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Book Review: The Way to Stillness by Anne Alexander Vincent and Gayle Alexander

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Sooner or later most adults at least toy with the idea of going to a talk therapist for help with a life problem. The luckiest ones find a psycho-educational counselor like Gayle Alexander. Alexander’s approach to the therapy is a hopeful, uplifting process which she calls the “love motif.”

This is a way of healing the mind (and the thoughts we hold in it) through the power of love. Alexander consciously activates the love motif long before clients walk through her door. Her professional day begins with preparation of self to be a useful expression of love in action. Activities might involve prayer, dream interpretations, visualization exercises, and reminders of her willingness to be the conduit for divinely inspired guidance.

This supremely conscious, deliberate intention to serve with love is still rare on planet Earth. It’s encouraging to know that a living example exists among us, and that she exists in the U.S. of A, not in some faraway place or exotic culture.

Through Alexander’s simple but powerful telling of personal story, we come to understand that the counselor’s own mindset is an essential element in the healing process. This is a radical and refreshing difference from more conventional counselors who might assume a judgmental role and/or position self superior to the client.

Even more, other therapeutic modalities tend to focus on the identification and analysis of problems. Constant rehashing of the problem, unfortunately, often has an unintended negative impact on the client. The love motif asks the client to become positive and to affirm life by seeing and embracing goodness in self. Alexander starts the search for goodness by asking clients to answer astute self-discovery types of questions. She’s also keen on teaching clients to sit in stillness for several minutes, which helps to gain clarity and sureness on important decisions.

The book title, The Way to Stillness, draws attention to inner peace, a key tool in Alexander’s bag of tricks. For me, however, the title misleads and suggests the book is about different ways that counselors can teach meditation techniques to clients. This, of course, does not relay the real reach richness or meaning of this book.

Alexander talks about the love motif on the very first page of the very first chapter, and then she repeatedly refers to it throughout the book. There’s no mention of stillness until much later. The “love motif” phrase really should be in the title or subtitle to more accurately reflect the content.

The other problem with The Way to Stillness has to do with flaws in organization and professional editing of material. Ultimately, you get Alexander’s beautiful message, but she could have made it easier and more compelling.

For instance, there's a chapter entitled “Grave Clothes,” a personal term coined by Alexander, which she does not fully explain until three pages into the chapter.

Another example is the chapter entitled “Work and Mission.” It seems like this chapter ought to be about finding one’s purpose in life, but instead the chapter rambles on about meditation, change, courage and daily communication with God – and it never really makes a concise point.

The Way to Stillness has the unusual potential to be a great book, but the amateurish journal writing style keeps it stuck in an average range. It would be wonderful if every counselor and wannabe counselor read this book and found the inspiration to be an angel of love. If you’re considering a counseling session, you should also read The Way to Stillness because it will help you to figure out exactly what you want from your experience.

Even though Alexander has a Christian orientation, she presents Christian references in a gentle way that would be acceptable to anyone. The bottom line: love is the only thing that really matters, and we are extraordinarily fortunate to have a shining star like Gayle Alexander to point the way.

3.5 Stars from Karen Bentley
America’s Spiritual Reviewer
www.spiritualreviewer.com

BOOK FACTS:
Title: The Way to Stillness: Powerful Tools for Those in Helping Professions
Publisher: Cottage in the Woods
Copyright: 2010
ISBN 10: 0984087605

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About Karen Bentley

Author, Educator, Founder of The SugarFreeInstitute and SugarFree Nutrition and Weight Loss Expert. Over 15 published books. The Power to Stop: Stopping as a path to personal power, self-love and enlightenment is currently a bestseller on Amazon Kindle. For more info visit www.sugarfreeinstitute.com, www.powertostop.com or www.karenbentley.com.
  • Tony

    I can understand why Alexander wrote the book; too many children grow up and only as adults do they realize they have never been taught The Art of Peace.

    I am an avid meditator and understand what she wants to portray. But again, this author, like many authors, have a tough time creating visually their ideas of inner peace without getting lost in words.

    The Way of the Peaceful Warrior – by Dan Millman is possibly the best depiction of what Anne wants to say.

    (Do not be mislead, in fact I praise any person who knows the magnificence of inner stillness and would like to tell others about it. That should be part of school curriculum.)

    A couple of good websites that explain both these ideas and recommend books.

    A tai chi master‘s website.

    An intro to contemplative thought.

    As far as the article is concerned, it was rather negative and thought perhaps that there could be positives with the book that were overlooked. I have however been dissuaded and might venture elsewhere for literary enlightenment.

  • http://www.polymath-mind.com/ Tony

    After having read a few more books on similar topics I wanted to return to say a few more words.

    I think that sometimes the explicative style of writing is decent but can be limiting because the reader cannot ask questions to the author/instructor. Also the author (often) tends to forgot how difficult their first few steps toward the great calm really was and so when writing with years of experience, it seems too complicated of a start for beginners.

    Some of the books I’ve recently read are fables and parables; which give lessons through story telling. (Apparently the oldest form of lesson teaching known to man, i.e. cave drawings.)
    Millman’s book which I commented on previously follows the parable style likewise do these few that I find a great read:

    The Chronicles of Tao by Deng Ming Dao.
    The Immortal’s Gift by Vincent Lasorso.
    Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.

    As far as learning true stillness which Gayle Alexander and Anne speak of, only practicing stillness brings stillness. Reading about stillness only makes you think about being still, but not Be still.

    There are many ways to achieving this:
    Meditation, yoga and tai chi are three quite effective and popular methods.

    Gayle and Anne both promote the Love Motif in their book. I praise anyone who promotes openness, acceptance, tolerance, compassion and caring.

    But again, only practicing develops.

    [Edited]

    About Karen’s article, I have changed my mind about it being negative. I think that she is attempting to be as unbiased and objective as possible to give a real opinion about the book.
    *Note to potential readers of The Way to Stillness: Why not, it’s always interesting to hear how others have found their peace.