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on April 17, 2006
I have purchased this CD set despite some of the really bad reviews it got from some users. I have just started using it, and I list some of the good and some of the not so good impressions about it:

- The sessions are adequately long. 45 minutes is really required to achieve optimal state of relaxation and mindfulness. Many of the other meditation CDs I found way too short (eg. 10-15 minutes a session)
- Kabat-Zinn is a renowned researcher in his field, he really knows what he's talking about. You can indeed reach deep levels of relaxation with his CDs.
- The set mixes Midfulness Meditation with Mindfulness Yoga. This is great, because it makes the practice more interesting.

Not so good:
- I really like meditating with some ambient music in the background, to block out disturbing noises. This meditation CD set is recorded with narration only - there's no music. I have however resolved this easily by digitalizing the CDs and mixing them with David Miles Huber's excellent meditation music. This resulted in MP3s that are truly excellent to listen to on my MP3 player.

My advice is that you buy the companion book, "Full Catastrophe Living" from Kabat-Zinn. Read the book first, and then start practicing with the CDs. It is very important to understand how Kabat-Zinn recommends you approach meditation, and without reading the book you will not be able to take full advantage of the CD.

Finally, although some said that Jon Kabat-Zinn's voice is annoying, I did not find it so. It comes down to individual tastes I guess. Rather than concentrating on the quality of the voice, just listen to the message it carries. After all, meditation - among other things - is about being non-judgmental, right? :)

More later, when I used the CDs for a couple of months.

I promised I'd be back with another review once I completed the entire program of MBSR using this CD set and the book "Full Catastrophe Living" by Jon Kabat-Zinn. So, here I am, past 8 weeks and I am so glad I embarked on this journey. I have been struggling with stress for several years and a couple of months ago it got out of hand. That's what led me to this program. In 8 weeks I am off of prescription medication, I have about a tenth of the stress level I had before and I feel much more balanced and relaxed than ever before. If you have GAD, I truly believe this program can help you and bring dramatic changes to your life. All you have to do is stick with it and don't give up. No magic pills here - 8 weeks of dedicated practice is needed. Plus, as Jon Kabat-Zinn says in his book, the 8th week lasts the rest of your life. I'd say this program is probably designed for the novice meditator and it does a particularly good job in getting a novice meditator like me up to speed. Here's why I found it particularly helpful in starting my meditation practice:

- The CD set which is the subject of this review is just a part of the overall program material. "Full Catastrophe Living" is also an essential part of the program and I would say don't even start the practice with these CDs until you read the book at least once. Coupled with the insight you get from the book however, this CD set will be a very powerful tool.
- The meditations are heavily guided and some lamented on this fact. On the other hand, for a novice meditator, it is this "heavy" guidance that offers a tether to hold onto. For the novice, it is a blessing, rather than an annoyance.
- I found that the mixture of yoga and meditation exercises on this CD set gives a great balance and variety to the meditation practice. I am glad to have learned about yoga at the same time. The Hatha yoga exercises are really easy, and for the first time I finally understood that yoga is not about flexibility of body, rather flexibility of mind.
- Previously I commented that the lack of background ambient music was a negative. Actually, I have a different view on this now. Since the CDs have no background music, I am free to choose and mix my own background music with it. This is great, because I choose the exact music I like, rather than having just one choice - whatever the program comes with.

In my opinion, this CD set coupled with the equally valuable book is an excellent introduction to meditation and mindfulness. Anybody deciding on starting a meditation practice would benefit enormously from Jon Kabat-Zinn's program.

I tried meditation on my own, before I purchased this program. I successfully entered mindless states of trance every time, and even dozed off many times. Then I took Jon Kabat-Zinn's program, and finally I understand what is meant by the slogan they used on some T-shirts: "Meditation - it's not what you think!"

Buy the book, buy the CDs and fall awake. This program is worth 10 times its price.
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on January 28, 2007
It well known that Jon Kabat-Zinn is one of the biggest names in meditation instruction and has done much to give the field academic credibility and validation. His work is valuable and this CD is no exception. However, it seems to be overly ambitious and incomplete without other information to augment it. At the least, you need his book FULL CATASTROPHE LIVING to go along with it.

For context, I am a former research scientist and taught physiology in a university and was a biochemist for Merck. I have a good background in yoga, meditation and have done graduate work in Integral Psychology which studies psychology within the context of the world's wisdom traditions. I also teach meditation as part of my living including using biofeedback and other western aids to learning these concepts. This context will help you to judge the merit of my interview and the point of view I'm writing it for.

One thing I like about this CD is that in a sense it is one stop shopping. In one package, you get a Body Scan Meditation, A thorough Mindfulness Meditation methodology and some basic yoga instruction. This is a lot to get in one package and usually you don't get a Body Scan Meditation along with a Mindfulness practice in the same set. All of these meditations and the yoga instruction is useful, but while technically accurate Jon Kabat-Zinn doesn't have the most soothing voice, there was little though to music of any aesthetic dimension which helps one to enter various mind states and there is a bit of a clinical feel the whole series.

With respect to the yoga instruction, I think this information is useful for someone who has studied at least a little bit with a teacher or who has attended classes. A lot of yoga has to do with body awareness and without a teacher to point out the things you think you are doing right, but are unaware of you can keep reinforcing bad habits or at worse hurt yourself. Also, giving yoga instruction via a book or audio CD is not the best way to learn it. It's highly visual and requires someone to look at what you are doing in three dimensions. However, if this gets people started with a yoga practice and curious about learning more, I'm all for it. Besides some classes or lessons, however, you may also want to explore a beginning yoga book such as BACK CARE BASICS or 30 ESSENTIAL YOGA POSES by Judith Lasater. The first book is written by a physician and Iyengar practioner and has a lot of good hints on how not to get hurt. The latter is a great introduction for beginners and can almost stand alone in it's well written descriptions and safety tips.

I agree with the other reviewers that the meditations are an ideal length for long time practice. Beginners may find this a bit overwhelming, but they augment their work with shorter more soothing meditation audios such as Jack Kornfield's BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO MEDITATION. This CD is done from a Western Buddhist perspective, but Kornfield also is a Western clinical psychologist and does not push any religious agenda to hard.

There are some comments in other reviews about a Buddhist orientation in this meditation set by Jon Kabat-Zinn. While I think this is true, I don't see that he is pushing a religious agenda. It just happens to be a fact that the Buddhists have been studying the nature of mind and experimenting with meditation for thousands of years. There are many writing about it within this tradition and they have a lot to tell us about what works and what doesn't. I have found this to be validated by my own experience.

While this set is a good start for those beginning a practice, I would also consider one or both of the following books. First, BREATH BY BREATH by Rosenberg. This is an excellent, thorough and very readable introduction to a variety of meditation techniques in the Buddhist tradition. You don't have to be a Buddhist to benefit from them, however. If your desire is to go even deeper, then MINDFULNESS WITH BREATHING by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu will pick up where BREATH BY BREATH leaves off and go into more fine points that will help you to refine your attention even more and go deeper.

One component of full stress reduction program that I feel is missing from these recordings is the potential health and stress reduction benefits of loving-kindness meditation. This affects heart rate variability, the reduction of the chronic stress hormone cortisol and the production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA. It is now a proven fact that the heart indirectly affects the brain and a lot of new research on this has been appearing in the Journal of Cardiology and others. You can get an introduction to this whole area by reading the book HEART MATH or you can explore loving-kindness meditation without reading up on the medical benefits. If you wish to take a very western approach, then the program FREEZE FRAMER is an excellent investment! If you want to just get an introduction to this technique Shinzen Young has a set of five meditations including loving-kindess which is inexpensive and good. Salzberg also has written a book called Loving-Kindess from a Buddhist perspective and there is an inexpensive audio program by her and Goldstein called INSIGHT MEDITATION.

Another practice that I think is particulary useful to Westerner's, but missing from this program is walking meditation. This done VERY WELL in the INSIGHT MEDITATION series offered above. However, what Zinn offers that others don't is a well-rounded program for life time change. While I've made a lot of comments and suggestions above, I am not knocking this series. It is an ambitious endeavor and Zinn does a great job of covering a lot of ground. I wouldn't hesitate to buy this audio set, but at a minimum I would augment it with FULL CATASTROPHE LIVING and perhaps some of the other resources I mentioned above.
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VINE VOICEon December 5, 2005
These guided meditations, relaxations and yoga routines were designed for use in Kabat-Zinn's stress-reduction clinic, and "go along with" his book Full Catastrophe Living. It contains four programs: a guided body scan relaxation (great), a guided sitting meditation (at over 35 minutes, this might be a bit long for beginners), and two gentle guided yoga routines.

My only gripe is that the programs are pretty long (especially the sitting meditation), and they might not appeal to beginners. But the programs are excellent. Do understand that this is not only meditation, as the title suggests; it is also relaxation, and the 45-minute full body scan is probably worth the price of the set.
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on September 8, 2006
I'm sad to see a reviewer be so judgmental about this audio - especially one who claims to respect the teachings of the Buddha. These guided meditations are accessible for anyone, without the baggage of what some might call a religion - Buddhism. (For me, it's a philosophy more than a religion, and I have learned more about Buddha and his teachings because of these audios.) As cassette tapes, these audios were my introduction to the practice, and they resonated for me then, and still do after 13 years.

It should be noted that these are not 'essays' as found on "Wherever you Go." They are not meant to be listened to and thought about - they are meant to help guide and teach you the practice of mindfulness meditation. It should also be noted that these are not 'relaxation' tapes, or just a 'technique' to reduce stress. They introduce and instruct a practice that can lead you to a new perspective on life. When I read "Full Catastrophe Living," I learned what mindfulness meditation was, and wanted to try it. I bought the tapes that were offered in the back of the book, and have been so glad I did.

I would encourage people to read Kabat-Zinn's writings about mindfulness to help understand what the practice is about - then get these audio guides to try the practice itself. You might also explore the writings of Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, who does a wonderful job discussing the process and point of mindfulness in everyday life. You may, or may not, become interested in learning more about the incredible contributions given to this world by the Buddha and his followers (I did, but you don't have to.) Either way, beginning a practice of mindfulness may change your life as it did mine. What began as a way to help me deal with the stress in my life turned into a new way of looking at life and a new way to live.
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on February 4, 2006
I recently bought "Guided Mindfulness Meditation - a complete mindfulness meditation program from Jon Kabat-Zinn".

What is meant by complete??

There are 3 cd's and a small booklet. Cd 1 is alright, you can practice the exercises at home, no problem whatsoever.

But cd 2 and 3 contain yoga exercises and in the booklet it is written: the postures for both yoga cds are outlined in Full Catastrophe Living (which is another book, sold seperately). Can you imagine that I feel disappointed? Why not tell this in advance, clearly and honestly? It is NOT complete and I feel tricked, honestly speaking.
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on June 6, 2010
For much of my life I had been plagued by anxiety. I had tried many different solutions from talk to medicine. These CD's were like a miracle. After a month it was like I was transformed. I felt relaxed and capable of dealing with stressful situations with no anxiety. They are a combination of meditation and some yoga (nothing exotic). It does require a substantial commitment of time. Each CD is about 45 minutes and you are supposed to listen 6 days a week. If my experience is representative you should give the plan a try.
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on January 4, 2007
I found this tape to be excellent. It was actually the first time I have ever even tried "meditation," and it turned out to be a wonderful introduction to this genre. Jon Kabat-Zinn is a very articulate talker, and his soothing voice lends itself well to meditative techniques. I would recommend it highly to anyone -- both newbies and those more experienced -- interested in the art of meditation.
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on May 24, 2007
I was almost put off buying this set by some negative reviews here, but I enjoy his books very much and find JK-Z's approach to mindfulness interesting and imaginative so, after much research, I bought this set. (FWIW, I think his voice is great. If you do a search for the author you can hear free audio clips on many sites.)

I've done some meditation before and was looking for guided meditations because I felt my practice had gone a bit stale. This set has helped me to achieve what I wanted - to refresh my commitment to making meditation a regular part of my life.

So far I've only worked through the Body Scan CD - this is very relaxing, almost too relaxing as I often fall asleep (totally cheating). I'm pleased with the first CD, but there are two points worth mentioning:

1. At 45 mins, these guided meditations are looong, and JK-Z recommends that you do these meditations every day.

2. I wish I'd known that this set on its own is not a full program. The set is described as a 'complete mindfulness program' but when you buy the set and read the liner notes, it says the yoga postures are outlined in his book Full Catastrophe Living. There are no diagrams in the CD liner so you've no idea what the poses are supposed to look like and have to rely entirely on the audio. I've listened to the yoga CD to see if it sounds feasible but haven't 'done' it yet.

I've heard good things about Full Catastrophe Living and, sure, I'd love to read it sometime. However I think omitting the posture illustrations from the notes and just referring you to another book is a bit... off. It was probably a commercial decision taken by the publisher rather than the author, and to be fair, he does describe the poses without referring you to page 72, etc. But I think it should be clearer that the CD was designed to be used in conjunction with the book so you have that information when you buy. Either that or include the illustrations as a courtesy to people who only buy the CD set.
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on June 29, 2009
I come back to these cd's time and time again. I really need to consistently practice as he recommends even when life gets busy and that's what I'm doing now. I read "Full Catastrophe Living" before purchasing these cd's and though JKZ is quite pedantic and wordy in his descriptions of meditation and mindfulness, it works well for me. I'm sure his "voice" in describing mindfulness practice may not speak to everyone, but that's how life is. As JKZ said in his book, there are is one ultimate path to God/enlightenment (or whatever word you want to use), but many roads to that one path. Thich Nhat Hanh or Pema Chodran may work better for others, but they all say the same thing essentially.

These cd's are great. No music to distract you. I want to really meditate, not just relax to new age music, or picture myself in a meadow or something. But you'll find when you really get into a habit of meditating with the cd, relaxation is a natural consequence. You really have to commit to the practice though (which is difficult).

There are 4 cds included: meditation, body scan, hatha yoga I and yoga II. Each one is approximately 40 minutes. It's just JKZ talking and describing things. I personally love JKZ's voice. Yes, he talks a little more than some would like during the meditation cd, but I don't mind. The body scan is also a great and effective tool. I love all 4 cds. I love JKZ's patience and his soft and gentle voice as he describes things.

Ultimately, I think a lot of people don't understand or have a false idea of what meditation is. I definitely can say I was confused. Should I meditate to clear my mind and not think? Should I visualize success and abundance? Should I just focus on my breathing? What if I'm breathing wrong? What's the point? After you read Full Catastrophe Living and do the meditation cds a while, you get some clarity. It's not about stopping your thinking or achieving some state. It's about watching your thoughts, your body sensations, your emotions, your pain and just being present with it. And allowing this presence to carry over into your daily life. It's so simple, yet so not simple. The book and cds have really helped me in my breathing (sounds strange) and my knowing of what meditation is really about.

The only drawback I found with both the book and the meditation cds is that it focuses more on alleviating physical pain and less on emotional pain, upset, and anxiety than I'd like. Those emotional things are more my "problems." But this is a minor critique as dealing with physical pain better is something we could all use and because I know JKZ's background is helping patients at a medical center deal with chronic pain. Plus, you can substitute the word anxiety or anger or fear whenever he talks generally about pain. I really love Jon Kabat Zinn and think he's a great voice for presence and mindfulness in this world.
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on August 19, 2010
I bought Guided Mindfulness Meditation CDs when I was diagnosed with Stage 3B Inflammatory Breast cancer. I was stressed. After 2 years, I am still using them. I really like JKZ's philosophy. I am a Christian and praying nonstop kept me rehashing everything I was going through. JKZ shows you how just to clear your mind and live in the moment and it isn't anti-religious but his method allows you to accept whatever it is you are dealing with. I like his slogan "As long as I am breathing, there is more right with me than wrong with me." Living in the moment is such a powerful thing to accomplish and JKZ shows you how. It isn't about his voice or music but about you learning to accept whatever you are dealing with here and now.

I gave my 85 year old mother both of the yoga CDs and it has also been very helpful to her. After my bilateral mastectomy the yoga CDs helped me get back in shape. Before cancer, I had no reason for an IPod or MP3 player but now I can't live without them.

JKZ's The Mindfulness for Beginners CDs has a very good explanation of JKZ's philosophy. Also a shorter version of the Body Scan which is easier to get through than the 45 minute version which is on Guided Mindfulness Meditation.

I don't sit down and do 30 minutes of guided meditation like is suggested but I take mini meditation breaks throughout the day. It is the best thing I have found to reduce stress and I am doing great now and I feel I can handle just about anything.
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