December 28, 2008

The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation

This little book by Thich Nhat Hanh is a classic now, and I've read it before (for my other credential in religious education, now that I come to think about it . . .) It is very restful reading, but also zestful and inspiring.

Nhat Hanh's teaching stories and descriptions are a good way to start to understand what the practice of mindfulness is. But actually doing the suggested meditations are a better way to find that understanding.

Although I do not practice mindfulness meditation in a formal way, I do practice it informally. Perhaps I would be a better, more whole person if I did do it formally. But it does help me even practiced informally.

I was first introduced to the practice not by this book, but at a retreat I attended. The facilitator was a teacher and practitioner of mindfulness. During the retreat I experienced a true change in awareness about a problem I was struggling with. I experienced the value of staying present with a feeling all the way through, rather than trying to escape it or deny it or change it. I have never forgotten that experience or lesson. It was very powerful, and I don't think I ever will forget it.

Re-reading The Miracle of Mindfulness did make me realize that I would like to read something specifically about parenting mindfully, as I find this little quote from a song which Nhat Hanh shares very true: "Hardest of all is to practice the Way at home, second in the crowd, and third in the pagoda."

December 15, 2008

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is the book I think everyone who is expecting a baby should read. Period.

Yes, even more so than Birthing From Within.

It is so accessible for so many different kinds of people who are going to want and choose all kinds of different things for their births. And it is so wise.

I can't be critical about it, really. I just love it so much. Even if all people read are the birth stories (which make up the first half of the book) they will learn so much about what is possible in birth. And then, Ina May Gaskin is just a truly Wise Woman. So the second half of the book, which is Ina May explaining why birth works the way it does and what your choices within and outside of the medical establishment are likely to be, is also wonderful and mind-eye-heart opening for anyone.

December 3, 2008

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer is one of the most commonly referenced books by people who are interested in natural birth and want to share that interest with someone else (i.e., "what book should I give my cousin who is pregnant and wants to learn about her options?") I can see why. It's an excellent resource, full of useful information, conveyed in a way that is very acceptable to highly educated, intelligent women. It appeals to me, as one of those women.

You can see the table of contents and some sample chapters here.

My one caveat is that it is very information focused. It's not about how to make decisions from the heart; it's about how and why to make decisions from the mind. This is very helpful for people who need to persuade their minds to follow what their hearts are telling them, or who need to persuade family members or friends to support them in following what they know with their minds or hearts to be right for them. It doesn't encourage delving deeper. But that's what Birthing From Within is for :-)