I should be on commission for this book! I have lost count of the amount of times I have recommended it to clients, friends, and colleagues. As mentioned in a previous post, this book has sat in the Amazon top 100 bestsellers for as long as I can remember around an affordable £9.
Published in 2011, it is accompanied by a free CD, one which I still play frequently on my ipod, either when facilitating groups sessions ,or just for my own personal use.
The book takes you, chapter by chapter, through the traditional 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course designed by Jon Kabat – Zinn (who writes the foreword) with the accompanying CD literally talking you through the various mindfulness meditations or exercises.
The first three chapters explain the concept of mindfulness and encourage the reader to understand more about the way their emotions are affecting their thoughts and behaviour ” as soon as we understand how the mind works, it becomes obvious why we all suffer from bouts of unhappiness, stress and irritability from time to time”. Once we understand, we can retrain our mind to default to different settings, or learn new ways of responding to emotions, thoughts or circumstances.
I am not exaggerating when i report that i have had clients tell me that this book has transformed their lives. It is so easy to read and understand, in a jargon free way, that it makes the concept seem so straightforward the reader will wonder why they haven’t done this before.
There are multiple other extensions to the MBSR and to this book, I personally love the Mindfulness for health and mindfulness for depression, but this book provides an introduction to mindfulness meditation that is accessible to all. Not everyone is fortunate to live near somewhere that runs courses, and you could argue that there is no substitute for face to face contact and learning new techniques, however this book and CD programme has meant that thousands and thousands of people that would never usually access this type of support have been able to give it a try in their own homes.
The CD has certainly given me moments of peace in a frantic world. I find the body and breath meditation a useful grounding exercise, and try and find time for a 3 minute breathing space every day. Mark Williams voice is non offensive and straight forward- he now feels like a good friend!
The befriending meditation encourages us to develop a sense of kindliness and friendliness towards ourselves- many of us have high expectations of our own selves, or in grief, a worry that we are finding things too difficult………or not difficult enough. Mindfulness encourages us to accept ourselves, in this moment, just as we are- just as we would a friend who is going through or experiencing something similar, in a gentle, caring awareness.
“May i be free from suffering………….May i be happy and healthy as it is possible for me to be……….May i have ease of being”
Finally- I love this poem they have included by Roger Keyes:
He says pay attention, notice
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.
He says look forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
he says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself
as long as its interesting.
He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child,
every one of us is ancient,
every one of us has a body.
He says everyone of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way of living with fear.
He says everything is alive-
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive
Water is alive
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.
He says it doesn’t matter if you draw or write books
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on the verandah or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.
Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
are life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.
He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.
Mark Williams and Danny Penamn have done an amazing job at bringing together some of the key concepts of mindfulness and the 8 week MBSR programme in this book, as well as including some thought provoking poems and references suitable for any reader, professional or non.