Dr. Mark Epstein reflects on one year’s worth of therapy sessions with his patients to observe how his training in Western psychotherapy and his equally long investigation into Buddhism, in tandem, led to greater awareness—for his patients, and for himself.
... a warm, profound and cleareyed memoir of a year in [Epstein's] consulting room prior to the pandemic...He seeks to uncover the fundamental wisdom both worldviews share, and to show, as a practical matter, how it might help us wriggle free from the places we get stuck on the road to fulfillment ... Much of the appeal of therapists’ memoirs lies, naturally enough, in the opportunity for readers to satisfy their prurient interest in other people’s problems — and in the relief of learning that they’re at least as screwed up as we are. So it’s fitting that Epstein devotes only a relatively short introductory section to setting the stage ... There’s more benefit, for the patients and for the reader, in simply allowing such stories to be told than in attempting to derive generic life lessons from them, and Epstein by and large leaves space for that to happen ... Mercifully, what Epstein means by kindness includes a large component of humor ... The effort to straddle Buddhism and therapy leads Epstein sometimes to lapse into the technical jargon of both...while references to his own spiritual journey have the I-guess-you-had-to-be-there quality that often afflicts such accounts. But this wise and sympathetic book’s lingering effect is as a reminder that a deeper and more companionable way of life lurks behind our self-serious stories.
Epstein draws on a lifetime of personal and professional experience to deliver a profound and optimistic examination of the links between psychotherapy and meditation. Drawing on influences as diverse as psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, the Dalai Lama, and composer John Cage, Epstein offers a warm and accessible explanation of topics that defy easy explanation ... Epstein makes abstract concepts understandable, and his accounts of his patients’ struggles and progress are laced with humor and hope ... Empathetic and persuasive—one of the better books on psychotherapy and meditation in recent years.