[Review] How will you bring more compassion into your life? By reading a book, of course!

(This meditation is my current favourite guided meditation, but it is quite unrelated to the book. Just wanted to share it with you guys, and it seemed fitting.)

Title: Mindful Compassion: How the science of compassion can help you understand your emotions, live in the present, and connect deeply with others.
Author: Paul Gilbert and Choden
Source: Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review
Tl;dr: Psychology and Buddhism and a practical and open approach to mindfulness and meditation. I enjoyed this book and would advice it to all interested in these topics.

Add it to your goodreads

For the past few years, I’ve meditated on an (almost) daily basis. I did a few meditation courses, with different orientations (from a more eclectic approach to an official mindfulness course), and read up on Buddhism and Zen However, I am also allergic to woo and I am an atheist. I read other books from this publisher, and the amount of woo in between seemingly solid science, made me worry about this book.

I did not need to: this book is awesome. It connects Buddhism with psychology, uses the correct sources and also refrains from spritual blabla. It gives a background framework of the psychology of compassion, and the core place it has in mindfulness and how life could benefit from more compassion. The second half of the book gives practical and useful mindfulness and meditation exercises to bring the practice of all that is mentioned into your life. And it’s written in an accessible way, without being condescending to the reader, but also without making all kinds of shortcuts for the sake of simplicity. This I especially appreciated, because mindfulness, meditation and psycholohy are topics I have quite some background knowledge on, and I hate it when I am undervalued as a reader.

What made this book different than other books on the topic of mindfulness, is the emphasis on how you accept the feelings and thoughts you have. How you can learn to be compassionate towards yourself. Many books just mention that you should “just accept all that arises”, but this is often incredibly hard, especially if you are dealing with the harder emotions and moods of life: anxiety, depression, grief. And in those cases, mindfulness and meditation can be extra helpful, but also extra hard. I loved that this book gave actual, practical, advice on this.

There were some few minor points I disliked. The sudden appearance of politics every once in a while: I agree with their political view, but it often came unsuspected, and might turn certain readers off completely. The mention of mindfulness-like things in Christian traditions: although I liked this broad view, I would have appreciated insights from Islam, Judaism and Hinduism as well. This made it very western focused (which I suppose was their projected audience), but I like inclusiveness too much not to mention it. Lastly, I would love the meditations they describe in an audio-format. I really appreciated they mention often that you should only do what you feel comfortable with, but as the instructions for the meditations grow longer, they get harder (at least for me) to actually follow all instructions, while sitting on my cushion. But these are all details, and did not stop me giving this book 5 stars on goodreads.

If you have an interest in mindfulness and meditation, being a beginner or quite experienced, I would really advice to getting this book. It came out at april 1st of this year.


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