About once a year I discover a workbook that allows me to put all the steps that I learn in therapy into practice. I’ve mentioned in past blog posts David Burns’s 10 Days to Self-Esteem, and how the exercises in that workbook allowed me to recognize distorted thought patterns and practice ways of untwisting them. Two years or so ago, when I didn’t know whether or not I should have my son treated for anxiety, my therapist recommended I read Understanding Your Child’s Puzzling Behavior, which was very, very helpful. And now fellow blogger and mindfulness expert Elisha Goldstein has published, with co-author Bob Stahl, a comprehensive workbook — A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook — that teaches the art of mindfulness in relieving and reducing stress.
If I had to identify one quality that separates this book from the rest of the mindfulness resources in the self-help aisle, it’s that these pages are so practical and can’t help but provide the reader with plenty of “A-ha!” moments. Reading through the chapters and exercises, I appreciate all the research that Goldstein and Stahl studied, material that illuminates how mindfulness exercises can alter and help shape your brain to be more optimistic and resilient. But what won my trust is that they have both been stress cases themselves at certain points in their lives, and can therefore communicate with empathetic language. They both know, on a very personal level, how stress can disable a person. So much like Kay Redfield Jamison, the famous psychologist who suffers from bipolar disorder, they speak both as expert and patient.