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on 23 July 2010
Highly recommended for anyone going through periods of stress, pain or illness. The basic technique is mindfulness meditation which means being aware of what is happening in the moment aided by focusing on the breath. There are a range of very practical exercises that can be used. All it takes is discipline. By sitting, lying or standing you can become aware of your inner life and listen to what is going on over time - not judging but observing. By doing this on a regular basis without expectations you can begin to change your life and your reactions to stress, pain, anxiety or illness or indeed any circumstance. The author - Jon Kabat-Zinn - uses the techniques detailed in this book in his Stress Reduction Programme at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre. (There are CDs available).

The key words are 'breath awareness', 'body-scan', 'yoga', 'mindfulness in the present moment', 'listening within'.

What is 'mindfulness'? - It is being totally aware of everything in the present moment without energy being wasted on thoughts of the past or future or any habitual conditioning from authority figures.

The whole programme helps an individual to face the inevitable changes in life with a more open accepting attitude and so lessens habitual reactivity. Once you become mindful of how you approach life and how you react to circumstances then you can begin to change conditioned responses and by doing so realise that you can become the master of your own life whatever life throws at you.

Worth a read. Worth practising mindfulness whatever activity you are involved in. Worth sharing.
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on 10 June 2011
I have often read reviews on Amazon that say books are life changing and I can honestly say that this is the first book I have read that I can confidently say this about.

Before reading this book I was regularly stressed, felt something was missing from my life, couldn't sleep properly and felt very down. I am now back to my old self, feeling more confident, relaxed and fearless, able to deal with whatever life throws at me. I can now live my life to the full with no regrets and a sunnier outlook.

But, I feel that it's important to say that the book itself is only as good as the 'technique' of mindfulness and that mindfulness will only work if you actually do the meditations (either using guided CDs, or on your own).

I can see why there are some negative reviews for this book as it is long and can take a while to get into, I also felt similarly when I first picked it up, but it doesn't take long to get past this. In fact, the stronger your mindfulness practice, the more useful the book becomes and then you are glad of the 500+ pages. Although some of it may seem repetitive, I really believe that it is important to see the act of mindfulness from many different perspectives and to understand how to apply it to different areas of your life.

So, in short, it's a completely life-changing concept, but will be a completely useless book unless you are willing to put in the time and commitment to making it a firm part of your life. Without this, it will just be a very long book that sits on your shelf with little meaning. I would liken it to an exercise regime, you'll only see the results if you put in the work.

It's worth noting that I have read this book as part of a MBCT course so I have been actively doing the plan outlined in the book (with daily meditations etc.) and that is why I am reviewing this particular book, but there are plenty of others on the market which are shorter and perhaps more accessible. A particularly good one is The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (includes Guided Meditation Practices CD)(also relevant for those without depression), but there are many more available.
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on 2 October 2010
This is not an easy self-help title, and I haven't been able to work through the whole book. What I have read, however, has had a profound impact on my way of thinking. This truly is a classic in the best sense of the word ... and it also has one of the most witty and fitting titles I can think of: Yeah, life is a catastrophe - so let's stop complaining and take up the challenge instead!
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on 26 November 2013
I've read this book twice but could not recommend it to someone new to the practice of mindfulness or someone who is looking for a clear and concise introduction to this powerful and life changing concept.

I own the book on Kindle but have seen the hard copy and it is huge. I find that book is very useful to someone who has been practising mindfulness for some time as it adds additional context and information to the concept but to the beginner its a daunting and intimidating prospect. I recommended mindfulness to a friend who suffers with severe anxiety. Unfortunately, he went off and bought this as his first book. He came back to me a few weeks later bemused and disappointed and I can see why. This book focuses heavily on the science and moves from one academic study to another to the extent that it feels like an academic textbook. Added to that there are many chapters on obscure concepts like wholeness and connectedness and sprinkled liberally with examples from the MBSR clinic To me, the book lacks the essence of mindfulness and simple, practical help as to how mindfulness can be practised. It pains me to say this of a book written by Jon Kabat Zinn, an individual for whom I have nothing but respect.

Few people approach mindfulness for the purpose of feeling connected to the rest of the universe or to hear about studies by academics. People approach mindfulness for the purpose of enjoying happier, more fulfilled lives and this book sadly wont hit the mark and will probably discourage quite a few.

Mindfulness is breathtakingly beautiful and can be frustratingly difficult at the same time. If you wish to explore the concept I would recommend starting with Oli Doyle's Mindfulness Plain and Simple which is light and accessible and maybe in time build up to the complex behemoth that is Full Catastrophe Living.
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on 25 March 2013
I've read far too many books on meditation, been to a lot of different meditation classes, and practised yoga with a couple of dozen teachers (though regularly with only a handful). Yet every time I pick up this wonderful book I wonder why I do all of the above, instead of just devoting my time just *doing* the meditation as JKZ describes. This book is just so right at every level, and each time I re-read it I get more from it. It also invariably inspires me to either re-start or lengthen my practise.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the book is that it is so BIG. I actually read it before I had started doing any meditation, and it seemed like too much too read and take in, and made me feel the thing is really complicated. Actually meditation is quite simple, and the best thing is to start as soon as possible *while* you read the book; if you do that then you will negate my only criticism of the book, and you will also rapidly discover how perfect this book is, as it will answer most of your questions as they arise (starting, of course, with "why I am I sitting here doing nothing?!").

It's hard to imagine a better comprehensive book on mindfulness meditation.
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on 16 April 2013
If you suffer from stress this book and c.ds could well save your life.

Each time I open this text I find guidance that relates to me. It's written in a different way from other self help books. It's gentle and enlightening. I take away something to think about each time I read a few pages. I am currently on week three of the eight week meditation course (on cd). Even though I am aware that my mind is still wandering onto jobs to do; how social interactions have gone... I am coming back to the moment more quickly. Each day I follow these c.d's means that the day is less stressful and I am slowly becoming more mindful. I am finally starting to get some joy back into my life. My husband and children are happier. I am no longer consumed and blindly led where my mind decides to take me. It's not destroying me. I want to be here to enjoy life now. Some of you wont understand this, while others will.
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on 18 December 2012
This book has given me a lot of motivation to start and crucially, continue, with my meditation practice. Jon Kabat-Zinn is well-known for practicing what he preaches, and it shows. He demonstrates how regular meditation can help with just about every aspect of life, from work and relationships to health, love, confidence and happiness.

However, he is not the most disciplined when it comes to descriptive text - he tends to use 100 words where 5 would do. The book is peppered with examples from attendees at his Stress Clinic in the US and a fair few plugs for his proprietary Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course. This is a long book of 500 pages - I can't imagaine what topics he's covered in his other book, Coming to Our Senses, which is also a whopper. However, having read this one, along with the excellent Wherever You Go, There You Are, I feel pretty expert on the subject!

Overall - an enjoyable and informative book - would recommend.
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on 5 May 2010
This book is well written and interesting . The instructions on mindfulness meditation are clear and easy to follow (though the CD, bought separately, certainly makes practice simpler). Very thought provoking with case histories of the benefits of mindfulness in stress and illness.
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on 9 July 2012
This book is extremely accurate, in as much if you have suffered chronic pain most of your life, then it
touches all the nerves in as much, I kept saying to myself Yes had that thought, and yes feel like that etc etc
Written well, and clearly the author has a great understanding of the subject. For me, was to long winded, and
even though I know I should try some of the suggestions listed in the book, I kept finding it to much to take in.
I feel you have to be a "Type" that can be disciplined, and can stick for months doing repetitive mind exercises,
and sadly was not for me. This would work if at a class with others IMO
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on 1 February 2014
This book is wonderful. I've been dabbling in mindfulness for nearly 2 years and have managed to bring a little into my daily life after attending an 8 week course last year. Reading this book during a recent period of recuperation has reminded me of the power of mindfulness and re-invigorated my enthusiasm for it. This revised version provides lots and lots of evidence for the benefits of mindfulness which is presented in a balanced and considered way. I will be dipping in and out of this book for the rest of my life.
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