Minding the Body, Mending the Mind

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Three qualities distinguish those stress-hardy individuals known as survivors: a curiosity and involvement in present activity, a belief in one’s ability to influence events and a willingness to do so, and a perception of change, even negative change, as a challenge. Those who do not come by these qualities naturally can develop them, and should, as medical evidence shows that stress and the accompanying sense of helplessness can damage the body, particularly the immune system. As a balance and antidote to the body’s fight-or-flight reaction to stress, Borysenko offers the relaxation response--achieved through techniques of meditation, breath control, and progressive relaxation. For a reshaping of mental attitudes that leads to more successful coping, Borysenko offers an attitude of mindfulness, a present-centered awareness that identifies and resists negative mental traps and enables new patterns of thinking and reacting to emerge. What Borysenko really is offering goes beyond physical and emotional healing; rather, her book presents a philosophy of life that leads to a reconnection with essential human values such as love and forgiveness.

Carefully documented, MINDING THE BODY, MENDING THE MIND is a remarkable synthesis of science, psychology, and religion. Borysenko has all the qualities one would want in a good teacher: clarity, patience, a sense of humor, and firm direction. She writes from her own experiences and those of hundreds of her patients. Her exercises are numerous but not overwhelming; they are presented with gentle guidance for the beginner, anticipating difficulties and carrying the reader beyond them. Even those already familiar with many of these principles and techniques will appreciate Borysenko’s excellent treatment.