Book Review: Mindfulness for Beginners

Title: Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment and Your Life
Author: Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and director of University of Massachusetts Medical Center’s Stress Reduction Clinic
Year: 2016
Length: 184 pages
Topics: attitudes fundamental to the practise of mindfulness, internal narratives and selfing, awareness vs. thinking, mindfulness as a way of being
Narrative style: brief reflections, read as daily meditationsAvailability: book (

© Illustration by Yukyung Kang

This short book was a pleasure to read. It’s organized as a series of brief chapters of no more than 1-2 pages, each offering an invitation to reflect on what meditation is and isn’t, often with a challenge to the many preconceived notions that exist around the topic. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but notice how well articulated these points were and how deeply they resonated with my own reflections and unanswered questions. The book is broken down into 5 sections (entering, sustaining, deepening, ripening, practising), walking readers through the “life-cycle” of mindfulness from the perspective of how one’s state of mind might shift as one deepens his or her personal practise. The author emphasizes that it’s okay for the mind to wander and in fact it is rare for a person to experience “pure” awareness without becoming distracted by one thing or another. It is also important to remember that we have control over the way in which we “relate to” our thoughts and experiences and the subsequent narratives we reinforce in our minds with respect to those experiences. This book is the perfect pre-meditative read that can offer inspiration or a point of focus to guide an individual’s practise for the week. The author asks and answers many fundamental questions that serve as both a primer, whose objective is to prepare the mind for the challenges and opportunities within mindfulness meditation, and a de-briefing whose goal is to encourage ongoing introspection and engagement with one’s practise. I would highly recommend and will definitely be re-reading! – Madison

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