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Wherever you go, You always leave a footprint
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In his follow-up to Full Catastrophe Living--a book in which he presented basic meditation techniques as a way of reducing stress and healing from illness--here Jon Kabat-Zinn goes much more deeply into the practice of meditation for its own sake. To Kabat-Zinn, meditation is important because it brings about a state of "mindfulness," a condition of "being" rather than "doing" during which you pay attention to the moment rather than the past, the future, or the multitudinous distractions of modern life. In brief, rather poetic chapters, he describes different meditative practices and what they can do for the practitioner. The idea that meditation is "spiritual" is often confusing to people, Kabat-Zinn writes; he prefers to think of it as what you might call a workout for your consciousness. This book makes learning meditation remarkably easy (although practicing it is not). But it also makes it seem infinitely appealing. --Ben Kallen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Kabat-Zinn's book outlines the Buddhist technique of "mindfulness": a method of living fully in the moment without judgment.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Take any given moment your in. I take it that you're sitting down somewhere right now reading this review. Focus on your breath. Notice how unaware of your own breathing you were before. Now, while reading this, expand the focus from your breath to the sensation of your body, your bottom against your seat perhaps, or the way the tip of your nose might feel cold or hot. Further expand the field of awareness to the sounds around you. Maybe you hear noise from other people. Maybe you hear nothing except the sound of your own breathing.
Project this mode of being aware into another setting. Perhaps you're at work, and someone is telling you how to do something. You might feel seeds of resentment growing inside you, asking the question in your mind how it is this person has the gall to tell you how do so something. You might feel personally attacked, a little nervous, your breath unsteady. Be aware of these sensations. Don't fight against them. But also listen to what the person says, as much as possible, without judgment. Is what this person is saying really a personal attack? Probably not. And if it is, does it really matter? Does he or she have control of your mind such that he could actually make you feel one way or another? Not if you choose to respond to it in a peaceful, proactive way and just take it for what it is, without judgment.
Maybe the above two paragraphs don't do it for you. Or maybe they do. The important thing is that mindfulness is about being aware and awake, and about choosing to make peace with the way you feel and the way you interact with the world. If you want to, you can always feel swept around by the winds of desire, or pulled around by anger or intense emotion as though there were a brass ring in your nose. Those are always options. But it's also another option to choose to practice inner tranquility. This is what this book is about.
Much like in college, you can skip the lecture if you master the corpus, but it's best to do both of you can. That said, anyone looking to really understand the methodology behind mindfulness and how it can be applied in a secular way to the suffering of the human condition, must read the aforementioned "Full Catastrophe Living". It's absolutely essential as the single book I would recommend to anyone for learning how to approach working with the present moment in ways that encourage insight and healing.
This book "Wherever you go , there you are" is nice but it won't provide the depth of instruction for practice as used in the medical setting or the science behind the mechanisms that make mindfulness so effective for many people.
Truly one of my favorites and one that I recommend to many.
Personally though, if that's you, I'd pick up a copy of Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now instead. Much meatier content to think about.
Otherwise, the only way I can recommend this book is as an occasional "back to basics" refresher: pick it up from time to time, read a few pages from anywhere in the book, and try to be mindful that day of whatever simple idea you read.