How to Train a Wild Elephant
A growing body of research is showing that mindfulness can reduce stress, improve physical health, and improve one’s overall quality of life. Jan Chozen Bays, MD – physician and Zen teacher – has developed a series of simple practices to help us cultivate mindfulness as we go about our ordinary, daily lives.
Some of the many exercises are: taking three breaths to quiet the mind many times a day, pausing as you enter a new space, resting your hands, placing your awareness at the bottoms of your feet, noticing dislike, using a loving touch even with inanimate objects, using your non-dominant hand, listening like a sponge, mindfulness of posture and secret acts of virtue. There are ways of reminding yourself to do each practice, Discoveries which tell what others have found after doing it and Deeper Lessons which are often comments or stories from spiritual teachers.
Engaging with even a few of these practices allows us to experience life in a more immediate and focused way. The urgency disappears. Calmness descends. To read the text is to realize all of the ways that we miss life by not being present most of the time. For anyone wishing to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness, this is a truly inspiring book.