As the pace of the modern world continues to speed up, mindfulness has become more important than ever. From long work hours to an unending barrage of technology, mankind is faced with an unprecedented amount of factors vying for attention. There has never been a more relevant time for veteran mindfulness instructor Mark Coleman to release his newest book, From Suffering to Peace: The True Promise of Mindfulness. This gem of a book is one of the most comprehensive and practical books on mindfulness we've encountered. In the preface, Coleman states: "While I draw on the wealth of mindfulness teachings and practices from the ancient Buddhist tradition, my goal is to present this rich body of work - much of it developed by monastics living in a feudal, agrarian culture as far back as 500BC - in ways that are relevant and accessible to twenty-first-century life. I seek to honor this rich and vast tradition and adapt these practices to the needs and demands of our own era." Coleman clarifies that "mindfulness is so much more than simply 'focus' or attention, which is how it is often mistakenly described. Mindfulness refers to the depth of awareness we bring to our whole life, and in doing so we transform ourselves and the way we live in the world. Mindfulness supports us to live an intentional, meaningful life with presence, insight, and compassion."
To say that this book is practical is quite an understatement. Every chapter, including the introduction, ends with a mindfulness meditation practice. Thirty-seven mindfulness meditation practices provide firsthand experience for complete understanding of the concepts illustrated in each chapter. The four main sections of the book titled; Finding Peace in the Body, Finding Peace in the Heart, Finding Peace in the Mind, and Finding Peace in the World are comprehensive with multiple chapters but are also very accessible and easy to understand. Coleman explains, "In each of the four sections in this book, I explore the full breadth of mindfulness, which includes bringing a close attention to four key areas in our life: to our body, our mind, our heart, and the world we live in. I will discuss how, through the arc of practice, we learn to bring awareness to these key facets of our experience. As we practice over time, we slowly discover how mindfulness is a vehicle for insight and wisdom that helps free us from suffering and to live with genuine well being and peace."
As each chapter is contemplated, readers will immediately recognize how each concept plays out in their own lives. Chapter 4, titled "Finding Refuge in Transience and Uncertainty," outlines the importance of mindfulness in relation to the element of change in our lives. Change is the only constant in life so it is very important for each of us to learn how to accept and embrace change. Coleman notes that, "Though most people acknowledge and accept the reality of impermanence, it takes a wise person to live in alignment with this law. Most of the time, we resist it or ignore it. Despite all evidence to the contrary, we easily fall into the trap of expecting things to continue the way they are or have been, only to be caught off guard or annoyed when life upends that assumption." Mindfulness allows us to "learn to savor life's transient preciousness and to let go when that is asked of us. Rather than considering impermanence to be a depressing reflection, we can instead think of it as an urgent call to wake up, to be present and taste the exquisiteness of this fleeting moment. When we really get how brief and uncertain life is, then we stop taking things for granted and pay rapt attention to the beauty and richness of life all around us."
From Suffering to Peace is packed with so many gems of wisdom that it will create a new foundation of awareness for nearly every aspect of our lives. From learning compassionate ways of relating to others, to managing triggering emotions, and embracing loss, to understanding connectedness, cultivating generosity and learning from nature; there are so many practical concepts in this book that you will want share with your family and discuss the many ways each concept will enrich our lives.
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