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Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World

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From one of the leading thinkers on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, a pioneering set of simple practices to dissolve anxiety, stress, exhaustion, and unhappiness.In "Mindfulness," Oxford professor Mark Williams and award-winning journalist Dr. Danny Penman reveal the secrets to living a happier and less anxious, stressful and exhausting life. Based on the techniques of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, the unique program developed by Williams and his colleagues, the book offers simple and straightforward forms of mindfulness meditation that can be done by anyone--and it can take just 10-20 minutes a day for the full benefits to be revealed.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published May 1, 2011

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About the author

J. Mark G. Williams

41 books176 followers
J. Mark G. Williams, D Phil, is a Professor of Clinical Psychology and Wellcome Principal Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Experimental Psychology. He has held previous posts at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, the Medical Research Council Applied Psychology Unit (now Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit) in Cambridge and the University of Wales Bangor, where he founded the Institute for Medical and Social Care Research and the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the British Academy. He was educated at Stockton Grammar School, Stockton-on-Tees, and at the University of Oxford.

His research is concerned with psychological models and treatment of depression and suicidal behaviour, particularly the application of experimental cognitive psychology to understanding the processes that increase risk of suicidal behaviour in depression. With colleagues John D. Teasdale (Cambridge) and Zindel Segal (Toronto) he developed Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for prevention of relapse and recurrence in depression, and two RCTs have now found that MBCT halves the recurrence rate in those who have suffered three or more previous episodes of major depression. His current research focuses on whether a similar approach can help prevent suicidal ideation and behaviour. His articles also focus on how autobiographical memory biases and deficits affect current and future vulnerability.

Source: Wikipedia.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 654 reviews
Profile Image for هدى يحيى.
Author 8 books16k followers
March 29, 2018

كيف تصل إلى السكينة والسعادة والرضا والحرية والسلام والبلا بلا بلا
تأليف: بياع جديد من بياعين الهوا ف أزايز

بيقولك امسك حبة زبيب واتأملها
المسها وشمها و"حس بيها" وطبطب عليها
وحطها ف بوقك واستلذ كده وانت بتمزمز فيها

لو المؤلف الرايق ده شاف بس كمية اللب اللي كلتها على مدار حياتى من غير ما أحس بيها
هيغمن عليه
Profile Image for Vittorio Minerva.
8 reviews2 followers
June 23, 2013
I was introduced to the practice of mindfulness during a very difficult period of my life where I seemed to have lost so much of my enthusiasm that life had become an empty shell. My counsellor at the time recommended this book to help me shed some light in the darkness and although I never believed in self help, I decided to give it a go. I had nothing to lose anyway. In fact, chapter after chapter I grew more and more attached to this book as if it were a sort of saving grace.

The prime aim of the book is to help people suffering from depressive or anxiety-related disorders understanding the nature of their condition (e.g.: when and why does one become depressed/anxious?), as well as teaching them how to look at life occurrences for what they are with a less judgemental and more compassionate attitude. With the aid of relaxation techniques and meditation, the reader will soon develop coping strategies and learn how to establish a healing process.

Each chapter explores a different side of depression and anxiety with real life examples taken from the author's daily practice. While narrating the story, the author also eviscerates each situation and explains the process that g . Once the reader understands this process, it will be easier for them to break the vicious circle of their actions and approach life in a healthier way.

The teachings in this book fall into the so-called CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), and while this is no substitute for professional help, it helped me enormously to recover from what I thought was a dark hole. Certainly not all situations described in the book were relevant to me, but a year later I am so grateful I read this book and consistently apply its techniques to my life. I would certainly recommend it to anyone, even those who are not suffering from depression, for a thorough insight into how to become more compassionate and forgiving towards ourselves and those next to us.

Profile Image for Jeff Yoak.
811 reviews41 followers
April 3, 2014
This is the best book on mindfulness that I've found to date, and certainly the most impacting. I read it through once, and then followed its eight-week plan, and finished by reading it again. (It is fairly short.)

I've been interested in the idea of mindfulness for some time, without even being sure what it is. So many things written about it are clouded by various sorts of mysticism that it is challenging, and yet a feeling that there is something of substance there persisted. Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness was probably the first really good book I found on the subject, but the actual discipline and practice in this work made real progress. Starting to decide to be more mindful, to appreciate values of focus, attention and, later for me, compassion, is certainly a good thing, but I was surprised to find that deciding to do it is not only not enough, but is only the first very small step.

I found it to be something like deciding to do weight-lifting. No one expects that decision to yield a meaningful result without a practice. You expect to have to actually do it, and then are delighted when early efforts actualize huge gains, and more and more progress is possible as you continue. Many mental phenomena aren't like that, and I tend to expect none of them to be like that. My ideas tend to be well-enough integrated that decisions tend to lead fairly immediately to different thought and emotion patterns. Mindfulness is much more like weight-lifting than most of these other mental activities. This book teaches skills that can be developed.

For better or worse, this book (and a few others, and in general, interest in this topic) hit during a lot of challenges in my life. I was simply amazed at how much it helped. It helped in being able to better cope with negative emotions. It helped with an ability to focus and be attentive and present at a time where that was an extreme challenge. It helped to foster an ability to have positive relationships with those involved in making this period challenging.

This far exceeded my wildest expectations. The book was introduced to me as one that is evidence-based and non-mystical, and I can confirm that it is. Nonetheless, I'm amazed at finding such value in things I would have dismissed casually in the past. Spider Robinson's quote, "Don't just do something; sit there!" comes to mind, and in addition to its humor, it carries with it the flavor of all the hippy-dippy stuff that I've traditionally associated with meditation and such things. I found value here without any conflict to my non-mystical, reason and reality orientation, and at the same time find myself saying things that sound a bit hippy-dippy still, to my own ears.

I went through this eight-week program with an old friend and said, "Don't tell ten-years-ago-us about this -- they wouldn't understand." She assured me that they would have been sarcastic and witty about it. She's right. Still, I'd recommend this book to anyone, even those two, if they're listening.

Profile Image for Chris.
Author 36 books11.3k followers
April 6, 2021
This is a wonderful book and perhaps this tome can help even a mess like me. I am the least mindful person on the planet. I am awash in anxiety and self-loathing. But I will try, thanks to this book, to live more in the present. I will do the exercises. We'll see. Stay tuned.
Profile Image for James Frost.
47 reviews4 followers
July 28, 2012

Like most of us, my mind is a f*cking mess, and this is a fantastically practical way to introduce yourself to the world of meditation.

I really wish that I'd found this book a long time ago because it would have saved me a lot of frustration. There are a ton of books out now about living in the present and meditation, but this one really makes it easy to follow in an 8 week course.

Though I've finished reading the book, I'm going back and following the course week by week. It teaches you patience, acceptance, and most importantly, living in the moment.

What I especially love about this book is that they tell you not to expect 'results.' This isn't something you can just 'do' and feel better. It's a way to change your perception and live your life in peace.

How can you not love that.
Profile Image for Vivian.
219 reviews2 followers
June 23, 2017
I loved this. Very short with 8 different guided meditations at the end. I just started, but I feel like it is really helping me. I just feel so good when I am doing it. It's like a craving. I want to meditate more! I just feel so calm and I love that my mind isn't racing!

Highly recommend

Update: On week 4 - You know the spider man movie when he wakes up and all of his senses are heightened and he doesn't know what is happening? That's how I feel. I notice sounds and smells and tastes that I just mindlessly ignored in the past. I'm freakin Spider Man! I love this mindfulness. It is changing my life.

The ear is the organ that receives sounds. The mind is the organ that receives thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts. They are our servants, not our master giving orders that have to be obeyed. This gives us freedom.
Profile Image for Paula K .
421 reviews423 followers
October 18, 2015
Wow, I really need to start practicing mindfulness training. Life is so frantic. Never enough time to do everything you want to do. Never enough time to finish my variety of To Do lists. From Wunderlist to Siri reminders, Google Calendar, and of course, a written list, life can be overwelming. Who do I share my time with after a 40-hour work week with a long commute: my husbands and son, my 80-year old parents in Maine, friends, book club mates, my 3 dogs, or the volunteering my son and I do every Saturday with the abandoned dogs at MSPCA?

Books have always been my go-to for relaxation, but I need something else. Just need the time to fit mindfulness in somewhere within the day!

4 out of 5 stars.

Profile Image for Lucinda Porter .
75 reviews
June 18, 2012
I have read quite a few books like this, but this is the best of them, and the only one I finished because I wanted to rather than because it felt like I "should." I downloaded the practices and I am still doing this, which for me, is a miracle...
Profile Image for Ci.
960 reviews6 followers
May 11, 2013
This book is accessible. It is written in a style of self-help; medical literature reference are largely in the endnotes. Stylized anecdotes peppered through out, without any pretension as to cite any actual patient history. Perhaps it is just as suitable; these fictional first-named persons are chosen as representatives in real life; a career-driven woman, an overworked father, among other generic situations. I found the arguments for meditation is well-articulated, well-written, and often with creative analogies; but such arguments get a bit repetitive after chapter three.

The sound tracks are quite good. Well modulated voice, good instruction, some good choice phrases such as “gently escort your attention back”. I personally like the “body-scan” and the “sounds and thoughts”.

The real value of this book lies in the “practice” of meditation. This is not about arguing for the scientific reasons or epiphanic “ah-hah” moment, but as a practice guide — like the instruction on the back of an electronic toothbrush. Which is exactly the most critical component of meditation. We don’t lack of information; we lack practice, repeating, thoughtful, day-in-day-out practice.

This book told us that we need to build a skill and a habit to hold our own mind at a distance, to detach us from the immediacy of emotional coloring or background chatter, so we can look at the problems squarely, without distortion. This is not about numb ourselves from the world or the problems, but to provide a neutral mindset in order to make the best as we can. In some subtle way, this book implies that mediation would be another performance enhancer to whatever life we choose. We have no fear of becoming someone less competitive, less engaged with the world we are in.

In the modern world, society push us through competitions of performance. The “hope” and “fear” are thought to be the twin-engine that runs our motor: “you can be what you want to be”, or “only the paranoid survive”. We are taught to reflect on our past and plan for our future — for all things, at all times — and we must reach for the stars, otherwise our lives amount to nil. In such age, it is easy to see how a practice of mediation can provide tactic solace, akin to a good-night sleep. It can be of help to sooth the edges and calm nerves and bad temper. Some research points to better medical and mental health at organ, and even genetic level.

In the end, meditation is a mental hygiene habit similar those applied our bodily hygiene or house cleaning. We can think better and function better when we have a regularly composed mind, but its effect does not automatically extend to the foundations of our lives: our core principles and values, our identity and meanings. But let me summarize by heartily endorsing meditation practice: it does provide the mental environment where we can allocate our mental and psychological energies for worthy pursues for such worthy goals instead of being trapped in counter-productive mental chatters.
Profile Image for Mandy.
773 reviews22 followers
May 26, 2012
This book presents an 8 week cognitive therapy based meditation course, including a CD of meditations to follow. I have borrowed the book, and don't feel I can keep it for 8 weeks, so I have not tried to work through the course, I just read through the book. I would think it quite a committment to do the course. You are asked to do the meditations once or twice a day for 6 out of 7 days. The mediations take about 30 minutes. Having struggled to fit in a 10 minute meditation the last two days I think that the committment that you would have to give is huge, but I can also imagine that the rewards would be great. Apparently people who do mindfulness meditation courses report that being more present in their lives means that they find themselves with more times in their days, which is something to keep in mind.

So, I can't give a report on the course, just that the book is well written and the course sounds very interesting.
Profile Image for Angy - Books Lover .
172 reviews19 followers
September 9, 2020
Molto interessante. Primo libro in tema mindfulness che leggo, devo dire che molti concetti riprendono la filosofia yoga. Onestamente l'ho semplicemente letto, senza fare tutte le esercitazioni, perché volevo capirne prima i concetti. In futuro magari lo seguirò passo passo.
In sintesi, concentrarsi sul respiro è la cosa fondamentale.
L'unica cosa che un po' mi ha fatto storcere il naso è che ogni 30 pagine circa, tra le righe, si millantava l'efficacia della tecnica della consapevolezza, quasi a voler convincere che il libro funzioni.
Come ogni libro che tratta l'universo della mente secondo me è da prendere con le pinze e occorre ricordare che, in caso si sospetti di avere un disturbo/patologia, è bene affidarsi a professionisti e non ai libri!
Profile Image for Jane Yates.
Author 7 books401 followers
March 15, 2016
Review of Audio ‘Mindfulness’ Written by: Mark Williams, Danny Penman
Narrated by: Mark Williams

This is a great audio to buy if you are new to the Mindfulness mediation technique and would perhaps do not have the time to go to attend the full eight weeks course in a group. Equally it can be good as a refresher to a course that you have completed in the past.
The narration carefully explains what Mindfulness is and then everything you need is set out for you to start the practice. You are given a flexible workable schedule and told which of the short guided medication sections to use. I also like the extra activity’s suggested such as sew some vegetable seeds.
To understand Mindfulness Mark, uses stories about everyday people with busy lives which are easy to relate to. He then compares how peoples mind process differs from dealing with stress equated with animals.
Mark explains how humans deal with stress with our ‘doing mode.’ When we are stressed or sad explains that our ‘doing mode’ is switched on trying to resolve the problem and comparing the problem with situations in the past that were similarly stressful and also jumping ahead and thinking of possible outcomes which could be stressful based on our prior knowledge. Therefor Mark explains we are not present in the moment and become anxious, and that when this happens our everyday life can be carried on mostly on autopilot.
The teaching of this Mindfulness eight week program is to be in the ‘being mode,’ helping you to stop over thinking and directly notice the feelings inside your own body and be present in the moment and not let your brain brood on the past or race ahead to think of possible stressful out comes.
The good news is that Mindfulness mediation technique works and Mark backs up this claim with scientific results of brain scans. He concluded that mindfulness proved that people who had three or more series of depression after an eight weeks course had be able to rewire their brain and were feeling more happy even when being reminded of past sad events in their life’s.
I liked the way that the chapters are set out so which include mediation body scan sections. These sections helps you to practice and train your mind by simply focusing on breathing. They teach us that we are all able to be calm even when everything is in turmoil around us.
I would recommend this audio book as it helps you to understand how to step out of autopilot to be more in the present, tune into your body and improve your life. This eight week guide everything you will need to regain your life back and find a slice of peacefulness.
Here is a guide that will change your life around for the positive, which needs no dieting, no exercise, no changing job or your house. All you do is change your relationship with yourself.
Go buy it!
Profile Image for Bonny.
753 reviews26 followers
January 4, 2018
I've read various mindfulness meditation books over the last several years, and tried their mindfulness meditation suggestions with uneven results, but this is the book I was looking for. The authors stress evidence and explain cognitive behavior therapy, which kept me from rolling my eyes at any hippie mystical aspects of mindfulness. I jumped right in to listening to the introductory chapters on the hows, whys and benefits of mindfulness, and have been using the guided meditations on a daily basis for the last few weeks. There have been some stressful events in my life during this period, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much these meditations have helped. I had some expectations before I started this book that meditating was going to be a difficult and time-consuming task, but that has not been the case at all. Eight to ten minutes daily has made a significant difference in my life. I have been using whatever guided meditation I chose at random, but I'm now going back to the beginning and actually following the book's eight-week plan. Focus, awareness, acceptance, compassion, coping with negativity and the chaos that is life are all skills that I'm beginning to learn with the help of Mindfulness, and I'm very grateful to have finally found the mindfulness book for me.
Profile Image for Filipa.
1,701 reviews247 followers
May 20, 2016
I just finished reading Mindfulness and I was shocked to see how much I identified with the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Basically I am a fireball of anxiety, stress and everything you can think of that leads to self-destruction due to the usual stuff that life entails. I feel that, just for reading this book, some things have already changed, or better, that I've already made conscious changes in little things that I can handle. But I know that this is not enough and it certainly isn't sustainable for a long time so after this first reading I'll read this book again but for another reason - I want to start this eight-week course on mindfulness because I recognize I need to change the way I look at things or else I will have a heart attack before 30. I know this probably sounds way over dramatic but I know (and I absolutely feel it in my bones) that we are truly unprepared to deal with the craziness society and the world in general offers us - be it in the rhythm that it imposes on us, the rushing through everything, the exigency of our everyday lives where small things can turn into big monsters, etc. I feel that if only I can learn to look at all this with a different perspective, everything else will fall into place.
Profile Image for Clara Duvill.
9 reviews
August 1, 2022
If you’re at all interested in (or skeptical of) mindfulness and meditation, I can’t recommend this book enough! This book takes you on an 8 week course, teaching you how to practically incorporate mindfulness into your life. By the end of the course, it has become somewhat a daily habit, and a surprisingly enjoyable one at that.
Profile Image for Kris Neri.
Author 25 books55 followers
November 10, 2011
An exceptional book with easy to do meditations. I wasn't sure it needed to be an 8 week program -- I ended up doing in fewer weeks. But I was struck by how much I learned, how much resonated with me in every chapter. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Ammar Bassa.
Author 6 books24 followers
May 28, 2021
Amazing read, I liked the way this book goes deeply explaining the art of creating more sensual present moments in our life through the practice of mindfulness, plus, good as practical guide too.
Profile Image for Alexandre Rivaben.
176 reviews2 followers
December 23, 2018
É impressionante como a rotina mindfulness pode mudar a vida de alguém. Quando resolvi tentar, foi mais por uma curiosidade juvenil do que por acreditar realmente na coisa. E não é que ela funciona? Neste programa de 8 semanas, o autor nos leva a praticar de maneira gradual pequenas meditações. Também nos faz exercitar velhos hábitos sob uma nova perspectiva. Em uma semana passamos a observar o que sentimos ao mastigar castanhas; em outra, vamos ao cinema sem um filme na cabeça, em outra, observamos os nossos sentimentos ao caminhar pelo bairro.

Todas essas rotinas somadas resultam em uma sensação maravilhosa de paz e tranquilidade. Fato, nos dias que pratico, quase não me sinto ansioso.

Além dos exercícios, há dois belos capítulos introdutórios explicando de uma maneira cientifica leve os benefícios da prática. A medida é perfeita: não chega a ser enfadonho no sentido da ciência, nem muito piegas no rumo da autoajuda.

Recomendo muito o livro e a técnica!
Profile Image for Aisha Ayoosh.
143 reviews5 followers
March 15, 2019
This is the second time I’m reading this but without doing the exercises( it’s not practical at the moment).

However it pointed out to me (again) how chaotic things get everyday. Making sure to bring myself back to earth and out of the chatter in my head! Enjoy the moment right now!!

I’ve paired the idea of mindfulness with praying because it can go hand in hand...so at the least I get to do it everyday...mornings and evenings.

One thing that has definitely benefited me and I see the difference... my phobia of flying has decreased and I’m slowly enjoying the turbulence on flights and not totally freaking out to passengers near me!!

5 flights in the past week and 4 more to go next week (small, medium and large flights) ...I have been diarising my reaction after every trip and it’s getting better .... so thank God and mindfulness for bringing me to focus on where I am NOW!! It’s beautiful and I can marvel at the work of his hands from an aerial view in peace :)
Profile Image for Tyska.
103 reviews
February 23, 2015
Mindfulness is "about becoming fully aware of the life you've already got, rather than the life you wish you had. [...] Our endless striving, tunnel vision and brooding, our tendency to get lost in our own thoughts, to be driven by the autopilot, to be consumed by negativity and abandon the things that nourish our souls. [...] When we let go of seeing this as an enemy to be overcome, all of these tendencies are able to melt away in the light of awareness."

When I picked this book up, I knew next to nothing about mindfulness except that people kept telling me it would change my life - and that's exactly what has happened. I don't like self-help books very much and didn't think I fit the prime target group anyway, however, I am endlessly grateful that I gave it a try and would recommend mindfulness to each and everyone. You don't need to be deeply depressed to find a little bit more happiness and compassion in your life.
Mindfulness has broaden my horizons, given me another perspective to look at life and most importantly, it has taught me to focus on the really important things in life again.

The audio tracks that come with this particular book are of superb quality and easily accessible. The examples described in the chapters may sometimes seem a little bit over the top, at least that's how I feel. The writing is simple but nice and I enjoy the few scientific explanations they give, but I don't think too many more would have been necessary in a book of this kind. It's an eight-week-introductory-course after all, nothing more or less.

If you want to get a good idea of what mindfulness can be, do a google search for the "chocolate meditation" by Danny Penman and try it out. It's the very first meditation they introduce you to in this book and it's mind-blowing. :)
Profile Image for Adam Crossley.
61 reviews11 followers
November 21, 2014
Finding peace in a frantic world. Does that sound right? Is the world frantic? Manic?

The basic premise of this book is that yes it is. Fair enough. I think busy might be a better word for it. Doesn't carry all the negative connotation.

I don't mind the pace of the world; however, I do like meditating. This book includes several excellent guided meditations. The speaker in nice and chill. I've listened daily for the past 3 months and I'm not at all tired of the meditations. They are really nice.

The writing of the book was nothing special. I didn't particularly follow the 8 week plan as it was just too time intensive. 15 minutes of meditation a day is enough for me. The book was not naggy and stated its openness to people personalizing their own approach as I did. I did find it a little repetitive, but them's the breaks with these types of books. If they stay on message, they tend to repeat themselves. Its forgivable.

The 4 star rating though is really for the MP3. In fact if this review was of the recordings I'd give 5 stars. They are great and highly recommended for anyway curious about meditation or looking for something new to guide them through the practice.
Profile Image for Amantha.
326 reviews30 followers
January 16, 2019
A really good book about Mindfulness! The author includes a lot of testimonials on the various practices, I'm guessing from people who have taken the in-person course. It gave me a lot of information about Mindfulness that I didn't know already. Apparently, I knew the bare essentials but not the long-term stuff. I can't wait to delve into the full 8-week plan and see how it goes. I know it will be hard, but it'll be so worth it in the end, I think.

I know so many people who could benefit from the self-kindness and compassion that Mindfulness provides, but they aren't willing to give it a shot. I wasn't sold on it at first either. You have to really dedicate yourself for it to work. And maybe I'm just neurotypical enough that it works. Would it work for clinically or chronically depressed/stressed people? I don't know for sure. I just know it won't work if you don't at least hope it will. If you go in with the attitude "this won't work" then it won't.
Profile Image for Melody Daggerhart.
Author 9 books7 followers
May 30, 2018
Notes of Interest:

I have been a student of meditation for about 3 years now. I meditate at least once a day, sometimes two or more, and have experienced its benefits first-hand. So when I come across books on mindfulness or meditation, I snatch them up. This is one I downloaded through Amazon Prime’s first reads. For someone who has been meditating for a while, it’s a basic refresher course on mindfulness and meditation, but it also had a few new things which I found helpful and intriguing. (More on that in a minute.) For the person who has never meditated before, or is new to the practice, this is an excellent resource, complete with audio file downloads to help you through the guided meditation exercises.

What could have made it better for me:

I have no complaints or issues with this book: none, nada, rien, nani mo. It was well-organized, covered essential ground, had lots of thoughtful content, and an actual plan for implementing the practice. So, let’s jump to the juicy stuff, shall we?

What I liked about it:

The book starts by stressing that meditation and mindfulness are practices. That’s extremely important to understand. Mindfulness is not a magic pill that will solve problems. It’s not something you do a few times, learn the skills, and you’re done. It’s a lifelong journey that must be practiced regularly to demonstrate improvement, like learning a language fluently, excelling in sports, mastering musical instruments, etc.

These practices are based on cognitive behavior training techniques and are scientifically proven to “exert a powerful influence on one’s health, well-being, and happiness ….” It’s about training your mind. Therefore, one thing I appreciated about this book is it outlines an actual plan for practice. At the end of each chapter, there are suggested meditations to download from the publisher website, principles to review, and activities called “Habit Breakers”. I wasn’t able to follow the plan exactly in the eight-week time frame they set up, but I did read or incorporate their activity suggestions on a daily-to-weekly basis based on the time I had for it.

The authors begin by addressing what meditation and mindfulness are … and what they are not. So, the first chapter delves into the overview of what to expect from the plan and discusses the scientific evidence backing the effects this practice can have on things like severe depression, anxiety, memory, creativity, and more. The next few chapters encourage the reader to think deeply and honestly about their present state of mind and introduces basic principles of mindfulness meditation, one principle at a time.

For example, the second chapter is called, “Why Do We Attack Ourselves?” and discusses the role negative thoughts play in allowing our thinking to rule our moods, habits, and reactions. The chapter then discusses how human brain thought processes work and stresses that when we are aware that we are not our emotions, that emotions are impermanent things, we can detach from a bad mood or self-criticism before it leads us by the nose into a tailspin. We can choose to let go, knowing that dwelling on problems doesn’t solve them. To solve problems, we have to be proactive — a different frame of mine. The purpose of practice is training the mind to transform destructive thoughts or reactions into proactive action … to separate the thinking mind from the doing mind and give each the proper space to do their thing, rather than attempting to solve problems by worrying. Transforming your psychological habits can transform your life. Mindfulness practice builds resilience, and resilience is where the magic happens when it comes to being able to handle life’s pitfalls.

Besides focusing on coping with depression, other topics covered include breathing spaces for anxiety; body scans for turning toward adversity and non-reactivity; pressures of guilt, shame, and fear; and acceptance of self-forgiveness and compassion. The Habit Breakers are simple activities. I altered a couple to suit my circumstances better, but the idea is to pay attention to how much we humans do on auto-pilot on a regular basis without knowing it, and then intentionally do something different. Intent matters. Awareness matters. Especially when trying to break bad habits and form good ones.

Some quotes from the book …

* “Happiness is looking at the same things with different eyes. Life only happens here — at this very moment. Tomorrow and yesterday are no more than a thought.”

* “John was on his way to school. He was worried about the math lesson. He was not sure he could control the class again today. It was not part of a janitor’s duty.

What did you notice when you read these sentences? Most people find that they repeatedly update their view of the scene in their mind’s eye. First of all, they see a little boy winding his way to school and worrying about his math lesson. Then they’re forced to update the scene as the little boy changes into a teacher, before finally morphing into a janitor. This example illustrates how the mind is continuously working “behind the scenes” to build a picture of the world as best it can. We never see a scene in photographic detail, but instead make inferences based on the “facts” that we are given. The mind elaborates on the details, judging them, fitting them with past experience, anticipating how they’ll be in the future and attaching meaning to them. It’s a fantastically elaborate mental juggling act. And this whole process is run and rerun every time we read a magazine, recall a memory, engage in conversation or anticipate the future. As a result, events seen in the mind’s eye can end up differing wildly from person to person and from any objective “reality”: we don’t see the world as it is, but as we are. We are constantly making guesses about the world—and we’re barely conscious of it. We only notice it when someone comes along and plays a trick on us, as in the John scenario.” [Blog note: This is part of a discussion on how the mind forms thoughts as “facts” based on assumptions and guesses. When we become aware that the things we tell ourselves are not facts (I’m a failure, I can’t do this, I just want out, etc.), we gain different choices. We can let those thoughts go because we recognize they are half-truths or false. I felt this was an excellent example of how the mind automatically, though incorrectly, forms assumptions.]

* “The experienced meditator is not someone whose mind does not wander, but one who gets very used to beginning again.”

* “Breathing Spaces , of themselves , do not solve anything in the short term. But they may give you the perspective to act more skillfully.”

* “[Acceptance] allows us to become fully aware of difficulties, with all of their painful nuances, and to respond to them in the most skillful way possible. It gives us more time and space to respond. And often, we may discover, the wisest way of responding is to do nothing at all.”

* “Well, here it is : now is the future that you promised yourself last year, last month, last week. Now is the only moment you’ll ever really have. Mindfulness is about waking up to this. It’s about becoming fully aware of the life you’ve already got, rather than the life you wish you had.”

* “Indeed , one of the words that we translate into English as “meditation” actually means “cultivation” in the original Pali language . It originally referred to cultivation of crops in the fields and flowers in the garden . So how long should the cultivation of the mindfulness garden take each day ? It is best to go into the garden and see for yourself .”

* “Practice as if your life depended on it, as in many ways, it surely does. For then you will be able to live the life you have — and live it as if it truly mattered.”


It’s hard for me to separate discussion about a mindfulness book from the topic of mindfulness itself, but I think this is an excellent read for covering the topics necessary to begin learning the practice of mindfulness meditation. If anyone is suffering from depression, anxiety, or just feels like life is so frantic you don’t have time to breathe, I encourage you to give the plan in this book a try. These are good basic life skills for learning resilience and healthy coping strategies for everyone from all walks of life, in my opinion. For more experienced meditators, much of it will sound familiar, but the eight-week plan might offer a few new challenges to try. It’s a good fundamentals reference tool.
Profile Image for kacperek.
62 reviews10 followers
December 22, 2022
najgorszy format ksiazki jaki istnieje: bialy papier, duza cienka ksiazka.
200 stron ktore meczylem 8 miesiecy xd
16 marca - 22 grudnia
czy ksiazka mimo wszystko mi pomogla? tak
zawiera ogrom wiedzy przydatnej w zyciu, jednak napisana jest w tak nudny sposob ze zamykaja mi sie oczy gdy na nia patrze
posiada 8 tygodniowy kurs ktorego nie zrobilem bowiem jest on rownie nudny jak ksiazka, plyta z medytacjami jest smiesznie nagrana, nie chce mi sie robic tego kursu bo brzmi troche jak maszyna do medytowania.
z ksiazki wyciagnalem to co chcialem, autor chcial dobrze ale wydawnictwo i sposob w jaki ksiazka zostala napisana sprawil ze poszlo troche pod gorke
polecam jesli komus nie sprawia problemu format
Profile Image for Hellen.
286 reviews28 followers
May 15, 2016
It was last summer when I got this book from the "please adopt me or I will be destroyed" bookshelf at work. I got it because 1) it was free, 2) this edition looks gah-lorious, and 3) because I was in the market for learning about mindfulness.

Mindfulness, I always feel I need to explain whenever I mention it, is about meditation, yes, but are the techniques without the spirituality. I know even with this distinction a lot of people will turn on their heels, as I did for the longest time. And even after getting past the name it may require some patience occasionally for those allergic to anything remotely spiritual (like myself). A friend mentioned she didn't get past week one because she couldn't get over how silly the "raisin exercise" was. This is an exercise where you observe something edible carefully and extensively, and ultimately eat it. I tried to convince her to give it another try, but she refused. And besides, she said, she had other techniques for relaxation. Which after describing them to me, turned out to be all mindfulness techniques under another app name. What I'm trying to say is, go into mindfulness open-minded. And more specifically, go into this book open-minded, because this 'un is a good 'un.

So I don't really read anything with titles such as "get in touch with your inner..." or books with stones, water or cupped hands on the cover. What I liked about this book is that it is immediately relatable (specific examples of stressful situations), that it refers to science in a way I like (specific studies, instead of vague "science has shown....!" references), and that it's very self-conscious. The problem I find with a lot of books introducing ACT-based therapy, which alongside mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a common evidence-based way of treating anxiety, that they always talk about how evolution has made our braaaaains too gooood at defeeeending itself! Because your brain does those things! When it evolves! And that's why you're anxious now! Which is really a good thing! But it's like too much of a good thing! Etc. Just unnuanced blab to give the therapy some rationale, but it's really not very correct. However, in this book I think the issues that can grow from certain coping mechanisms in combination with societal pressure is described with much more nuance, and avoids sweeping statements about evolution this and evolution that.

So, for the 8 weeks itself. The idea is that you complete the program week by week. Now I... didn't complete it. I did some weeks over several months and I definitely benefited from it. Even just the breathing exercises from the first weeks have been a great help with falling asleep. There were some simple realizations, such as my thoughts not being me. Are you reading this, ACT books*? Rationalizing without mentioning evolution! Amazing, I know. I liked the mindful walks, which is also an exercise from one of the first weeks. The other things just required some discipline, which I was lacking. But the nice thing is that this book addresses lacking discipline and concerns such as "my thoughts kept wandering off during this exercise" (which is me, always).

I will be going back to this book to try and make some exercises a daily thing. I can really see the potential for getting an overview over my thoughts and the ability to shut the high-CPU ones down when not being productive or even true (the computer metaphor really stuck with me).Lastly, this book just looks really nice.

*(sorry, ACT is totally cool and evidence-based, but I've had some crappy experiences with it lately)
Profile Image for Kaila.
821 reviews102 followers
April 10, 2022
This didn't work as an audiobook. There's probably a two page spread about how to follow the eight-week plan but to do it on audiobook I would have to continually go to the mediations, go back to the plan, forward to the meditations again...that works great on paper, not so great on mp3.

Still searching for that one book that will convince me to spend time meditating because I just...kinda hate it.
Profile Image for Jenn Bradshaw.
190 reviews4 followers
August 22, 2018
I picked this book up some time ago, and due to Life happening (including buying a house and various upsets to my usual routine), this eight-week plan took me almost four months. Did that affect the overall benefits of the plan?

Not at all.

This book was worth taking my time to get through. Between practical explanations in each chapter, the downloadable, guided meditations, and independent practice, I finished the book with more tools than I began with (and I have been meditating for years).

The authors of MINDFULNESS lay a solid foundation of research and application before starting the reader on a series of weekly steps, gradually building on the previous week's learning and practice.

This is more than a simple how-to book. You *could* just read straight through, but the better investment of time would be to tackle one chapter a week. Repeat the week until you are comfortable with the given practice before you move on.

I've read a number of books on meditation and mindfulness, but this is, by far, the most practical of them all. I've fallen back on the tools learned in this book to manage stress, anxiety, panic attacks and dietary issues. Definitely worth trying if you are interested in deepening your mindfulness.
Profile Image for Andreea Mînzăraru.
16 reviews11 followers
August 11, 2020
This is the third time I've finished this amazing book and its eight-week mindfulness plan. I've been postponing writing this review because I just cannot find the words to describe how much it helped me. Struggling with anxiety and panic attacks for a long time, I've always tried to find a way to calm my mind and this book actually helped me do it.
Each week consists of a reading part (stories about stressed or anxious people and their symptoms) and a doing part (grounding exercises, guided meditations, habit breakers). If you don't feel like reading too much, you can just skip to the meditations. on the cd (they are also online). I promise you, after 2-3 weeks you can already see results. You just need to put some effort into doing the practices every day (10-15 minutes a day).
Profile Image for Tariq Mahmood.
Author 2 books1,025 followers
July 1, 2016
The book came with a 8 week recommended mindfulness course. I loved learning the new technique of 'being' meditation which I feel is critical in the super fast modern lifestyles. I learned how to manage my mood swings better and to pause and reflect before acting without motivation. Motivation has to be a precursor to actions so we can fully control and own our own decisions.

I will now use some of the techniques to ward off my any anxiety and stress while preforming various tasks in my super fast life......
Profile Image for Sherry.
639 reviews64 followers
July 22, 2022
One of the best books I’ve read on mindfulness. Simple, gentle, guidance on developing a mindfulness meditation practice. Appreciated this so much I immediately bought the audio book on Mindfulness through Depression, which I think may be even better than this if one is struggling with the impact of depression, or like me, may be susceptible to bouts of depression. Highly recommend.
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