Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Review 6/17/11: The Mindfulness Revolution

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.

Article first published as Book Review: The Mindfulness Revolution, Compiled by the Editors of Shambhala Sun on Blogcritics.

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