I like to read books which change my life. Lots of books do that for me. In fact, the books I enjoy most are those which do just that, the ones which open up new ways of thinking to me, new ways of seeing, expand my understanding, stimulate my creativity, books which, once I’ve read them, my world is not the same.
I’ve read a lot of books like that, and if you browse this blog reading the posts in the category “from the reading room” you’ll find reviews of several of them.
I’ve just read another. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I felt this excited reading a particular book. It’s Dan Siegel’s “The Mindful Therapist” [ISBN 978-0393706451]
Now, I haven’t come to this book cold. I’ve read, first of all, his “Mindsight” [ISBN 978-1851687619] (and if you’re inspired to explore this body of work I recommend you start with that), his “The Mindful Brain” [ISBN 978-0393704709], and “The Developing Mind” [ISBN 978-1572307407], before I got hold of this, his latest book, “The Mindful Therapist”.
I’m also well into his online course which I’m thoroughly enjoying.
So, a lot of the concepts in this “Mindful Therapist” were already familiar to me before I opened it up – the idea of the mind as “an embodied, relational process of regulation of energy and information flow”, the idea of the triangle of wellness – mind, brain and relationships, the understandings from neuroscience of integrated function of differentiated parts, of the key roles of the midfrontal cortex, and of neuroplasticity, and the practices of the wheel of awareness and other meditations
Despite my familiarity with all of that, and more, this particular book has blown me away. I’ve already begun to introduce patients to the idea of health as a flowing, adaptive, coherent, energised, stable river, with the opposite banks of chaos and rigidity which we end up on when we become unwell.
I’ve begun to share with some patients the deceptively simple wheel of awareness meditation. But now, I’ve got a whole new level of insight.
Into this familiar mix, which Dan expands and reinforces throughout “The Mindful Therapist”, he gives exercises in self-discovery, and models of personality and behaviour which I’ve never seen described elsewhere. I’ve said before I’ve got a synthetic brain – always making links, seeing patterns, associations, expanding through increasing connections – well, I’m pretty sure that’s how Dan’s brain works too. He draws on insights from a multiplicity of disciplines and together, (in a “consilient” way), they create a whole which is way greater than its parts.
If you’re a health professional of any kind, I urge you to read this book. You practice, your life, won’t be the same again. You’ll find new depths as well as new horizons.