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Zen and the Art of Reading:



Going to school can be a stressful time for children and parents.  As our routines change it is helpful to cope with them skillfully. Mindfulness is not a practice that is bound to any one tradition.  The Ottawa Public Library has numerous books on mindfulness practices and my goal here is to outline three authors that can provide excellent information on the practice for parents and students

 In the book “Planting Seeds”, Thich Nhat Hahn, peace activist and monk, describes mindfulness practices that children and adults can readily practice to help cultivate awareness, focus, and reduce stress. The book goes well beyond basic mindfulness practices and is based on real experiences of teaching mindfulness to children of all ages.  Thich Nhat Hahn writes from the historical practice of mindfulness and through personal experience.  If you find this title of interest you will soon discover the prodigious amount of titles written by Thich Nhat Hahn on mindfulness and other topics.

If we look at a more clinical orientation towards mindfulness, we’ll see Jon Kabat-Zinn as a pioneer in the field of mindfulness research at the University of Massachusetts. He has written several books on the topic which can be found on our shelves.  He is a founding member of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program which is now practice by thousands of people around the world.  Any of his titles are excellent for people who are looking for a mix between historical and clinical approach.  “Wherever you go, there you are” was his first bestseller and is a great place to start.

A lesser-known approach to mindfulness has been developed by Steven Hayes and colleagues.  Acceptance and commitment therapy utilize mindfulness practices but approach them from a clinical-behavioural perspective.  These approaches are theoretically dense and a little difficult to read at times due to the psychological jargon, however, their approach is unique in that it really stands on its own theory and empirical evidence.

But theory and rational aside, all orientations draw upon the same basic techniques with slight variations that may or may not be very significant but more a matter of personal style.  The important point is that practice is practice, and only practice can lead to an outcome.  It is fun to explore theory to deepen your understanding, but by far the most important part of these books are the practical exercises and instructions.  Start here.