Book Review: A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook

Book cover: A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, 2nd edition, is written by Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein. MBSR was originally developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn; I’ve previously reviewed his book Wherever You Go There You Are.

The authors offer this description of mindfulness:

Mindfulness is about being fully aware of whatever is happening in the present moment, without filters or the lens of judgment, and can be brought to any situation. Put simply, mindfulness consists of cultivating awareness of the mind and body and living in the here and now.

The book describes the fight or flight system and stress responses, as well as the mind-body connection. Ten essential attitudes for mindfulness are identified, including nonjudgment and self-compassion. The book also provides an overview of research supporting the benefits of meditation.

A variety of meditations are offered for the reader, including both formal (i.e. “meditation” meditation) and informal practices. The body scan is identified as an important practice to become more aware of your body and how it holds tension.

The formal practices were mostly sitting meditations, although there was also a walking meditation and yoga meditation. The book includes illustrations and brief descriptions of various yoga poses.

Throughout the book, there are questions for self-reflection, and space is given for the reader to fill in answers.

A chapter of the book is devoted to chronic pain. It describes three steps to follow: investigate the pain, work with emotions that arise as a result of the pain, and live in the present moment, approach pain one moment at a time. While being more mindful of pain may seem like the last thing you want to do, the authors offer some convincing explanations as to why this would be helpful.

There was also a chapter devoted to mindfulness for anxiety and depression. The recommended approach for anxiety involved mindful self-inquiry, turning in to emotions, and finding your heart.

The acronym SAFE is for dealing with difficult emotions:

  • Soften around an emotion
  • Acknowledge it’s there
  • Feel where in the body it resides then bring compassion to yourself
  • Extend the compassion outwards to others feeling the same way

Mindfulness for insomnia was also discussed, which is a novel way of approaching sleep difficulties. Recently, I reviewed the book Mindfulness For Insomnia, which goes into this in more depth.

The book also covered other applications of mindfulness, including self-compassion, loving-kindness meditation, and bringing mindfulness to interpersonal relationships and communication.

At the end of the book, there’s a suggested 8-week outline for working through it. This is based on how an MBSR course would be conducted.

I found some of the language that’s used in relation to meditation to be a bit hokey. A number of times this book describes mindfulness practice as “nourishing.” Maybe it is, which is great for them, but for me, that wording is more of a turn-off than anything. That’s just my own personal preference, though.

I think this book would be a good pick for someone who’s interested in trying out a structured form of meditation. If you’re looking to work on building mindful awareness without formal meditation, this probably wouldn’t be the best fit.

You can find A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook on Amazon (affiliate link).

I received a reviewer copy of this book from NetGalley.

You can find my other reviews on the MH@H book review index or on Goodreads.

9 thoughts on “Book Review: A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook”

  1. Hello, good review. I always have these overall questions in regards to mindfulness/meditation. I will not explore the difference and roots between the two now. But I do question when it would be advised or when can mindfulness actually be helpful and when NOT? Is it always safe when it is recommended or is there some kind of warning in these books? To give maybe a more ‘extreme’ example: is it safe to use/practice when you suffer from PTSD? My feeling is also that mindfulness is being ‘overused’ to an extent that it seems to become hollow. Maybe I’m too negative again (I’m sorry if that is the case, it happens to me sometimes).

    1. This book didn’t have any sort of warning. But I’ve definitely heard people say that meditation is not helpful for them. I think a lot depends on how it’s done. Grounding using the 5 senses is probably a mindfulness technique that’s likely to be useful for anyone, whereas formal sitting meditation is going to work for some people not others. For me mindfulness is most helpful when I’m focused on things I’m sensing from the outer world rather than the inner world.

  2. It’s a shame about the language being a little ‘hokey’ (I think I get what you mean as I’ve found this in other mindfulness books) but otherwise it sounds like an interesting enough read. I did the MBSR course by Jon Kabat-Zinn online maybe 2 years or so ago now and thoroughly enjoyed it. Wouldn’t mind reading something in line with MBSR to keep my knowledge and understanding up to date and fresh in my mind. Nicely reviewed!
    Caz xx

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