A handbook for staying grounded, emotionally connected, and empowered regardless of what's in the headlines and who's in your face.
From politics, climate change, and the economy to racism, sexism, and a hundred other kinds of biases--things have never felt so urgent and uncertain. We want to take action, but so many of us struggle with overwhelm and burnout. And on top of it all, we get so many messages telling us to relax, to "let it go" and feel some other way about things. We'd like to think that emotional intelligence and mindfulness will help--but why do these approaches so often fall short in fever-pitch moments?
In his warm, funny, streetwise style, Ralph De La Rosa offers tools for coping in contentious times. Full of insights and practices addressing everything from trauma triggers to privilege guilt and the art of saying no, Don't Tell Me to Relax brings the welcome news that our thoughts and emotions are not the enemy. Rather, when met skillfully, they can light the way to self-empathy, social understanding, and an activism that has room for both inner and outer work.
About the Author
Ralph De La Rosa, LCSW, is a psychotherapist in private practice and a seasoned meditation instructor. He began practicing meditation in 1996 and has been teaching since 2008. He was a student of Amma's (Mata Amritanandamayi) for sixteen years and began studying Buddhism in 2005. His work has been featured in the New York Post, CNN, GQ, SELF, Women's Health, and many other publications and podcasts. He regularly leads immersive healing retreats at Omega Institute, Spirit Rock, and Kripalu. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Fordham University's social work program and has trained in multiple forms of trauma-focused treatment including Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS) and Somatic Experiencing (SE).
“De La Rosa entwines neurobiology, spirituality, and parts work in an intriguing way and offers powerful experiential exercises that bring his approach to life.”—Richard Schwartz, developer of the Internal Family Systems model of psychotherapy
“De La Rosa offers a path of empathy, compassion, and mindfulness—a path of walking straight through the entire range of our emotions.”—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness
“This book is a bright lantern that leads you through the scary, dark corners of your mind and heart, only to learn that therein lies freedom, justice, and love. Ralph’s kind, clear, ultra-honest voice is the perfect guide. He utilizes personal stories of radical healing, combined with wisdom from meditation, neuroscience, psychotherapy, activism, poetry, and music to make complex theory accessible and relevant. A stunning and transformative book, critical for our times.”—Yael Shy, author of What Now? Meditation for Your Twenties and Beyond
“Stepping onto the path of radical self-inquiry just got a little bit easier with Ralph De La Rosa’s guidance in Don’t Tell Me to Relax. With his requisite punk-rock sensibilities, deep spiritual practice, and years of clinical practice, Ralph goes beyond the usual platitudes and teaches us all how to navigate those times when we’re not so mindful, when we’ve become entangled in a web spun of anger, fear, and shame. Ralph’s wit, wisdom, and practical advice were the antidotes I needed in these anxious times to exhale completely and to recommit to a life of service.”—Linda Sparrowe, author of Yoga at Home and Yoga Mama
“This book is like a flotation device amidst the churning waters of insanity—not only in the world we live in but inside our bodies and minds as well.”—Will Johnson, author of The Posture of Meditation and Breathing as Spiritual Practice
“Through his deep experience as a psychotherapist, author, storyteller, and meditation teacher, Ralph De La Rosa sheds light upon the crucial subject of emotional resilience. In Don’t Tell Me to Relax, he masterfully blends science with love to help us understand that we are all able to mention, and manage, our emotions through a powerful process of self-healing, mindfulness, and growth.”—Brendan Burns, host of The Brendan Burns Show
“Proposing that activism has everything to do with resilience, De La Rosa suggests self-care and mindfulness as a means for increasing one’s resilience, and that anger can be the fuel needed to take action instead of something that hardens one’s heart.”—Publishers Weekly