Mindful Compassion – Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Transform Our Lives
By Paul Gilbert and Choden
Constable & Robinson – £20.00
This is an imporant and powerful book in more ways than one. Important because it really does need to be read. Powerful because of so many of the issues, authors Paul Gilbert and Choden touch upon.
There are numerous examples, but here’s one from the initial chapter, simply entitled ‘Waking Up’: Understanding our minds is perhaps one of the greatest challenges for modern science and each of us personally. You don’t have to think about this very much to recognise that the human mind generates outstanding achievements in science, medicine and institutions for justice, but it is the same mind that can produce the most awful atrocities and acts of greed. For all the challenges that we face in the world, from the injustices of rich versus poor; the need to address global warming and nurture our planet; the need to reduce exploitation of young, weak and poor; or the need to develop universal healthcare systems – the common denominator in all of these is our minds.”
One would surely have to contend that it’s hard to argue with any of the above; for the mind is indeed, a very, very powerful thing. What we choose to do with it however, is obviously another thing altogether.
On the one-side, there’s the likes of Nelson Mandela, while on the other there’s Adolf Hitler – lest one say anymore?
Mindful Compassion – Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Transform Our Lives, as idealistic as it may initially seem, offers practical, step-by-step advice for utilising the skills of mindfulness and compassion to build ones’ inner capacity – to fundamenatally respond more wisely and kindly to the stresses of our inner emotional lives. Stresses, which more often than not, are entwined with yet further stress by way of conflict.
In other words, there’s a certain clarity of vision contained herein, which in itself, warrants the purchase of this book alone. As Christopher Germer of the Harvard Medical School and author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion has already written: ”This book is a brilliant synthesis of two grand psychological traditions – mindfulness and compassion. In clear, compelling prose, Gilbert and Choden illustrate how the human brain gets into trouble time and time again. Then they explain why we need both compassion and mindfulness to liberate ourselves from unnecessary suffering and they offer elegant exercsies to train the mind in those vital human capacities.”
That Gilbert is a Professor of Clinical Psycholgoy and Choden a former Buddhist monk, would suggest that a great deal of expertise and thought has gone into the composition of this book. But more importantly, it enables the reader to ultimately stretch the mind by challenging us with a number of dense and ethical dillemas – the sort of which aren’t that easy to compartmentalize – let alone (always) answer.
Compassionate and tough in equal measure.