Click Here To Purchase Balancing Act: Reflections, Meditations and Coping Strategies for Today's Fast-Paced Whirl

Author:Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph. D.

Publisher:Balboa Press
ISBN: 978-1-4525-3216-5

Balancing Act is an entry in the arguably overly populated field of what can broadly be described as self-help books. As its title clearly states, its focus is on helping those selves who are overworked and stressed out as the result of overwhelming personal and/or professional responsibilities and challenges.

Dr. McDowell draws from diverse sources in fashioning her therapies—Buddhism, transcendental meditation, old time religion, popular song lyrics, to mention some but not all.

There can be no reasonable quarreling with the book's underlying premise, viz., that a person performs optimally in a state of relaxation and that stress is ultimately the enemy of both productivity and happiness. Equally evident is the value of the book's prescriptions for the frenetics of contemporary life: naps, breaks, re-sets, rests, etc.

In a book of this kind, the challenge is to negotiate successfully the gap between the bromidic and the genuinely and innovatively insightful. Here, in the opinion of this reader, the book is only partially successful.

The book is at its best when it eloquently describes, from a somewhat pantheistical perspective, how observations of the bucolic miracles of the seasons can calm and comfort. (I did notice, however, that autumn was omitted, due no doubt to its inherently melancholic nature). The metaphorical comparisons of the material (water) and the spiritual (soul) are also most satisfying although recent residents of the United States may have a hard time buying into the tornado as an image or vehicle of self-fulfillment.

Some of the book's observations seem contradictory (the author's advice on dealing with conflicts seems to range between the need to be passive and assertive) or impractical ("treat everyone like your brother and sister"). The book seems to endorse the ubiquitous concept of "unconditional love" which raises a clear conflict between reason and spirituality. Some readers may well question whether taking time to smell the roses necessarily involves the suspension of intellectual and moral judgments.

The book does itself no favors by saying (or repeating) things like, "Each of us is the product of some kind of connection" or "If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."

Balancing Act could benefit from the inclusion of some actual case histories; the book rarely moves beyond the abstract. Also, although the book is quite short, the cobbling of pieces previously published often produces a sense of "haven't we been here before?" that detracts somewhat from the work's valuable message and advice.

At one point, the book states:

"We often forget that deep within us reside the answers to our questions and concerns. We look for experts; we surf the Web; we read articles, papers, and books; we canvass our friends. Yet we rarely consider taking our own deep counsel. We assume there are others who know better."

In spite of this almost self-destructive observation, surely there are many who will find Dr. McDowell's advice and techniques of value in dealing with "today's fast-paced whirl."

Click Here To Purchase Balancing Act: Reflections, Meditations and Coping Strategies for Today's Fast-Paced Whirl