Book review: Meditation Is Not What You Think

Meditation Is Not What You Think:

Mindfulness and Why It Is So Important  

By Jon Kabat-Zinn

Meditation Is Not What You Think: Mindfulness and Why It Is So Important  By Jon Kabat-Zinn

In 2005, Jon Kabat-Zinn published his magnum opus, Coming to Our Senses. At 650 pages and years in the making, it was a monumental achievement. It allowed the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction to put his life’s work in a larger context. Mindfulness is not a mental trick, an adjunct to regular life. It’s a basic human inheritance that is essential to life. We need to be optimally aware of who we are, where we are, how we are if we are to survive individually and as communities, and even as a species in Kabat-Zinn’s view. The book amounted to a bold call for us all to quite literally “come to our senses,” to as often as a possible experience where we are and what is going on within and around us—and to take up practices that cultivate our ability to do so.

Now Hachette has decided to reissue the book as four separate small books, starting with Meditation Is Not What You Think: Mindfulness and Why It Is So Important, followed by Falling Awake: How to Practice Mindfulness in Everyday Life, both of which are available now. The third and fourth books will come out late this year and early next.

While the books overall are thick with references to and examples from science, literature, poetry, political thought, and more, the whole is presented in digestible chapters, which is almost certainly the best way to read these books, since trying to rip through them leaves not enough time to reflect and take in what you’ve read. They’re like a box of fine chocolates. Eaten and savoured one chapter at a time, they bring delight. If one eats half the box in one sitting, it may lead to indigestion.

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