Review: Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn

December 4, 2015 2015 Purchase Challenge, 2015 Try Anything Once Challenge, Audiobook, Book Review, Edu - Self help, Non- Fiction 1 ★★★★½

Review: Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn four-half-stars
Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Published by Sounds True on June 1, 2006
Genres: Meditation, Nonfiction
Format: Audiobook
Length: 2 hours 26 minutes
Narrated by Jon Kabat-Zinn
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Perhaps no other person in America has done more to bring mindfulness meditation into the mainstream than Jon Kabat-Zinn. Through many research studies and his pioneering work at the University of Massachusetts where he is founder of its world renowned Stress Reduction Clinic, Kabat-Zinn has served as a recognized bridge between science and meditation. With Mindfulness for Beginners, he offers the definitive course designed specifically to introduce new students to the proven benefits of mindfulness practice, including: stress reduction, alleviation of depression, chronic pain relief, and more.

Awarenessing. Awarenessing is what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls the act of being aware and present.

I suck at mediation. I’ve tried it in the past but it’s always been difficult for me. I have a very active brain. Very, very active. It’s the reason why I’m not really into watching TV/movies – I don’t need any additional stimulation. O_O

I first learned about Mindfulness via a televised interview of Jon Kabat-Zinn. My husband was intrigued and immediately started research on the subject. He went to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s website and decided to buy a couple of the books – he even took the information to work to share with his employees.

I ignored [Mindfulness] for the most part even though my husband encouraged me to try it.

Sadly, I decided to read Mindfulness for Beginners after a very traumatic family event: we lost someone to a car accident on the very same day another family member had to be rushed to ICU – and that person is still critically ill.

Let’s just say I became overwhelmingly stressed out. It was at that point I took my husband’s advice. I hoped that maybe Mindfulness for Beginners would give me some tools to calm down my chaotic life. Or at least take my mind off of my troubles for a period of time.

Reading Mindfulness for Beginners was difficult for me. Jon Kabat-Zinn speaks in the same way he breathes – soothingly, slowly and deliberately – listening to him is quite like meditation. As I said before, I suck at meditation. Seriously suck at it. Whenever I try to meditate, my mind always wanders off to random subjects. And that’s also what happens when I listen to this book. My mind starts to wander and I lose track of what’s being said. Sometimes I rewind to (try to) listen again. Sometimes I just go with the flow. Sometimes I fall asleep.

Kabat-Zinn says that it is normal for the mind to wander when mediating. You are to – gently and with kindness – redirect your mind back to your breath when this happens. This one moment, this one breath.

This one moment, this one breath.

This one moment, this one breath.

There are no real words to describe how very difficult this is for me. Or even how much I probably need it.

I read the first half of Mindfulness for Beginners while driving back from a hospital visit. I faced two major obstacles: my mind started to wander and I became sleepy. I was still able to focus (for the most part) on the book but it was a struggle.

The first part of Mindfulness for Beginners is an introduction. The second part of Mindfulness for Beginners is practice.

OMFG. This is where it became really difficult. It is impossible [for me] to listen to the practice while driving. I almost fell asleep while driving about 70 MPH. I had to pull over and get an energy drink.

I also decided to not to try to practice until I was at home (smartest decision ever).

When practicing, I found myself thinking about all sorts of things during practice: what I was going to write in this review; what I wanted to cook for dinner; other books I wanted to read; other mediation practices I’d tried in the past, etc. The list is varied and extremely long.

Trying to mediate became even more difficult when my mind wandered to my family: illness, death, sadness. Frustration that I can do nothing to help the ones I love. That I can do nothing to make it better. I would often find myself tearing up…

This one moment, this one breath.

This one moment, this one breath.

This one moment, this one breath.

When I noticed my mind wandering, I would try to refocus on my breath. So hard. I would have to repeat This one moment, this one breath in my head to refocus. Sometimes it would really work – the tears would clear up and/or I would be able to focus on Kabat-Zinn’s words. I can’t really say if I was kind to myself – but considering how often I state how much I suck as this…I’m sure I can find more kindness for myself somewhere.

During the 2nd or 3rd practice, I fell asleep. Totally conked out. That one I had to start all over again.

I think that Mindfulness for Beginners is an excellent introduction to the study of meditative mindfulness. I also think that I’m going to have to read this multiple times before I can move on to Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Which I probably need as well.

One Response to “Review: Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn”

  1. Patricia Voight

    Interesting comment enjoyed your prospective. I enjoyed the book but struggled with some of the problems you mentioned, but also have his 4 cd’s of meditation , yoga , and “body scan” meditation , I did at least one of them everyday while battling breast cancer , it helped me so much !!! I can’t say enough about the body scan one, I always love when he says” just for now accept things as they are ” He says don’t try to change anyone or anything just accept what is here and now while you are meditating .. Eventually I started doing that when I wasn’t meditating .

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