Top critical review
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Twice the book it should've been
on 14 March 2012
One of the other reviewers points out that this book is rather 'long winded'. That's putting it mildly. The author beats you death with the same facts for page after page. It's like a bizarre form of Aversion Therapy, she mentions words such as 'Mindfulness' so many times that you feel like screaming or running out the house and punching the first Buddhist you see. You may've heard of the saying 'If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.' Well this is how it came about.
You'll need a greater degree of tolerance than I possess to stick with her and I found myself skipping quite a lot. It's a shame that an editor didn't take this sprawling book in hand because the author has a lot of interesting information to get across and can be a very engaging writer at times.
The book is essentially about Buddhist mindfulness (uh, that word again!) filtered through the lens of psychoanalysis and it provides an in depth study of the way in which negative patterns of thought and behaviour are capable of controlling our lives. If you're a therapist reading this as part of CPD work, you may find it interesting but ultimately her case studies don't tell us quite enough to be particularly useful. If you're reading it simply to try and understand your own inner drives there is much of value in the pages but you'll need a fair amount of patience to keep at it.
The other thing I didn't like about the book was her tendency to name dropping. Is there a single Tibetan lama who hasn't taught her? And when she refers to the Dalai Lama as 'my teacher' .... well, he's everyone's teacher, dear! Also the fact that she lives in a privileged world where she and others in her circle can take themselves off to spiritual retreats for months at a time or go to Japan to learn the etiquette of Tea Ceremony sets off a few warning bells. It doesn't necessarily devalue what she says but makes me question how grounded some of her recommendations actually are.