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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
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.
Although I was introduced to meditation many years ago and have practiced it more or less faithfully ever since, this brought new insights, information and inspiration. I highly recommended it to those who are new to meditation, those who are "old hands" and everyone in between. It is well-written, highly motivating, and humorous in spots.
Having finally reached the age of "OLD" by most measures I am pleased to revisit this book with it's newer ideas added to this revised edition by the author. Where did those 25 years go? A refresher course for me on how to "chill" a little more in todays jargon. I have adult daughters. Need I say more?
This is an excellent book on meditation. It provides multiple forms of meditation therapies, so it is not extremely in depth with each of them, but it does provide a great introduction for those interested in learning more about the arts
Mindfulness has changed my life. It is help me relax and center myself. I started using mindfulness meditation as a student, and it helped me deal with the daily hassles and burdens of being a student and the demand that are part of student life. Additionally, outside of school, it has been an ongoing anchor in helping me stay grounded and focused while trying to reach my life goals.