Review of "Mindfulness"

By Mark Williams and Danny Penman
Rodale, 2012
Review by Christian Perring on Sep 16th 2014

This is a straightforward introduction to meditation using simple language. The basic ideas are easy to grasp: through becoming able to be aware of one's body feelings and emotions, one becomes both more integrated with them and also more able to accept them without them being overwhelming. Interrupting one's usual patterns helps one to get out of them and take more control of one's life. These approaches are standard and well-tested. People who have practiced yoga will also be somewhat familiar with the ideas and practices of mindfulness.  The book should be used with audio mp3 files that are available online.  Mark Williams is one of the best known writers about mindfulness practices and he has linked it with practices in cognitive therapy; he cites a few studies that show the value of the exercises described here.  The goal here is to help people with everyday problems, but the exercises could potentially help people with more severe problems like depression and anxiety. 

Committing to an 8 week program is hard work and some readers may find the book daunting since it doesn't present a way to use some of the meditation practices.  But it is possible to start out with the first practices and see how it feels to do them, and then build on them.  At 276 pages there is quite a lot to read, and some people may prefer the practices without lots of explanation to go along with them. Most of us are much better at starting programs than finishing them, and it may take a few attempts to really make a go of this one.  There is no guarantee of success and most of us have all sorts of stuff going on in our lives that makes it hard to know what the real cause is, if we start feeling better or worse, But after trying it regularly, we can get some sense of whether it works for us.  For people looking to take meditation more seriously, this book is a good starting place.


Link: Audio guided meditations


© 2014 Christian Perring



Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York



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