Finding the Deep River Within:
A Woman's Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Life

by Abby Seixas

Jossey-Bass, 2007. ISBN 978-0-787-99749-6.
Reviewed by Laura Strathman Hulka
Posted on 10/01/2010

Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration

Reading this book over a period of two months, taking time to absorb the lessons and meditate on Abby Seixas' message, I found myself enriched in ways beyond what I expected. As she presents her ideas and materials, Seixas gives solid, concrete ways to recover balance and meaning, just as the subtitle to the book states.

Her methodology is sound, and her technique is based on years as a psychotherapist, specializing in issues of life balance. I found the exercises both helpful and intriguing, since they are not the typical psychobabble one often hears in self-help types of books. Instead, she teaches you methods of reaching within yourself (to that "Deep River") and drawing on your strengths and your joys to become who you long to be.

There are case histories within the pages, balanced beautifully with the sections relating to the nine practices she encourages: Taking Time-In, Making Boundaries, Befriending Feelings, Taming Self-Expectations (a serious problem for me in my life), Practicing Presence, and Doing Something you Love. Within each section, she discusses the "Blocking Belief" that may be keeping you from reaching full understanding and peace within. For example, in the Take Time-In chapter, she discusses the blocking belief that states: "If I'm alone, I'll be empty and lonely." In doing so, she discusses aloneness versus loneliness. She invites the reader to consider her suggested methods to "address and challenge your assumption."

Following the Blocking Belief section, there is an Exercise which gives more information and more guidelines for the chapter, i.e. "Exercise: Making Time to Take Time-In." This isn't a workbook in the sense that there are blanks to fill in, so a notebook and a pencil are must-haves when reading this book. I found it helpful to read the book in its entirety, and then go back and study each chapter/practice, and work with the exercises and follow-up in the sections that encourage the reader to keep the deep river flowing.

The last pages of the book begin with a Victory Log; blank pages with quotes that energize the reader to become the writer—a way to record the small steps (victories) toward a goal you have set for yourself. She doesn't see this as a journal, but as a place to make short notations of the small victories that hearten you in going forward in your life with meaning and clarity.

After the Victory Log are extensive Chapter Notes for those who want to follow up on the quotes and history within the book. The last section is terrific—a voluminous listing of Selected Reading, broken down to align with the topics she works with. Therefore, if you are interested in "...the Power of 24/7 Culture" or "...Creativity and Doing Something You Love" you will find a solid framework to draw on for further research.

Seixas doesn't preach. She doesn't tell you how wrong your beliefs are. She simply opens the door for your own discoveries, and in doing so, provides a path that may lead you to where you actually want to go, not where society, your family, friends or co-workers think you should be!

Abby Seixas is a psychotherapist, author and speaker specializing in issues of life balance. She offers workshops, retreats and individualized coaching as well as her popular "Deep River"™ groups. She has been in the mental health field for more than twenty-five years and has been a clinical psychotherapy trainer and supervisor at training centers in the United States and abroad, including England, the Netherlands and Russia. She is the mother of two grown children and lives with her husband outside Boston, Massachusetts. Visit her website.

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