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Why there aren't more reviews on this absolutely incredible book is beyond me. I have bought 3 copies to lend out to people, and everyone loves it. What a shame that people fall for all the self-help, pop-psychology best sellers which have almost no depth or width (when compared to this book), yet this one is an unknown. This book fills the gap between the ancient classics (or just our personal goals??) and our everyday experience. It tells you what mindfulness feels like in your body as it happens. It is down to earth yet inspiring, practical yet mystical. In short this book is about YOU, no matter WHAT your belief system or goals or present state.
A little background on me to give this review context: I am a Licensed Acupuncturist with a Masters in Oriental Medicine and have been in Martial Arts for 28 years. I have read a LOT of books on health, sports and musical performance, meditation, and related bodywork philosophy over the years. I don't claim to be an expert but I have used body/mind/breath techniques to completely alter my own health, everything from day to day injuries to curing the daily panic attacks I had for after a car accident many years ago. I have found meditative movement like Tai Chi (or Tai Ji) and meditative standing like Chi Kung (or Qigong) VERY beneficial (and so have my patients), in fact they are a well respected branch of traditional Chinese Medicine.
With that out of the way, the hardest part I have always found is when you are doing meditative movement (to heal injuries or calm the mind and energize the body), is how is it supposed to FEEL like when you are doing it right? Sure we can look like we are doing it right, we can understand the words and think the thoughts, but the ancient classics say that 90% of Tai Ji is internal and non-verbal. It is in the sensations, the energy, in the inner experience; it is more substantial than our transitory thoughts. And even though I have changed my life with these arts and sciences, looking back I have never had the full LANGUAGE TO DESCRIBE IT TO OTHERS or even to MYSELF until I read this book. The traditional way to learn this is to just do it over and over, and you will know, unfortunately our modern, wordy, cerebral mind gets in the way of this and we need an antidote like this BOOK to neutralize this habit.
It's ironic that a book could be used to get us back to that wondrous state of wordless. mirrorlike, silent awareness, of occupying our bodies and our common SENSE, but unless we kept the genius of childhood all the way through adulthood, we DO need to work on it, some of us more than others. Look at a child's posture, at their energy, at their openness, at their ability to learn at accelerated rates. Sure, we naturally DO lose some of that as we age, but it's not FATE to lose so MUCH of it. Look at our geniuses, the great musicians, sports heroes, etc; they have that childlike grace, openness, effortless posture in varying degrees as ADULTS. Quit selling yourself short. These very talented people differ from the general public more in their ability to know their body, its subtle signals, the silent awareness of it than some lucky gene or secret thought they carry around or from having "perfect parents" whatever that is. They remember (more than most people) how to get out of their own way. This book helps us do just that.
I must add, as the general public isn't clear on this, there is a huge difference between mindfulness and thinking. Mindfulness is our pure awareness that watches our minds, bodies, emotions, breath and OUTER world flow by and gives the conscious mind (or the bodies reflexes) information to act on. Mindfulness is actually closer related to our eyes, ears, and inner proprioception than in the abstraction of thinking itself. This book helps us DO something with that distinction.
A huge premise in this book is that tense muscles dull the flowing, natural sensations, to where we are left with numbness and pain and disembodied minds. Anatomically, tense muscles actually are very empty of blood, so we don't feel the flowing of blood and energy and subtle movements. When those muscles are brought into mindfulness, thus active and relaxed, they REFILL with blood, so we feel that natural shimmering again. When we lose the body we get lost in our mind. If we are lost in our heads, in negative thought loops or in distractions, the answer is not to focus on the MIND itself in an attempt to try to stop the uncontrollable train of thoughts or to think positive thoughts. The mind is merely the location of the SYMPTOMS. Trying to stop the runaway train of daily mindless thought is an exercise in futility and forcing positive thought is just a temporary band-aid at best. The answer to this is to shift awareness to the very SUBTLE ever-changing, flowing, shimmering sensations and energies of a relaxed, awake body. When we are properly aligned, we are being held up by reflexes, by our postural muscles that are SUPPPOSED to support and NOT by the muscles meant for movement. This saves us energy, makes us stronger yet more relaxed, gives us a true CORE of support, and makes our actions more appropriate and informed, tunes us into our subtle sensations which sharpens our intuition and quiets the mind. We are once again held up by fate, so our muscles of free will can do what they are supposed to do: let us move freely! That is my take on what is meant by the title: aligned, relaxed, resilient. In proper alignment, we use the right tension (our core postural muscles), which relax the sleeve muscles, which lets them fill with blood, which lets us SENSE them again. This makes us resilient to our changing world, one moment at a time.
This book helps us not fall into the trap of the "thingification" of ourselves, as we are not nouns as much as we are verbs. We are more a process than a solid object. Following this path, we will go from having a rushing river of a disembodied mind (with a dull, frozen-solid mountain of a body) to having a quiet mind and a flowing body. Period.