Review: Mindfulness For Beginners

Title: Mindfulness For Beginners
Author: Jon Kabat-Zinn PhD
Printed Pages: 184
Publish Year: 2016 (Sounds True)
Recommended For: Those somewhat familiar with mindfulness meditation, that want to immerse themselves a little deeper.

First Lines: Welcome to this program that’s called Mindfulness For Beginners. I’m delighted to be working with you in this way, and I do so in the hope that whatever it was that drew you to the allure of mindfulness, that that very impulse can be explored and nurtured so that it will grow and develop. Because no on comes to a program such as this by accident.”

 

Review

I listened to the audiobook version of this book. In fact, I think this was probably an audio lecture before it was adapted to printed form. Thinking about it, I’m curious how the written work would come across, as Jon Kabat-Zinn uses a very conversational style in this work. It’s actually quite comforting, Kabat-Zinn reminds me of the Jewish uncle I wish I had–his voice is soothing and his demeanor is incredibly cheerful (in a refreshingly sincere way).

Kabat-Zinn is a powerful figure in the modern mindfulness movement. He’s the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, a scientist, a writer, and a meditation teacher. He has helped bring mindfulness into the mainstream.

The book is divided into two sessions. The first is a narrative on what mindfulness is and how it can be used in our daily lives, with the second session being a series of guided meditations.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn

The meditations are useful for beginners, but perhaps a little esoteric if you are completely green to the practice. I worry that meditation skeptics might be a little turned off when they’re asked to listen to a raisin, but if this work is considered with an open mind the reader is bound to find some value along the way.

A common theme is a phrase that Kabat-Zinn is famous for coining: “awarenessing”. I appreciate this idea–turning ‘awareness’ into a verb, inspiring one to be active in an activity that we spend most of our lives attending to only subconsciously.

Selected Lines:

As long as you’re breathing, there’s more right with you than there is wrong.


As a beginner to meditation it is very important to know that meditation is not about shutting off your thinking or shutting down your thinking. It’s not saying “it would be better if you didn’t think”, and that we are trying to suppress all thought and have the mind be silent. You try to suppress your thinking, you’re going to end up with a gigantic headache. It’s like trying to stop the ocean from waving; it’s in the nature of the surface of the ocean to wave, just like it’s in the nature of the mind to wave and to secrete these little thoughts. But if we get caught in the thoughts and we self-identify with them, “that’s me”, “or that’s not me”, then we are really caught. That’s clinging.


The only person that you have the possibility of being like is yourself, and that’s really the challenge of mindfulness.


My rating: 3.5/5 – It’s a joy to read (or even better, listen to). This book might not be the best introduction to meditation for someone completely unfamiliar with the practice, but it’s definitely worth including in your knowledge base as you develop your own practice.

Consider Audiobooks

Audible Logo

I listen to a lot of audiobooks. I enjoy them for a number of different reasons:

  • I can ‘read’ on the go. I listen to audiobooks while I’m commuting, out walking the dog, or doing chores around the house.
  • I enjoy high-quality, professional narration. I let the narrator tell me how to pronounce certain names, or to give me a feel for a character’s speaking voice.
  • I like to read while listening to the narration. I find myself immersed in the story when I’m listening and reading at the same time. Kindle apps on my phone and tablet make this seamless. (The narration pace is normally slower than my reading pace, so I have to expect my books to take longer this way.)

There are three primary (legal) ways to acquire audiobooks from Audible.

Adding Narration to a Kindle Title

Audible is the largest retailer for audiobooks. Like Kindle, it is owned by Amazon, which is good news for those of us that are Kindle addicts. Amazon offers the Audible audiobook narration for many Kindle titles at a greatly-reduced price once you own the Kindle ebook. An audiobook that might be $30 from Audible.com can often be found for just a couple dollars on Amazon if you have already purchased the Kindle ebook. In my experience, most of the time I can purchase the ebook and add the audiobook narration for a fraction of the price of just buying the audiobook on its own. This is how I built the majority of my Audible library. In addition, Kindle’s ‘Whispersync’ service keeps your place across devices and formats, so when I get in my car and start playing the audiobook it will pick up right where I left off with the ebook.

Buying the Audiobook

You can purchase audiobooks at both Amazon.com and Audible.com. You’ll pay full-price, which most titles seem to be in the $25-$30 price range.

Subscribing to Audible

Another way to purchase audiobooks from Audible is by subscribing to their service. They offer multiple plans, the most common and basic being $14.95 per month. For this price, you get one free audiobook credit per month (almost all titles require a single credit) and significant discounts on additional titles. For $22.95, you can get two credits per month. You can have a free 30-day trial by clicking the link on the right. You get a free title and can cancel before your trial is up and keep your book free of charge.

Recommendation:

I’ve done all three options. Currently, the first one–adding narration to my Kindle titles–is the right plan for me. I read almost exclusively on my Kindle, so adding narration for a few extra dollars makes the most sense for my situation. This also depends on my rate of consumption, which currently is about one book per month. If I was going to read more than I do now, I might consider other options like Kindle Unlimited (which I’ll write about in a subsequent post). If I were to listen to more audiobooks that I weren’t also planning to read, or if I came across a title that didn’t have a reduced price for owning the Kindle version, I might reactivate my premium Audible membership.