Barbara Miller Fishman,
Emotional Healing
through Mindfulness Meditation:
Stories & Meditations
for Women Seeking Wholeness

(Inner Traditions, 2002)

I found this book rather hard work; I should have been warned off by the wordiness of the title, perhaps. I enjoyed the stories of the eight women, and the hope and joy of new life that some of them found, and I am glad for them that they have been helped by Barbara Miller Fishman and her blend of Buddhist and Western philosophies. The touching sadness of Marcia's story in particular brought a lump to my throat on more than one occasion.

Unfortunately, I was not enamoured of the explanations and meditations at the end of each story. They are overly complex and I increasingly felt one would be better off with a doctorate (Fishman has one) to understand and enjoy them. For a self-help book, this lacks the simplicity required, and many people will probably give up before achieving any kind of benefit.

The CD of meditations, regrettably, did not work for me either: I found Fishman's voice simultaneously irritating and soporific -- the point is to meditate, not doze off! "Mindfulness Meditation" (what a mouthful!) should, I feel, be a much simpler thing than timed concentration on meditation -- how on earth can one relax into the exercise if one is instructed to do it for only five minutes? One eye on the clock means at least half your mind is not focusing 100 percent -- I found this instruction particularly pointless. Far better to take a walk alone, listen to the waves or the leaves in the trees, and observe your thoughts but concentrate on distancing yourself from them so you do not become involved in them; do not judge yourself or your thoughts, and relax and clear the mind in this less structured manner.

I thought the stories were interesting, but the synopses would have been better immediately after the stories, as the summaries were easier to understand than the involved explanations the author gives first. I am not a convert, and find it hard to recommend this book over others.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 17 April 2004

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