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The Kindness Handbook: A Practical Companion Hardcover – 1 Nov 2008


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About the Author

Sharon Salzberg has studied and practiced meditation with Burmese, Indian, and Tibetan teachers for the past 25 years. She is a co-founder of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where she lives and teaches. She is the author of Lovingkindness (Shambhala, 2002), A Heart As Wide As the World (Shambhala, 1999), and many articles for O: The Oprah Magazine. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 15 reviews
51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Practical, no jargon or theory here 14 Nov. 2008
By Brian Schell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"For kindness to be more fully realized, it needs to be distinguished from being ineffectual or meek. It also needs to be infused with wisdom, supported by courage, and threaded with balance" -- Sharon Salzberg

This is another relatively small book, with many small sections. Although the books has chapters on "The Foundation," "The Entry" (Kindness towards ourselves), "The Expression" (kindness toward others), and "Closing," There are dozens of small stories, verses, anecdotes, and short scriptural passages. One section is a self-quiz to measure yourself on the "self-compassion scale." Like other books we have looked at this, one focuses on loving-kindness, but this one barely touches on meditation. It concerns the application of loving-kindness in everyday life.

The stories are wonderful; my favorite was one about an illegal immigrant, crossing into this country, who happened across a boy who, along with his mother, had just been in an auto accident. The mother had died in the crash, and the 9-year-old boy was alone out in the wild. The illegal immigrant stayed with the boy, comforting him, until help arrived the next morning. The man knew that by staying, he would be caught and deported, but stayed anyway, because the little stranger needed him. How many hopes and dreams would we be willing to give up to comfort a child?

This is not one of those books that you can read cover-to-cover. A small bit goes a long way, and rushing through it would be counterproductive. I would suggest sitting it on the nightstand and reading a small section every night; this would take about a month and give you something to dwell on before sleep. Perhaps a quick re-read the next morning would make an excellent way to start the day.

This book has little to no Buddhist theory or history, but that's OK. Learning the facts and ideas are useful in understanding the philosophy of Buddhism, but this book is really what it's all about. The sub-title of the book, "A Practical Companion," says it all. This simple, down-to-Earth book is all about the practical, proper, and realistic way to treat ourselves and each other.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Kindness Involves Mindfulness 8 Sept. 2008
By Janet Boyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"It takes boldness, even audacity, to step out of our habitual patterns and experiment with a quality like kindness--to work with it and see just how it might shift and open up our lives. This book is an invitation to do just that." - From The Kindness Handbook

Many of the world's religions teach that kindness is a desired virtue, something to be practiced towards those we love--and those we don't.

In her book The Kindness Handbook, author Sharon Salzberg shows us that kindness is much more than being nice or living altruistically. Kindness involves mindfulness--that present-moment awareness that accepts and allows whatever might be happening at the time, engendering intimacy with our surroundings.

Yet, this doesn't disqualify protesting perceived injustice or taking action to alleviate suffering, but rather invites us to be fully engaged with clarity of mind and openness of heart towards everyone we encounter.

Amid the pursuit of kindness, however, there is one person that often gets overlooked: ourselves. Salzberg maintains that we are often quite harsh with ourselves, more than with any other, participating in self-castigation and lack of faith towards our ability to succeed.

But what are we to do in the face of physical limitation, illness, death and disaster? How do we cultivate kindness not only for all people and the Earth, but also for ourselves? What might kindness look like in the midst of poverty, relationship challenges, dashed hopes or criticism?

The Kindness Handbook paints a gentle portrait of ways to meet each person and circumstance with loving kindness--an approach of ease, curiosity and permission that nourishes our spirit and leaves us emotionally fuller, rather than depleted.

Providing a self-compassion test, thoughtful anecdotes, personal examples and the profound wisdom that arises from awareness, Salzberg creates a sacred space inviting healing, understanding, peace and joyfulness to all who will partake of the living water of kindness and dare to step out of cycles of reactivity.

Here are but a few of the loving passages found in The Kindness Handbook:

* "Compassion is the trembling or the quivering of the heart in response to suffering. Equanimity is a spacious stillness that can accept things as they are. The balance of compassion and equanimity allows us to care, and yet not get overwhelmed and unable to cope because of that caring."

* "Instead of thinking that growth and understanding will come from doing battle with aspects of ourselves, or thinking they will come from enmity towards emotions, memories, and longings that we actually can't keep from arising, we discover that kindness and compassion for ourselves is the best and most healing trajectory for transformation."

* "...painful times can be an opportunity to find out what really is important to us. Pain wears away superficial concerns, leaving us with a powerful urge for freedom, happiness and wholeness of being."

* "We can explore other ways of seeing: confronting the stereotypes we often hold of anyone who appears to be unlike us, the indifference we assume toward those we don't know. We can examine all the ways we create an `other' unworthy of our care, with people or nature or religions or nations. Doing this will continually undermine the walls of our conditioning has constructed and open us beyond their pain."

My favorite story from The Kindness Handbook involves Salzberg and her friend, fellow author Krishna Das, as they were planning to travel to Hawaii from their separate points of origin to co-lead a retreat. Krishna Das advised her not to try to get to Hawaii from the East Coast in one day, but she decided to attempt it because of convenient connecting flights offered by her travel agent.

Well, Salzberg encounters unexpected delays and begins berating herself for making such a "poor choice". After meeting up with Das in Hawaii, he bemoans at how "stupid" *he* was, because after staying at an airport hotel, he found he couldn't sleep--only snagging two hours of rest before he had to catch his flight.

What a familiar scenario! So many times, we assume that if we had only done X, it would have turned out perfectly: We would have avoided the hassles, enjoyed the sights, gotten the discount, and saved time--the contempt, self-blame and shame starkly evident in our self-talk and feelings of humiliation.

If you're looking to follow a path of kindness, starting with yourself and radiating outward, The Kindness Handbook is a tender, but penetrating, guide to new ways of seeing, doing and being in the world. Caregivers will especially benefit from this book, as will anyone desiring to rise above reactivity, cruelty, or plain old indifference in order to bring peace on Earth and an end to all suffering.

-- Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
An exceptional wonder 7 May 2009
By Griffin's Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book. Drawing on everyday examples as well as scholarly research, Sharon Salzberg continues to provide a healing salve of kindness and compassion in realistic ways. This is not a book that aims to make us nice people in a me generation. It isn't even a book to make us feel good. I am a psychotherapist and have referred this book to many of my patients who are learning how to stay sober, heal from trauma, and begin again after divorce, among other life changing events. Through meditations that help us to encounter suffering with patience, tolerance, and clarity, we are again reminded of how we really can be present rather than run away from what hurts. Showing up for ourselves is compassionate enough because we can share this miracle with others. We all win.
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5-star book, 1-star kindle edition 9 April 2009
By S. Milks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a regular reader of Sharon Salzberg's work, I was not disappointed in the content of this book. She offers clear & concise explanations of Buddhist teachings as well as insightful examples of how Buddhist psychology works in contemporary society.

I was annoyed and disappointed in the the Kindle edition. After shutting off the Kindle, it did not save my place in the book. Not all of the chapters are listed, which has made it even more difficult to find where I left off. It is very difficult to navigate this book. There are also many bizarre breaks in words that I didn't notice in other Kindle editions.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Kindness...The Holy Grail of Possibilities 3 Nov. 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sharon Salzberg is a wisdom keeper who never fails to intrigue. She uncovers opportunity in every moment while providing new ways to present a 2500 year old truth to audiences of divergent backgrounds. Kindness, as insight... as courage, resulting in great strength and as a door opener to cascading possibilities. I have enjoyed the books she has written, learned much from them, but this one has tools that her others haven't. In this wise handbook book she provides instruction in the form of poetry, quizes, stories and personal insight. Small enough to fit in a pocket or purse, large enough to encompass the heart of the world, wise enough to last for a lifetime.
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