Archive for the books category

February 5, 2018

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur, Foreword by Angela Davis #BlackHistoryMonth

Posted in books, quotes, society

On my Kindle, waiting to be read:
Assata — An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
Foreword by Angela Davis

“People get used to anything.
The less you think about your oppression,
the more your tolerance for it grows.
After a while, people just think oppression
is the normal state of things.
But to become free,
you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”

In 2013 Assata Shakur, founding member of the Black Liberation Army, former Black Panther and godmother of Tupac Shakur, became the first ever woman to make the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list.

Assata Shakur’s trial and conviction for the murder of a white state trooper in the spring of 1973 divided America. Her case quickly became emblematic of race relations and police brutality in the USA. While Assata’s detractors continue to label her a ruthless killer, her defenders cite her as the victim of a systematic, racist campaign to criminalize and suppress black nationalist organizations.

This intensely personal and political autobiography reveals a sensitive and gifted woman, far from the fearsome image of her that is projected by the powers that be. With wit and candour Assata recounts the formative experiences that led her to embrace a life of activism. With pained awareness she portrays the strengths, weaknesses and eventual demise of black and white revolutionary groups at the hands of the state.

A major contribution to the history of black liberation, destined to take its place alongside The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the works of Maya Angelou.

February 11, 2016

FLOW photo challenge — day 11: reading at the moment

Posted in books

What I’m reading at the moment — from left to right:


[ click photo to enlarge ]

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illnessand its French version, Au coeur de la tourmente, la pleine conscience, by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

I have the book in both languages because I’m supposed to be blogging about it on both sides of my blog. I’ve been reading and taking notes, but haven’t posted anything since last November. Here are the links to the first two posts — more to come…eventually:
FULL CATASTROPHE LIVING — what am i going to do with my mind today?

A Death in The Family, by Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Next two are for reading in the bathtub:

Improvisation For Actors And Writers: A Guidebook For Improv Lessons In Comedy, by Bill Lynn.

Zen and the Art of Stand-Up Comedy, by Jay Sankey.

Tomorrow: through the window.


November 25, 2015

FULL CATASTROPHE LIVING — what am i going to do with my mind today?


As I work through Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book FULL CATASTROPHE LIVING — Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness, I’ll be taking notes and posting them regularly on this blog. This way, I’ll know where to look if ever I need to refresh my memory, and maybe some of you will find the notes interesting and/or inspiring.

For the sake of clarity, the notes/excerpts from Kabat-Zinn’s book will be written in black. I will also, at times, use bold letters to emphasize certain passages. As for my personal views, they’ll be written in whatever colour I choose on any given day. Hey… I need to feel creative. 😉

Here goes!

… from our point of view, as long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you, no matter what is wrong. Over the next eight weeks, we are going to pour energy in the form of attention into what is right with you — much of which we never notice or take for granted, or don’t fully develop in ourselves 

In this spirit, mindfulness, and in particular the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program described in this book, is an invitation to become more familiar with the field of your own body, mind, heart, and life by paying attention in new, more systematic and more loving ways — and thereby discover important dimensions of your own life that you may not have noticed or that, for some reason, you have ignored until now.

we should pay at least as much attention to where our minds are as to what our bodies are doing — yet for most of us, the focus of our thoughts isn’t part of our daily planning… we ought to [also] ask, ‘What am I going to do with my mind today?’” — Harvard Business Review. Jan-Feb 2012:88.

What it means for each of us to be human, coupled with the Harvard researchers’ question, “What am I going to do with my mind today?” lie at the heart of mindfulness as a way of being. Only, for our purposes here, I would rephrase that question slightly, putting it in the present tense:

“How is it in my mind right now?”

We can also extend the question to ask:

“How is it in my heart right now?”


“How is it in my body right now?”

We don’t even have to ask using thought alone, for we are capable of feeling how it is in the mind, in the heart, in the body — right in this moment. This feeling, this apprehending, is another way of knowing for us, beyond merely thought-based knowing. We have a word for it in English: awareness. Making use of this innate capacity for knowing, we can investigate, inquire, and apprehend what is so for us in profoundly liberating ways.

As you will see, I define mindfulness operationally as the awareness that arises by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Awareness is not the same as thinking. It is a complementary form of intelligence, a way of knowing that is at least as wonderful and as powerful, if not more so, than thinking.

Moreover, when we speak of mindfulness, it is important to keep in mind that we equally mean heartfulness. In fact, in Asian languages, the word for “mind” and the word for “heart” are usually the same. So if you are not hearing or feeling the word heartfulness when you encounter or use the word mindfulness, you are in all likelihood missing its essence. Mindfulness is not merely a concept or a good idea. It is a way of being. And its synonym, awareness, is a kind of knowing that is simply bigger than thought and gives us many more options for how we might choose to be in relationship to whatever arises in our minds and hearts, our bodies and our lives. It is a more-than-conceptual knowing. It is more akin to wisdom, and to the freedom a wisdom perspective provides.

For the record, I must say I’ve gotten pretty good at noticing when my mind wanders — especially when it wanders into negative territories! I usually notice it right away and quickly say, out loud when I’m at home, “Don’t go there!” Which automatically brings a smile to my face. It has helped me to quit ruminating and move on with my life!

Okay, that’s it for today. Now I’m off to do something else with my mind!

Happy Mudd

November 24, 2015


I bought Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book FULL CATASTROPHE LIVING — Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness last April.

Because 2015 is my Year of Healing.

As per my usual modus operandi when I start a new project, I dove into the book, doggedly determined to read all 650 pages and go through the 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program in order to cure what 65 years of stress have done to my body, mind, and soul.

And as per my usual modus operandi once the initial excitement wore off, I quit – – – though not without having already created new habits: morning meditation and mindful eating. YAY ME!

Today, I’m back on track.
Not doggedly.

Mindfully aware that what I learned in April has already made a huge difference in my life. So now, I’m ready for more — let’s see how far I’ll go this time.

Here’s Jon Kabat-Zinn talking about mindfulness. (5:17)