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Books

The Highly Sensitive Man

The concept of “high sensitivity” was pioneered in the 1990s by research psychologist Elaine N. Aron, who wrote the foreword to The Highly Sensitive Man. According to her research, highly sensitive people are easily overstimulated, have a propensity to deeply process experiences, and are emotionally reactive and empathic. In this book, cognitive behavioral therapist Tom Falkenstein extends Aron’s work to a specific focus on men. Of course, sensitivity is often more acceptable when it comes in a female package and while societal expectations affect both genders, Falkenstein argues that highly sensitive men navigate a chasm between what is expected of them and who they really are that psychologists have only begun to explore.

“Though it was founded in 1901, it took the renowned British Psychological Society until 2014 to dedicate a whole issue of its journal…to the psychological health of men,” he writes in a section titled Is Masculinity in Crisis? He argues that while ideas of traditional masculinity are being challenged in the current culture, men continue to feel societal pressure to conform to certain norms; they’re supposed to win, fight, provide, protect, control, discipline.

He mentions cultures and eras in which sensitive fellows have been accepted, even revered, and encourages the reader (assumed throughout to be a highly sensitive man) to celebrate his true nature. He does this in a series of chapters that take the form of pep talks, worksheets, practical exercises, strategies, and interviews. Theory and practice are seamlessly combined and there’s a helpful summary at the end of each chapter.

In a section about emotional regulation strategies, he writes, “When we’re too hot, we react to this physical feeling and our need to cool off by taking off our sweater or opening the window. When we’re hungry or thirsty, we eat or drink. Why don’t we do the same thing when we’re dealing with our emotions?” An approach he champions is that of “radial acceptance,” not trying to change the feeling, but one’s relationship to it.

A self-proclaimed highly sensitive man himself, Falkenstein wants men to emancipate themselves, to let go of outmoded thinking about what makes a man manly. It’s a call that somehow feels both radical and long overdue.

Inner Work of Racial Justice book jacket
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The Inner Work of Racial Justice

Racism and the harm that it brings persist, despite the best intentions of many of us. This book teaches how to use mindfulness to achieve greater racial awareness.

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The Ungrateful Refugee

"In an Oklahoma church, a woman condescendingly told her, 'You came for a better life.' Nayeri writes, 'I thought I’d pass out—a better life? In Isfahan, we had yellow spray roses, a pool. A glass enclosure shot up through our living room, and inside that was a tree … life in Iran was a fairytale.'”

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Spiritual Rebel cover
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"Bowen is adept at taking complex ideas from a variety of ancient and modern sources and boiling them down. By necessity, things get oversimplified in the process, but she offers plenty of resources for further study throughout the body of the book. These 'ideas for cultivating spiritual moments' include an eclectic array of practices for each day of the week for a total of three weeks."

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The act of walking is the most human thing we can do. Recover your appreciation for walking in this insightful book.

Holy Envy book cover
Books

Book Review: Holy Envy

"Contrary to popular assumption, Taylor argues, all religions are not alike. They peer at humans from different vantages, and thus propose different solutions to problems. Exploring this with her students, many of whom are evangelical Christians, showed Taylor that her true calling is to find bridges between her own faith and that of others."

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