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Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness Paperback – April 7, 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"If you want to receive mindfulness teachings in a way that is playful, wise and memorable, read this book. Arnie uses the most ancient of teaching devices--metaphorical stories and images--to convey the possibility and blessings of living a life of presence." (Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance)

"What I loved most about this book was that the language was current and the values were traditional. It was useful wherever you dipped in to refresh yourself. A delightful book that brings your life and practice together whether you are an old timer or new practitioner." (Grace Schireson author of Zen Women)

"A fresh and straightforward voice." (Shambhala Sun)

"This collection of very useful reflections provide us with 108 sparkling insights into mindfulness, the energy of seeing--so vital for all of us engaged in meditative living." (Larry Rosenberg)

"This book will raise your spiritual IQ." (Shinzen Young, author of, The Science of Enlightenment)

"A must-read if you desire to live a life of balance and happiness. Brilliant, simple, and profound. Perfect for your daily inspirational time." (Dr. Kathleen Hall, founder of The Stress Institute and The Mindful Living Network)

"Highly recommended for both students and teachers of mindfulness." (Zindel Segal, Ph.D., coauthor of The Mindful Way Through Depression)

"Vivid and thoughtful. This book is a welcomed companion to mindfulness-based psychotherapy." (Paul Foxman, Ph.D., Founder of the Center for Anxiety Disorders, author of Dancing with Fear)

"All of us understand things by comparing them to what we already know and in this way metaphors are fundamental to our efforts to learn--and Arnie Kozak is offering us a wonderful collection of them. A wild ride!" (Thomas Bien, Ph.D., author of Mindful Therapy and coeditor of Mindfulness and the Therapeutic Relationship)

"Metaphors are the way we makes sense of the world, the mind, and our experience. Arnie Kozak offers 108 metaphors for understanding and cultivating mindfulness, not as an abstract practice, but within the embodied experience of this moment. Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants is insightful, creative, and inspiring; each metaphor a shining facet of a jewel." (Frank Jude Boccio, author of Mindfulness Yoga)

About the Author

Arnie Kozak is the founder of Exquisite Mind, a consultation service for individuals (in the form of mindfulness-based psychotherapy), as well as for the community, healthcare and other professionals, and corporations. Exquisite Mind teaches mindfulness, the art and skill of living in the present, as a vehicle for managing stress and enhancing quality of life. He was also a Clinical Fellow in Psychology at the Harvard Medical School, where he completed his doctoral training. He lives in Burlington, Vermont.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861715764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861715763
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Long before mindfulness was fashionable, Arnie Kozak, was studying, practicing, and teaching mindfulness and Buddhist psychology. Beginning with a journey to India in the 80's, Arnie began his lifelong practice in mindfulness meditation. Intent on finding a way to bring the practical healing attributes of mindfulness he began incorporating these techniques in his private practice. In 2002 Dr. Kozak created Exquisite Mind in Burlington, Vermont as a vehicle that could expand the value of mindfulness to larger audiences including professionals and corporations, health care providers, public groups and, most recently with Exquisite Mind Golf, amateur and professional golfers. His first book, Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness (Wisdom Publications, 2009) is a thoughtful, funny, and inspiring translation of mindfulness practice through the inventive use of metaphor applicable to our daily lives. It has been translated into three languages. His second book, The Everything Buddhism Book, is an accessible introduction to the Buddha's wisdom and the Buddhist traditions. The Everything Guide to the Introvert Edge and Mindfulness A-Z: 108 Insights for Awakening Now are forthcoming books. Arnie's ability to translate ancient healing traditions into pragmatic applications suitable for modern lifestyles through the use of metaphors have made him a contributing voice in the Mindfulness Revolution.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have practiced some form of Buddhism (or nonduality) much of my adult life. Frankly, I have found the practice of "mindfulness" which is the purpose of this book, to be somewhat limiting since it often sustains a belief in a "me" that is independent of the field of awareness. This book straightened me out on the practice. It is extremely well written and its greatest power is its consistent pithiness. I very strongly recommend that you pick this book up - it will change your life. But, best of all, it will make meditation to be a part of every waking moment of your life. That is not overstating it.
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Format: Paperback
Practice! Practice! Practice!

In this delightful book, Dr. Arnie Kozak welcomes readers with his practical approach to mindful living.

This is partly a `how to' book about mindfulness - an owner's manual for the workings of the conscious brain - the mental quirks and habits that are the source of all our grief and glory, that make us who we are; but it's more than that. The book is really a collection of stories - very short stories, which Arnie calls metaphors; he uses these mini-tales to show how we think (and feel); how to cultivate awareness of what we think and feel; and how to optimally manage our thoughts and feelings.

Arnie's guide to mindful living includes things we all know and love: literature, TV, psychiatry, movies, philosophy, poetry, rock'n'roll, and headlines from the news.
Along with stories from the writer's own life and practice, there's a fun and lively sampling from T.S. Eliot, Star Trek, The Dog Whisperer, Nietzsche, Rainer Maria Rilke, Henry David Thoreau, Pema Chodron, Charles Dickens, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and other wise, witty, and wonderful voices from the fray of civilization.

With this book, readers can start from the beginning - or dive in anywhere. Read section by section - or take one metaphor at bedtime. It's a welcome tonic for both mind and heart.

Katharine Hikel, MD
Dr. Trixie's Prescriptions
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Format: Paperback
Reading Arnie Kozak's Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness, I thought I was just going to be reading about mindfulness, but instead I found myself needing to practice while reading. I'm one of those people who thinks constantly, no matter what I'm doing. I always have to try to bring my focus back to what I'm reading, but while reading Wild Chickens, I realized exactly how active my storytelling mind really is. It's hard to let your mind wander for long when you're reading about wandering minds!

This easy-to-read selection of metaphors provided a good bit of humor in addition to the seriousness of mindfulness. It will be easy for anyone to relate to these given the fact that there is a wide breadth of examples that range from Star Trek to Rainer Maria Rilke to Buddhism. In addition to the pop culture references, Dr. Kozak included examples from his own life, which made him a much more personable author. This book is designed for the reader to be able to pick it up anytime, anywhere, and come away with something useful to meditate on, which means there's no pressure to read it straight through quickly.

I found a metaphor that I could strongly identify with just a few pages in, and then expected that the rest of the metaphors would be interesting, but perhaps not entirely relevant to my life. I was very happy to read further and discover that there were definitely a number of metaphors that made sense to me.

My only quibble with the book was that there was less "how-to" during each of the metaphors than I would have liked.
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Format: Paperback
I love this book. It's an indispensable tool for all who love language and all who want to live more mindfully, happily, humorously, and poetically.

Drowning in thought. Her ship has sailed. We'll all float on ok. I'm in the flow today. We literally can't speak without metaphors. It's the way we're wired. You may think you already know this, but reading Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants illuminates in a clear, simple way how the story-telling, metaphorical mind actually works, and how we can use it skillfully to promote contentment rather than letting the stories crash down on us from all directions (to use one of my favorite metaphors).

Kozac's 108 metaphors are often humorous, but they also go surprisingly deep. A longtime psychologist and meditation practitioner, Kozak manages to touch on the heart of mindfulness practice by noting how the mind can only be described in reference to other things - noting that "mindfulness" is itself a metaphor that views the mind as container - which, to me, is a lovely description of the Buddhist notion of dependent origination, interdependence.

I'm enjoying leaping around the book as I please, reading a few each day. One of my favorites Kozac blesses us with in the first pages. Citing psychologist Julian Jaynes, Kozak notes that the verb to be is derived from the Sanskrit bhu, which means "to grow" or " to make grow". "Thus," he continues, " to be has the same etymological root as another Sanskrit verb asmi, which means `to breathe'. And here, encapsulated in the language of an ancient metaphor, we see that living and breathing are one.
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