In the blog category “Book Reviews”, I will review many classic books written by teachers and practitioners of mindfulness meditation. I have been reading such books for more than 2 decades now. I will systematically review these books, one by one, so that it may help readers of this blog make informed decision about purchasing them and learning from them.
“The Mindulness Revolution”, published in 2011, presents an amazing collection of articles, reflections and personal experiences written by a diverse group of people including psychologists, scientists, artists and meditation teachers on the power of mindfulness in daily life. The articles list a variety of ways with which to engage with the practice. The entire collection is edited by Barry Boyce who is a senior editor and staff writer for the Shambhala Sun magazine (now called Lion’s Roar).
The entire collection is divided into four parts. Part I is entitled “How to Practice Mindfulness”. In an article entitled “What is Mindfulness”, the meditation teacher and physician Jan Chozen Bays explains how not being present leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness whereas being in the present moment leads to a restful and enjoyable experience. In an article entitled “Here, Now, Aware”, the meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein describes how mindfulness breaks the grip our thoughts and emotions have on us, allowing us to choose whether to act on them or not. In an article entitled “Mindfulness and Awareness”, Buddhist meditation master Chogyam Trungpa shares his understanding on how to balance the detailed focus of mindfulness with the spaciousness of awareness. In an article entitled “Why Mindfulness Matters”, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) pioneer and meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn shares several good reasons for us to make mindfulness an integral part of our lives. There are other wonderful articles in this part written by Jack Kornfield, Bob Stahl and others that are equally noteworthy and inspiring.
Part II of this collection is entitled “Mindfulness in Daily Life”. In an article entitled “Mindfulness Makes Us Happy”, the renowned and revered Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh describes in his own unique and simple way, how we can find opportunities to practice mindfulness everywhere we go. In an article entitled “Do Dishes, Rake Leaves”; Zen teacher, wife and mother Karen Maezen Miller describes how we can find inspiration and motivation to practice mindfulness right in our backyard, kitchen and by our laundry basket. In an article entitled “Wild Raspberries”, long-time meditator and contemplative gardener Bob Howard suggests that mindfulness can allow us to rest our mind and tend our garden in nature’s rhythm. In an article entitled “Digital Mindfulness”, Wired magazine editor and writer Steve Silberman shares tips on how to handle our digital devices mindfully and not let them pressure and distract us.
Part III of this collection is entitled “Mindfulness, Health and Healing”. In my opinion, this is the most interesting and informative part of the book. In an article entitled “Paying Attention to Our Own Mind and Body”, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer compares biofeedback and mindfulness. She concludes that in biofeedback experiments, people are instructed in methods to change their bodily processes. In mindfulness experiments, when people were asked to notice changes in their bodily processes, they are simply exposed to conditions that would foster such learning. In an article entitled “This Is Your Brain On Mindfulness”; long-time monk, meditator and philosopher Matthieu Ricard reports on numerous studies that show the benefits of mindfulness for the brain. In an article entitled “The Proven Benefits of Mindfulness”, psychiatrist Daniel Siegel, a pioneer in the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology, reports on the state of research into the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions in health care. In an article entitled “Living Well with Chronic Pain”, mindfulness trainer and Mindfulness Based Pain Management (MBPM) pioneer Vidyamala Burch describes how the mind can turn the sensation of pain into a deeper and more troubling form of suffering. She describes how we can employ mindfulness to work with chronic pain with precision and care that will allow us to deal with pain better. In an article entitled “Mindfulness and Addiction Recovery”, addiction psychiatrist Lawrence Peltz explains how mindfulness can be effective in helping recovering drug and alcohol addicts to remain sober.
Part IV of this collection is entitled ‘Interpersonal Mindfulness’. In an article entitled “The Great Mirror of Relationship”, Tibetan meditation master Dzogchen Ponlop shows us how mindfulness and awareness can make our relationships into a mirror that allows us to see who we truly are. From there, we can learn to love more intimately. In an article entitled “The Natural Warmth of the Heart”; beloved Buddhist teacher, author, nun and mother Pema Chodron says that when our relationships with others bring us great difficulty and pain, if we face these difficulties with mindfulness, then we have a chance to discover our natural love and warmth. In an article entitled “Parenting with Mindful Awareness”, Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn talk about the possibility of parenting becoming a path of inner growth and discovery when conducted with mindfulness. In an article entitled “A Mindful Consumer Can Help Change the World”, psychologist Daniel Goldman suggests that the key to stopping environmental destruction and climate change is to be mindful at the moment we are deciding whether or not to buy something.
The second last article in Part IV is written by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. In it, His Holiness proposes new approach to global politics based on fostering a kind heart and a calm, clear mind that leads to taking responsibility for the happiness of all people. He calls it “universal responsibility” which equates to a deep concern for all, irrespective of creed, color, sex or nationality. “When we take into account this longer perspective and keep in mind our relative unimportance in relation to countless others, we can conclude that it is worthwhile to share our possessions with others. When you train in this sort of outlook, a true sense if compassion – a true sense of love and respect for others – becomes possible. Individual happiness ceases to be a conscious self-seeking effort; it becomes an automatic and far superior by-product of the whole process of loving and serving others” he states.
The long lasting sense of compassion, peace and happiness generated within that are not conditioned on external circumstances; is the ultimate promise of being on the path of mindfulness meditation. It leads us to an experience of interconnectedness and interdependence of all beings. It releases us from the grip of the false nature of self that has been ingrained in us. Along the way, we find ourselves become more resilient, free of stress and living a life of ease. I hope readers will have gotten a sense of the inspiring nature of the many articles that are present in this book. I use this book as a handy source of reference and read articles at random from time to time. Most articles are between 4 and 6 pages. They are easy reads but they definitely pack a lot of information, wisdom and inspiration.
If you have any questions on this book or if you would like to seek clarification on some of its contents or if you have your own suggestions to offer me, then please do so by filing out the contact form below. In a blog category entitled “Website content feedback – Book reviews” I will publish my answers to your questions as well as your suggestions wherever appropriate. Thank you !!!