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Review of "Meditation for Optimum Health"

By Andrew Weil and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Sounds True, 2001
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Jul 23rd 2003
Meditation for Optimum Health

In this 2.5-hour audiobook, Andrew Weil and Jhn Kabat-Zinn discuss the health advantages of meditation on the first tape, then Kabat-Zinn guides the listener through meditation exercises on the second tape, and finally Weil talks about how to bring meditation to the rest of one's life.  They explain their ideas in simple everyday terms and make their case very convincing.  It is at least plausible that meditation can help to relax people, and there is good reason to believe that a great many of our health problems are related to stress and anxiety.  Weil especially is very talented at setting out the benefits of alternative or complementary medicine.  Here he starts with the observation that the words meditation and medicine have the same linguistic roots, and he goes on to set out some of the evidence and some examples from his own practice that meditating can help people with medical problems. 

Kabat-Zinn's meditation exercises focus primarily on breathing.  It is not accompanied by any music or sound effects, and this makes it easier to take it seriously and to follow through its suggestions.  His voice is calming and he leaves plenty of moments of quiet so that his voice does not intrude on one's meditation.  He does use a little guided imagery, but he keeps it simple and it should be possible for beginners to try his suggestions successfully.  Weil, on the second side of the second tape, discusses how to bring mindfulness to everyday activities such as doing the dishes, driving, walking, making love or dealing with chronic pain.  He covers a range of ideas, including the possible power of prayer to improve one's health and the relation between mind and body.

A short audiobook cannot take the place of careful study and practice of meditation, but Meditation for Optimum Health is an excellent starting point for trying new ways to heal oneself. 


© 2003 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.

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