The Definitive Book of Body Language, by Allan and Barbara Pease (Bantam Dell, New York, NY, 2004) $23.

Celebrating a Texas Longhorn football victory while in Italy can get you arrested. Blowing your nose in front of a Japanese client can cost you the deal. Reading a man’s feelings is as easy as watching the direction he blows his cigarette smoke. Body language reveals a person’s feelings and attitude while conversational words convey mere information. Therefore, learning to read gestures correctly enables a deeper understanding of friends, greater intimacy with family, and can even increase your sales quota. Full of playful commentary like, "What signal alerts you that a politician is lying? His lips are moving," makes The Definitive Book of Body Language enjoyable and its lessons memorable and easy to apply. According to Allan and Barbara Pease, women can be taken seriously in the workplace while maintaining their femininity if they have the right handshake and refrain from smiling too much. Indeed it is women’s natural inclination to smile that often dumbfounds men who have difficulty recognizing a woman’s repertoire of different smiles. Offering suggestions for both men and women to disarm an aggressive handshake and how to tell when someone is telling the truth (they expose their palms) or when they are giving a false smile (the left side of the smile will be stronger and the eyes will not wrinkle) the authors entertainingly guide you through coming to know others, as well as yourself, through non-verbal communication.

Meditating with Mandalas: 52 New Mandalas to Help You Grow in Peace and Awareness, by David Fontana (Duncan Baird Publishers, London, United Kingdom, 2005) $17.95.

Taking you on a "wordless journey into the mind’s deepest mysteries," mandalas aid in focusing the mind during meditation and express, through symbolism, that which is both innate within ourselves and within the oneness of the divine. Thus mandalas function as a bridge between the unconscious and the cosmos. In 52 exquisite full-color images, the mandalas in Meditating with Mandalas are all newly commissioned and specifically designed for their ease of accessibility to the contemporary mind. Based on traditional Tibetan mandalas and inspired by nature and vibrant world cultures, these appealing images incorporate symbolism appropriate for current spiritual concerns. Through their conceptual design these mandalas offer a subtle archetypal force, a depiction of the truth that lies within us and all around us if we can only quiet the mind long enough to access this ancient knowledge. In this way, mandalas teach us to "be ourselves rather than becoming lost in an artificial world of concepts, prejudices and needless hopes and fears about ourselves." David Fontana, with a Ph.D. in psychology, expertly introduces the basics of meditation, reviews the legacy of mandalas, and presents the root symbolism found in these ancient tools. While avoiding overburdening the intellect with details that will only hinder the mind in releasing into the sacred geometry of the artwork, Fontana provides ample support for even the novice meditator to begin using the mandalas and incorporates written suggestions for entry into each unique image for those who feel trepidation concerning these abstract illustrations.

Back in Control: How to Stay Sane, Productive and Inspired in Your Career Transition, by Diane Grimard Wilson, (Sentient Publications, Boulder CO, 2004) $16.95.

Whether your career transition is voluntarily or involuntarily, Back in Control helps you mold the crisis of change into the wisdom of transformation. Teaching you to manage yourself, rather than your resume while you nestle into your next rewarding career, Diane Grimard Wilson uses her extensive experience as a psychologist to help you embrace this transitional time that demands the redefinition of yourself and your perceptions of the world. Unfortunately, few of us are willing to confront the "emptiness we must allow ourselves to experience to create the new," because it can make us feel downright crazy. But as uncontrollable as your emotions may feel, you are not crazy, and you are not alone. Rejection, ambiguity, deep frustration and anger are all normal parts of career change. Expertly demystifying the workings of transition, Wilson guides you in understanding what you are experiencing, assists you to make successful decisions, and fosters a sense of control in the midst of what feels like chaos. Relaying the personal stories of others in career fluctuation, Wilson removes the sense of isolation that intense change often brings and manifests clarity for your individual situation. Instructing you to recognize your personal barriers, the strengths and weaknesses of your behavioral style, how to condition your mind for success, deal with your emotions, enhance your intuition, stay focused, and help others understand how they can best assist you during this trying time, Wilson skillfully leads you into your dream job: one that motivates you and in which you use the full range of your exceptional skills. In a culture where we so closely identify our self-worth with our employment, while making five to seven career changes during our lifetime, Wilson’s guidance through the inevitable evolution that we will all experience proves invaluable.

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Alec Franklor owns and operates RetreatFinder.com, an online directory of spiritual and healing retreats. She can be reached at books@retreatfinder.com. Copyright © 2006 Alec Franklor. All rights reserved

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