As a term the word ‘mindfulness’, as freely admitted by Arnie Kozak PhD, in his book, ‘Mindfulness A to Z: 108 Insights for Awakening Now’, has become
something of a buzzword. Today, throughout the West, it has to be one if the most popular practices in self-development work though its roots are firmly fixed in the Eastern philosophy of Buddhism.
Mindfulness is effectively a way of fixing your focus or attention upon the present moment. It is a practice of which Kozak comments about its benefits that
…it will bring you in contact with your mind and with that contact you’ll have the opportunity to gain insights into the changing nature of things…
Of course, like so many aspects of Buddhist thought, this is only a simplified explanation of mindfulness. In reality the subject is actually quite complex – which is why the author has written such a broad commentary on the subject.
In his introduction he sets out the reasons behind writing the book and explains how he sees it as
…a field manual for awakening mindfulness within yourself.
Composed of 108 brief chapters, or commentaries, these seeds of wisdom are the distillation of his many decades work spent teaching mindfulness to clinical patients, members of the community, fellow health care professionals, university students and Buddhist seekers.
Many of the commentaries include personal stories; whilst others are based upon metaphors and others reveal the close integration with traditional Buddhist principles.
The book begins with the letter A and explores the challenge of acceptance. It ends with Zafu for the letter Z.
Between the two ends the book is filled with references to human experience; those such as anger, openness, gratitude and stress, as well as to specific Buddhist concepts such as Vipassana, Nirvana, Yoga and Buddha.
In closing his narrative the author states that
Through insight and practice, moments of awakening follow, coming out of the matrix of goodness that you embody in the world.
Regarding the practice of mindfulness Kozak is optimistic that mindfulness is now being more universally accepted.
From its construction it is evident that this is a book that is not really meant to be read in a linear fashion – from start to finish, but rather to be dipped into and out of as the mood takes you.
It includes a helpful table of contents at the front so it is relatively easy to locate any particular topic you desire.
This is a publication that diverges from the normal and Arnie Kozak is to be congratulated on producing a book on the subject of mindfulness that is a little different – and dare I say it, a little more interesting than most titles available today on the subject.
Do not be put off by the suggestion that is inherent within its title that this is somehow a dictionary of mindfulness terminology because it isn’t.
What it is, for those who do not take easily to long, rambling treatises on any given metaphysical subject, is a close collection of thoughts, ideas and commentaries which practitioners of the art of mindfulness meditation are sure to come across through their practice.
Whilst ‘Mindfulness A to Z’ does include some practical exercises and in-depth Buddhist comment it has been written with a strong first person narrative which makes it all the more interesting and sometimes enticingly colorful!
Mindfulness A to Z is a collection of delightful contrasts – one that encompasses the lighter side of life experience with deeper thoughts on core Buddhist beliefs. Between these two poles there is to be found a rich collection of valuable insights into the practice of remaining in the eternal present.