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Living Zen Remindfully: Retraining Subconscious Awareness

by James Austin The MIT Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 328 pages
AU$37.99 NZ$39.99
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This is a book for readers who want to probe more deeply into mindfulness. It goes beyond the casual, once-in-awhile meditation in popular culture, grounding mindfulness in daily practice, Zen teachings, and recent research in neuroscience. In Living Zen Remindfully, James Austin, author of the groundbreaking Zen and the Brain, describes authentic Zen training -- the commitment to a process of regular, ongoing daily life practice. This training process enables us to unlearn unfruitful habits, develop more wholesome ones, and lead a more genuinely creative life.

Austin shows that mindfulness can mean more than our being conscious of the immediate "now." It can extend into the subconscious, where most of our brain's activities take place, invisibly. Austin suggests ways that long-term meditative training helps cultivate the hidden, affirmative resource of our unconscious memory. Remindfulness, as Austin terms it, can help us to adapt more effectively and to live more authentic lives.

Austin discusses different types of meditation, meditation and problem-solving, and the meaning of enlightenment. He addresses egocentrism (self-centeredness) and allocentrism (other-centeredness), and the blending of focal and global attention. He explains the remarkable processes that encode, store, and retrieve our memories, focusing on the covert, helpful remindful processes incubating at subconscious levels. And he considers the illuminating confluence of Zen, clinical neurology, and neuroscience. Finally, he describes an everyday life of "living Zen," drawing on the poetry of Basho, the seventeenth-century haiku master.

“Dr. James Austin's unique and rich perspectives on the brain, mind, and Zen enrich and astound.”

Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

“In this enlightening book neurologist and Zen practitioner James Austin further explores the brain mechanisms that mediate Zen states, updated by the latest discoveries in neuroscience. He also offers an enjoyable mix of interesting insights: the miracle of birds triggering awakening, training the unconscious mind, functions of underappreciated brain areas, lessons from Zen masters, and haiku.”

Eberhard Fetz, Professor, Department of Physiology & Biophysics, University of Washington

“James Austin’s unique combination of qualities make him without doubt the most knowledgeable Zen practitioner. He is a neurologist, a student of Zen who has achieved kensho, and a scientist of outstanding quality and intelligence. Living Zen Remindfully, the latest in a series of six books on neuroscience and Zen meditation, is the jewel in the crown of this important series, and should be on the bookshelf of every Zen practitioner and of any scientist who wants to understand the fundamental processes which are involved in meditation.”

Peter Fenwick, MB BChir (cantab), DPM FRCPsych

James H. Austin, a clinical neurologist, researcher, and Zen practitioner for more than three decades, is Professor Emeritus of Neurology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Courtesy Professor of Neurology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. He is the author of Zen and the Brain, Chase, Chance, and Creativity, Zen-Brain Reflections, Selfless Insight, Meditating Selflessly, and Zen-Brain Horizons, all published by the MIT Press.