Friday, January 5, 2018

TLC Book Review - Just Sit by Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz

9:58 a.m.

The Why
Ever since reading Dan Harris's book 10% Happier, I've been interested in meditation and have even "sat" a time or two first thing in the mornings.
I've probably developed my "mindfulness" practice more than my meditation practice, however.
I was a natural when the opportunity to read and review Just Sit came along.

First Impressions
When the book arrived, I was first excited simply by the format!  Harback, slick cover, simple, inviting illustrations, and almost a graphic novel type feel to the inside.  I was pretty sure just from the physical aspects of the book that I would like it...and most likely keep it. 

Reading and Summary 
As I started reading the book, I was further enamored by the repeated illustration of the foxes in meditation pose - simple, eyes closed, mudra, fluffy tails supporting their knees (do foxes have knees?), cushion, buddy meditating, peaceful...and the beginnings of the mantra that actually runs throughout the book.
Basically, meditation is a practice...and just like anything else we might choose to add more of to our lives, meditation takes practice...and a letting blaming acceptance of ourselves and our lives, who we are and out place in the world...and just being.
But you have to Sit.
There's a lot in the book about Why people choose to meditate or Why they should and then the Hows of meditation with suggested "exercises" for building a practice as well as specific meditations for varying times in our lives.
But the bottom line is you have to Do it.
You have to Sit.
Just Sit.
Just Sit is not only the title of the book, but it is a phrase that is repeated continuously throughout the book.

My Perspective


the quotes - "You cannot make me happy.  You are not my happiness." (160)

the history lessons - meditation has been around for 5000 years...that's a lot of interesting stuff to learn about :) 

humor - the authors take their own advice and don't take themselves too seriously...their humor made the book feel more personable and not like just an instruction manual.

the illustrations - I've said this before and I've said it again...even non-readers would appreciate this format.

the graphic novel feel - see comment above ;) 

the instructions with illustrations - the best I've seen really

tough love - "Get over yourself" "So What" "Deal with your Shit"

the yellow boxes throughout - famous meditators - except Richard Simmons (149)...his was the only box that didn't include info about his mediation practice.

the pink boxes throughout - "Notes from the Cushion"
My favorite was on pg. 156...about Elizabeth...which also surprised me given my negative reaction mentioned below about alcohol

the biological explanations of why meditation works, the vagus, the fight or flight, the chakras (I did want more explanation of the suggested colors here in the chakras section)

the science

the end of multi tasking - "Let that shit go."

8 weeks to build a practice - I'm definitely going to do this...the other section that I multi starred for a return visit is the section on Loving Kindness meditation...I know I will do this once I return to work next week.


repetition - I know the phrase "Just Sit" is the title and the main point the authors are trying to make...but...I wish I had a dollar...

snide remarks
I smirked right along with the authors until pg. 78 when they mentioned making time for meditation "before your afternoon chardonnay or AA meeting."
pg. 83 "make it a double" innuendo

Chapter 6 and 7 felt out of place to me...almost as if these chapters could be an explanation or justification as to why anyone would want to meditate in the first place.

Meditating as a way to self soothe (23, 42) ...but repeated mentions of drugs, alcohol, and/or hangovers...(as a recovering alcoholic, it seemed counter productive to me...if you're learning to self-soothe via meditation as is the author's literal and inferred suggestion, why would you continue to use other substances...why especially would the authors actually discuss drinking and meditation at the same time? (129)
In an otherwise very valuable section of the book on mudras, the authors purport that the "chin mudra" is good for "...heavy drinkers and potheads" (121)
"Don't be a Quitter" as the subtitle for the question on drinking and meditation...huh?

I realize my perspective is a very specific one, but it is mine.

Pg. 97 "Help and Support" - the author suggest googling phrases like "save me"
"I think I have a drinking problem" "I want out" phrases to find meditation aids...
I couldn't help but feel the areas in the book where someone who really might need help shouldn't have been treated so glibly.

pg. 154 - suggesting meditation as a aid for dealing with depression instead of medication.
Now hear me out here.  
Of all the fantastic, well thought, researched even sections of this book, this one very important section is basically 3 short sentences as an answer to someone who "struggles with depression"...the authors do later on suggest that someone who is struggling seek outside help...I just think this section is dangerous.

Bottom Line

I did like the book.  
I will keep it on my shelf and most definitely refer to it as I push myself to do what I believe the authors truly intended their readers to do:
Just Sit.

I more than likely will not recommend this book to those who are hurting, in early recovery, and possibly not even fellow "recoverers" in long term sobriety as I am. I would, however, be interested to see if they felt the same way I did...or if it's just me being sensitive.
Or feeling the authors suggest we refer to ourselves :) 

10:46 a.m.

Other Stops on the TLC Book Tour

Tuesday, December 26th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, December 28th: Life By Kristen
Friday, December 29th: Openly Bookish
Tuesday, January 2nd: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, January 4th: Peppermint PhD
Friday, January 5th: Writing and Running Through Life
Monday, January 8th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, January 9th: Literary Quicksand
Wednesday, January 10th: Wall-to-Wall Books
Thursday, January 11th: A Bookworm’s World
Friday, January 12th: Kahakai Kitchen