Melissa Steginus. Everyday Mindfulness: 108 Simple Practices to Empower Yourself and Transform Your Life. TCK Publishing, 2020. (242 pages)
Since I received this complimentary copy from the publisher for the express purpose of reviewing it for my blog, I will confess I feel a more than slight compulsion towards being kind. There is some moral voice resonating in my mind to be encouraging. Perhaps it is the innate drive of reciprocal altruism (cf. The Expanding Circle by Peter Singer)? Maybe it’s just my personality, or religious conviction to be generous to those who were generous to me (cf. Fred Rogers). Maybe it’s because I understand the struggle, the dedication, and the soul-work that goes into writing a book (cf. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield), and so I simply want to honor the author, who seems–from what I can glean from her website and bio–to be a very nice person just contributing her life to the betterment of other people. In that regard, כל הכבוד, “good on ya,” and “blessings.”
However, I cannot be either kind or generous. While the simple, pithy, blatantly obvious, and redundant advice may be helpful for some (as evidence by a few Amazon reviews), I find the content to be saccharin, ego-centric, shallow, at times grossly self-evident, and in some instances a mere mystical fabrication, a psychological construct to pattern some sort of meaningful belief.
For example, the book begins with a symbolic explanation of 108 (see notes below), which, while based on a fair estimation of the physical reality of the sun’s and earth’s dimensions, is absolutely not a representation of “our complete and infinite existence in accordance with our truth.” (p.5) That kind of “spiritual guru” speak is utter nonsense.
The book’s pattern is consistent throughout, as seen here on days 1 and 2:
There’s nothing wrong with advising either of these things. But are these really practices that “empower yourself and transform your life,” as per the subtitle of the book? Okay, so breathe deep. Sleep well. Check.
Day 23, “Reflect On Happy Times” purports “The Law of Attraction,” the fallacious idea made popular in The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Just to be clear, this is no “law” whatsoever of the physical, behavioral, or judicial kind. It is a sales pitch, a marketing phrase, and a captivating idea for those susceptible to believing in fictions (cf. The Storytelling Animal and Sapiens).
Day 24, “Forgive Someone” is incredibly noble, and I was thankful to see this in there. But who are you to forgive? Someone who “has upset you.” Upset you?! Honestly, this is such a bastardization of the long historical concept of forgiveness, I’m not even sure how to respond. When I think of Desmond Tutu, Pope John Paul, apartheid, slavery, murder, and other atrocities in and through which forgiveness is contextualized, “upset” is borderline offensive. (I confess my critique may be unreasonable given the scope of this book.)
I did appreciate day 39, “Say ‘Thank You'”, day 42, “Theme Your Days,” and days 62 and 71, which are about “Asking Questions.” There are principles in there that I not only affirm, but teach myself. But again, the purposes and practices were overly simplified. In one regard, simple, straightforward advice is easily accessible. But the paucity of content leaves these practices without a substantive foundation upon which to build a practical understanding.
I’ve spent way too much time on this already, so I’m going to quit. To the author, my sincerest empathetic apologies. I know you worked hard, and I’m sorry to be such a harsh critic. To the publisher, my gratitude. I still feel like I learned something. To my followers, in the words of St. Augustine, “Love, and do as you please.”
Introduction: What It Means To Be Mindful
Mindfulness is about paying attention with intention. (2)
To be mindful is to embody this consciousness, to live your life in accordance with the realization that you’re alive. (2)
…your practice will center on and strengthen two areas of focus: self-empowerment and personal fulfillment. (2)
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 108
- The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth.
- The diameter of the sun multiplied by 108 equals the miles between the sun and earth.
- The diameter of the moon multiplied by 108 equals the miles between moon and earth.
…if we consider the visual symbolism of the number 108, we see (4):
1 = higher power or ultimate truth
0 = wholeness of self or existence
8 = infinity (5)
Not only does this number hold its weight in calculating our planet’s connection to the sun–the source of energy and life on Earth–but it also represents our complete and infinite existence in accordance with our truth. (5)
COMMIT TO YOURSELF
Here are my three wishes for you
- May you recognize your worth and live according to it.
- May you truly appreciate the beauty of your existence.
- May you trust in your ability to create fulfilling changes in your life and yourself.
This is what you’ll need to commit to:
- Be open to exploring different facets of your life and yourself.
- Be willing to try each exercise to find what will work for you.
- Be patient with yourself as you awaken and connect to all that is within you. (9)
Chapter One: Physical
The body itself is to reveal the light that’s blazing inside your Presence. – Rumi
1-TAKE A DEEP BREATH; 2-GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP; 3-MAKE AND EAT BREAKFAST; 4-DRINK PLENTY OF WATER; 5-RELEASE TENSION; 6-PRACTICE GOOD POSTURE; 7-DO A WALKING MEDITATION; 8-REVAMP YOUR GROCERY LIST; 9-PREPARE HEALTHY MEALS; 10-EAT WITHOUT DISTRACTION; 11-DO 20 MINUTES OF EXERCISE; 12-CREATE A HOME SPA; 13-BUILD A MORNING ROUTINE; 14-REFRESH YOURSELF; 15-DETOXIFY YOUR BODY; 16-GO THE EXTRA MILE; 17-TEND TO YOUR HEALTH; 18-DECLUTTER YOUR SPACE
Chapter Two: Emotional
We should examine oursleves and learn what is the affection and purpose of the heart, for in this way only can we learn what we honestly are. – Mary Baker Eddy
19-CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF; 20-WRITE WHAT’S WRONG; 21-WRITE WHAT’S RIGHT; 22-TELL SOMEONE WHAT’S WRONG; 23-REFLECT ON HAPPY TIMES; 24-FORGIVE SOMEONE; 25-CELEBRATE YOUR GROWTH; 26-JOURNAL ABOUT YOUR DREAMS; 27-WRITE YOURSELF A LETTER; 28-TALK TO YOURSELF; 29-PRACTICE A MANTRA; 30-EXPRESS YOURSELF; 31-ENGAGE IN PLAY; 32-BE YOUR OWN DATE; 33-ACTIVELY LISTEN; 34-ASSESS YOUR RELATIONSHIPS; 35-IDENTIFY YOUR FEELINGS; 36-INVEST IN YOURSELF
Chapter Three: Rational
All things are ready, if your mind be so. – William Shakespeare
37-BEGIN UNPLUGGED; 38-START WITH WHAT’S IMPORTANT; 39-SAY “THANK YOU”; 40-OBSERVE YOUR SELF-TALK; 41-WRITE YOUR PRIORITIES; 42-THEME YOUR DAYS; 43-EXERCISE A STRENGTH; 44-TRY SOMETHING NEW; 45-VALUE YOUR GROWTH; 46-DETOXIFY YOUR MIND; 47-ATTEND TO AUTOPILOT; 48-REFLECT ON TODAY; 49-PREPARE FOR TOMORROW; 50-CONSUME CONSCIOUSLY; 51-MEDITATE IN SMALL DOSES; 52-ASSESS YOUR WORRIES; 53-ADDRESS YOUR WORRIES; 54-CELEBRATE CHANGE
Chapter Four: Spiritual
The foundations of a person are not in matter but in spirit. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
55-DEFINE YOUR SPIRITUALITY; 56-PRACTICE YOUR SPIRITUALITY; 57-CULTIVATE GRATITUDE; 58-CREATE A SACRED SPACE; 59-MEET LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE; 60-PLAN A SACRED DAY; 61-CONNECT TO YOUR BREATH; 62-ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS; 63-MEDITATE ON BEAUTY; 64-CREATE YOUR MANTRA; 65-LISTEN TO THE MUSIC; 66-FIND SILENCE; 67-NOURISH YOUR SOUL; 68-WATCH THE SUN RISE OR SET; 69-SEARCH FOR BEAUTY; 70-SHARE YOUR FINDINGS; 71-ASK BIG QUESTIONS; 72-EXPLORE THE MYSTERY
Chapter Five: Occupation
It’s not enough to be busy; so we are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about? – Henry David Thoreau
73-ASSESS YOUR WORK; 74-CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS; 75-WRITE YOUR GOALS; 76-BREAK DOWN YOUR GOALS; 77-BLOCK YOUR TIME; 78-PERSONALIZE YOUR TO-DO LIST; 79-IDENTIFY DISTRACTIONS; 80-CHECK YOUR SCHEDULE; 81-SET BOUNDARIES; 82-ELIMINATE THE UNNECESSARY; 83-SEEK GUIDANCE; 84-CREATE A PROCESS; 85-TRACK YOUR MONEY; 86-TAKE A BREAK; 87-PRACTICE CREATIVITY; 88-EXPLORE COLLABORATION; 89-REVAMP YOUR WORKSPACE; 90-PREPARE YOURSELF
Chapter Six: Network
Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people. – Mother Teresa
91-IDENTIFY YOUR CONNECTIONS; 92-MAKE YOURSELF AVAILABLE; 93-EXPRESS GRATITUDE; 94-RECONNECT WITH A FRIEND; 95-SEND A LETTER; 96-DO SOMETHING KIND; 97-HELP A STRANGER; 98-BE PRESENT; 99-ASK FOR HELP; 100-OFFER YOUR TIME; 101-KEEP GOOD COMPANY; 102-FIND YOUR PEOPLE; 103-TRANSFORM SMALL TALK; 104-VOCALIZE YOUR GRATITUDE; 105-PHONE A FRIEND; 106-SHARE IN WONDER; 107-PLAY YOUR PART; 108-SHINE YOUR LIGHT
Above all else, trust in your truth and live in accordance with it. This is what it means to be fully awake and in alignment. It is your path to yourself, your inner wisdom, and your fulfillment. And it is how you create meaningful changes in the world around you. (242)