About the Author
Jon Kabat-Zinn was born in 1944 in New York as the youngest of nine. He graduated from Haverford College in 1964 and afterwards went to MIT to pursue his Ph.D. in molecular biology.
While at MIT he met Philip Kapleau, a zen teacher who was visiting Cambridge as a missionary to promote the teachings about Meditation and Buddhism during that time.
Kapleau introduced Jon to the world of Mindfulness and Meditation and soon he began studying alongside Thich Nhat Hanh and other big names of today's spiritual society.
Since then Kabat-Zinn gradually devoted more and more time of his life to Mindfulness based Stress Reduction. In 1979 he founded a stress reduction clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and restructured the traditional teachings about Meditation towards a more scientific way.
Jon successfully replaced anything Buddhism related out of the Mindfulness equation with empiric principles while still arriving at the same conclusions.
Starting with the 21st century, Kabat-Zinn began publishing books about Mindfulness and its benefits backed by his long years of experience and medical research.
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About the book
Meditation is not what you think - Mindfulness and why it is so important is the first part of a much larger book, Coming to our senses, reissued by Hachette Book Group into a series of four small ones.
Although Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD is the first scientist to empirically prove the benefits of Mindfulness, he manages to keep his phrasing at fine level of poetry, which makes Meditation is not what you think a pleasure to read.
It's structure is clear: the book is divided into multiple compact chapters. Each of which talking about a dedicated topic in precise detail, making it easy to understand.
All this without any information overdrive.
So what is Meditation already?
Contrary to public belief Mindfulness is not a trick!
It is a basic human instinct, essential to life, which empowers us to live and express our dreams through our actions.
Kabat-Zinns book shines more light on all the shimmering objects that are constantly passing by during our lives, persuading us into following their path instead of our own.
This can shut down your basic instinct, creating a great deal of subconscious frustration and pressure.
Anytime you're engaging in something that doesn't stand for or even contradicts with your own beliefs and views about reality, you're practically shaping the world away from your dream, creating another one's world.
While this might not be a big deal for everybody, it can make the those that didn't have the chance to develop their emotional and stress management skills spiral down a never-ending cycle of suffering and denial.
How Mindfulness helps
To enjoy a sense of fulfillment while engaging in an activity, you need to be aware of who you are, what your beliefs are and what you're engaging in to reflect on it, comparing it with your goals and making a conscious commitment in whether or not and how to engage.
Meditation is not what you think teaches you the techniques needed to get aware of your feelings. How to reflect on them and how to act according to your world view.
The first trick is to get aware of the negative emotions you're experiencing and how they compromise your thoughts so you're not just blindly acting on impulses anymore.
By detailing simple Mindfulness Meditation Exercises, Jon equips the reader with the tools needed to let go of your emotions or fears about the past and future to better tune into yourself and the present moment.
When we're not living in the moment, we tend to spend time agonizing over things in the past that can't be changed or experience the birth of anxious thoughts about the future and all the pressure it will bring.
Those feelings are an expression of a discrepancy between your perceived reality, your world and where you want to settle, and the direction in which you're heading.
Anything that contradicts your goals creates anger and stress.
When you're not consciously listening and observing what's happening - both, around you and within you - your mind will take action in stressful situations, entering a Fight and Flight mode.
While in this stance your thoughts are compromised and the actions you take aren't representing your dreams and what you stand for in life.
Mindfulness describes the ability to realize that this is happening, empowering you to consciously stop this reaction.
By pausing and reflecting on your feelings you're staying connected to yourself and the the Now moment.
Because (from the book):
"Each moment missed is a moment unlived."
Meditation is not what you think provides a solid framework on how to start listening to your yourself and experience the magic grip of anxiety happening.
It will train your ability to act by choice rather then spiraling down a mindless drain of unconscious frustration.
You'll literally be able to pause the time and put aside past and future to take a step back and look at the big picture of your world. What you want to accomplish, what you stand for, and how you think the puzzle of life should be finished.
When you're aware of the goals your pursuing, you can adjust your actions based on your them, expressing your own feelings out of calmness and whole heartedly stand behind them thus creating the reality you'd like to see.
Kabat-Zinn is a master in Mindfulness worth listening to.
Reading his words can feel like Meditation itself and will likely change the way you think - if not your way of life.
If you're curious about why Mindfulness is not for the timid, how taking small, incremental steps each day to drop into awareness can actually be an act of love, and why paying attention is so important to survive as an individual, as a community and even as a species, you should consider this book as an invitation to learn more.
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