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Mindful : February 2019
It’s no small thing to take on the responsibil- ity of teaching others how to work with their minds, no less teaching teachers to do that. (It’s not like teaching, say, tennis; it’s the mind, after all. Nothing is subtler or more elusive). A meditator since she was a teenager, a meditation teacher for decades, and a teacher of teachers for quite a while, Diana Winston—director of mind- fulness education at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center—writes from direct experi- ence. She works with her own mind, while also encountering the challenge of new meditation students and those who aspire to teach others how to practice meditation and incorporate it into their lives. What she has learned in all those years comes through in The Little Book of Being, which focuses on “uncovering your natural aware- ness.” So often today in the era of popular mind- fulness, what works best as a lifelong pursuit, a life-giving ritual, is touted rather as a fix-it project that brings instant relief. At a critical point in her life, Winston says, she realized, “It’s time for me to relax, stop trying so hard, and recognize the natural awareness and goodness already inherent in my being—and in all beings. It was time to simply rest in awareness itself.” Highfalutin words, but Winston shows how to adopt relatively simple practices that allow one to gradually move from a more effortful approach to mindfulness to one that doesn’t consume so much energy, that has faith and conviction that we’re already aware and don’t need to be fixed. This viewpoint alone allows us to stumble more easily on the kind of childlike mind that can simply appreciate the next thing in front of us: whether it’s as small as a ladybug, or as seri- ous as someone telling us how much they hurt. THE LITTLE BOOK OF BEING Practices and Guidance for Uncovering Your Natural Awareness Diana Winston • Sounds True When he was in his 20s, writer Matt Haig struggled with suicidal depression— a struggle on which he’s already written a great deal. The decades since have found him painstakingly researching and adopting personal health habits that have kept the worst anxiety (mostly) at bay. Yet when a familiar sense of despair starts to creep back up, he’s forced to face the external influences threatening his— all of our—well-being. The result is this gem of a book. In shor t, smar t chapters, Haig’s sometimes humor- ous and often fascinating musings explore the unprec- edented technological changes we’ve witnessed, and clear-headed ways to respond to their influence on our collective mental health. NOTES ON A NERVOUS PLANET Matt Haig • Penguin Books “It takes audacity to coin a new word in the English language,” writes mindfulness teacher David Rome in the introduc- tion to Christine Caldwell’s Bodyfulness. “Bodyfulness,” he continues, “overcomes the bias toward the mental, while at the same time, extending and greatly enriching the signi- fication of mindfulness itself.” In her quest, Caldwell, a longtime somatic counselor, builds the theoretical and anatomical foundation for explaining the body’s role as a natural vehicle for contem- plation. She then guides us through somatic practices of breathing, sensing, and moving, so that “we can feel and express directly, creating a powerful and direct locating of ourselves”—a wordy, yet deceptively simple way into the present moment. BODYFULNESS Somatic Practices for Presence, Empowerment, and Waking Up in This Life Christine Caldwell, PhD • Shambhala Publications February 2019 mindful 75 reviews Bookmark This read...listen...stream