The Zen of Therapy: Uncovering a Hidden Kindness in Life

Penguin Pr. Jan. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780593296615. $27. REL
Epstein (Open to Desire) became interested in Buddhism and meditation prior to becoming a practicing psychiatrist. While in medical school he spent time studying the Buddhist physiological state in Dharamshala, India, hosted by the Dalai Lama. His observations came to better understand the power of meditation and its relation to psychotherapy. Epstein started his psychiatry practice keeping his beliefs separate from his work. Over time, he began to share his perspective and many patients showed interest in learning more. This book explores a year’s work with his patients, viewing therapy from a Buddhist mindfulness perspective. He wrote down the details of a least one session every week when he sensed that a “Buddhist element was in play.” The stories in this book support Epstein’s contention that meditation can be used to deal with the worst in life and potentially bring out the best in oneself. A large part of Epstein’s process is confronting egocentric preoccupations that can prevent a fulfilled life. He argues that only by dispassionately observing the ego can one reveal its true nature.
VERDICT Meditation has become increasingly popular in self-help in recent years; Epstein’s book is recommended for anyone interested in exploring the potential benefits of a meditation practice.
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