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Book Review: The Mindfulness Revolution

Here’s a review I stumbled across from BlogCritics on a great new book about mindfulness practice:

Do you know what mindfulness is? Do you want to? A great place to start is a new book called The Mindfulness Revolution: Leading Psychologists, Scientists, Artists, and Meditation Teachers on the Power of Mindfulness in Daily Life. Compiled by the editors of the magazine Shambhala Sun, this book could also serve as a reference for anyone who already knows something about this meditative technique.

For those who ask what mindfulness is, the first part of the book, “How to Practice Mindfulness,” answers the question in spades, beginning with the first chapter by Zen teacher Jan Chozen Bays, “What is Mindfulness?” Here’s her answer: “Mindfulness means deliberately paying attention, being fully aware of what is happening both inside yourself — in your body, heart, and mind — and outside yourself in your environment.” Sounds simple. Want to give it a try? Keep reading the section, where there is plenty of instruction, to find out how.

The book has three more parts rounding it out. “Mindfulness in Daily Life,” discusses how mindfulness can make us happy and can be applied to every activity from raking leaves to making music. “Mindfulness, Health, and Healing” discusses one of the hottest topics in mind-body research: how mindfulness can be beneficial to both physical and mental well-being, relieving pain, lowering blood pressure, and the like. “Interpersonal Mindfulness,” discusses how mindfulness can benefit every relationship, from spouses to parents to children and society as a whole.

Another reason this volume is a great resource is that the contributors are well-known Buddhist leaders and mindfulness writers.Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron, Chogyam Trungpa, Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield,and even the Dalai Lama contributed chapters to this book. Scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn, pyschologist Daniel Goleman, and physician Daniel Siegel are also among the authors.

The chapters could easily stand alone, and there is much overlap among them, so if a particular topic appeals, it is quite easy to dip in wherever a reader’s interest most lies. The end pages include not only short biographies of the contributors but five pages of resources: where to find guided audio instruction, free online audio and video mindfulness instruction, online courses in mindfulness, media (websites and publications), and organizations and centers that offer classes, workshops, personal training, etc., in mindfulness.

For anyone who has heard of mindfulness but doesn’t know where to start, this book is a great resource. If you know about mindfulness and want to refresh your basic understanding or get ideas from many Western perspectives, again, this volume serves. It is a highly-accessible account that stresses how mindfulness can benefit just about anyone. Reading this book can, too.

You can order a copy of the book from Amazon or the Shambhala website. See original BlogCritics article here.


The Three Things We Fear Most

This is from my daily Tricycle email, excerpt from a piece by Ezra Bayda:

It’s a given that we don’t want to feel the fear of unworthiness, but at some point we have to understand that it’s more painful to try to suppress our fears and self-judgments, thus solidifying them, than it is to actually feel them. This is part of what it means to bring lovingkindness to our practice, because we are no longer viewing our fear as proof that we’re defective. Without cultivating love for ourselves, regardless of how much discipline we have, regardless of how serious we are about practice, we will still stay stuck in the subtle mercilessness of the mind, listening to the voice that tells us we are basically and fundamentally unworthy. We should never underestimate the need for lovingkindness on the long and sometimes daunting path of learning to awaken.

Even considering how prevalent fear is in our lives, it nonetheless remains one of the murkiest areas to deal with, in daily life as well as in practice. This may sound bleak, but what is really the worst thing about fear? Though it is hard to admit, especially if we see ourselves as deeply spiritual, the main reason we have an aversion to fear is that it is physically and emotionally uncomfortable. Woody Allen put this quite well when he said, “I don’t like to be afraid—it scares me.” We simply don’t want to feel this discomfort and will do almost anything to avoid it. But whenever we give in to fear, we make it more solid, and our life becomes smaller, more limited, more contracted. In a way, every time we give in to fear, we cease to truly live…

Read the full article here