This is the book about communication with others and with myself that I always needed and could not find. Oren invites the reader into a contemplative practice that can help create better dialogue and more beneficial encounters. Clearly routed in Buddhist beliefs and practices, this book draws on a variety of techniques and methods, such as Non-Violent Communication, which makes it engaging for all—no matter one’s level of spiritual or religious practice. Oren breaks down and incorporates aspects of many techniques and wisdom traditions in order to help anyone seeking to communicate better.
The over-all structure of the book facilitates learning. The four sections build logically from the most beginner concepts to more complex ones. Sections are coherently introduced, and chapters have a clearly stated purpose, which is subsequently supported by the sub-sections. The chapters are a combination of anecdotes, theory, practice, questions, and answers. Concepts are succinctly defined (and there is an index at the back). The book can either be read straight through or digested one tiny subsection at a time, and Oren’s easy writing style is a pleasure.
My favourite part of the book are the anecdotes—particularly those from Oren’s own life. While he shares moments wherein these practices were helpful and brought communication successes, he also shares difficult moments wherein he did not engage mindfully and the unpleasant consequences. Knowing that the author of the book, the master as it were, also struggles at times to maintain mindfulness is hugely encouraging. It humanises what can at times feel like unattainable theory.
The only frustration that arises when reading this book is knowing that the road to incorporating these practices fully into one’s life, the process of having these meaningful skills become automatic responses, will be slow, full of steps forwards and backwards. Taking experiences and practices off of the page and into our lives is by no means easy. Again, the anecdotes are helpful here, as the reader can see the benefits of persevering with the practice.
Oren has written a book to which you will want to return again and again.