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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Step-by-Step Guide Can Transform Your LIfe

Mindfulness and The Art of Choice: Transform Your Life
Karen H. Sherman, Ph.D.
ISBN: 978-1-932690-51-4
Loving Healing Press (2008)

Reviewed by Leslie Heidle for Rebeccas Reads (3/08)

“Mindfulness and the Art of Choice” offers insight into the cyclic emotional and behavioral patterns so many people encounter. Dr. Karen Sherman’s step-by-step guide gives readers the opportunity to explore their pasts, govern their present and embody their future.

Dr. Sherman has been a therapist for twenty years, conducts workshops, and speaks regularly around the country. In “Mindfulness and the Art of Choice,” she uses not only her knowledge and education to delve into the world of habitual and reactionary dysfunction, but offers first-hand experience in unhealthy emotional responses and how she used the tools included in the book to break old habits and create a life of mindful choice. “There is, I discovered, a way to approach life so that you feel a sense of being prepared, of being ready, of being grounded. This self-confident approach is generated from within. It comes from being in touch, being connected, with your self. Through this self-awareness, you will be able to deal with whatever comes your way.”

Dr. Sherman addresses the issue of fear when facing change and why so many people stay mired in prosaic and uninspired lives. “Another benefit of not making changes is that you feel like you are in control—you know the outcome. Your risk factor is minimized. Furthermore, functioning in this manner releases you from your responsibility. If you’re not all you can be, you can easily blame it on your past—something that happened to you, or something you didn’t get.”

What sets “Mindfulness and the Art of Choice” apart from many self-help manuals is Sherman’s awareness that people are a sum of their life experiences. Wanting to forget an abusive childhood or a traumatic encounter does not make the memory just go away. “Many people are not comfortable with the negative or painful feelings and go to great lengths trying not to feel them. Often there are attempts at using different distractions—anything from keeping busy all the time to using alcohol or drugs. The end result is a disconnection from oneself.” Learning to acknowledge the impact of the experience by being aware of old patterns, noticing the physical reactions in the body and observing your own behavior will allow a person to actively make changes and begin to build a more rewarding life.

Due to the fallible nature of human beings, unhealthy patterns are repeated from one generation to the next with pain and dysfunction handed down like family heirlooms. As adults, we many times unconsciously make the decision to hold onto these past pains and regrets. “You can never take away the past. The past is still something that has happened to you. And you cannot change your past. But what you have changed, what you have taken control over is how much of a slave you have been to your past.” In “Mindfulness and the Art of Choice: Transform Your Life,” Dr. Karen Sherman offers a guidebook of choices that can help lead the reader to a happier, more fulfilled life that reflects the person within.

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