Saturday, January 21, 2006

Coming to Our Senses

I am 100 pages through Jon Kabat-Zinn’s 600 page magnum opus, Coming to Our Senses. I am reading it in advance of the Psychology of Mindfulness Course that I will be teaching at the University of Vermont later this year (end of May through June). I am reviewing it as a potential text for this course. As always, Jon writes lucidly and convincingly. The words flow in a poetic, even flowering, prose. He is no longer teaching mindfulness for better coping, as he did in Full Catastrophe Living. Rather he is aiming for the whole enchilada – enlightenment itself. He has not used this word yet, but he is talking about nothing short of the radical transformation of experience that mindfulness and mindfulness meditation can effect. There are some caveats, however. If we pick up the mantle of mindfulness meditation with the goal of transforming ourselves, the self that wants to be transformed will get in the way of that transformation. He is laying down a lot of foundation to get people to calibrate and orient their expectations in a way that won’t lead to a furthering of attachment. And he is not just talking about personal transformation, but transformation of the entire world, and he articulates how these are not actual separate ventures. Given the short summer session that I will be teaching the mindfulness course, there may not be time for students to consume such a weighty volume. It is likely that I will offer this as a suggested reading.

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