Ah, sweet Kindle…what would I do without you?
Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Prof Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman is the best book on the subject I have encountered to date and its emphasis on the practice makes mindfulness more tangible to me than the more theoretical texts I’ve read before. It uses the Jon Kabatt-Zinn style of guided meditations peppered throughout the book which really helps reinforce the text and lays a foundation for daily meditation (another related goal of mine).
I’ve been working through this book for a couple of weeks now and I really notice a difference in my attitude and mood – I’m much less anxious in general about things and when I do feel anxiety I am able to consciously return to focus on the breath and ground myself in the moment instead of being trapped in thought and speculation. In general this has helped me to be more aware of my thoughts as thoughts and prevented me from continuing to identify with my thoughts as the definition of who I am. As someone with depression that has lasted with various intensity for nearly ten years, this is extremely liberating; to know that no matter how dark my thoughts are or how hopeless my life sometimes feels to me, I have a way out of the spiral of despair. Even the smallest moments of pure clarity, pure experience of “now” unfettered by either speculation or regret are piece by piece making me feel integrated with my own existence and place in the world once more.
For other people pursuing this goal I’d also recommend the excellent (and free!) guided meditations by Jon Kabat-Zinn that you can find on Youtube. Some are over an hour in length and this video in particular http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwwKbM_vJc is very useful in explaining what mindfulness is and how meditation can facilitate it.