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on December 14, 2011
Initial Review 12/14/2010:

Let me begin by saying that I have always been a huge skeptic about mindfullness, meditation, and anything else along those lines. That is until I began seeing all of the new scientific research on the subject and the new theory of brain people can literally change their brains no matter how old they are. This research was enough to convince me to give mindful meditation a try. Staying with the theme of the science of meditation, I chose The Frantic World book because the program was created by a team of phD scholars from respected universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge, UMass, etc. Interestingly, the main author of this book, Mark Williams, was a skeptic when he started researching the subject as well. Not any more.

I am currently on week eight of the plan and I can tell you that I absolutely have noticed a difference. Not only do I feel calmer in situations that used to bother me the past physically, but I am also learning how to treat myself with more compassion, get out of autopilot and break many of my bad habits, and how to face my fears head on rather than avoiding them and actually making things worse. I have gone from a complete skeptic to someone who plans to continue to practice mindfulness for the rest of my life.

I'm not going to sugarcoat things and say that it's easy to find the time to meditate. It's not. One has to work hard to make sure that they find the half hour or so per day that they need to dedicate to the practice. That's not easy with work, kids, and life in general. I promise you though that it's definitely worth the time that you put in. I've never written a product review about anything on Amazon or any other site for that matter before. I am writing this review in the hopes that others out there who are struggling with stress, anxiety, etc read it and give mindfulness shot. Incorporating it into my daily life passively as well as actively meditating for short periods of the day has helped me tremendously.

Update 1/17/12:

Let's see if I can update my review using the comments section. Bear with me because I've never tried to do this before. I completed the entire Frantic World course several weeks ago. I definitely believe that it was beneficial. Do I still get stressed out from time to time? Of course. The idea behind mindfulness is not to make one live in some unrealistic, nirvana-like world...thought that would be nice :). To me it seems as though the goal of mindfulness is to help people deal with life's inevitably stressful situations more easily and quickly than they would have in the past. I think that incidents which would have dragged me down into a huge stressed-out mess for a prolonged period of time a year or so ago no longer seem to have the power to do so.

I am still continuing to do the mindfulness practices that were outlined in the book, particularly meditations four and seven. The first being a more general meditation using breathing and sensing the body and the second directed towards self-compassion or as the book calls it "befriending." Those two are my favorite, though from time to time I do practice meditation one and two, which are essentially body scans.

I plan to continue meditating. Though I rarely meditate for more than 20 to 30 minutes per day, I have not missed a single day since I started the practice. I believe that every little bit helps. It takes a long time to master any skill. Let's say that one meditated for 20 minutes every day for the entire eight week program. That seems like a long time right? Well, in reality one who has diligently done this meditation has actually only meditated for a total less than twenty hours. When one considers the popular modern-day theory that it takes 10,000 hours to truly be an expert at something, it looks like there is a long way to go. So what's my point in all of this rambling? I guess that my point is that mindfulness' benefits seem to accumulate over time. One will definitely benefit from taking the eight week Frantic World course, but don't just expect to do it for eight weeks and poof be magically stress free from then on. I'm sure that people who do this will experience some benefit, but I think that mindfulness is more of a life-long pursuit. The more one does it, the more benefit they will receive. Am I right? Who knows? I'm certainly not a psychologist or neuro-biologist. I'm just a normal family man who has read a lot on the subject of mindfulness over the past several months.

Speaking about reading, here's a list of a couple of other books that I have found helpful in this process. They more emphasize the practice of mindfulness in every day life, rather than purposeful meditation. Hopefully anyone who is reading this will find them helpful as well:

Just One Thing: Developing A Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time - Rick Hanson

How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness - Jan Chozen Bays

Well, that's all for now. Perhaps I'll check back with another update and some more book suggestions some other time.

Update 2/7/12:

I have found that the new research on Positive Psychology meshes very well with mindfulness practices. I have been practicing and reading about both on a regular basis. Here's a list of the best books that I have found on the subject for anyone who's interested:

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin E. P. Seligman - Dr. Seligman is basically the founder of the Positive Psychology movement. He established the school on the subject at U Penn. While older, Authentic Happiness seems better than his newer book on the eubject because it cnotains more practical advice on how to incorporate positive psychology into your life, such as practicing forgiveness, gratitude, flow, etc...

Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson - Dr. Hanson is another well known advocate of mindfulness, though his version of the meditations and his books seem to oncorporate many elements of Positive Psychology as well. It's a nice blend of the two. Not just some random person off of the street, Hanson's work delves deep into the science of the mind. He is the founder of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and has taught at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard.


Make sure to check out the new book by Richard Davidson, The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live--and How You Can Change Them . It's absolutely amazing.

Update 5/31/2012

Wow it's been awhile since my last update. I hope that everyone is doing well. I know that I am. I recently has an amazing revelation that I had to share with others who are in a similar situation to the one that I found myself in last year. I used to feel sorry for myself that I went through a period of significant depression and anxiety. Thinking why me? I now have come to realize that those few short months that I felt a little off were one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my life. Hitting bottom actually enabled me to push off and soar to the top. I honestly feel as though I am a better person today than I was before I went through that whole ordeal. I consider myself to be a reasonably smart individual and this enabled me to do the research that was necessary to not only break the cycle of negativity that I was stuck in, but to actually come out the other side a better, stronger, happier, healthier, more spiritual person than I have ever been in my life. I always considered myself to be a relatively happy individual, but I am now realizing just how unhealthy how some of the habits that I had in the past, like holding grudges, believing in jinxes, etc... really were. Not only was I able to become a better person, but even better I can now pass this gift onto everyone in my family...and elsewhere for that matter. I can now build a solid foundation of positivity and confidence for my children that I'm not sure I would have been able to give them in the past. Again, I have always considered myself to be a good father, but kids pick up on it when you're not feeling great, when you hold a grudge, when you say something negative...I think that I can provide them with the gift of positivity at one of the important times for the development of their minds. A gift that they can hopefully pass onto future generations.

I never try to force religion upon anyone, but I have been absolutely amazed by the significant links between modern psychology, particularly positive psychology and even mindfulness, and many forms of religion. I'm not sure if psychologists are borrowing from religion, if preachers are borrowing from modern psychology or if they both independently arrived at the same conclusions but the links are definitely there. If you are a religions person and you haven't ever listened to him, I suggest that you check out some of the works by Joel Osteen, especially his book "Every Day is a Friday" and some of his sermons that are available on iTunes such as "Good, Better, Blessed" and "Living in Favor Abundance and Joy." These are some of the most uplifting things that I have ever listened to. Joel Osteen is one of the most dynamic, charismatic speakers of our time. I'm sure that there are people who reject religion in general or Osteen in particular. I know that I certainly never thought that I would listen to a televangelist regularly, but trust me Joel Osteen and his uplifting message are a gift from God that everyone should listen to. I'm not trying to push my views on anyone, again I'm just here to try to help others by suggesting things that have worked for me. I hope that anyone who is reading this who feels that they need a little help because they are anxious, depressed or just thinks that they could be a little more positive or relaxed in life finds it helpful.

Update 4/30/2013:

Hi everyone. I was on Amazon today looking for books on positive psychology and I noticed all of the wonderful comments that many people have made. Thank you so much for the kind words. My intention in writing this review was to try to help others improve their lives like I have been able to do through making changes, many of which were inspired by Mark William's brilliant work on the subject of Mindfulness.

So, how have things been going? To sum them up in one word...Amazing. The changes that I started making in my life two and a half years ago have literally made these the best years that I have ever had. I like to think that one's mindset is sort of like a huge ship. Once the ship of emotions sets off in a negative direction, it's slow-going and it requires effort to turn it around, but it can be done. When you do get it pointed in the right direction the inertia works just as well that way. Positivity, faith, mindfulness all become easier and more natural with practice over time as the structure of the brain changes. It takes just as much energy to be positive and expect something good to happen as it does to be negative ane expect something bad, but the former is a whole lot more fun and healthy than the latter.

Here's a few random thoughts on what I have learned throughout this process:

1. Don't label yourself as having this or having that, being a positive person or a negative person, or being prone to this phobia or that condition. We're all people and we all have emotions. The people that you see walking down the street have the same feelings that you and I have. There's nothing wrong with you if you feel sad or anxious or whatever from time to time. Everyone does. As much as some people would like you to think that they're immune to feelings such as fear, etc...they're not.

2. The key is not to avoid having negative emotions, it's to not let them spiral out of control. Recognize that a thought is just a thought. It can't hurt you. It's nothing more than a cloud passing through the sky of the mind. Trying to avoid anything just makes it worse. While it sounds funny, you have to face your fears in order to master them. Mindfulness has helped me tremendously with this one.

3. Always try to have as many positive thoughts as possible and to look at things in the most favorable light. I have tons of digital picture frames in my office and at home that constantly scroll (I had to change it to every 1/2 hour because every minute was becoming very distracting and not very mindful ;) ) pictures of happy times in my life. I also use the notepad in my phone to write down a couple of positive things that happened to me that day or recently when I have the time at work, such as a short break. The more you reinforce the positive, the more a part of your mindset it will become. Scientists have proven that neuroplasticity exists and that what you expose yourself to literally changes the physical structure of your brain.

4. I personally have found faith and religion to be very helpful in my life.

5. While I don't bury my head in the sand, I have significantly cut back on the news that I watch on television and read on the Internet. Why? The world is filled with millions and millions of people. The news will take the two or three people who have dome something wrong and rub them in your face for hours at a time. The people who commit crimes, etc. represent less than one percent of the population but if you constantly think about the news you'll believe that it's everyone. No thanks. I'm looking for the good in people and you know something, if you walk around with a smile and a positive attitude, looking to help people and thinking the best I've found that you call in the best. I meet more nice people today whan I ever did when I was looking for the worst in everyone.

HA, I just read Amazon's review guidelines..."Reviews must contain at least 20 words..." I've got that one covered. Well, that's all the time I have for now, but I wanted to provide an update for anyone who's interested. On a related note to steer things back towards the product, I corresponded with Dr. Williams via e-mail to thank him for all that his work has done for me and he told me that he is almost finished with a new workbook on the subject. I definitely plan on reading it when it's available.

Take Care everyone!

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on January 27, 2012
In my life I have had a tendency to over think things and have found that often the simplest solution is the answer to life's problems. For years I have struggled with ADHD and a mind that races 900mph all the time. I have suffered from numerous bouts of depression, restlessness, anxiety, and a general sense that most of my life has been wasted waiting for something good to happen. Despite a high degree of intelligence and creativity, I have felt unable to make any progress son the projects I know would change my life for the better. After repeated attempts to discuss these issues with my doctors I had almost given up hope when I heard professor Mark Williams on the public radio program Science Friday discussing his book. I ordered the book and have begun to follow the 8 week plan and already I can see major changes in my mood, attitude and general happiness regarding my life. I am better able to focus on my work and get much less overwhelmed in public. Things like wild, loud, obnoxious kids at the grocery store, crying babies in restaurants or inconsiderate people in public amplified by my ADHD would cause me to become angry to the point I would freak out in public. This has not been the case since I have started the 8 week program.

I HIGHLY recommend this book as a means of not only calming your thoughts and to help you focus on your life and the things that truly matter, but more importantly to maximize your happiness and enjoyment of the years you have left to you. This is truly the easiest way I have seen to change your thinking and turn you from someone who is "pre-living the future and re-living the past" to someone who can effectively live in the moment.

My only complaint is that I purchased the book and it did not come with a CD of the guided meditations. A friend of mine ordered the audiobook which came with the audio guided meditations and I found this helped with my meditation. If you begin to include the CD with the book I'll change this to a 5 star review.
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on November 19, 2014
I've always been somewhat of a spiritual person, and I've tried numerous meditation programs. Most of them worked for a time, but many of their benefits seemed to be lacking. There was just something that I didn't fully understand. After reading Mindfulness, I feared that any benefits I might gain would be lost in short order. But, thankfully, I was wrong. This book provides clear and deep messages about the benefits of mindfulness meditation. It uses a theory based in scientific studies of cognition that have shown meditation to be effective at mitigating anxiety. I have suffered from anxiety for years, and I'm glad to say that much of my anxiety has been limited through the use of meditation. I tend to think more clearly and things that had been stressful before are becoming increasingly easier. My mind is finally at peace.

I've coupled Mindfulness with 21 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy. This is a book that provides simple, actionable advice on how to let things go and become happier in the process. This isn't about dropping everything and throwing all your material possessions into a bonfire. Instead, it details the ways in which negative thought processes often hinder our progress and promote stress rather than happiness. I've used a great deal of the advice found in 21 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy. In conjunction with mindfulness meditation, it has made me a much happier and calmer person. I am no longer paralyzed by fear in situations that require action. I am also more capable of pursuing and meeting my goals than ever before.

Life, by its nature, is stressful, but if I've learned anything from all the mindfulness and self-help books I've read, it's that you have the unique ability to change how you see the world. In some cases, you just need the right book or books to come along to lead you along that path. Mindfulness does not promise a sense of pure enlightenment, but it can give you a pathway toward becoming a better version of yourself. I know it has for me.
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on October 27, 2011
I've just finished this book after just a few days reading and felt driven to write a review because it's message is so important. It's now so crystal clear why we're all driving ourselves mad with anxiety, stress and unhappiness. Understanding how we drive ourselves crazy is one thing, but finding a way out is another and this is where the book excels. It's written by two people who really know what they're talking about. One is a professor at Oxford University in England and the other is a journalist who's spent years practicing meditation.

Although I've only been following the program for a few days, I already feel a lot calmer and more `centered'. I've also had two good nights sleep on the run, which is a great. The eight-week program seems simple to do but it's clear already that each step is designed to gently remove a layer of trouble and worry. For the first time in years I can see a way out of my anxiety and stress.
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on June 23, 2014
I am a Combat Veteran Marine Corps Sergeant and have struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for years. I have tried everything from one on one and group therapy, medications, and anything else I could think of to help cope with my problems. I started working a graveyard shift six days a week and found that my entire life became stressful and out of control. I bought this cd because it seemed like something that might work, and it did. I found the teachings involved with Mindfulness are some of the most helpful I have ever found. I have become less stressed, less anxious and more in control of my mind and body. Mindfulness is a breakthrough in therapy and has been an invaluable tool in my recovery. This cd has taught me to be calm and understanding and I recommend it to anyone looking to be in more control of there lives and there emotions. The cd arrived ahead of schedule and in perfect brand new condition. Buy this product, you will not be disappointed. I listen to Mindfulness every time I am in my car and practice its teachings daily. This product has truly changed my life.
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on December 18, 2014
i took a free 8 week mindfulness course at my university where this book was used. i was coming off of prozac a few weeks before i started this program (i was on prozac for 2 years for anxiety & depression) and needless to say, i was a mess. i feel so doomed and sad; dreadful, is the only way to describe it. but this book, along with the group, changed my life. you have to practice EVERY DAY, but you will notice a difference after the first week. meditation changes your brain in so many ways, you'll never go back to the way you were.

it's been a month or two now after the 8 week program and i still meditate every day. i can't live without it, and i am still prozac free!

don't let the amount of "time" you need to meditate for intimidate you. just sit down, and do it. whether it's 3 minutes or 55 minutes each day, just do it, don't judge yourself or say "i need to meditate 10,000 hours before i'm not anxious or depressed". no- that is just your worried thoughts getting in the way.

i'm currently looking for the "next step" in this journey (book-wise), but i continue daily with my meditations and mindfulness. it's called a "practice" for a reason! stick with it. don't judge yourself. give it everything, as if your life depended on it, because it will change you.
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on August 1, 2011
(I just downloaded the kindle ebook version to my iPad - The audio and text sections weave seamlessly; very enjoyable and high quality useful recordings that support the text.)
Einstein wrote that every complex phenomenon has a simple, straightforward and equally wrong explanation. Here, Williams and Penman show the exception to the rule. They have written a well structured, beautiful, enjoyable, warm and competent guide about applying Mindfulness to our common busy life.
This is a users manual for "Mindfulness practice made simple for everyday efficient use". It is also a kind and generous guide for finding true happiness in the midst of our daily hassle and business.
The authors are recognised authorities in applying Mindfulness to clinical settings and guiding many subjects out of relapse of depression. They are as well long-term practitioners of meditation. They also hold tenures in psychology in one of the best universities in the world. They are research-based and thorough in their methods, rigorous in their ethics. They do pastoral and charity work. The result is rigour, solid explanations, coherence, and warmth.
What is unique and truly giving Is their ability to cook down all their wealth of knowledge of this ancient practice, and combine it with their competences; to distill all of it into well chosen, simple and relevant droplets of practical steps that do make a difference. As you read them and as you practice them.
This book is a gift - I am sure I will re-read it and I have ordered extra copies for my loved ones.
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on May 29, 2013
Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World is an excellent exploration of the practice of Mindfulness meditation, an ancient technique designed to enable one to take a mental step back, as it were and see their stream of thoughts as a series of events that arise, linger momentarily and then fade away.
The key benefit of this practice is that one learns, over time, that the mind has the capability to actually distance itself from these thoughts and regard them impartially. This can give a person the ability to take perspective and choose their response to these thoughts, whether that response be simple curiosity, acknowledgement or to simply let them fade away.
The book explains how evolution designed our mind to be a problem solver, for situations such as where is the next food source, is there a predator nearby, where is there water, etc. However, in many situations this very problem solving mode can become the problem, as it tries to solve "problems" with no apparent logical solution, such as "Why am I feeling so low on such a beautiful day?" or 'Why am I so tense?". In these cases problem solving mode and lead to a downward spiral of brooding and even depression.
Mindfulness practice steps back from problem solving mode, allows one to impartially observe the mental events taking place, and
gain perspective on them, thus halting the brooding cycle.
I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to become more calm and more insightful about life and themselves. Remember, however, Mindfulness takes commitment and practice, as does any useful skill.
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on April 21, 2013
I am an Army Veteran with 3 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. A year ago I started having panic attacks and depression. The doctors response was medication. Not wanting to be on medication for the rest of my life I began searching for books and also started a support group. Everything I found helped, but none of it fixed the underlying problems, until I got this book. Within 2 weeks of starting the 8-week process, I felt a sense of peace and happiness that I haven't felt in at least 10 years. I've just finished the program, and I feel like I've recovered the happiness, joy, and contentment that I though I had lost forever. I feel fully recovered from the panic, anxiety, and depression that have been gnawing at me for years. I shared this book with others in my support group and they have had similiar experiences. This book is transformative.
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on January 29, 2016
I have been teaching meditation, Buddhist philosophy, and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for over 35 years. I reference students/clients to Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Sylvia Boorstein, Sharon Salzberg and other great vipassana/insight teachers regularly. However, I use the Mark Williams and Danny Penman book all the time when working one-one-one or with groups. It is a comprehensive, step-by-step, guide to MBSR that is well-grounded in Buddhist philosophy (though it doesn't hit you over the head with it). Mark and Danny have also worked closely with the Oxford Mindfulness Centre helping develop Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). The book has the added benefit of a web-site hosted by the publisher (Rodale) that has guided meditation instruction. You can work through this book with a qualified teacher/instructor or, if you have some discipline, do it all on your own. Try it, you'll like it.
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