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Jeffrey Rossman
The Mind-Body Mood Solution
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2010

Rodale Books / Macmillan
USA Hardcover, First Edition
ISBN 978-1-605-29570-1
Publication Date: 12-21-2010
256 pages, $25.99
Date Reviewed: 12-28-2010

Index:  Non-Fiction

It's not possible to disentangle the complicated machineries of body and the mind. If something seems awry with one, then it is certain that the other is involved — usually to an unexpectedly large degree. But our treatment for that which ails us depends less on what is actually wrong than it does on whatever happens to be the latest discovery. A balanced approach is probably best, but it rarely gets a good book written about it.

Jeffrey Rossman's 'The Mind-Body Mood Solution: The Breakthrough Drug-Free Program for Lasting Relief from Depression' (Rodale / Macmillan ; December 21, 2010 ; $25.99) is the result of his work in psychosynthesis. It's a sensible, holistic approach that involves working with both body and mind. Rossman's book is easy to read and offers enough scientific backup to make it seem reasonable. It's a convergence of work from a wide variety of disciplines, from smart eating to compassion and resilience.

'The Mind-Body Mood Solution' will remind readers of writers as diverse as Michael Pollan and Karen Armstrong, but puts all of this together in a manner that makes it easy for the reader to pick the parts that seem most helpful and implement them immediately. The true value of this book is that it offers good advice for those who are not depressed; Rossman's overview is nothing less than a pragmatic guide to living well.

Rossman's introduction offers a roadmap of what is to come and his background in working with depression. He talks about the usefulness and overuse of medication, and includes a battery of easily-completed tests to help readers determine their state of mind.

From there, it's straight to the useful stuff. The first part of the book focuses on the body. In the section on diet, Rossman sets up a pattern that continues through the book. You'll read about what is most likely to be wrong with your diet, and how you can correct it. He'll include patient histories and cites enough science to ensure that he's not out in the weeds, but not so much as to bog down the reading. This pattern plays out throughout the rest of the book, but it's not repetitive. Each chapter builds on the last, and the connections, the psychosynthesis, create a bigger picture.

The body section includes diet, exercise, sleep, and sunlight, then concludes with breath. This last section is a nice demonstration of Rossman's clever construction, because it leads perfectly into portion of the book that works with mind and attitude. While there is the potential for a serious woo factor to creep in, Rossman keeps it at bay with science and logic. As well, he integrates it with the previous section on the body. Here, he begins with what he calls "maintaining presence," or what others call "mindfulness." From there, he proceeds to talk about overcoming avoidance, transforming judgment, forgiveness and gratitude, the need to act, and resilience. Throughout, he includes tests, questions and exercises for the reader; never so many as to interrupt the flow, but enough to get the reader involved.

'The Mind-Body Mood Solution' is engagingly well-written. Rossman manages to avoid smarminess and smugness. He lays out a series of useful observations and moves on to the next topic; at 256 pages, including an index, extensive references, self-tests and appendices, it's not a difficult read. And more importantly, Rossman manages to make his suggestions seem easy to implement. Of course, reading the book alone won't transform your mind. But if it inspires you to eat better, exercise a bit and offer gratitude for the good things in your life, then it well worth the money it costs to buy and the time it takes to read it. Transformation is an exercise left for the reader.

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