Emotional Alchemy: How the Mind Can Heal the Heart

Emotional Alchemy: How the Mind Can Heal the Heart


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“May this very important and enticing book find its way into the hearts of readers near and far so that it can perform its mysterious and healing alchemy for the benefit of all.” —John Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are and Professor of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School

The Transformative Power of Mindfulness

Alchemists sought to transform lead into gold. In the same way, says Tara Bennett-Goleman, we all have the natural ability to turn our moments of confusion or emotional pain into insightful clarity.

Emotional Alchemy maps the mind and shows how, according to recent advances in cognitive therapy, most of what troubles us falls into ten basic emotional patterns, including fear of abandonment, social exclusion (the feeling that we don’t belong), and vulnerability (the feeling that some catastrophe will occur). This remarkable book also teaches us how we can free ourselves of such patterns and replace them with empathy for ourselves and others through the simple practice of mindfulness, an awareness that lets us see things as they truly are without distortion or judgment. Emotional Alchemy provides an insightful explanation of how mindfulness can change not only our lives, but the very structure of our brains, giving us the freedom to be more creative and alive.

Here is a beautifully rendered work full of Buddhist wisdom and stories of how people have used mindfulness to conquer their self-defeating habits. The result is a whole new way of approaching our relationships, work, and internal lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780609809037
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 01/22/2002
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 192,730
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

TARA BENNETT-GOLEMAN, a psychotherapist and teacher, has been offering workshops on the synthesis of Buddhism and psychotherapy for close to ten years with her husband, Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence. She lives in Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter One

From the window of my London hotel room Big Ben displays itself, a prominent, elegant presence amid the vista of river, billowing clouds, and spreading jumble of skyline. Big Ben has a grandeur as a piece of architecture, but I find my eye drawn more to the broad, open expanse of sky and river.

The panorama above and below Big Ben's rounded bluntness includes a resplendence of steeples and bridges that occupy the central view from my window. I notice how my mind, at first glance, takes in the spaciousness of the cloud-filled sky and the soothing expanse of the river below like a regal oil painting by some turn-of-the-century landscape artist, or like a postcard-perfect snapshot.

But as I gaze more carefully, with a sustained attention, I notice that the still snapshot-like rendering of this scene dissolves into a whirl of constant motion, a continuing series of tiny movements that add up to a vastly altered picture. There are tiny successive changes in the shape of clouds as they glide across the sky, sometimes opening up patches of sky through which rays of sunlight spill along the landscape, illuminating shadows into patches of light. There's the translucent shine of buildings and roads and bright red buses as they momentarily bathe in the glow. The scene before me shimmers with kinetic energy.

And so it is with our inner landscapes. This shift in my perception mirrors how the mind works: the tendency to assume it has got the whole picture on first glance, to rush on without a closer look, and the sometimes startling fact that if one continues to look more carefully, there is always more to be discovered beyond those initial assumptions. Too often we take our first impressions, the conclusions from a first hasty glance, as the lasting truth of the moment. But if we keep looking and noticing, we become aware of greater detail and nuance, of changes and second thoughts, and much more. We can see things more as they actually are, rather than as they appear to be. We can bring a more precise understanding to the moment.

If we sustain our gaze within, sometimes our probe may detect pain behind the masks we wear. But if we continue to look, we can see how the patterns of pain hold that very mask in place, and as we investigate further we see even these patterns shift and rearrange themselves. We see how our reactions to our emotions can keep us at a distance from ourselves. And if we sustain our focus, allowing ourselves to open more honestly, our awareness penetrates further, unraveling and dissolving, peeling away the layers as we look still further. We begin to connect with more genuine parts of ourselves, at first in glimpses. Then, as we sustain our gaze, we connect with a source that breathes awareness into every layer of our being.

This book is about seeing ourselves as we genuinely are, not as we seem on first glance as viewed through the filters of our habitual assumptions and emotional patterns. We will explore how through the practice of mindfulness--a method for training the mind to expand the scope of awareness while refining its precision--we can reach beyond the limiting ways we see ourselves. We will see how to disengage from the emotional habits that undermine our lives and our relationships. We will discover how a precise mindfulness can investigate these emotional habits, bringing an insightful clarity to distinguish between the seeming and the actual.

Table of Contents

IEmotional Alchemy
1An Inner Alchemy3
2A Wise Compassion19
3The Healing Qualities of Mindfulness32
4A Model of the Mind65
IIThings as They Seem
5Emotional Habit81
6Schemas in the Larger World108
7How Schemas Work127
IIIA Mindful Therapy
8The Many Uses of Mindfulness147
9Breaking the Chain172
10Changing Habits189
11Working with Emotions209
12You Don't Have to Believe Your Thoughts235
14The Circle of Life280
15Stages of Healing299
IVSpiritual Alchemy
16Perceptual Shifts323
17Investigating the Mind341
18Reframing Suffering359
19May Confusion Dawn as Wisdom375
Guide to Resources397

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Emotional Alchemy: How the Mind Can Heal the Heart 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is for anyone searching for a work that blends buddhist psychology - - meditation and mindfulness work - - with cognitive therapy. A very enjoyable and accessible read with practical exercises at the end of each chapter for the reader to complete. An important work that deserves the recognition that 'The Art of Happiness' by the Dalai Lama and 'Emotional Intelligence' by Daniel Goleman have received. Well worth the investment. A natural follow-up would be a more in-depth workbook/manual/guidebook providing an actual schema assessment/evaluation tool and additional exercises - - I was left wanting more in this area.
Arctic-Stranger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is good pyschology AND good Buddhism.
Ponies on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book introduced me to meditation. It's a great way to understand and take care of emotions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing book. Walks you through forgiveness and how to love yourself.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I've found this book to be immense help in recognizing repetitive thought patterns that no longer are useful or helpful me. Tara's book not only helps me recognize these common patterns, but also gives me a new way of working with them. I've read many self-help books but none have been so helpful and practical. It's also been helpful for me to realize that these thought patterns are not unique to me (i.e. not alone), but are common. With mindfulness and practice, they can be changed. This book has touched my life and my heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with much of what I found in this book, although nothing in it was new to me. I'm sorry to say the hype around this book is more impressive than the book itself. Anything that can manage to get the Dalai Lama's name attached to it seems to be an instant hit no matter what the actual content or quality. On the bright side, however, the same day I bought this book I also discovered a little gem called 'Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: A Little Book of Eastern Wisdom' by Taro Gold. To my surprise and delight, I actually found many more unique, refreshing and thought-provoking concepts in 'Open Your Mind, Open Your Life.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has been excellent in helping me refine and eradicate repetitive problems and patterns in my closest relationships. It has helped me stay positive and connect to something larger than my immediate difficulties. I can't recommend it enough.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have only recently begun to delve into how I can apply Buddhist teachings and philosophies to my everyday life in an effort to live more in the present and become a happier person. I decided to give this book a try, and I was blown away by the powerful message. I have read all sorts of self-help books, which have gotten me through some tough times because of their positive messages. But this book and its topic really touch something deep inside me like no other book has been able to do. Even though the author conveys that healing is a long process, I have nevertheless been able to get immediate benefit out of the breathing mindfulness techniques she describes, and that are also described in similar materials I have read. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking inner peace.