Monday, November 14, 2011

The mindfulness code: Keys for overcoming stress, anxiety, fear, and unhappiness

By Donald Altman

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

It is helpful to know Altman’s credentials before reading this book.  First, he is a psychotherapist, second, he is a former Buddhist monk, and third, he is an adjunct professor at Lewis and Clark College Graduate School and Portland State University.  Why is it important to know this?  Because, throughout the book he successfully and seamlessly blends these three areas of interest and expertise.

Altman tells effective stories, and he tells them well.  The book is absolutely loaded with examples.

There are 44 chapters in this in 256 pages of text.  That means that, on average, each chapter is less than six pages long.  They read quickly.  And, too, each chapter includes a simple lesson, activity, or tool that engages readers and gives them an exercise to experience or apply the idea on their own.  

Chapter titles will give you an exact idea of the contents of this book.  The first section, “The Mind Key,” includes 11 chapters.  The second part, “The Body Key,” includes eleven chapters, “The Spirit Key,” includes eleven, and the fourth part, “The Relationship Key,” includes the final eleven.

Because I have a special interest in relationships (I write about them on a regular basis, and I had a college textbook, UNDERSTANDING INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION, that went through 7 editions), let me give you the chapter names in this part: Give Others Your Full Presence, Embrace Silence and Deep Listening, Share Loving-Kindness with Others, Be Genuine and Real, Seek Out Happy and Meaningful Connections, Untie the Knots of Emotional Entanglement, Light Another’s Candle, Attune Yourself to Others, Offer Up Your Nonjudgment and Joy, Cultivate Kind Speech, and Mind Your Relationships.  (How can anyone argue against these ideas when it comes to cultivating successful relationships?)

In her review of the book at, I thought Marilyn Dalrymple of Lancaster, California, made a particularly good point.  She said the book “is a gentle, but serious reminder that most of us need to take care of ourselves and be concerned and caring toward others.”   I love her use of the word “gentle” for not only is it an accurate reflection of Altman’s approach, it is the feeling you acquire as he explains the idea of each chapter, offers examples to clearly define and demonstrate the idea, and then provides the “gentle” guideline readers can use to obtain (or at the least experience) the idea on their own.

This book is available at The mindfulness code: Keys for overcoming stress, anxiety, fear, and unhappiness

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