Mindfulness — you may have heard your yoga instructor talk about this or a therapist or that friend who is always on the hunt for the next best way to improve his life, but what is it, really?
Some have called it the secret to “the kind of peace and happiness that gets into your bones and promotes a deep-seated authentic love of life, seeping into everything you do and helping you to cope more skillfully with the worst that life throws at you (p. 2).” But that is not really a definition. It’s more of a statement of outcome. Part of the problem is that being mindful is only really known through the experience of it, sort of like Tiramisu, you just have to taste it to understand the wonderfulness.
In their book, Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World, Williams and Penner set a clear roadmap for those who would like to develop a more mindful way of being in this world. They write in an approachable way including plenty of examples of real people’s experiences with these practices. The first three chapters draw our attention to the inattentive, often frantic pace of our lives (feeding depression, stress and anxiety) and shows how mindfulness can address this.
The rest of the book devotes a chapter to each week of the plan, expanding the practice and showing how it builds on what has come before. Throughout, the authors skillfully weave experience and scientific research together, providing a compelling case for the benefits of mindful practice.
I highly recommend this book, to be used either individually, in community with a friend or with the guidance of a therapist. The mere reading of this book will not change your life. It might give you hope that things can change and while that realization is good and often truly helpful, in order for real change to occur, readers have to be willing to follow the plan and practice.
In his forward to this book, mindfulness guru himself, Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “To be effective, mindfulness requires an embodied engagement on the part of anyone hoping to derive some benefit from it (p. ix).” With focused effort a person can actually taste mindfulness for herself and then share her experience with others who may find it beneficial.