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Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness [Paperback]

Jon Kabat-Zinn , Thich Nhat Hanh
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1 1990


Stress. It is everywhere around us. Even worse, it gets inside us: sapping our energy, undermining our health, and making us more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and disease. Now, based on Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s renowned mindfulness-based stress reduction program, this groundbreaking book shows you how to use natural, medically proven methods to soothe and heal your body, mind, and spirit. By using the practices described within, you can learn to manage chronic pain resulting from illness and/or stress related disorders…discover the roles that anger and tension play in heart disease… reduce anxiety and feelings of panic…improve overall quality of life and relationships through mindfulness meditation and mindful yoga. More timely than ever before, Full Catastrophe Living is a book for the young and the old, the well, the ill, and anyone trying to live a healthier and saner life in today’s world.

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From Amazon

Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, is perhaps the best-known proponent of using meditation to help patients deal with illness. (The somewhat confusing title is from a line in Zorba the Greek in which the title character refers to the ups and downs of family life as "the full catastrophe.") But this book is also a terrific introduction for anyone who has considered meditating but was afraid it would be too difficult or would include religious practices they found foreign. Kabat-Zinn focuses on "mindfulness," a concept that involves living in the moment, paying attention, and simply "being" rather than "doing." While you can practice anything "mindfully," from taking a walk to cleaning your house, Kabat-Zinn presents several meditation techniques that focus the attention most clearly, whether it's on a simple phrase, your breathing, or various parts of your body. The book goes into detail about how hospital patients have either improved their health or simply come to feel better despite their illness by using these techniques, but these meditations can help anyone deal with stress and gain a calmer outlook on life. "When we use the word healing to describe the experiences of people in the stress clinic, what we mean above all is that they are undergoing a profound transformation of view," Kabat-Zinn writes. "Out of this shift in perspective comes an ability to act with greater balance and inner security in the world." --Ben Kallen

From Publishers Weekly

Kabat-Zinn is founder and director of the stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and the "full catastrophe" of which he writes is the spectrum of stress in life. His program, in a word, is meditation, rescued from the mire of mysticism that made it trendy in the 1960s. The author focuses on the advantages of employing "practiced mindfulness" to control and calm our responses without blunting our feelings--and a more convincing introduction to the many modes and uses of meditation could hardly be imagined. In personable, enlightening prose, Kabat-Zinn first explains how to develop a meditation schedule, and in later chapters pragmatically applies his plan to the main sources of stress. An impressive middle section clearly marshals scientific and anecdotal evidence relating state of mind to state of health. And while emphasizing meditation's healing potential, Kabat-Zinn makes no sweeping claims, suggesting that the discipline serve not as means but end. Illustrations not seen by PW. BOMC and QPB selection.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
As I look around at the thirty or so people in this new class in the stress clinic, I marvel at what we are coming to engage in together. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Nov. 17 2009
By CBL
Format:Paperback
This is a great resource for people who suffer from any type of chronic (long-term) health problems. It is based on the author's experience with thousands of people who have participated in a course called the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program at the Univ. of Massachusetts Medical Center. Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness is intended to be that program rolled up into a book.

The book's tool is mindfulness meditation- a form of meditation originally developed in the Buddhist traditions- defined as a moment-to-moment awareness. Through mindful meditation, one can gain new kinds of control and wisdom in their lives. The book is very "hands on", so don't expect to just read it and be done with it. For example, you'll be doing things such breathing exercises or yoga postures (I can also recommend Exercise Beats Depression as another good resource for those struggling with depression).

Since the mind plays a factor in stress-related disorders, and very undertreated in Western medicine, I feel like this book will fill a much needed niche for many people. With over five-hundred pages, there's plenty of wisdom here to suck up.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a stress management bible! Sept. 8 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I've read over a dozen books on anxiety, relaxation, and stress. This book has a totally different approach.Instead of giving specific tips to handle anxiety attacks, it uses a philosophical type of approach which is extremely helpful in combatting stress in the long run. The main activity that is taught is meditation and mindfulness through breathing, sitting, or walking, along with a body scan and yoga exercises. They recommend an 8 week commitment to the exercises. But the last half of the book is even more helpful, with discussions on how to see yourself and your problems differently--to feel in control and a master of the events around you. My anxiety level has gone down tremendously after just reading the book and not beginning the meditation yet. This book is a must for anyone having a hard time facing life's normal circumstances or who sees life pessimistically. And it is even more vital for anyone who is facing health problems and is feeling depressed because of them. This man's approach will be a comfort to me for years to come.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Guide to Mind-Body Wisdom Sept. 9 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is one of the three most powerful books I have read in my ten year effort to rid myself of depression and chronic back pain. The other two were "The Power of Your Subconscious Mind" by Dr. Joseph Murphy and "Healing Back Pain" by Dr. Sarno. As a testament to all of these books, I am now almost completely free of both of these tiresome life-robbers: mental and physical pain. I have never been able to sit down and meditate, but this book taught me to reach a meditative state using the walking meditation, and recently I have started using the body scan while running - it is a superb way to combine exercise and meditation. I received a lot of inspiration from the case studies used in this book, also. The style in which it is written is intelligent, warm, compassionate and friendly. I recommend the book highly. If you are tired of being sick, and are ready to make a commitment to help yourself, this book is essential. I can not stress enough the importance that NUTRITION and EXERCISE have played in my own recovery, but mindfulness and relaxation are crucial as well. I use mindfulness every day now that I have learned the techniques presented in this book. I think anyone who is looking for a better way to live needs to read this book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book May 19 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Amazing book for anyone that has lived a difficult life. In my case I was a victim of abuse. This book has done so much for me. I am enlightened and inspired to move forward with my life.
Great Books: Running With Scissors,Dry and Nightmares Echo
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book made a difference. March 19 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read this book and did not like it. I found it described a life I did not want to know about so I put the book aside having skipped a number of the chapters. Six months later when my wife was admitted to the ER with severe headaches I remembered the central message in this book.
The message is clear and simple, the "bad" times in life are as valid an experience as the "good" be there, be aware,accept,don't wish for better times, don't run away from catastrophe. I was aware and present for the next three weeks, the most important three weeks of my life. I felt so lucky that I had read this book. It could be a lot shorter and more focused but the central message is invaluable.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful for Short Illnesses, Too July 18 2000
By C. Sahu
Format:Paperback
I have both this book and Kabat-Zinn's other, "Wherever You Go, There You Are." That one is more of a general intro to mindfulness (i.e, concentrating on your breathing as a way to clear your mind and reach a deeper level) meditation. It's written in a more aphoristic style: short and sweet, lots of quotes from Thoreau and various gurus, "try this" exercises at the end of each short chapter. A book you mull over, read in bits, inbetween the recommended practice.
This one is more wordy, a description of what goes on at the Massachusetts General Hospital Pain Reduction Clinic, where Kabat-Zinn uses a combination of (physical) yoga, mindfulness meditation, and something called the "full body scan" (lying down and concentrating on different parts of the body at a time) to help people with serious, stress-related illnesses such as heart disease, back pain, migraines and cancer.
There are instructions on how to do the above; statistical information on how well this program works; descriptions of the types of illnesses they deal with; lots of case studies of typical patients; and some general conclusions that the very insightful Kabat-Zinn has drawn from his work. I hate pop psychology but that's not what's delivered here - these are very real insights, not facile at all, on the damaging stresses of modern life and concrete advice on how to cope with them in such a way as to not get sick.
He says, for instance, that "your pain is not you" - that you can and should separate yourself from the pain, and from the negative feedback voice ("I'm never going to get better," for example) that makes things worse.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written
Love this book and any of Jon Kabat-Zinn's books. Full of wisdom and meant to teach how to improve life and health. Thank you!
Published 1 month ago by Josette Garfinkiel
1.0 out of 5 stars HIGHLY SUBJECTIVE EVALUATION!
This book is the product of a meditation movement with widespread currency in the medical community. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Eric R Fisher
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for those who want to be present in their life.
It is about meeting life head on through being mindfully aware of what is going on within and around you moment to moment.
Published 1 month ago by John A. Lewis
2.0 out of 5 stars not what I was expecting
Only read 1/3 of the book. It is very repetitive and there is nothing new or special to it. Was hoping for a lot more than meditation, yoga and stress management simple tricks
Published 6 months ago by Stephanie Duclos
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bible for anyone - the seriously ill and others - who wants to take...
This book came to me at just the right time. It meets me where I am, on the cusp of change, outcome unknown, and gives me practical guidelines, and much compassion and wisdom for... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Caroline Sanderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on Meditation
Jon Kabat Zinn has written an excellent book on the practical use of meditation and mindfulness. It was used by the course I took. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Larry McMillen
5.0 out of 5 stars John Kabat-Zinn
This is a fantastic introduction to meditation. I recommend reading this book in addition to using the audio book which is the same content. Read more
Published 11 months ago by velvet_hand
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
This is an amazing book!
I love Jon Kabat-Zinn. I have his guided meditations and he is really phenomenal. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Catherine Caines
5.0 out of 5 stars i so loved it!
best book ever! i hope those words sum it up. each time, i feel anxious and symptoms are surfacing because of my anxiety, i read this book in the bathtub with sea-salt water and it... Read more
Published 12 months ago by RITZ1981
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindful Living
It seems that a large part of the world is living in an unconscious manner, only really feeling their life from time to time, life can be overwhelming, then add illness, depression... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Gail Girl
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