Review: Shortcuts to Mindfulness by Catherine Auman, LMFT

Catherine Auman follows my Instagram @therapybooknook, and she sent me this book for my review. Auman calls herself a “spiritual psychotherapist” and is trained in Transpersonal Psychology. She also lived in India for a time, studying tantra. My only real issue with this book is the title; I was expecting more instructions on mindfulness, how to do it and such. Although mindfulness is developed by paying attention, there is very little in this book that is directly related to mindfulness itself. Instead, I like the subtitle, which I think conveys better what the book is about: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth.

This book is made up of 100 short two-page chapters that cover pretty much everything you can think of that would relate to personal growth. I love the format, because it is one of those books you can read cover to cover, or just pick up when you have 5 minutes and read one random 2-page chapter. She covers everything from breathwork, depression and anxiety (and supplements that might help both), forgiveness, self-esteem, sex…the list goes on. For therapists, I think it’s a nice little book if you have a break between sessions to just open up and get a little nugget of inspiration.

There are two chapters I particularly liked. Auman confronts the popular myth that “you have to love yourself before you can love others”. This rarely questioned saying is just not true – we learn through relationships and we are wired to be interdependent. She also talks about “premature” forgiveness, which I love. I find that a lot of my (especially Christian) clients move to forgiveness right away because they think they should – which Auman says is “as helpful as putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm”. I love this, and I’m going to steal it and use it!

Speaking of Christian clients, I’m not sure this book is totally accessible for more conservative Christians, although they might not pick up a book about mindfulness anyway. I agree with everything Auman says, but talking about the “yin and yang” of sex (for example), might be problematic for readers who don’t come from, or aren’t familiar with, that philosophy.

Overall, though, I loved the book and will definitely be keeping it on my shelf at the office for reference! It’s out now and can be ordered at the link below.

Disclaimer: The link above is an Amazon affiliate link and I receive a small compensation from purchases made through this link.

Review: Stop Avoiding Stuff by Matthew Boone,

This is a recent book based on ACT theory (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).  While I still like the gold standard ACT book “The Happiness Trap” by Russ Harris, this book has some really nice features that might be worth the purchase.  I will say that I do not particularly like the title of this book – I can see people thinking “well I’m not really an avoider” and therefore not thinking this book is for them.  But it’s not really about avoiding per se; it’s about not living a vibrant life because of fear (which is avoiding I guess, but I still don’t love the choice of words). What I’m saying is that I can’t think of anyone this book wouldn’t apply to and I think they have unnecessarily narrowed their audience. 

One thing I love about this book is that it breaks all the concepts down into “microskills”, which means that if you are too busy to sit and read this book cover to cover, no problem! You can simply open up, read “microskill 1” (or whatever skill you think you need) and then get to work putting it into practice.  

The skills are bunched together in categories, like working with thoughts, working with emotions, figuring out your values, working on willingness and so on.  The last three skills are kind of a summary, so if all you have is a little time, start there.

This would be a great copy to own if you are a therapist and a good suggestion for just about any client.  As a client or regular person it’s a good book if you ever feel you are not living your best life. Link for purchase is below.  Also, if you do not have time to read this book but want the information, try my new summary download for $3 in the shop!


Review: Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson

I can just imagine giving this book to my clients; it seems too simple to be true. People want to think it’s more complicated than this. But it really is this simple. The way you allow yourself to think really does change your life. Think differently and your life will change. We have an incredible lack of discipline over our thoughts. This book will teach you some really simple ways to think differently and change your brain structure. Over time, this will create more happiness, more peace, more contentment. It really does work. But it really IS work; it is so easy to be lazy with our thoughts.

Rick Hanson is the guy who came up with the phrase I love, “the brain is Teflon for the good and Velcro for the bad”.  This book, similar to his other books, helps us come up with strategies to increase the good so our brain doesn’t just “Teflon” it away.  Specifically in this book, he works through an acronym, HEAL. H stands for “have a positive experience”; E is “enrich it”; A is “absorb it” and L is “link it to a negative experience”.  Again, you can just dismiss this as positive nonsense.  BUT, I believe if you actually practice it, you’ll see the results.  Neuroscience is behind this, not just wishful thinking.


Review: Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness by David Treleaven

I do a lot of mindfulness work with clients and groups, and it’s common to hear the adage that mindfulness is good for everyone – but that’s not always the case.  Trauma causes an internal dysregulation, and dropping in to pay attention to your inner experience is a land mine sometimes. Often if a person is having trouble in meditation, meditation teachers will say something like “just stick with it” – which is ok advice if you are not in a traumatic state, but if you are it’s doing some damage.  Treleaven is THE person to learn from if you want to become more trauma informed and trauma sensitive.  This book is great for anyone leading or teaching any kind of mindfulness, but I also think it would be helpful if you are a person who has suffered trauma and tries to engage in mindfulness.  It is a textbook-style book, but written in an engaging enough manner that anyone could glean helpful ideas from reading it.