Book Review: A Mind at Home with Itself

By Nanette Littlestone

I wanted to hate this book. It’s bold, it’s blunt, and it’s deep, apparently too deep for my puny mind to grasp. Reading the first few chapters felt like slogging through mud.

Katie experienced a profound depression for years that left her incapable of caring for herself. And in that abyss she awoke to the beauty of all that is. From that universal nothingness and all-ness, she derived The Work, her program of four questions that move you from your stories into the truth.

The Work is brilliant. I’ve used it to tackle some deep-seated beliefs (particularly around family) and have come away with new understanding. But A Mind at Home with Itself is based on the Diamond Sutra, the teachings of Buddha, and those teachings can feel like diving into a world of koans. The Buddha said, “All bodhisattvas who sincerely seek the truth should control their minds by focusing on one thought only: ‘When I attain enlightenment, I will liberate all sentient beings. . . . And yet, in reality there is no self to attain enlightenment and no sentient beings to be liberated.”

Really? How do you wrap your mind around that?

Keep reading. At some point the mind lets go and the words begin to penetrate, to make sense. You may not understand every sentence or every paragraph or even every chapter. But the more you read the more you feel at home.

One could say that if we can simply conquer the perplexities of the mind, we can exist in that blissful state of peace and harmony. But Katie would gently remind us that there is no conquering. “The mind can never be controlled; it can only be questioned, loved, and met with understanding.”

I knew the book had made an impact on me when I read a line in a historical novel about a brotherhood known for its charitable works, and I recalled Buddha’s words and thought, “Yes, but that is nothing compared to one person who is able to embody and live the truth of self-realization.”

A Mind at Home with Itself offers questions galore for a path to mindfulness. If you are not a student (one who questions), I urge you to become one. If you are already a student, thank you for your contributions. And if you are a teacher, I humbly bow to the divine within you that reflects the divinity within us all.

Nanette Littlestone is a best-selling author, editor, writing coach, and publisher with Words of Passion, helping new and award-winning authors to write with passion and inspire others. Her published works include F.A.I.T.H. – Finding Answers in the Heart, Vols. I and II and The Sacred Flame.