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
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
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