"This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope." -- Lamentations 3:21 (NKJV)
I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a class led by Professor Langer. As she referred to so many ground-breaking studies that have become part of the foundation of how we consider improving thinking processes, I realized it was time to read more of her work. She recommended I start with this book.
Since I like to learn while driving, I opted for the unabridged audio CD set, which was perfect for my purposes. As someone who often conducts experiments to increase mindfulness, I was pleased that overviews of her methodologies were included along with descriptions of the results and their practical implications.
The book opens with compelling examples of how we categorize things in such ways that we cannot easily access helpful knowledge, even when the potential rewards are great. I see this problem all the time, and it made me smile to listen to this material. She then turns to other reasons we behave without considering our options, such as automatically deferring to "authority" even when such authority is based only in appearance. From there, Professor Langer makes a compelling case why we should seek to do better.
In Part Two, the book explains how to be more mindful. I thought that Chapter 5 was especially helpful in addressing the need to create new mental categories, welcome new information, seek more than one view, seek control over the context, emphasize method over result, and grasp other perspectives on what mindfulness is.
Anyone over the age of 45 will find Chapters 6 and 10 (Mindful Aging and Minding Matters: Mindfulness and Health) to be worth the price of the book.
Chapter 9 on prejudice will be an eye-opener for most people. It should be required reading for all.
If you haven't read any of her works, you've probably heard them described in other books. Why not learn from the source?
Read this book ... It's a mindful action!
on August 16, 2009
Ellen J. Langer's Mindfulness (Your Coach in a Box) is probably my least favorite among Mindfulness resources I have read. I bought both the CD and the book, hoping to utilize it with people I teach mindfulness techniques to, but it has no real guidance on mindfulness, just a bunch of information about it. I was definitely hoping for a teaching aid and I got a longwinded description.