Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review : Hyper Harry

Title : Hyper Harry
Author : Patricia H. Aust

The author Patricia H. Aust is a well informed person on ADHD as she had been on the CT Task Force on ADHD and was a school social worker working with children who had severe ADHD, while she wrote this book.
The story of 8-year old Harry is narrated in the voice of his elder brother 12-year old Ted, who finds it extremely challenging to deal with behavioral peculiarities of Harry. Many times he wants to avoid Harry but he also wants to help him when Harry gets into trouble because of no fault of his own. But it leads to situations when Ted finds himself confused and disturbed.

The story brings out the feelings, emotions, frustrations, desperation and turmoil of a young adult sharing space with a hyperactive sibling and what all it needs from him/her to be a compassionate, understanding and loving brother or sister.

I have a couple of books dedicated to the symptoms of ADHD and how some of them can be mitigated with medication, continuous therapies and tender love and care but this is one of a few books which have brought the feelings of a sibling in the forefront and that I feel, is commendable.

Taking cues from her experience while working with children with ADHD, Patricia does mention how medication helped Harry to a certain extent but it cannot completely eliminate the problem. Through Hyper Harry, she has tried to address this problem keeping in mind the mental state and stress every individual of the family goes through trying to grapple with the situation. I found the story and narrative having a lot of potential, however, I felt the soul was missing from it. Somehow, it did not move me the way usually such stories do and should do. If I have to give one suggestion, I feel the parents role could have been discussed in a little more detail but this is my personal view.

The author recommends this book to be read with the child who is suffering from ADHD but I am not so sure about it. I would suggest parents to use their own discretion in considering this option. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book Review : Creating Time

Title : Creating Time - Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim your Life
Author : Marney K. Makridakins
Publisher : New World Library
ISBN : 978-1-60868-111-2

We all want more time than what we have. Twenty four hours in a day do not seem to be enough to do, to achieve, to try and in a nutshell, to lead a fulfilling life and we all find these overtly abused excuses of lack of time stumbling out of our mouths so very often - "I do not have enough time" or "If only I had more time" or " I am too busy".   The author Marney K. Makridakins, very validly points out that despite the technological advancements which have enabled us to achieve much more in a month than we ever did in a year, earlier, our lives have become busier manifolds. So are these advancements helping us in leading a relaxed life? In fact, just the contrary is true.
In 'Creating Time', Makridakins is trying to take the major hurdle of lack of this essential commodity - time, head on. After understanding, evaluating and analyzing the concept of time management, she has devised some very exciting and interesting tools to create more time. Interestingly what all it requires is some creativity which human mind is very much capable of.

Makridakins encourages the readers to embark on a journey of rediscovering a unique relationship with time. In fact, this is an empowering exercise which could gradually lead people to move away from 'making time and managing time' in their lives to 'imagining time and creating time'. For this, it is essential to have an open mind and to be prepared to experience the great metamorphosis. Here is a very brief peek into what she suggests us to change - Change the way you talk about time, Change the way you measure time and Change the way you experience time. It is a worthwhile exercise to read the complete book to get the full benefit.

The various tools that she presents in the book, make use of technology, art, philosophy, science, imagination, logic and of course, the most important ingredient - the human creativity in finding ways to create more time. Each chapter is full of interesting anecdotes, personal stories, references and ARTsignments. The ARTsignments are hands-on art projects designed to initiate self awareness and transformation in a playful manner. Common time related challenges are enlisted along with various ways to face them.

For me, the highlights of the book were - the poetic pauses at the beginning of each chapter and the  art work by over 80 contributors which help in illustrating the point that Marney is trying to make through her writing - the multi-faceted nature of time.
The title itself is very intriguing which will entice the readers to pick this book up and see what all it has to offer in terms of creating and expanding more time in the same 24 hours.
It is a wonderful book on time management bringing in unique perspectives which have not been offered or thought about before. So I would say, it is a great accompaniment to the time management courses besides being a great inspirational book. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Book Review : Old Path White Clouds

Title : Old Path White Clouds
Author : Thich Nhat Hanh
Publisher : Hind Pocket Books
ISBN : 81-216-0675-6

Thick Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddist monk and an accomplished author who has penned - Being Peace, Under the Banyan Tree, The Path of Emancipation and 85 other books. In 'Old Path White Clouds' , he presents the life and teachings of Gautam Buddha spanning over 80 years.

The story is divided into small chapters and are presented in a very simple language.  Through this book, readers get a glimpse of Buddha's thoughts, how he followed his inner calling to embark on a journey of self realization and what all he experimented with to attain the blissful state. During the course of his search, he first tried the path of self deprivation but later realized that -"The body is not just an instrument, it is the temple of the spirit, the raft by which we cross the other shore." He stopped practicing and advocating self-mortification.
"He realized that body and mind formed one reality which could not be separated. The peace and comfort of the body were directly related to the peace and comfort of the mind. To abuse the body was to abuse the mind. "
After attaining enlightenment, he dedicated his life to leading many individuals to the same path of peace and devotion.

He taught the world the significance of mindful awareness and living in the moment by being a role model who practiced every ounce of what he preached. "Your mind should  not be chasing after thoughts of yesterday or tomorrow, but should dwell fully in the present moment. Living in mindful awareness is living in the moment, your mind and body dwelling in the very here and now. Living each day mindfully is the very basis of spiritual practice."

It is interesting to read how Buddha compiled the Noble Eightfold enlightenment path, and how throughout his life, he tried to share his peaceful state with so many others who came in contact with him. One very important aspect, though very small, caught my attention - he was very effective in teaching every individual in the language that the person understood the best, for instance, Svasti was a buffalo boy and he was taught using the terms that he was most conversant with while to a Sitar player he used the strings of the sitar as an example while showing him the divine path. There is a lot that a reader can take from the book. This is the first biography of Buddha that I read which took me through some very significant moments of Buddha's life.

However, I cannot skip mentioning that this book does falter at many points - it is repetitive and many parts are redundant which only increase the volume of the book without enriching the readers in any way. The book could have been more precise to be more effective. Some of the chapters give an impression as if they are compiled bits and pieces from here and there. As I understand, a biography should be more tight with no scope of redundancy because it is primarily a sincere presentation of facts. Also, the narrative keeps vacillating from Svasti the buffalo boy to Buddha himself, which makes it a little disruptive sometimes.

Thich was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by none other than Martin Luther King Jr. He is the founder of Van Hanh Buddist University in Saigon, and has taught at Columbia University and the Sorbonne.

Must quote a few lines from the book -
"Bhikkhus, when you have seen deeply and have attained the Way, the beautiful may still appear beautiful and the ugly may still appear ugly, but because you have attained liberation, you are not bound by either. When a liberated person looks at beauty, he can see that it is composed of many non-beautiful elements. Such a person understands the impermanent and empty nature of all things, including beauty and ugliness. Thus he is neither mesmerized by beauty nor repulsed by ugliness."

Bhikkhu must cleanse his body and mind of desires, attachments, anger and aversions.

Love is possible only when there is understanding. And only with love can there be acceptance."
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