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Scott L. Rogers • Mindful Living

Having taught and written extensively on the use of mindfulness in university law programs, Scott Rogers is an expert in bringing meditation to busy people. If seated meditation feels like yet another thing you can’t fit into your day, the method in this book offers an alternative, or complementary, practice. Rogers guides you to pay attention to the present moment by simply reflecting on familiar elements of the natural world over the course of a day. You can take their presence, he suggests, as an invitation to check in with the “elements of mindfulness”: body, breath, thoughts, feelings, and awareness. Catching sight of a tree, for example, reminds you to straighten your posture. Hearing a bird singing encourages you to listen deeply. Feeling or hearing the wind (or the air conditioner in your office), you pay attention to the next breath you take. By making these moments habitual, you can take a wider view—that our selves and our world are not so separate: “While our thoughts come and go, our body is here—always here, now. And our body is very much connected to the earth, borne of the earth, and will one day return to the earth.” This book helps to introduce and build the habit of paying attention, especially for those who are new to meditation. More experienced meditators will appreciate that Rogers delves into the ideas of “doing” and “being” and offers a perspective that can enrich their existing practice. With its picture-book-style drawings and focus on nature, the book can also invite children and their caregivers to try practicing mindfulness together. (To read about Scott Rogers’ work sharing mindfulness with young children and families, see “Mindfulness in Preschool” in our Top of Mind department.)

LAGOM: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living
Linnea Dunne • Gaia

“Happiness in a sustainable sense is not about extremes,” writes Linnea Dunne on the value of lagom: a Swedish term meaning “not too much, not too little, just the right amount.” Compact and beautifully designed, this book explains how lagom permeates Swedish lifestyle and culture, and suggests ways for non-Swedish readers to adopt some of these traditions. In Dunne’s enthusiasm to promote lagom, Sweden itself may be overly romanticized. Still, she presents a refreshing vision of harmony and social connection. Lagom isn’t a form of private self-improvement: like Sweden’s beloved coffee breaks with cinnamon buns, it’s something you share.

MINDFUL SPORT PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT: Mental Training for Athletes and Coaches
Keith Kaufman, Carol Glass, Timothy Pineau • American Psychological Association

Coaches and scientists alike increasingly recognize that, for peak performance, being “in the zone” requires not only physical training but also mental training. An evidence-based program, Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE), promotes awareness, focus, and positive motivation in sports, and was inspired by the work Jon Kabat-Zinn did with Olympic rowers in the ’80s. The authors (also the developers of MSPE) provide a review of the science on mindfulness in sport, as well as lots of exercises that both athletes and coaches will find useful for harmonizing body and mind.

PULLING TOGETHER: A Coach’s Journey to Uncover the Mindset of True Potential
Jason Dorland • Heritage House

This account of coaching a boys’ rowing team has more to do with mindfulness than you might guess. Dorland, an Olympic-rower-turned-coach, describes how he and his young athletes prepared for major competitions by prioritizing hard work, cooperation, and compassion over race results—an approach that flies in the face of the prevailing view of competition as a win-or-lose struggle. Yet his team’s triumphs demonstrate that mindfulness in sports can lead to incredible performance, not to mention greater enjoyment of the game. Dorland’s enthusiasm and conviction make this an uplifting read.

MINDFULNESS ON THE GO (CARDS): 52 Simple Meditation Practices You Can Do Anywhere
Jan Chozen Bays • Shambhala

This deck is a useful way to infuse even your most hectic days with mindfulness. Chozen Bays, a pediatrician and meditation teacher, takes a lighthearted approach to mindfulness practice—and the variety of cards will keep you interested. One card suggests that you “become aware of the color blue.” Others recommend “doing a silly walk of some kind,” or “giving someone close to you a genuine compliment.” These exercises remind us that we can’t force ourselves to be free and open. Instead, we can see what’s already extraordinary in our lives, simply by paying attention.


Episode: Baseball researcher finds “the zone” in brain wave experiment

Anthony Pluta, who earned his masters in neuroeconomics at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, wanted to find out how different types of brain waves correlate to an athlete being “in the zone,” hoping this could predict how well they would play. His research used the Muse™ Brain Sensing Headband, which measures brain waves using EEG (the headband’s designers have touted it as a way to “take the guesswork out of meditation”). The Muse recorded baseball hitters’ brain waves before they went to bat. Did the hitters perform better when their brainwaves reflected intense focus on the game, or when they were closer to a meditative state? The results, while preliminary, may surprise you. Pluta’s next question: Can training—such as mindfulness and/or meditation—allow athletes to optimize their brainwaves?

Episode: Dr. Judson Brewer—Habits, Mindfulness, and Addiction

In this series, performance coach Michael Gervais talks with people who have achieved excellence in their field. This segment features Dr. Judson Brewer, a leading researcher in the science of mindfulness, addiction, and habit change. What mindfulness seems to offer in this context, Brewer explains, is a novel way to tinker with the psychological mechanisms underpinning our fears, habits, and addictive behaviors: “When something’s uncomfortable, we tend to flee. Well, what if we instead just totally get curious about what that sensation of fear feels like in the moment, so we can see what is exactly driving us?” It’s this curiosity that pushes back our self-imposed boundaries so that we can respond wisely in any situation, truly performing at our best. The full episode is definitely worth a listen. (For a mini-profile of Brewer and his work, see “Probing the Meditator’s Mind” in our “Meditators Under the Microscope” feature.)

Episode: Mindful Social Media—The ABCs of Attention, Balance and Compassion

In a highly topical conversation, educator and author Susan Kaiser Greenland discusses her approach to mindfulness for children, teenagers, and families. She suggests parents use different ways to model or practice mindfulness as their child develops. For young children, a parent can simply be present, “without an overlayer of thinking or analyzing” the child’s activities. Pre-teens and teenagers can incorporate bits of mindfulness into their day, ideally practicing and discussing it with their peers. In a social media context, being mindful can mean we allow ourselves to notice our reactions to the online world and respond with compassion and a sense of humor—and children, just like adults, can benefit from this wisdom.