Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Secret to Living Your Life Fully: Lessons on Mindfulness - Jennifer Brooks **4/5**

Quick & Dirty:
  • Background guide as well as how-to, I would not recommend this book to anyone who is not looking for/willing to read through the background information.
  • Solid introduction without being a long and daunting read.
  • The authors writing style made the reading a bit awkward at times.
Long & Wordy:

The most helpful thing for me in the book was the section on informal mindfulness.  I have a hard time not thinking during meditation, and a harder time not berating myself for not calming down.  Having 'options' provided for people like this was great.

So I mentioned "background information".  What is that? Basically on pg. 6 the author provides a list of promises for what the book will teach you, I'll explain more underneath...
  • "An explanation of what mindfulness really is.  And isn't
  • What a beginner's mind is and why it's actually quite important.
  • What role your breath plays in calming your mind.
  • Tips for taming your wandering mind.
  • How enhanced attention to your body can help you cruise along your journey with ease.
  • The difference between formal and informal meditation, and how to put these to work for your.
  • The healing power of mindfulness.
  • A variety of techniques - both informal and formal- to help you develop a lifetime practice."
So why is this significant? Notice how every bullet except the very last isn't providing you directions to meditate?  That's because if you're looking to get the most out of being mindful and want to make it a lasting practice, then you should understand the concepts it's built on and know what you should be gaining from it.

Also, it should point out that if you're really impatient or just looking for a quick 'how-to' you should look elsewhere.

Overall this really was a solid introduction to mindfulness meditation.  It was short and simple enough to be easily grasped by anyone and long enough to provide enough information on each topic for a beginner.

The rest of the review is going to explain the things I thought detracted from the book, making it a 4/5 instead of 5/5.

In the beginning the author states that she has turned her life around through mindfulness.  I think she takes a little too much personal experience into account and throughout the book makes comments about how this will fix your life, help with your anxiety and panic, etc.  Basically she keeps trying to reinforce or convince you that your life is horrible and this is the cure-all.  Well, yeah I'm not perfect, but I don't think I handle myself quite as poorly as she seems to insist that I do.  If I had a friend giving me advice this way...well we probably wouldn't be friends.

The continued references to your screwed up life and this cure really felt like a sales pitch...I'm 3/4 of the way through the book, pretty sure by this point I've bought it and what you're saying.  Sales pitch not necessary.

She also has a tendency to put words in your mouth.  A lot.  I understand that this helps show that you're relating to the reader and understanding them, but it was done too much to be effective and really just ended up annoying.  Eventually every time she said "you're probably saying/thinking" I cringed and caught myself thinking, "No, that thought never crossed my mind...but thanks."

These are a few things that I found a bit...far fetched.  I can't say they're wrong because I just read this as an introduction and can't make a claim one way or the other but...well read them and pass your own judgement.
Pg. 8 
But, you may discover that your new-found awareness has you living all your moments with an extra touch of awareness.  Colors may become more vibrant, actions become more meaningful, and opportunities appear to open up where once there were none!
The colors becoming more vibrant really seems like a bit of a stretch...
The second one I want to mention is a little longer so I'll paraphrase.  Basically it says that by developing the 'beginner's mind' you'll be more aware.  She provides a theoretical account of someone avoiding an alley then finding out someone was attacked there shortly after you walked by.  So...honing your intuition?  Coincidence?  Just a little bit of a reach for me.

Check it out on Amazon.

Overall 4/5

***I received this book as an ARC.  This in no way effected my review.***

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