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Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness
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Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  1,458 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Now in paperback, the guide to living a meaningful life from the world stress expert "[The] journey toward health and sanity is nothing less than an invitation to wake up to the fullness of our lives as if they actually mattered . . ." --Jon Kabat-Zinn, from the Introduction Ten years ago, Jon Kabat-Zinn changed the way we thought about awareness in everyday life with his ...more
Paperback, 656 pages
Published January 18th 2006 by Hachette Books (first published 2004)
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A wise book about being mindful and living life to its fullest, this is a book that I've read before and will read again, containing as it does so much sage guidance. It is long, perhaps being therefore intimidating to first-time readers, particularly if one reads it as one is inclined to read most books, consuming it in large gulps over several days. Instead, this should be read in tiny bites, perhaps two pages a day, slowly and carefully chewed, swallowed, and digested, maybe even reading with ...more
This book describes mindfulness - a practice for paying careful attention to the present moment and using meditation to focus that attention - and its potential benefits, from nearly every angle. I'd recommend it highly for those already interested, and at least somewhat versed, in mindfulness. For those with little interest or experience, large sections of the book might come across as lofty, verbose and too conceptual to help ground their mindfulness practice. That might just be my personal ex ...more
Dec 04, 2013 Thom marked it as b-shelved  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book has good information but is very hard to process. One sentence/paragraph from the book:

"Just as physicists have been compelled by the results of their experiments and calculations to describe the nature of elementary particles in two complementary ways, one as particles, the other as waves, even though they are really one thing -- but here language fails because at that level they are not really things but rather more like properties of energy and space at the core of all things at unt
Betty Cheng
This is an in depth book about the history, development and experience and effect of meditation. It isn't about religion although the development of meditation is an integral part of the religious tradition in East and therefore always present.

Kabat-Zinn covered the physical/medical benefits of meditation on stress in his earlier book, Full Catastrophe Living. This was the text for a course I took on the practice of meditation for stress management some years ago. My personal experience meshes
I adore JKZ. I needed this book! I was lucky to attend a workshop on "mindfulness and education" in which JKZ was one of the instructors, and this book was recommended reading, which is why I got it. I highly recommend it for its introduction to the importance of mindfulness, and for JKZ's views on things. I will try to elaborate later, as I found this book so meaningful to me that I am finding it hard to summarize.

Oh, and the book is good for the poetry alone -- he often puts a poem in between
How can you not appreciate Jon Kabat-Zinn? He opened the stress-reduction clinic in 1979 based on mindfulness practice. I read Full Catastrophe Living years ago, and this book is a great companion and expansion of what Kabat-Zinn has learned in the interim years. I'd like to require this in a poetry writing class, not just because JKZ knows and quote poetry, but because poetry is about coming to your senses.

Pay attention. To yourself. To the soundscape, the touchscape, the sightscape, tastescap
If you want to learn all about meditation in one book, this is for you. Short chapters and definitely written for people new to meditation. Given that I am not new to meditation ... and it's a VERY thick book ... and a bit repetitive ... I didn't finish it. What can I say ... so many other books, so little time.
Donna Pelley
At 609 pages, this is not a light read, literally. I had trouble holding it up while reading in bed. Nevertheless, it contains a summation of lots and lots of the literature of mindfulness. Despite the length, it chunks the material into bite-sized pieces for better digestion. I'm curious now about Kabat-Zinn's other books and may check them out but I'm assuming this is his opus. Here's an example "The ease is already here, underneath the dis-ease. The balance is already here, inside the imbalan ...more
Kim H.
Too much for me. Drawn out. Tedious. A bit arid.
This book and I were not meant to get together. I have read several other books on this subject (which is really the heart of where I am in life right now!) by a variety of writers and found them engaging and challenging. This one is far too long! After a while, even skimming started to feel pointless. I have lost all motivation to complete the book.

Perhaps I will return to this tome in a few years, after my practice is well established, and I wil
Charity (CJ)
I gave this one the old college try, but it's just not working for me. I actually think it's a fine book, with some really insightful gems, like the excellent and succinct description of Buddhism in the "Dharma" chapter and this passage about individual experience:

"Since awareness at first blush seems to be a subjective experience, it is hard for us not to think that we are the subject, the thinker, the feeler, the seer, the doer and as such, the very center of the universe, the very center of t
Susan Clark-cook
Another huge book, with life changing ideas. This is a book to be read slowly, and to mark pages to come back to, and indeed, I think it is the kind of book that needs to be read, more than once, to be dog eared an battered because that is probably the only way to get the full value of this book and what it has to say. It has many things that will make you think, ponder, and rethink, but also some down to earth practical advice on how to bring mindfullness into your own life, to make it work, an ...more
Mark McKay
This is a very worthwhile read - even at 600+ pages. I read it immediately after a more "academic" treatise about the melding of CBT and mindfulness, which I enjoyed. Perhaps because of the juxtaposition of the two reads, I enjoyed the personal anecdotes and occasional humor in "Coming To Our Senses".
On the downside, although JKZ claims not to be a Buddhist, he certainly spouts quite a lot of Zen and other eastern mysticism.

I was also particularly struck by his repeated use of the term "heart" f
Jamie Sunderland
Well, I discovered how difficult it was to read this book mindfully when my mind was racing ahead to September and school starting up! I also had to return this to the library, so felt a bit pressured about getting it read by a certain date. This book is all about mindfulness! With over 600 pages, I found this book to be somewhat daunting. It is thoughtfully and beautifully written, but somewhat redundant at times. I found myself skipping over chunks that didn't particularly interest me (my impa ...more
John Herceg
Jon Kabat-Zinn implores the reader to take a step back from their everyday life and notice the world around them, in his book, "Coming to Our Senses." The text is an intimidating 609 pages, however, the author breaks the book into eight independent sections guided by their specific didactic intents. Teaching lessons about meditation, mindfulness, and present moment awareness; Kabat-Zinn has provided us a textbook for improving our everyday experience of life naturally and immediately. What I rea ...more
Kabat-Zinn has brought East and West together in his remarkable career. He shares his work from the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre which has established the ability of mindfulness training to reduce pain and improve wellbeing in many different medical conditions. He explains how simple mindfulness exercises can for example speed up the healing of psoriatic plaques. He describes the process by which CBT psychotherapists come to him for direction on incorporating mindfulness into CBT f ...more
Compared with "Full Catastrophe Living" (by the same author), this one wasn't as seminal for me; however, the very brief, almost stream-of-consciousness chapters in this one allow the author to touch on a lot of topics linked with mindfulness, and helped reinforce the need for us to connect to what we are going through now, moment by moment and breath by breath, rather than fixating on the past or the future all the time or dwelling in a "virtual" reality. Some chapters were particularly great; ...more
This book is one you read in chunks, but keep coming back to. I love Kabat-Zinn and participated in a mindfulness course, plus a retreat with Kabat-Zinn. Though is message can seem lofty in many ways, I find a great deal of heart, honesty and truth in his words.
James Bender
An all time favorite. Don't really do the meditation but I reread it on a regular basis. The chapter called "Nowscape" is quite profound.

"Now is the future of the previous moment just past, and the future of all those moments that were before that one. Remember back in your own life for a moment, to when you were a child, or an adolescent, or a young adult, or to any other period already gone. This is that future. The you you were hoping to become, it is you. Right here. Right now. You are it.
This book contained many inspirational ideas for enhancing one's awareness, but boy, it could have used a good editor. About 2/3 of the way through I got bogged down and had trouble ever getting un-bogged. Sentences that run a paragraph long aren't always a bad thing, but too often in this book they were.

One of my favorite stories tells the answer a wise Buddhist monk gave a student to the question "How do I become a Buddha?" The monk replied, "Attention." The student said, "Is that all?" and t
Nick Duretta
I'd have given this book more stars but it simply goes on too long, repeating and reiterating its primary message to the point where it almost works against it. The book seems like a collection of essays, individually fascinating, but collectively overwhelming. Kabat-Zinn is a good writer, and his message of being mindful, living in the present, and opening our awareness to what is real is very potent. It's not original, of course, but in this day and age it's one we cannot hear too much. This b ...more
To be honest, I'm writing this review without having finished the book, because I'm not sure if I ever will. It's a bit boring and not quite what I expected. Rather than a really in-depth discussion of mindfulness and social engagement as the reviews suggest, it's more like a collection of bland exploratory essays. I'll pass. So why did I give it a four? Because of the fantastic selection of poetry included in the volume. If I think of the book as a poetry anthology (with a lot of miscellaneous ...more
A really great winter reminder about the power of a disciplined mindfulness practice. Its one thing to think that mindfulness is a good idea or to try living daily life mindfully (this is my general approach) but having a formal sitting or other type of meditation practice is where we really learn to observe and refine our own habits of mind. I liked Kabat-Zinn's connection of mindfulness to what he describes as the body politic. I'm always interested in the intersection of mindfulness and socia ...more
Outi Alaja
I found the book highly interesting and informative - and written with passion for humanity! It was a beautiful book, yet at times, bec of the scientific language and loooooong sentences, hard to read. I dont remember the date I started reading the book but it doesnt really matter - that kind of thinking with this book is insignificant. This book is meant to be read slowly...give it time for everything it entails to sink in. I will keep this in my bookshelf, definitely, and go back to it...even ...more
Donalee Attardo
Horrible. Don't waste your time.
Jul 28, 2014 Erin added it
Shelves: own, health
I like the works and thoughts of Jon Kabat-Zinn, who's an Eastern medicine practitioner with an MD (best of both worlds), but man, he has a lot to say. I have 3 of his books, one called "Wherever you go, there you are", which is about being mindful in everyday life (being present in your daily life), but then my mind wanders as I'm reading, which completely violates everything he says in the book. It would be funny if it weren't so tragic. So obviously, it's something I have to work on!!
Holy crap! I finally finished this book! I've been reading it on and off for over 7 months! I started reading a chapter a day, then I got sidetracked, then I started reading it full-on, then I got sidetracked, and I finally got going again on it a couple days ago. Whew!

Anyway, it was okay. Kabat-Zinn has a ton of good ideas, but he is not a good writer. Very repetitive, way too wordy, and lacking any discernible structure. I'm mostly just glad I'm finished.
This was good, but for me not as good as his first book. I remember it being hard for me to focus on it while reading, and finishing was a struggle. That may not be a reflection on the book itself but where my head was when i was reading it. Either way, from where i read, his first book i would recommend in a heartbeat, but this one i hesitate on. If you already love his writing then you should enjoy trying this to, don't take my experience as gospel.
Karl W.
This book had some remarkable passages, but was simply too sprawling to sustain interest over its 600+ pages -- not exactly what you want to conclude about a book about mindfulness, alas. The book pretty much preaches the same message preached in "Wherever You Go, There You Are," which is a more focused tome, and my opinion, a better place to start for those interested in the mindfulness-based approach to living advocated by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Aug 13, 2008 Kathy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is the ultimate book for being mindful, aware, and conscience in every moment of life; and ridding yourself of useless mind chatter that create suffering by not letting go of the past and worrying about the future. I realize, especially in reading this book, that all we really have is the and now. It is very liberating. I also ordered some of the authors guided meditation cd's, which I think are great.
Daniel Callahan
Sort of the "grandfather" of the application of mindful practice to healthcare, as well as a seminal researcher on its actual benefits to patients and practitioners, he here argues for the social benefits to all sentient beings (including ourselves!!) of regular practice. With my own patients who develop a regular practice, I offer this to help them make their practice further sense-able to, and in, their lives.
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Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., is founding Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is also the founding director of its renowned Stress Reduction Clinic and Professor of Medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He teaches mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) ...more
More about Jon Kabat-Zinn...
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness Mindfulness for Beginners Guided Mindfulness Meditation Arriving at Your Own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness

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“If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants. SIR ISAAC NEWTON” 1 likes
“Genetically speaking, we are one people. The two most seemingly different people in the world are virtually identical from the point of their genes.φ At most, about one in a thousand nucleotides in our DNA are different between the blackest and the whitest, the tallest and the shortest of us. We are 99.9 percent the same. We are one tribe, one family, but have yet to recognize it. We humans are all intimately interconnected. How we treat each other matters to the health and well-being, perhaps even the survival, of us all as a species, not in some vague future, but in this very moment.” 0 likes
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