Book Review of THE WAY TO STILLNESS written by Anne Alexander Vincent and Gayle Alexander
Posted Mar 18 2010 7:29am
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 among Earthlings. 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 thecounselor’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 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 them 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 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. Here’s an example of what I mean. Alexander did the important work of developing a set of love-based tools for counselors and counselees, but she doesn’t organize her material into these two categories. Instead, it’s all jumbled together without much logic. A simple Table of Contents that lists and orders her material would be very useful.
Then there’s Alexander’s writing style. In the chapter entitled “Grave Clothes,” a personal term coined by Alexander, Alexander doesn’t bother to fully explain what she’s talking about 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 mediation, 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 and off-the-cuff organization of material keeps it stuck in an average range.
Even though Alexander has a Christian orientation, she presents Christian references in a gentle way that would be acceptable to anyone. 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.
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 to it and through it. RATING: 3.5 stars out of 5
BOOK FACTS: Title: The Way to Stillness Subtitle: Powerful Tools for Those in Helping Professions Authors: Anne Alexander Vincent & Gayle Alexander Publisher: Cottage in the Woods Copyright: 2010 ISBN 10: 0984087605