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Sit, Walk, Don't Talk: How I Survived a Silent Meditation Retreat Paperback – May 30, 2017
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About the Author
Jennifer Howd is a writer, editor, and a mindfulness facilitator certified by the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (MARC) at the University of California, Los Angeles. She offers mindfulness classes, workshops, retreats, and one-on-one mentoring for individuals and organizations seeking mindfulness-based tools for expanding awareness and fostering a greater sense of well-being. For more information, visit www.JenniferHowd.com.
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I find mindfulness, and what it would mean to be dedicated to it, to be intimidating at times... especially when I think about what would be required of me to survive a multi-day retreat. I wonder if I'm "enlightened" enough to take a challenge like that on or if the regular presence of my judgmental mind is a sign that I'm just not there yet. In this story, the author shares her experience in such an authentic and transparent way that it totally pulled the curtain on that world back for me. And I saw nothing more than humanity behind that curtain, the same humanity I possess.
As a reader, I loved the opportunity to be on this journey with the author as she shared the dark parts of her experience (that we usually keep inside our heads and therefore don’t get to share with each other) and be moved to tears when she triumphed and found joy amidst pain. Like anything worth reading, the book is an emotional roller coaster made safe by the great writing of a confident, shameless storyteller. It doesn’t read like a debut memoir, but rather a seasoned writer’s chronicle of yet another slice of her life.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves the richness of personal narrative; those who are curious about mindfulness, what it is, what it means to practice it, and what it really takes (hint: just be human); the mindfulness community (all levels of experience); and humans with hearts.
By Nicholas June 6, 2017
I loved Sit, Walk, Don’t Talk as it is the first blow-by-blow description of the arduous, scary, self-confrontational torture that is a multi-day, residential silent retreat - until, of course - it's not! No one else has captured that critical inner voice - that obnoxious and opinionated roommate that lives inside our head - as well as Jennifer has, as she celebrates her 40th birthday by taking the risk of her life. All the fear and loathing, she describes so well, turns out to be just the bumpy runway, as her plane of consciousness takes flight, aided by her extraordinary teachers and her unwitting (silent) partners. She shows how we all jump to conclusions and even catastrophize - but in this unique and peaceful setting - and with a commitment to mindfulness training - those states are but bits of sand in our oyster shells - precursors to the making of a beautiful pearl. Ms. Howd shows us - in a delightfully quick telling - that learning to observe the mind, leads to coming to peace with it, and how meditation is the only true path to mindfulness, and thus the best path towards the reduction of suffering. Bravo Ms. Howd, and thank you for this invaluable pearl of a book!
without actually going on one; but also primes you on what to expect if you do decide to participate. Her blow by blow account of every minute of every day at the 9 day silent meditation is grueling and fascinating at the same time. But it is her honesty and willingness to share intimate details unsparingly about herself with self-deprecating wit that makes this such an entertaining read. I have only been on short (weekend) Zen meditation sesshins in the past but I found myself identifying with her on a personal level during this process of knowing herself.
She also lays out ways to practice mindfulness on a shorter, less intense level and her suggestions are easily attainable. I was pleasantly surprised at what a good read this was and recommend it to anyone interested in discovering more about themselves.
I found Jennifer Howd's book to be a jewel of a book. On a gray, stormy day I opened the book and finished it in one sitting. The gray day felt sunny and bright by the time I shared her journey and completed the book. And jennifer inspired me to consider a long silent retreat as a birthday present to my self when my next big birthday rolls around. It's a rare treat to be inside someone's head as they embark on a brave adventure. Jennifer's self awareness, authentic voice and her willingness to be vulnerable and open make the book a fascinating read. I laughed and I filled with tears as she told her tale and I appreciate her generous sharing of resources at the end. She is a true storyteller and made it easy to feel her experience and get an up close look at what a long silent retreat is like.