email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy10 Minute Solution: Butt Lift10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training101 Ways to Meditate3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups8 Keys to Practicing MindfulnessA Student's Guide to the History And Philosophy of Yoga A.M. EnergyAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAlmost MeatlessAlready FreeAlternative Medicine?Anywhere, Anytime, Any Body YogaAthlete's Guide to YogaBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBalanced AssetsBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBethenny's Skinnygirl WorkoutBody By BethennyBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBreath-Centered YogaCalm Body Clear MindCalm Focus JoyCardio for Beginners with Petra KolberChakra MeditationsComplementary and Alternative Therapies ResearchContemplative Psychotherapy EssentialsCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCultural Healing and Belief SystemsDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDetox YogaDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Yoga House CallEasy YogaElement: Barre ConditioningElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Everything VeganExercise for Mood and AnxietyExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptFamily YogaFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFully PresentGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Fit Through GardeningGet Ripped & ChiseledGet Stronger Bones: 3 Workouts For OsteoporosisHandbook of MindfulnessHappy Yoga DVDHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHealing through ExerciseHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealing, Hype, or Harm?Healthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHow to Cook Everything VegetarianHow Would Buddha Act?In Defense of FoodInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangIntegrated YogaKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKripalu YogaKundalini Yoga : DVDKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga MeditationKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric DisordersKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLetting Go!LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Living BeautifullyLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLunar Flow YogaMake It Fast, Cook It SlowManage Your Depression Through ExerciseMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMeditations for BeginnersMindful AmericaMindful ColoringMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness for CarersMindfulness for TwoMindfulness in Plain EnglishMindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and ApplicationsMisadventures of a Garden State YogiNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1Natural FlexibilityNew Good FoodNew VegetarianNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNutrition Essentials for Mental HealthPain Free at WorkPeace Is Every BreathPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPilates AnatomyPilates for BeginnersPositivityPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPower Yoga: Strength and FlexibilityPrenatal FlowPrescriptive StretchingPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPsychology Moment by MomentPure and Simple YogaPure SculptQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQiGong IllustratedQuick Blast MethodRadiant Heart Yoga DVDReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRelax Into Yoga for SeniorsResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDSelfless InsightSoupsSparkSpontaneous HappinessStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStrength & SpiritStress Relief to GoStretchStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift Surf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2Tai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTen Zen Tummy TonersThe 6 Qualities of ConsciousnessThe Accidental VeganThe Art and Science of MindfulnessThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Best Things You Can EatThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Complete Book of Raw FoodThe Get Healthy, Go Vegan CookbookThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Kettlebell BoomerThe Light of DiscoveryThe Mandala of BeingThe Meat Lover's Meatless CookbookThe Mindful Way through DepressionThe Perfect ExerciseThe Psychology of LifestyleThe Qi Healing KitThe Road to Calm WorkbookThe Science of YogaThe Spirit of Buddhist MeditationThe Spirit of Tibetan BuddhismThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Ultra MindsetThe Well-Tuned BrainThe Yin Yoga KitTotal Health the Chinese WayTotal-Body ToningTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTransformative YogaTrudie Styler's Cardio Dance FlowTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaV-Core WorkoutVegan ExpressVegan for LifeVegetarian Visitor 2008Viniyoga Therapy for the Low Back, Sacrum and HipsViniyoga Therapy for the Upper Back, Neck and ShouldersViva Vegan!Walk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWatch Me Do YogaWeight Loss Cardio KickWeight Watchers: Ultimate Belly SeriesYin and Yang YogaYin Yoga DVDYogaYogaYoga - Philosophy for EveryoneYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga AnatomyYoga as MedicineYoga Bliss HipsYoga BodyYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Emergency DVD: PregnancyYoga Flow DVDYoga for AnxietyYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for FitnessYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for Your WeekYoga in BedYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress ReliefYoga Quick FixesYoga Skills for Therapists:Yoga TherapyYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga to the Rescue for Pain-Free Back, Neck & ShouldersYoga, Karma, and RebirthYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogabodyYogawomanYou Can Think Yourself ThinYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVDYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Brain on YogaZen Encounters with Loneliness
Healing the Heart and Mind with Mindfulness seems intended to be a practical course of study, which applies the theory and practice of Buddhism to modern psychological dilemmas. It is meant, I think, not so much to be 'read' as to be employed. Itis a useful book. I found myself putting it to use almost immediately, and experienced changes in my own attitudes and approach to the world as I read through it and put it into practice. The book is inspiring, not so much in the writing style which, while it occasionally contains inspirational flourishes (especially in the guided meditations), is often straightforward and a little textbook-ish. But the immediate usefulness of much of the book is inspirational in itself.
The book is a bit of a hybrid. For the most part it takes the reader on an active journey of mindful attention to different aspects of personal experience. The journey is informed largely through a reading of the core Theravedic text, Satipatthana Sutta, but it does so with continuing reference to contemporary psychological treatment modalities, specifically Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). While providing a progressive practical course in mindfulness, the book also proposes particular approaches and exercises for specific psychological disturbances, such as depression and anxiety. In this lies the hybrid character of the book. In those instances it addresses specific audiences rather than the general reader. For me, this interrupted the flow of the book, and made it less of a 'read' and more of a resource. Those sections also read as if the primary purpose was to provide tools for the therapist for a variety of psychological conditions. Organizationally, I would have preferred to see these section consigned to an appendix. I also found the references to the particular treatment modalities, while often interesting and helpful, somewhat scattered and unsystematic.
The general theoretical stance of the book is that mindfulness is a 'technology' developed by the Buddha and within Buddhism, but that it stands on its own; as the algebra developed by Islamic thinkers need not be regarded as a Muslim art, so the teachings of Satipatthana Sutta and other Buddhist texts need not be treated as Buddhist religious doctrine (pg. 9). These teachings are truly psychological technologies which, employed correctly, will inventory our physical and psychological state on all levels. The result of that inventory is a return to 'freedom' and psychic health, suggesting that the human organism is psychologically homeostatic, not just in terms of survival, but we have a homeostatic impulse towards freedom from dukkha (unsatisfactoriness). Huxter never stakes that claim in theory, but his book presupposes it (perhaps most strongly in the guided meditation "Settling the mind in its natural state"). I was at first a little disappointed that studies and other evidence were not brought to bear on this central thesis, nor on the more particular claims that mindfulness exercises can dispel depression, anxiety and other psychological infirmities. But once I realized that this is not that kind of book – it is more a 'proof is in the pudding' approach – I set out to put his exercises into practice. Doing so I encountered substantial evidence in favor of this presumption. For instance, I have experienced that the simple mindfulness practice of 'noting' – of simply bringing to awareness and naming what is present in the body and the psyche can have an almost automatic equilibrating effect. Though Huxter eschews metaphysical and spiritual speculation, the claim that mere awareness of our unbalanced condition – without any evaluation or judgement of that condition – will dissolve destructive patterns, seems to point strongly to a harmony of the human organism with the cosmos that far exceeds evolutionary needs. That this claim is validated experientially, rather than theoretically, both supports it more strongly, and perhaps obviates the need for theoretical articulation.
But those less interested in philosophy (it's my job), will not need to entertain such questions. The book contains some interesting intellectual background, but again, this is a book that you don't simply read, but rather do. The path you are taken on proceeds from  exercises for mindfulness of body and body sensation ('bare awareness') through  mindfulness of feelings (not the equivalent of 'emotions' – but rather awareness of sensations with the addition of the hedonic evaluation pleasant/unpleasant/neutral), through  mindfulness of thoughts to  awareness of emotions, which, unlike feelings, are fully developed response patterns to external and internal stimuli, and then finally,  contemplation of the 'self' (pg. 184). This course has the feeling of a progression, though Huxter does not explicitly present it as such. I found the section on emotions most interesting. Huxter presents a convincing anatomy of emotion as a process response, and the isolation of the elements of the process is itself, for me, a tool of awareness. Based in this clarity of elements, Huxter gives specific strategies for inducing balance and dissolving destructive patterns at each stage of the process.
In addition he begins to describe a kind of dialectic of 'serenity meditation' and 'insight meditation'. I found this distinction helpful and the description of the interaction between these two types of meditation intriguing. I would have like to have seen this woven more throughout his progression of levels of mindfulness.
In conclusion, I found this book helpful and strong in its core. The strongest aspect was the very well formulated meditation exercises and guided meditations. As an extra bonus, these are all available as audio downloads at the author's website. There were a number of peripheral aspects that I found less helpful, but perhaps this will be untrue for other readers. For instance, his summaries of psychological maladies with accompanying catalogues of symptoms, found primarily in the first chapter but sprinkled throughout, seemed unnecessary and interrupted the flow of reading. Huxter also has a habit of throwing bits of information in that don't advance his argument. An example – at one point he notes that Buddha was not the only person in history to teach how to live a happy life – Aristotle did too! (pg. 158). Again, I found these kinds of extraneous detours distracting, and they made reading at times tedious. Last, he very occasionally gives a 'case study', seemingly as a piece of empirical evidence. I didn't find these helpful, and they obstructed my ability to appreciate the strength of the book. All of these distractions obscured the structure of the book for me. When I did pull that out, however, and put it into practice, I found a well-organized and practical path of personal discovery and equilibrium.
© 2016 Lee David Perlman
Lee David Perlman is Senior Lecturer in the Experimental Study Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology