cover image Emotional Alchemy: How the Mind Can Heal the Heart

Emotional Alchemy: How the Mind Can Heal the Heart

Tara Bennett-Goleman. Harmony Books, $24 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-609-60752-7

""We all desire happiness and do not want suffering."" The Dalai Lama introduces Bennett-Goleman's first book with this trademark refrain, adding the deceptively simple Buddhist truth that much suffering is caused by our ""disturbing emotions."" Bennett-Goleman, a psychotherapist and longtime student of Buddhist meditation, draws on decades of experience to elucidate how the Buddhist practices of nonjudgmental awareness or mindfulness and the cultivation of compassion can unclasp the grip of the most addictive and deeply entrenched emotional patterns. What sets Bennett-Goleman's work apart from other contributions to the emerging field of Buddhist-oriented psychotherapy is her particular expertise in ""schema therapy,"" which applies the consciousness of thought patterns that characterizes cognitive therapy to the deep-seated emotional habits that are formed in childhood. Thus she shows readers how our habitual fears and defenses get triggered again and again in our relationships, mechanically perpetuating old pain and obscuring reality. The author offers anecdotes from her clinical work and from workshops she conducts with her husband, Daniel Goleman, author of the megabestseller Emotional Intelligence. While Bennett-Goleman will undoubtedly benefit from the huge interest in her husband's book and from the burgeoning market for applied Buddhist wisdom in general, her distinct power flows from her sincerity. She is not given to neat formulations, yet her stories have the persuasiveness of experience, of transformation drop by drop. ""In Western psychology it is often said that one needs a strong ego,"" writes Bennett-Goleman. ""But in the Buddhist sense what we need is strong confidence."" Many readers will trust the path that she forges here. (Jan.) Forecast: Foreign rights to this title have been sold in Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain and Latin America, Sweden, Taiwan and the U.K. Given the excellence of the book, a planned major push from Harmony, and the obvious benefit of a title and author name approximating those of Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, hefty sales and major interest are likely