by Caroline Adderson; Boston, Shambhala Publications, 2008, 329 pages, $21.95
Ms. Glimm is administrative supervisor for the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, New York.
Reading Sitting Practice for the writing alone is a pleasurable and valuable experience. The characters are well described, familiar, and full of life. The author is an accomplished writer, having published two novels and two collections of short stories. She has won numerous literary prizes. Caroline Adderson works with themes of tragedy, crisis, relationships, and family of origin. She explores the ways a budding meditation practice can mediate these life events by looking at the impact of Buddhist teachings on individuals in the midst of a severe life crisis. The book has been published by a division of Shambhala Publications, Inc., one of the major publishers of Buddhist writing in the United States.
This novel attempts to describe the impact of meditation practice on one character and how this in turn affects all those around him. Adderson attempts to integrate a literary narrative with a sense of truthfulness. This is not an easy task. Those who have a serious and long-term meditation practice know that it is very difficult to describe the changes that practice has on one's cognition. In meditation, describing the impact of behavioral change is more possible. The author tries to do both.
The delightful, but promiscuous, Ross provides food services for movie crews. He is popular and successful in his career. He has many love relationships and is teased in his apartment building for the numbers of women seen coming and going. Ross is the type of man who never makes enemies with ex-lovers. His main offense is snoring, due to a blockage in his sinus passages. He finally decides to have the surgery to correct the problem. He fears he will die, and his self-centeredness is fully revealed. Ross has his surgery to unblock his sinuses and in the process meets nurse IIiana. She is unlike any of Ross' previous women, many of them actresses from the movie crews he feeds. The two fall in love. Ross also has a sister named Bonnie, who is even more self-focused. Bonnie becomes suicidal whenever her love life is off kilter, so she is frequently suicidal. She has a beloved son, Bryce. Ross is a devoted uncle to Bryce. Ross's good nature is abundantly clear with his nephew.
The story unfolds from here. The novel is interesting on many levels. It is well written, and that is a pleasure in itself. The clinician will find the characters coherent, and their conflicts and how they manage life challenges unfold with verity. Psychotherapists with serious meditation practices might find this book somewhat frustrating, knowing that it is difficult to describe the impact that meditation has on mind states. The author does a good job with the main character, who mediates struggles with the impermanent nature of all arising phenomena. The book will appeal to anyone practicing psychotherapy. The characters struggle with life crises and transform their lives with affirming resilience—here with the use of meditation. The novel affirms the helpfulness that meditation can have in healing.