Thursday, April 1, 2010

Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life

I am often asked to review diet books. Lately, I've been turning them down because I have been so busy. But when I got the offer to review Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Chung, I had to say yes. Why? Because Thich Nhat Hanh is one of my favorite authors. He is also one of the most insightful persons I have come across. I have another book of his sitting on my bedside table: Peace Is Every Step. And if I can help spread his message of peace and mindfulness by doing a book review, I am more than happy to do so.

This book is the unlikely combination of the teachings of a Buddhist monk and the insights of a Harvard nutritionist. How often can you find spirituality and medical science so intricately intertwined? I love this book because in it, you find the basics of meditation as well as sound dietary advice. On one page you have Mindfulness Trainings and Meditations and on the next, suggestions of what foods to eat or limit and how to get more restful sleep. Wonderful!

I found as I was reading that I was gaining new insights into *how* to be more mindful in everyday life: eating, walking, breathing, even while stuck in a traffic jam. All of these daily events can become opportunities to be mindful and aware. And if we are aware of our bodies and our emotions, we can learn to direct and mold our thoughts and passions in a more positive direction. And I have to say, one thing I have learned on this weight loss journey is that emotions are strongly tied to eating habits and weight.

Something I read early on in this book resonated so deeply with me that as I sat in bed reading it, a tear ran down my face. Let me share it with you. You know how when you get upset, you might stuff your feelings down with food? Or you battle with you emotions while trying not to binge? Hanh says we should learn to deal with our feelings differently:

"Do not suppress these feelings of anger. Instead, as the Buddha has taught us, accept and embrace these difficult feelings, like a mother cradling her crying baby. The crying baby needs the mother's loving care. In a similar manner, your negative emotions and turmoil are crying out loud, trying to get your attention. Your negative emotions also need your tender, loving care. By embracing your feelings whenever they arise, you can prevent yourself from being swept away by your emotional storm, and you can calm yourself."

Powerful.

I could go on and on; there is so much of value in this book. It contains a lot of really good information about taking care of our bodies (nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc) but also contains the basics to help you get started in mindful meditation. This is something that has helped me immensely since I learned it in Thich Nhat Hanh's previous writings. If you're interested in a mindful life, he is an author you really have got to explore. This book is a good starting point. It's straightforward and easy to understand without being too simple or repetitive. It's a good read, and I will read it again as I practice the meditations it contains.

If you'd like to read more excerpts from this book, Amazon has a great feature called "Look Inside" where you can click through and read a few actual pages from the book. Check it out here: Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life. It's worth a look.

*TLC Book Tours provided me with a free copy of the book for my honest review.*

17 comments:

Susans Journey To Stay Fit said...

Thank you for doing the reveiw I will check out the book it sounds very interesting!

Missa said...

Now I want a slice of orange. It just looks so yummy.

Cheers,
Missa
LosingEthel

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I was wondering a few blogs back if you had experienced some of this wisdom. Neat to see its application to eating challenges.

The thought you shared, choosing to treat our pain with compassion, is so very healing. I haven't read much of his work but enjoy another author, Pema Chodron, who has described this skill also.

Marie

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is powerful. There is definitely truth to this... but as I have learned, the people around me are used to me not getting angry or upset (I am guilty of sometimes stuffing down the feelings with food.) I now react with anger to whoever hurt me, or let people know that they have hurt or upset me, or otherwise get the anger out, and it is causing trouble in my relationships. My best friend, who lives out of town, was happily planning a trip to the beach for us with a third friend from our childhood. Rather than saying, NO, I don't want to see the third friend b/c she's been very hurtful to me, I went along with it. Finally, I stood up and explained how I was feeling, leaving my best friend very confused and wondering why I didn't just speak up in the first place. My mother was also morbidly obese, and she would never let anyone know that she was hurt or upset. Hummm... I guess it's learned behavior. Thanks for listening.

Megan said...

Lyn-
I'm so glad you brought this book to my attention! I also love TNH. Thanks for the thoughtful review.
Hugs,
Megan

mbm1forever said...

Thank, Lyn. This sounds very interesting and I will check this out. Love the application to eating.

AGirlWorthLosing said...

Interesting, I'll have to check it out next time I am in B&N.

Fat Grump said...

I'll have a look at that book. Thanks for the recommendation. I must admit I like to think and read about what makes me tick and the way I react. or might react to life's events (and setbacks!)
I seem to have a mental block of late, regarding self-sabotage, or rather an inability to help myself.

I think I need to consider my own behaviour. Must admit I like Amazon, because it will not only review this book but show me others with a similar theme which I might like to consider. Lots of fun browsing to be had there!

Jilligan said...

I am loving the other book you recommended...The End of Overeating. It is great and has been really helpful. I have taken lots of notes and am having a hard time putting it down and paying attention to my conference I am at.

Coley said...

Thanks for sharing that excerpt - it's exactly what I needed today especially! I'm definitely going to pick up that book this weekend. :) Plus the author is just totally awesome anyway ;)

NewMe said...

I'd like to thank you for bringing this book to my attention. I will definitely check it out.

trish said...

Wow. That was a really powerful quote that you used! Seems like it would be a very useful book whether you're struggling with weight or not. I mean, who couldn't use some help in destressing while in traffic? :)

Thanks for being on this tour! Such a lovely review!

Sskar said...

Thanks for the lead on the book.

Just found your blog, and I'm really enjoying reading older posts.

Leslie said...

Thanks for this review, Lyn. I'm a big fan of Thich Nhat Hanh and didn't know about this book. It'll be on my reading list now.

Pubsgal said...

Delurking to say I enjoy his works and those of Pema Chodron. If you can find her reading her own works, or audio recordings of her lectures, I think you'd enjoy them; her voice conveys a lot of warmth and humor. I had listened to them quite a lot to deal with some other issues in my life, but once I started dealing with my health stuff, what I'd learned from their works helped a lot with that, too.

Debbie said...

I am going to check out the book. It sounds very powerful and helpful. Thanks.

TheLosingAmerican said...

ooo definitely going to check this out!! I LOVE books like this!!! I have a MASSIVE crush on Eckhart Tolle (which for someone whose 24 is an unlikely crush! ;-)) because of his wisdom and strength.