice" becomes truly a self-help book.  This book is highly recommended for anyone that is considering choosing to have "the good life."

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