As we all know, today's world presents us with an unprecedented set of perplexing challenges: habitat destruction, lifestyle disease, crushing stress, fragmented attention, anxiety, and social conflict. Our bodies are suffering, our minds are confused, and our spirits are in turmoil. We need knowledge and understanding, but we also need experience, participation, and engagement. In other words, we need a practice.
Beautiful Practice is a multi-disciplinary guide to the art of living skillfully and mindfully in the modern world. This audiobook will lead you through a progressive series of lessons, each designed to reveal one crucial aspect of living our beautiful adventure. Use these lessons to develop a personal practice, refine an existing program, or create a new practice from scratch. This book is for trainers, coaches, classroom teachers, yoga teachers, martial artists, professionals, managers, and parents; the ideas in this book will enhance your efforts in any discipline. So please, join in. Sweep the dojo, empty your cup, bow to the mat, and let's begin.
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An excellent compilation of information
What "Beautiful Practice" isn't. First off, this book does not offer any specific practice. It's not a "how to" or six-week exercise program. Instead, it is a is a report-style book that actually summarizes some of my favorite books, while adding a little something new in and of itself. Along with a great collection of good quotes, the utility of "Beautiful Practice" is one of two things. A great introduction to this material for someone completely new to this material, or as a gift to a friend or family member who might be able to read a book, but would never take the time to read the stack of books that this book covers.
The first few chapters take a functional exercise bent, along the lines of "Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization," by John J. Ratey and Richard Manning, or even "Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement," by Katy Bowman. Ratey's book, "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain," is even quoted from, so I know Frank Forencich must be familiar with "Go Wild."
Since "Beautiful Practice" does offer a holistic, Eastern view of health and well being, it does include the required meditation and mindfulness chapters. Interwoven with this however, is a lot of the core concepts of willpower and patience, as found in "The Willpower Instinct," by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. or possibly "The Power of Habit," by Charles Duhigg (Willpower Instinct being my favorite out of those two).
There is also a good deal of information on stress, with some relaxation stress-coping strategies along the lines of "The Relaxation Response," by Herbert Benson M.D, or "Relaxation Revolution," by the same author. Since these were a few of the books covered that I don't already have, I found this information very helpful.
The remainder of the book is a nice discussion of tribalism (or going beyond tribalism), along the lines of the African spirit of ubuntu (often used in a more philosophical sense to mean "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity -- wikipedia). The core concept of which is that people all over the world are very similar and share identical core values. The problem is that we often get so caught up in looking at our small differences, that we overlook our many similarities. I found this information somewhat similar to the PBS Indies great movie "Beyond Our Differences," which is also a personal favorite.
All in all, this is a good solid book with a large amount of good, truly helpful information in it. I did enjoy a few of the books used as source material actually more than this book, though, as they, obviously, covered each of their respective topics much more in depth than this book. Had I not already been so familiar with the material, I might sound a little more excited about "Beautiful Practice." As it is, I still think it is worthy of taking the time to read, and will be an especially invaluable starting point for someone new to this material, or as stated, a perfect gift for a friend or relative to help get them on the right path (or perhaps, the Middle Way?).
The one book that came to mind that would be very complimentary to this book, without duplicating information is, "The Practicing Mind," by Thomas M. Sterner.