The Mindful Woman:
Gentle Practices for Restoring Calm,
Finding Balance & Opening Your Heart

by Sue Patton Thoele

New Harbinger Publications Inc., 2008. ISBN 1-57224-542-5.
Reviewed by Becky Lane
Posted on 05/07/2008

Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration

Are you a recovering drama queen? Is it difficult for you to avoid being sucked into the stimulation vortex to which society as a whole seems addicted? According to Sue Patton Thoele, mindfulness is a wonderful form of rehab.

In The Mindful Woman, she first explains how the practice of mindfulness—consciously living in the moment—can enrich our lives. "When consciously and kindly focusing awareness on life as it unfolds minute by precious minute, you are better able to savor each experience." For those who are so over-obligated that they feel as if they are being "nibbled to death by ducks," choosing to focus only on the ducks nibbling in the moment helps alleviate feelings of being overwhelmed.

I have spent way too many days running on autopilot and wondering where the hours went. Now I realize that this kind of "automatic living" is essentially the opposite of mindfulness. Thoele believes there are four basic elements necessary for becoming more mindful: paying attention, living in the moment, simplifying, breathing. I found that her breathing exercises were a wonderful way to rein myself in to the moment and to tame my "monkey mind." Since reading Simple Abundance by Sarah ban Breathnach some years back, I have been on a quest for my authentic self. Therefore, Thoele really grabbed my attention with her assertion: "All you are and can be is within. Your assignment is to pay attention and gently coax your unique authenticity into expression."

For most people, it would not be practical to spend most of their time away on retreat, or to spend hours each day in meditation, in order to achieve a Zen-like state of mindfulness. However, Thoele feels that even a few mindful moments can make a world of difference. With her book and its myriad exercises, I think anyone can create "minutes of mindfulness and oases of awareness amid the hustle and hassle of everyday activities."

Sue Patton Thoele had a private psychotherapy practice for many years before the writing muse grabbed hold and insisted that she write her first book, The Courage to be Yourself. It was followed by ten others, all involving women's issues. In addition to author and therapist, she has served as teacher, public speaker, hospice chaplain, mother, stepmother, and grandmother. She lives with her husband in Colorado. Visit her website.

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