- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 2 hours and 26 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Original recording
- Publisher: Sounds True
- Audible.com Release Date: June 15, 2006
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000GB7EHU
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Mindfulness for Beginners Audiobook – Original recording
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Audible, Original recording
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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.
The first CD covers concepts such as the present moment, the definition of mindfulness at attending to what is arising in the moment, awareness, the relationship between mind and heart, etc. It also covers the importance of openness and curiosity vs. judgment and identification with what is going on. That is to say, it distinguishes between a witness of what is arising and the phenomena in question. In other words, it makes the point that there is something standing behind the mind, emotions, sensations, etc. and that this something is a type of consciousness called witness consciousness. This CD also goes into the important of allowing (non-striving) vs. a desire that pushes toward acheiving something. In the last section of CD Zinn contrasts awareness which is passive and accepting with thinking which arises out of desire.
The second CD provides an introduction to some minfulness practices such as mindful eating, breath meditation, mindfulness of the body as a whole, mindfulness of objects such as sounds, thoughts and emotions. It also introduces the notion of meditation as pure awareness without judgment. One might compare this to pure experience without desire or aversion. Although one is given a taste of each of these practices, none of them are comprehensively covered and the guided meditations are not long enough for practice purposes except for a complete beginner.
In general, meditative practices are divided into concentration practices (narrowing the attention) and mindfulness practices (awareness is expanded in a detached way). On the this CD, all of the practices are termed mindfulness practices, but the CD actually contains both types which in essence are about attending to different aspects of reality in different ways.
As someone who teaches meditation to Westerners myself, I find this an excellent, gentle and easily accessible introduction. It achieves what it sets out to do, which is to provide a philosophical framework for a meditation practice and the very basics of starting one.
If you enjoy this tape and you want to take things deeper, then Guided Mindfulness Meditation (Guided Mindfulness) by the same author would be a logical continuation. The book Breath by Breath: The Liberating Practice of Insight Meditation would also be a great next step. Something complimentary that build on it, but is a bit more heart-centered would be Meditation for Beginners. There is also a listmania list on my profile for meditation that has other recommendations.