Mindful Summer Reading Guide!

I was really excited to receive Mindful.com’s summer recommendations on reading…for me, summer is all about turning off the TV and reading by daylight until dusk falls…Oregon’s summers are getting warmer earlier, and I am continually feeling the need to stay outside and take in the evening from my backyard….unless the house being constructed behind us on the vacant lot is crawling with sub-contractors, then I take my book inside so my wine doesn’t get sheet rock dust in it.  I’m only partially kidding.

I was especially thrilled to see Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing UP listed as one of Mindful’s picks.  I was lucky enough to see the author Jerry Colonna speak at a book-reading last month, and was just so impressed with his perspective on life and self-inquiry.  Thanks to Chrystal Bell for the invitation; I received my copy of Reboot only a few days ago, and it already has a bunch of dog-eared pages.  A really inspiring read.

So, below you’ll find a summary of Mindful’s article on summer reads.  Book worms, unite!

Dr. Robert V. Levine, Stranger in the Mirror: The Scientific Search for the Self

A psychologist for over 50 years, Dr. Levine asks if science says anything about our search for self, and how science informs the ways we think about life purpose, self-improvement, and mental health  Concepts that don’t naturally seem as if they are congruent with each other, but traditional wisdom traditions have been enlightening folks on the ever-changing landscape of the mind and thoughts for eons.  Levine combines science and contemplative concepts to “…make the subject matter new, conveying the thrill of potential that exists in our own intangibility”.

Jerry Collona, Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing UP

When we think mindfulness master, we don’t necessarily jump straight to “venture capitalist”, as in Jerry’s case.  But as Mindful.com states, “…money is not the big motivator.  His experience tells him that anyone who aspires to great things will face challenges that test inner resolve.”  Reboot shines the light on radical self-inquiry: an unflinching gaze into corners that hold cringe-worthy emotional nuggets like doubt, self-criticism, and shame.  When we shine the light and start to unpack these musty bits of self-sabotage, we can start to cultivate inner strength.  Jerry uses the ideas of stability gained through contemplative practice to further progress down the path of realizing our deepest aspiration.

Sam Lipsyte, Hark

Per Mindful.com:

“In this amusing novel, Sam Lipsyte throws you into an all-too-recognizable world of desperate inequality, unceasing conflict, and unshakeable dissatisfaction, where the only hope for the future is Mental Archery: a “new” spiritual path that’s part New-Age lore, part yoga postures, part fake history. Failed stand-up comic Hark Morner rises to fame and wealth as its guru, but his motley bunch of apostles have bigger plans for Mental Archery than he can possibly deliver on. Each of these would-be heroes is consumed by ideology and nihilism alike. Yet along with his acerbic humor, Lipsyte conveys a buoying belief in belief itself: the unifying potential of ideas and of hope, not just as things to be bought and sold, but as what might actually save us.”

Susan Woods, Patricia Rockman, and Evan Collins, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: Embodied Presence and Inquiry in Practice

In this book, three clinicians who have been teaching MBCT for nearly as long as it has existed explore the concepts. They do so in order to guide would-be practitioners in the nuances of how MBCT works when it’s done well. 

Two major themes arise. The first is that to facilitate MBCT requires embodying the practice. One of MBCT’s founders, Zindel Segal, who wrote the foreword to this book, has repeatedly emphasized that mindfulness is a skill. As such, it must be modeled and demonstrated for others.

MBCT is not about getting high on insights; it’s about learning how to ride and redirect our mind and emotions.

The second major theme is that inquiry practice—essentially prompting us to explore and describe experience—is the powerhouse at the heart of MBCT, and it emerges as a “contemplative dialogue.” The book offers a master class in this powerful form of dialogue, which has been extremely helpful for countless people working with anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.

Lisa M. Schab, LCSW, Put Your Worries Here: A Creative Journal for Teens with Anxiety

Smiling Scientists from around the country know that anxiety may be a family affair.  As such, teenagers afflicted with anxiety disorders have extremely specific perception about how the world is, and how it affects them. Anxiety often goes hand-in-hand with navigating the teenage years. Academic stress, home life, relationships, sexuality, emotional and physical changes—it seems like there are endless sources of worry. Based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness, this insightful journal based publication offers a safe and welcoming place for teens to manage these anxious thoughts and feelings. With 100 written and visual journaling prompts, it speaks directly to teens (“Create a playlist of the songs that help you de-stress. Write the best lyrics here.”), and lets them discover their own best way of expressing and working with difficult emotions.

Byron Katie with Stephen Mitchell, A Mind at Home with Itself

Byron Katie’s philosophy on “The Work” as a revolutionary process asks four seemingly straightforward but multi-faceted questions:

1. Is it true?; 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?; 3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?; 4. Who would you be without that thought?

Beneath that simplicity is a minefield of fundamental questions.  A Mind at Home with Itself are transcripts of Katie carrying on the inquiry process with a range of people going through widely varying challenges.  Katie’s work continues to draw on the enduring power of inquiry.

I hope you find some inspirational reading choices in this post…let me know what you’re reading right now, and how it’s changing the way you think.  Or, if you have a recommendation on a great contemplative book you’ve found (or scientific one, or one that made you laugh out loud, or one that gives you insight into mindfully raising your kids) shoot me an e-mail and Tell me about it.  I love hearing from you!  Until next time, keep smiling, friends…