cover image Just Listen

Just Listen

Nancy O'Hara, Nancy C'Hara. Broadway Books, $22.5 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-7679-0022-5

Combining Zen practice with 12-Step philosophy, O'Hara (Find a Quiet Corner) uses gentle essays and exercises to create a book to do rather than to just read. Activities based in ""the four key elements of the Quiet Corner process""--writing, talking, sitting/breathing and moving your body--help readers let go of control, find a connection to some form of higher power, take psychological inventory, forgive, make amends and work on ""acting as if."" Controlled breathing and giving up judgments and expectations are here usefully linked with learning to talk openly with a safe person or group. Similarly, O'Hara adds self-responsibility, risk-taking, goal-setting, list-making and habit-breaking to ""just sitting"" and learning to hear the still, quiet voice within. The author suggests assembling a quiet space for meditation and writing exercises, complete with pillows, notebooks, candles and containers for putting aside issues until later. She is soothing and reassuring (""though you may not be able to handle it, the universe will""), while at the same time encouraging of both small and larger steps toward real change and growth (""move closer to what frightens you""). This book is an excellent guide to exploring with insight both the inner depths and the outer world. (Oct.)