4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Most people deal with stress on a daily basis and need to explore effective strategies for managing it. For some people, stress can have the physiological effect of exacerbating a medical condition, making it a more disruptive factor that more urgently requires relief. For Dean Nelson, a chronic gastrointestinal condition was both a cause of and affected by the stress in his life. After years of medical interventions, he discovered a new approach: meditation. In his book The Mindfulness Approach, Nelson tells his story and introduces the reader to an alternative methodology for dealing with daily stresses.
As I read this book, I was astonished by how honest the author was willing to be about his situation. He makes himself vulnerable as he exposes his medical condition and the way it has affected his life. He is brutally honest about some of the physical complications he experienced and the fears that clouded the way he envisioned his future. The author’s willingness to be so open about his experiences enriches the book by helping the reader comprehend the impact of this approach in his life and, by extension, the potential impact for the reader’s life.
The author also created an immensely practical book. There are a number of specific exercises that exemplify the techniques and strategies under discussion. For example, the author names and explains seven specific breathing exercises as well as instructions for some meditation techniques. The specificity may sound like it would become dry or overwhelming, but the text avoids this pitfall, remaining brief and concise. The author identifies techniques like the Silva Method, which worked particularly well for him, as well as other techniques that have experienced a lot of rising popularity, such as Mindfulness meditation.
As I read through this book, the sixth chapter seemed out of joint with the spirit of the rest of the book. Chapter 6 is entirely devoted to introducing another writer/scholar who was a major influence on the author. While a few paragraphs about a person who pioneered the field or became very influential in the application of these strategies would be appropriate, the extent of this introduction makes the chapter sound like a commercial. I felt that it went much too long.
Near the end of the book (page 153 in my copy), Nelson makes a very poignant statement. He writes, “Computers can run 24 hours a day, but they also must be re-booted occasionally to retrieve updates and to clear out unnecessary data or else their processing will slow down or become locked.” In The Mindfulness Approach, Dean Nelson offers techniques and evidence (both anecdotal and factual) supporting breathing and meditation as a way for people to find time to re-boot and de-stress. From his own story to the lengthy reference list at the end, Nelson’s book is full of worthwhile information and practical ideas for people everywhere. Despite a flaw or two, I think the book still merits a full 4 out of 4 stars. It’s relevant, concise, and very personal all at the same time.
The Mindfulness Approach
View: on Bookshelves
Like L_Therese's review? Post a comment saying so!