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Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment-and Your Life Hardcover – January 1, 2012
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Author of A Path with Heart
"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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The only caution I might offer is that Kabat-Zinn is and always has been somewhat professorial. He's a very smart guy with a considerable vocabulary. That said, as always, don't believe everything you read, especially in book reviews!
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.
The book is not presented like a conventional "Intro to Meditation" with a first you do step A and then B. Rather, there are many short entries, that introduce one to mindfulness in a gradual way with the understanding you will use the enclosed guided meditation CD. While initially slightly disoriented by this, when you think about it, this is a more real-life way to learn mindfulness techniques as life doesn't usually work in a Step A-Step B way--especially for something as encompassing as greater awareness (JKZ wisely emphasizes the importance of not restricting increased awareness to the meditation bench or cushion).
The greatest strength of the book is Jon Kabat-Zinn himself. I once had the great pleasure to talk to him one-on-one. Within a very short time he made me feel very comfortable and as though he had all the time in the world for me. Despite his renown as a meditation teacher and author, he was very down-to-earth. There was nothing of the aloof meditation teacher about him. That warm and realness comes through in this book. He never puts ideology ahead of effectiveness. This is why he is such a great teacher. Almost all of us can benefit from what he has to offer.
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