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Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment--and Your Life Hardcover – January 1, 2012
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"Jon Kabat-Zinn provides access to the essence of meditation and its applications for both the beginner and those who wish to deepen and expand their practice. He embodies what he describes."
—DEAN ORNISH, MD
About the Author
Featured in Bill Moyer's PBS Special Healing and the Mind, Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. is executive director at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. He is the founder and former director of the UMMC Stress Reduction Clinic and an associate professor of medicine in the division of preventive and behavioral medicine. Using mindfulness meditation, Kabat-Zinn works to help people reduce stress and deal with chronic pain, and a variety of illnesses, particularly breast cancer. He was a trainer for the 1984 U.S. Men's Olympic Rowing Team and is especially interested in reducing the stress-related problems in the inner city and in prison populations. Kabat-Zinn's books include: Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness (1991); Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life (1994) and Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting (1997), which was co-authored with his wife, Myla.
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Although the entire book can be read in an hour (most chapters are only one or two pages), I don't think there would be much benefit from reading it in one sitting. The book seems designed to be read a brief chapter or two at a time, followed by reflection. From my perspective, the chapters do not always seem sequentially or logically linked. They are more like mindfulness devotionals. I found some of the chapters thought-provoking, but not consistently so. I would have preferred a more organized book that started by laying out a foundation for how and why meditation is helpful, followed by instruction for getting started.
The enclosed CD is a very nice bonus. I used it to guide my first-ever attempt at meditation, and I felt very good about the process and the outcome. If I continue to meditate, I may refer to various chapters in this book for inspiration, but I am more likely to use the recommended reading list to find books that help make meditation more accessible to a true beginner.
In the introduction to his paper book with the same title he describes the first CD as having grown out of a series of lectures that he had given that in his words, "...described the practice of mindfulness and explained why it might be valuable to engage in its cultivation to begin with." There are ten tracks totaling about an hour of recording. Please note that it is not a recorded version of the paper book with the same title. It is an excellent alternative for folks who might not have the time or inclination to sit down and read but who might have the time to listen while doing something like driving.
The second CD has 5 guided meditations, each ranging from 10 to 18 minutes long. His gentle, knowledgeable directions are terrific signposts leading into a daily practice. I think it would be helpful to beginners as well as to seasoned practitioners.
The paper book of the same title is a very helpful companion guide. It is written in very short chapters, most are two to three pages, that could be read before or after a meditation as a short reflection. The 166 page book can lead one much deeper into the practice and can serve as a steadying hand as the entrant navigates their way into finding a space for mindfulness in often demanding schedules.
I'd recommend it to anyone interested in mindfulness.
It is no doubt one of the most difficult challenges you could possibly impose on yourself, it will require a sense of dedication, discipline and persistence, however, the rewards are unquantifiable.
Living mindfully will allow you to inhabit a new dimension through which to live life, a dimension conducive to living a richer and more fulfilling life. Most of all it'll help you realize the actuality of who you are.