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How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness
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How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  354 ratings  ·  47 reviews
A growing body of research is showing that mindfulness can reduce stress, improve physical health, and improve one’s overall quality of life. Jan Chozen Bays, MD—physician and Zen teacher—has developed a series of simple practices to help us cultivate mindfulness as we go about our ordinary, daily lives. Exercises include: taking three deep breaths before answering the pho ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Shambhala (first published June 14th 2011)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
A faculty mindfulness group recently started gathering, and I went out of curiosity. This book was mentioned as a good way to start. It probably isn't for everyone but I needed concrete ideas of specific things to do, rather than just hoping to be more mindful.

Then I hit this part of the introduction:
"Our essential hunger is not for food but for intimacy. When intimacy is missing in our lives, we feel isolated from other beings, alone, vulnerable, and unloved in the world. We habitually look to
...more
Trish
Jan Chozen Bays has written a book that brings us back to ourselves and calmly, gently, laughingly teaches us to focus on immediate tasks…not to get them over with but to be guided by the process. This is book meant to be read slowly, which is a good thing, for it took me a year. Each chapter is meant to be read one week at a time, giving us time to perform the daily exercise for a week. It gives us time to savor the moments of everyday life, not rush through them as though there were somewhere ...more
Zen Nana
This is a wonderful collection of exercises to achieve and maintain mindfulness on a daily basis. Bays offers 52 ways to focus attention, a handy format for spending a year training your wild elephant mind one week at a time. I read this book on my kindle, but I am going to buy the paperback edition immediately so that I can have it around to refer to frequently and remind myself to practice. There have been only a few books I have kept handy over the years to use as guides and references whenev ...more
Margaretflynn
This is a wonderful inspired work. I purchased a copy and it will be one of my constant companions from now on.
Morgan Blackledge
This is (yet another) mindfulness book, by (yet another) Buddhist teacher who had contact with Chögyam Trungpa, the famous (or infamous) Tibetan Buddhist gone radical, iconoclast founder of the new Shambhala lineage and Naropa university in Boulder Colorado.

Other contemporary Buddhist luminaries from this clique include: Pema Chodron, Reginald (Reggie) Ray and Mark Epstine to name but a few.

This book is okay. It wouldn't be my first recommendation if you are shopping around for books on mindful
...more
AnandaTashie
Divided into 53 tips for mindful living. Each section has: the exercise; reminding yourself; discoveries; deeper lessons; final words. Usually 3 pages for each tip. I read 75 pages in entirety, then just went through and read the exercises.

If you're zen buddhist, then reading everything could possibly quite resonate. If you're like me and don't fall within that label, but enjoy focusing on present-moment awareness, then you may or may not like reading every word. It was more of a "not" for me.
...more
Mary
There are 53 mindfulness exercises in this book, and each one is presented in a multipart format. First you are told what to actually do, then how to remind yourself to do it, then preliminary thoughts on the exercise, then deeper analysis of possible outcomes, then a summary thought. This structured format makes it easy to use the book as a source for adding mindfulness exercises to your daily life. The book also provided a useful introduction to the practice of mindfulness using the training o ...more
David Rickert
I didn't really follow the instructions for the book but found it meaningful nonetheless. What you are supposed to do is follow a mindfulness practice for a week and then return to the book and read about what you can learn from doing it. I wasn't very good at following the tasks (there are some helpful ways to remind you to do them, but I didn't want to fill my house with post-its) and I actually received more benefit from reading the entire chapter first so that you knew what you were supposed ...more
J. Schmidt
This is a nice little book that is very easy to read. There are plenty of exercises on how to live more mindfully and happily. There is nothing really wrong with this book, I only gave it 3*, because, although it was "nice", it was not really "life changing".
Linda Watkins
A pretty good book for those interested in becoming mindful, reducing stress in their lives, etc. It's a good place to start if you are interested in beginning a mindfulness practice.
Stephen Walmsley
Simple, practical, pick it up once a week and carry a powerful and simple exercise with you all week.
Marilyn Di Carlo-Ames
Because I am mindful I do not need to stick post-it notes all over my house to remember each of the exercises. Constant reference to the author's monastic life also did not enhance the enlightening messages in this book. I enjoy rereading exercises at different points in my year when they appear relevant and very much enjoy the manner in which they enhance my enlightenment! A wise and relevant book that i highly recommend, as it is an easy read, and there is something in it for everyone. This bo ...more
Jmp
Jun 07, 2014 Jmp added it
some really good suggestions for being mindful. some goofy ideas - - maybe they worked for Jan, but not for others of us - - like noticing "filler words".
Bea Bolinger
Set up as weekly meditations I read it over the weekend anyway. Some really good insights and beautiful explinations of how mindfulness works in daily practice. You don't have to stress about developing a sitting practice (the silent 30 minute meditation where you meditate on your breathe) to reap the benefits of mindfulness and loving-kindness, you can practice meditation while driving, grocery shopping, eating or answering the phone with these little practices. It was a cute enough book but I ...more
Vladimir
Several nice exercises are suggested, but there's too many of them and they quickly become repetitive. Sometimes less IS more. Also, author reveals himself to be an essentialist (when he attacks moral relativism), which is as anti-Buddhist as anything can be. Not recommended for beginners or for longtime practitioners. Perhaps it could be useful for mindfulness teachers (because of the number of described techniques) or for people who are neither new nor experienced with the technique.
Melissa Michelle
Definitely interesting to read. Didn't have too much time to try all of them. Had fun trying some of them.
Nancy Dardarian


This is a book that should be read over a period of a year so you can practice each suggestion for mindful living. I read it at one go, though, and it still will make me more mindful during my daily life. Suggestions like taking three centering breathes before answering the phone, taking a media break, writing down things you are grateful for at the end of a day and using loving eyes are all good ones. I'll revisit this book often.
Kerri Huff
Tips and exercises to practice mindfulness in everyday life. I read through it quickly, since the book was a loaner, and the exercises were simple and easy to implement, with explanations of how they fit into and fulfill basic parts of the mindfulness philosophy. Just eat with no distractions, savor every bite. Listen to the quiet, really listen. Focus on your posture. Etc.
Jessica
This is my kinda pace in learning how to become mindful. I did read ahead and look at each exercise as opposed to doing one once a week and reading the book in that way. I found the exercises and suggestions "do-able" as well as the "deeper meaning" suggestions that go along with each one. A great book that you will find yourself picking up over and over again.
Pauline Mclernon
Useful, little book with practical exercises to focus your mind on the present time
Ben Worsley
Some really nice insights such as "When Eating, Just Eat," "Use Your Non Dominant Hand," & "Absorptive Listening". However, I feel Developing a Buddha Brain by Hanson, written in much the same manner, was more impactful? but that might have been due to my relevant commitments to the exercises in each book.
Angie crosby
I got a lot from this book. Learned a lot. The exercises are simple, yet challenging. Some of course more challenging than others. I loved the format of the book. I will for sure be returning to this book again and again. I would recommend it to anyone interested in mindfulness.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
That wild elephant is our mind. Something we've been told since childhood that is easily malleable and teachable. Bays shows us the reality of our mind, our wild elephant, and teaches us a few tricks to harness this creature that affects so much of what we do and who we are.
Jessica
I found it to be a bit repetitious in terms of definitions and concepts, though i realize that is because the book is meant to be read over a year, not over an afternoon. There are some wonderful ideas for mindfulness exercises and I can't wait to try them!
Kristin Lyon
Really good for me because i am the opposite of mindfulness. Multitasking to the extreme. Quick read. It's supposed to be spaced out over a year but I just ran through it anyway and will definitely try to incorporate mindfulness into my wild life.
Pewterbreath
Some nice little mindfulness exercises. I love books like this--with an item a week to do. It helps me to try out different things. However, it's really a very casual doorway into mindfulness--so it's pretty light.
Cathy Morgan
I loved the introduction to the book and pledged that I would make it through 52 weeks of mindful exercises. Well, that didn't work out but I do highly recommend having a copy as a reference. It is simply written and interesting.
Leo
I read through all the exercises without the supporting detail and found the book quite appealing. I think that doing 1 exercise throughout a week as suggested makes sense. Probably, doing this with a group would make it easier.
Sally
A nice read with exercises to help increase mindfulness throughout the day. A book you can carry around and read when you have a little time, and practice the exercises and learn to live more in the moment.
Ivy
It would be a good book to own and refer to when you need a quick mindfulness exercise. Certainly not a thrilling read. Useful, but not necessarily new or original ideas.
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