Book Reviews

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mindfulness

by Anne Ihnen, M.A., and Carolyn Flynn

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Useful resource for clinician’s and their clients!
As a long-time mental health counselor/psychotherapist who practices from an Existential-Buddhist perspective, this book is easy to read, explains concepts well, can be a very useful resource for clinicians; especially as a book to refer clients to who could benefit from mindfulness practice as part of their healing work. I’d highly recommend it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful

5.0 out of 5 stars
An excellent guide for contemporary life
This is a beautifully written, very thorough and helpful book for finding tranquility and truth in the midst of our crazy, multi-tasking, modern lives. The sequencing and pacing of the exercises and concepts are excellent, as are the extensive resource list and index. I know that I will repeatedly refer to various chapters of this book over time. Thank you to the authors for generously sharing their abundant wisdom, compassion, skills, stories, and ideas to enrich the lives of others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Comprehensive Introduction — Great Resource!
This clearly written overview covers a variety of mindfulness topics, and includes exercises so that you can try it for yourself. I knew a bit about mindfulness, but learned quite a lot while reading this book, and just loved having the chance to try out the different exercises — I learned a number of ways to incorporate mindfulness into my life, like mindful writing and walking meditation. I’ve given this book to several friends with an interest in mindfulness. It’s a great introduction with a very helpful list of resources if there’s a particular topic you want to delve into.
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Review in The Elephant Journal, by Todd Mayville, Nov. 18, 2008

Mindfulness goes mainstream

You know mindfulness has gone mainstream when there’s an Idiot’s Guide to it. I admit that I approached this book with a good bit of trepidation. Would this simplify mindfulness in an attempt to make in approachable by anyone but ultimately rob it of its meaning and power?

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. Ihnen and Flynn are both meditation practitioners, and this book reflects their knowledge and backgrounds nicely. Even though the text does have a Buddhist focus, it also makes it a point to point out the various contemplative practices that exist within other spiritual practices, including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, and even non-spiritual based forms of contemplation including Herbert Benson’s Relaxation Response and the nature-centered practices of Emerson and Thoreau. Even though the book does include some sitting meditation practices, it does include discussion of movement-based forms of contemplation, including yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and others.

Going beyond the cushion, Ihnen and Flynn take mindfulness into interpersonal relationships, and even into the food we eat (and how we eat it). There are three complete chapters dedicated to eating mindfully, including references to Slow Food and local food eating, and there’s a chapter on multi-tasking, reflecting current research that multi-tasking isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. This book takes an overall approach to mindfulness that is holistic and impressive in its scope without getting bogged down in terminology and ritual. The resource and further reading list is impressive and broad, ranging from Pema Chodron and Joseph Goldstein to Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Eckhart Tolle, Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Pollan, The Center for Mindful Eating, and a host of others.

Ultimately, this book goes beyond the average, shallow self-help texts found virtually everywhere, and does more than offer pithy platitudes. My only concern is that because this excellent book is a “Complete Idiot’s Guide,” that it will end up in the self-help dustbin where it doesn’t belong; my hope is that this book will help to make mindfulness approachable and practical for anyone, regardless of spirituality (or lack thereof), time, or perception that they just “don’t have the time” to just stop and simply breathe.

Todd is a single dad of four diverse and lively kids, and is an English teacher and climbing team coach at a local public high school. A rock climber, cyclist and avid reader, Todd also practices yoga and meditation as often as he possibly can, which helps him stay at least a little centered and sane.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful

5.0 out of 5 stars
Great Beginner’s Introduction to Mindfulness
I like how clear and well written this book is. The exercises help illustrate what and how mindfulness practices can be immediately used in one’s own life. It also takes some of the mystery out of it by giving hands on practices to try. As a psychotherapist who has studied and read other text on this issue I find this book to be one of the most accessible of those I have read so far. I believe many people, including my colleagues and clients, could benefit from reading this book.

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