The Mindful Body: Thinking Our Way to Chronic Health

Ballantine. Sept. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9780593497944. $28. HEALTH
This book by the award-winning Langer (psychology, Harvard; Mindfulness) builds on the 40+ years of research she’s conducted about mindfulness and creativity. Her findings suggest there’s a nearly linear relationship between mindfulness and long-term positive health outcomes. The book outlines ways in which socially constructed rules about behavior fail to acknowledge or affirm actual ways in which risk-taking and fictions of control shape people. That ultimately builds a case for approaches to health that bring together what the author terms “mindful medicine,” applying the healing power of mindfulness to broader systemic changes, such as mindful hospitals. These concepts will be familiar to readers of Robin Berzin’s State Change and other recent books focused on holistic, patient-centered approaches to wellness. Like Berzin, Langer draws together a well-balanced combination of evidence-based research with less empirical explorations of perception in ways that will inspire readers to look for spaces for a positive mindset within systems that often focus on symptoms rather than complete individuals.
VERDICT This is not a wellness book with checklists. Instead, it serves as an exploration of what change looks like and how people can incrementally move away from learned rules toward more nuanced approaches to their own health.
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