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Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, is perhaps the best-known proponent of using meditation to help patients deal with illness. (The somewhat confusing title is from a line in Zorba the Greek in which the title character refers to the ups and downs of family life as "the full catastrophe.") But this book is also a terrific introduction for anyone who has considered meditating but was afraid it would be too difficult or would include religious practices they found foreign. Kabat-Zinn focuses on "mindfulness," a concept that involves living in the moment, paying attention, and simply "being" rather than "doing." While you can practice anything "mindfully," from taking a walk to cleaning your house, Kabat-Zinn presents several meditation techniques that focus the attention most clearly, whether it's on a simple phrase, your breathing, or various parts of your body. The book goes into detail about how hospital patients have either improved their health or simply come to feel better despite their illness by using these techniques, but these meditations can help anyone deal with stress and gain a calmer outlook on life. "When we use the word healing to describe the experiences of people in the stress clinic, what we mean above all is that they are undergoing a profound transformation of view," Kabat-Zinn writes. "Out of this shift in perspective comes an ability to act with greater balance and inner security in the world." --Ben Kallen
From Publishers Weekly
Kabat-Zinn is founder and director of the stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and the "full catastrophe" of which he writes is the spectrum of stress in life. His program, in a word, is meditation, rescued from the mire of mysticism that made it trendy in the 1960s. The author focuses on the advantages of employing "practiced mindfulness" to control and calm our responses without blunting our feelings--and a more convincing introduction to the many modes and uses of meditation could hardly be imagined. In personable, enlightening prose, Kabat-Zinn first explains how to develop a meditation schedule, and in later chapters pragmatically applies his plan to the main sources of stress. An impressive middle section clearly marshals scientific and anecdotal evidence relating state of mind to state of health. And while emphasizing meditation's healing potential, Kabat-Zinn makes no sweeping claims, suggesting that the discipline serve not as means but end. Illustrations not seen by PW. BOMC and QPB selection. Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
To the days of my life before I found this book, or as I sometimes like to look at it, before this book found me. I was a high strung mess of anxiety, even afraid to go to work and face the "challenges" of a day of social interaction and internal struggle and emotions. I wasn't completely sure what I was, but I was pretty sure I was suffering from what doctors would call social or maybe generalized anxiety. And with that came depression and sometimes hopelessness of ever changing and moving on. This went on for years--for as far back as I can remember--and it only seemed like it was getting worse, and I was never able to accept myself, I thought myself a failure of some sort. What had I or my parents done wrong in raising me? Why me? When I found this book, I had been through several programs for anxiety that I had found and downloaded online--none of them helping much--and when I read the introduction, something about it clicked with me. It somehow subconsciously made sense and I knew that I had found something that might actually change the way I WAS, and unknowingly but much more importantly, change the way I viewed myself. Over the next 8 months, I almost religiously followed the exercises in the book. I learned more about myself and the world around me in those eight months than I have in the past ten years, at least it feels that way. To cut a long story short, I still have anxiety, but on a scale of 1-10 it is now a 2 where it was an 7 or an 8 before. Simply put, practicing mindfulness pulls the rug from under anything that bothers you in any way. It teaches you that it's ok to feel any emotion and think any thought because that is what is already here. It teaches you to accept those things, and in the process of doing that, those horrible horrible things lose their power over you, and you can begin to heal. To anyone suffering from emotional pain of any sort, please let me be an example to you that you don't have to be controlled by these terrible feelings. Learn to accept them as they are, and they will go away by themselves. This book is a great way to start. Please consider
Suffering from ever increasing depression, anxiety and some pretty severe "road rage" due to my Parkinson's Disease with Mild Cognitive Impairment diagnosis almost four years ago, I finally sought help from a Psychiatrists and (almost) the first words to come out of his mouth (after giving a background of my situation) were "You will need to look into "Mindfulness" and "you will need to attend the 6 week MBSR training offered through (my healthcare provider)". MBSR or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, which began over 20 years ago at U. Mass, is what this book is all about and it is required reading as part of the course. The classes were great for asking questions, getting clarifications when needed and to practice the meditations, but honestly, what I learned by reading the book was the primary catalyst that drove me to meditate and has allowed me to achieve a calm and peace of mind that I previously had believed was going to be impossible to attain. Mindfulness is an ongoing practice, you must commit to it and use it daily but the changes it has brought about in my peace of mind, calmness, equanimity, and sense of well being is quite honestly...priceless! Not cured mind you; I will always be a work in progress, especially as my disease progresses, but where I am at today...is an infinitely better place than before I read this book. With all the stories that are shared this book reads more like a novel and not at all like a textbook! My wife is reading it now and will begin classes shortly and she is using the techniques I shared with her to cope with a stressful work environment. Must read for those coping with health issues.
I remember when Bill Moyers first interviewed Jon Kabat-Zinn and I have been interested in mindfulness meditation off and on ever since. Five months ago I lost my husband. I also have Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency or "inherited emphysema" and I am on oxygen 24/7. This past summer the stress from both became unbearable. So I bought the book. It is an extremely easy read and the author lulls you into the practice, little by little, from page one. I am now a convert and I plan to take a live course the beginning of next year. I highly recommend this book.
Bought this for my nephew who was in jail for drugs, etc. He has thanked me many times, and others, in jail, asked their family to send them one. He is out now and still practices and refers to it everyday and said it is great for stress relief.
I think all of us in today's world that have our head spinning around the clock and cant shut down should read and follow the easy to do and don't over think this book, in a matter of fact learn how not to think about the past or future and get the mind into the moment. Hard to describe but being 61 years old and having both physical pain and mind racing at night sleeping difficulty has made life much better and clearer in everyday doing.
This is an excellent book. I was meditating before I bought it, but it's been very good guidance and opened some new ideas. Also it's a calming helpful reference when going through difficult times. It is a little verbose--written kind of conversationally--I got the impression a lot of it may have been transcribed from his talks. But after I got used to that I didn't mind. He kind of presents everything from several different angles and gives examples, so it's relaxing to read--you know you have more than one chance to get the point.