Mind Matters: Out of the box beach reads

Memorial Day — pools open and the trek “down the shore” (New Jersey) or “to the beach” (Delaware) begins. Reviewed here are several books to consider reading when the escape into mystery or romance starts to be boring.

Let’s start with “Just One Thing” by Rick Hanson. His book integrates neuropsychology with Buddhist based mindfulness, but there is no need to be put off by this combination. In fact, this tiny tome is simple, succinct and short, and covers themes of how to be good to yourself, enjoy life, build strength, engage the world—and at the same time be at peace.

To attain peace, Hanson reminds us that evolution has given us an anxious brain so that we could survive the tiger in the rushes. Trouble is, we don’t turn off the hyper-vigilant anxious state even when there is no tiger. Yes, indeed, there are environments and places in our country and in the world that have their own metaphorical tigers to fear. Be that as it may, many of us fear the tiger in the television, becoming saturated with and over-stimulated by 24/7 “news.”

Hanson invites us to find in ourselves a sense of safety by calling upon our own inner resources and helps us recognize our own “paper tiger paranoia.”

While Rick Hanson’s book has a basis in neuroscience, “Expect the Unexpected “by Bill Phillips makes no such claim. This book explores how to achieve peace, healing, and hope from “the other side.” That is, Phillips is a psychic medium whose first encounter with the “spiritually alive” was with his mother after she died when he was 14. This is not a book for the empiricist or the skeptic, but it may be a book for someone who wants to find hope regarding a loved one who has died. Having facilitated a grief group for over ten years, I know that people there have had experiences that defy usual explanations.

Another book, not of the mundane self-help genre, is Robert Moss’ “Sidewalk Oracles.” This author is noted for his dream workshops, and having attended one, I can attest that he is quite an engaging and charming character. In this book that plays with “signs, symbols, and synchronicity in everyday life,” Moss encourages us to explore our working life as we would our dreams, finding wonder and surprise — to get beyond routine. He asks us to be open to new experiences, to notice special moments, to develop gratefulness and to be willing to “step outside the box.”

I think last week I stepped outside the box when I went to hear Sr Simone Campbell speak at Daylesford Abbey. Campbell’s book is “A Nun on the Bus.” She and her cohort of Catholic sisters comprise Network, a Washington lobby that seeks to promote economic and social justice in federal policy. In 2012, the Network nuns wanted to get their message out across America and did so by traveling on a bus that served as a rolling billboard. Wherever they stopped, they initiated dialogue about the congressional budget that was cutting funding to vital social programs for both the poor and the middle class. Hers is a story of compassion and service that offers hope.

Who knows, reading this memoir, one might decide to leap out of that beach chair and join forces with the Network and their cause for a caring community.

* Kayta Curzie Gajdos holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and is in private practice in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. She welcomes comments at MindMatters@DrGajdos.com or 610-388-2888. Past columns are posted to www.drgajdos.com. See book.quietwisdom-loudtimes.com for information about her book, “Quiet Wisdom in Loud Times: The Rise of the Wounded Feminine.”

** The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to: editor@chaddsfordlive.com

About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.

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