For the past 20 years author Darlene Cohen has had rheumatoid arthritis, a painful and crippling condition. "I became isolated from everyone I knew by my pain and fear and ultimately even by the consuming effort I had to make to do any little thing--like get up from a chair, fix a cup of tea," she writes. How do we live through catastrophic situations such as Cohen's without being destroyed? For starters, don't go numb, suggests Cohen, a Zen teacher who offers pain seminars in medical facilities and meditation centers along the West Coast. "If we don't acknowledge our pain, we usually don't feel our pleasure either," Cohen explains. "Life takes on a zombie-like tenor." In fact, many of our most self-destructive habits come from an avoidance of physical or emotional pain, claims Cohen, such as substance abuse, becoming overly scheduled or overly busy, avoiding intimacy to avoid hurt. Through storytelling, attitude adjustments, meditation exercises, and straight-from-the-heart advice, Cohen guides readers into a more alive and joyful life, even in the midst of pain. --Gail Hudson
"There are many, many helpful hints in this book about commonplace problems such as anger (those who repress it are advised to let it out with temper tantrums), busyness (how about enabling 'the one who is not busy' inside you), and 'the weeds of enlightenment' (using obstacles as spiritual teachers). Cohen has good advice for those of us who are always 'jumping to the higher self' in order to avoid hindrances to growth in our daily lives. A final chapter on the use of 'koans' as self-correcting tools is a real gem. "Finding a Joyful Life in the Heart of Pain" is highly recommended."—Frederic A. Brussat, Spirituality & Health.