Mindfulness is a core concept of Buddhism and is often viewed as some esoteric practice of Eastern religions. In
Mindfulness and the Art of Choice, Dr. Karen Sherman describes mindfulness in a practical and applicable
manner, combining the ancient practice with cognitive behavioral techniques to give readers the opportunity to
recognize and change patterns that keep them from creating better lives for themselves.
There is, says Sherman, "a way to approach life so that you feel a sense of being prepared, of being ready, of
being grounded." Some of her advice will be familiar, such as the reminder that we can’t control other people or
situations, but we can control our own reactions, or that doing what we’ve always done will get us what we’ve always
gotten. The difference here is that Sherman explains why we repeat non-productive behaviors that often are formed
during infancy and childhood, long before we are capable of truly understanding our reactions, and she gives us clear
instructions for breaking the habits.
Awareness—another term we hear repeatedly in Buddhist teachings—is key to the process Sherman
promotes. Often we fail to recognize our own destructive behavior because we are so busy distracting ourselves from
the root causes of emotional pain. Mindfulness and the Art of Choice begins with a simple exercise to quiet
the mind and learn to live free of distraction, if only for a few moments. This in itself is a valuable gift.
With twenty-two exercises, each building upon the others, Sherman’s book is a long-term reward for a small price.
There is no suggested time frame or any particular order for working through these exercises, making it a truly
Psychologist Sherman goes far beyond textbook analysis and trite platitudes. Her own life story is a moving and
revelatory example of how tenacious and damaging early imprinting can be. Her honesty about her own pain and her
journey to heal herself is as inspirational as it gets.
Though Mindfulness and the Art of Choice comes in at under 100 pages, it’s no lightweight quickie read.
Like profound koans, this is a treasure chest of wisdom, expressed succinctly and sincerely by an author who proves
that she has walked the path.