Cover Image: The Mindful Body

The Mindful Body

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

"The Mindful Body" by Ellen J. Langer is an insightful journey into the interplay of mind and body, offering eye-opening stories and examples that challenge the common perception of health. Dr. Langer's research-driven insights encourage readers to rethink their approach to well-being, highlighting the transformative effects of mindfulness. With a straightforward and accessible style, this book empowers us to recognize the influence our thoughts hold over our bodies, making it a valuable read for anyone seeking a fresh perspective on health and happiness.

Was this review helpful?

For some reason, the more I read this book, the more uncomfortable I felt. It felt very pseudo-science and reminded me of Illness as A Metaphor (but in a bad way). While I think the premise is there, I wasn't able to finish this book. DNF at 15%

Was this review helpful?

Harvard professor Ellen Langer is a rockstar of psychological research. This is the first book of hers that I have read, and I was shocked at how many of the influential psychological studies I have read about elsewhere were conducted by her and her lab. This fascinating book weaves together so many insights from her personal experiences, her research, and other studies.

While the focus of the book is on mind-body unity and how our thoughts affect our health, it’s a surprisingly wide-ranging discussion. I particularly enjoyed Chapter 2 on prediction of risk and the illusion of control and Chapter 4 on making decisions. Those chapters had insights I can make use of in every area of my life. Chapter 8 on paying attention to variability seemed particularly helpful for those of us coping with chronic pain or illnesses. The author was at her most provocative in Chapter 9 on the contagion of mindfulness and Chapter 10 on new approaches to health. This book gave me a lot to think about.

Although she is often writing about scientific studies, Dr. Langer writes in an interesting and easy to understand way. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in psychological research, mind-body medicine, and integrative wellness.

Thanks to Ballantine Books for providing me with an unproofed ARC through NetGalley, which I volunteered to review.

Was this review helpful?

This is good news, not bad

Ellen Langer writes, “Every thought we have may affect our health. Indeed, better health for all of us may be just a thought away.”

At first I wasn't sure if this is good news or bad news. For example, Langer says it’s a myth that a medical scare will always improve behavior. If someone is given a pre-diabetic diagnosis, she says that it often makes them more likely to get diabetes down the road.

“Perhaps they become resigned to getting diabetes, and even after an initial attempt to eat differently, become less careful about their diets. Maybe they start exercising less, since they assume they already have the disease. Or maybe the body follows the mind, which now believes it has an early form of diabetes.”

Langer intends for her book to be positive though. And overall, it is.

Langer points out that when given diagnostic results, patients need to understand that scores are often still only probabilistic guesses for future outcomes, not certainties. If your hearing test reveals your score is one point below normal, you may or may NOT need a hearing aid.

“When we recognize that rules, labels, and cutoff points are made by people, there is lots of room to question how any situation could be otherwise. We gain a newfound sense of freedom. We expand our possibilities. . . . The key is to question those things we mindlessly accept, to mindfully interrogate all of the descriptions and diagnoses that can hold us back. When we do, we can get better.”

Langer also writes that our illusion of control—yes, even when it’s only an illusion—can sometimes still prove beneficial. We feel better pressing the “close door” button of the elevator even if it does nothing. Placebos often help.

Regarding our bodies and the illusion of control:

“If we’re diagnosed with a dread disease and assume we have no control, we become helpless, which itself is bad for our health.”

So Langer suggests we practice “mindful optimism,” focusing on things we actually can control.

The Mindful Body is full of research as well as practical advice on how we can improve our bodies by including our minds. And vice versa.

“If mind and body are one, we can do more than change the body by changing the mind; we can change the mind by changing the body.”

So by the end of the book, I am ready to highly recommend it. Knowing that our health isn’t totally bound by past experiences or conventional wisdom is freeing, both for my body and for my mind.

My thanks to NetGalley + Ballantine Books for the review copy of The Mindful Body.

Was this review helpful?

The Mindful Body: Thinking Our Way to Chronic Health by Ellen J. Langer is a thought-provoking book. The author is a researcher and she frequently cites her own research and that of others. Using this research, she makes assertions about the uncertainty that characterizes life and how we can use mindfulness to further health. This book has implications for various service professionals as well as for individuals in their personal lives. Overall, I found this book intriguing and worth the read. I reviewed a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.
4

Was this review helpful?

Something about this book made me uncomfortable. Even though I agree mind and body should be seen as a unity, it seemed to be suggesting that there is no physical reality apart from our thoughts and feelings, a kind of gnostic denial of matter. I am concerned about the "toxic positivity" that can result when we believe we can think ourselves out of all illnesses and troubles.

I looked up Ellen Langer and found that there has been some criticism of some of the studies that made her famous and that she continues to cite in this book; they were discredited or never published in peer-reviewed journals.

I am also skeptical about the placebo effect. I have struggled with health issues for many years. I have taken many remedies and tried many therapies. I really wanted to believe these would work, and for a time some seemed to be working. Then my symptoms would come back. Do placebos not work on me? What about the remedies that do seem to work better? What is the difference, when my attitude has not changed?

Again, I fully agree that the mind has an effect on bodily health, and vice versa. And I'm not a fan of conventional medicine, either. But the claims here seem extreme.

Langer's painful experience with her mother, who experienced a spontaneous remission of cancer but then was treated as if she was still sick, and subsequently died,, may have clouded her judgment. She seems to so strongly wish that we could overcome our illnesses with the power of the mind, that she is finding evidence to show that it is true. But I don't feel as though I can trust her. Something is out of balance in her work, which is a shame, because it could be so valuable.

Was this review helpful?

This book is so interesting. I am amazed at how so many things affect our body, yet we aren’t educated about that as we grow. This book lays out how mindfulness and our bodies health-go hand in hand. As I’ve gotten old and experienced some health issues, I’ve looked for ways to help myself and mindfulness and breathing are 2 ways I’ve found make a big difference.
This book was heavily scientific, so if you like to read science this is for you. The only thing I missed in this book was that I would have like to see more clear ideas on how we can all put this into practice in our own lives.

Was this review helpful?

This is how we need to talk about health, the connection of the body and brain and a holistic look at the total body. I found the education and backed up science that the author presented to be very helpful in emphasizing the point that these two cannot be separate entities. I am hoping we can get this book in the hands of medical doctors and the health care system at large.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Ballantine Books for the ARC!

Was this review helpful?

As someone who works on the mental health field, I am always looking for new resources for myself and my clients. This book really resonated with me, especially since mindfulness and body awareness is something I really try to focus on with my clients. It’s not written like your typical “self-help” book, but presents the information and research in a way that makes it easy to apply to yourself. I will definitely be buying this when it releases and will recommend to my clients!

Thanks NetGalley & Ballantine Books for the ARC!

Was this review helpful?

In the last few years especially, I think we've all been inundated with research on mindfulness and its benefits. This book focuses specifically on mindfulness and health and offers many scientific studies on the connection of the mind and body, resulting in the conclusion by the author (and many others) that the two cannot be separated. The studies in this are fascinating to read about! It certainly will encourage me to take a more active role in my health and not necessarily accept things as they are presented. Perception certainly is reality, but we have more control over all of it than maybe we've stopped to realize. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC!

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley for this helpful and insightful read! I suffer from a chronic illness and it was nice to learn more mindful ways to help dealing with chronic illness and pain. It's nice to learn practical things but with science-based research. The book does a good job of making it not too complicated but also not just created out of thin air but with medical proof, which I appreciate. I highly recommend it. It seems like everyone has or know someone who has a chronic illness of some kind and they could learn from this book.

Was this review helpful?

The MIndful Body is an insightful book of knowledge that really makes you think. It talks about the connection between your mind and body and how it can affect your life.
The author also includes studies with results to support her findings.

Chapter 5 :Level UP is the chapter that stood out to me the most. It talks about blame and forgiveness. It put alot of things into perspective for me and actually helped me to let go of some resentment I've been feeling.

I do not read alot of "self help" books but I am glad I read this one. It's written with clear and concise information that is easy to understand and very relatable. Like I said above, this is one of very few mind and body books that I really got something from and helped me grow.

#NetGalley #TheMindfulBody #RandomHouse #BallantineBooks

Was this review helpful?

I have been using a type of mindfulness, or noticing, on my body since I was diagnosed with food allergies and sensitivities in 2008. The premise of this book is that "our psychology may be the most important determinant of our health". As a nutritionist and student of health, psychology and Christianity, I agree that we are people who are a union of body, mind and spirit. This book looks into the two way influence of mental and physical health. There are lots of footnotes to relevant research for those interested in further information.
This book would be a great addition to the library of anyone interested in wholistic health. It makes the clear case for the two-way influence of mental/emotional health and psychical health. My only slight criticism is that the author doesn't give much advice as to how to implement her observations to improve an individual's health.
I received a complementary advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Was this review helpful?

From the author that "created the concept of mindfulness" Dr. Ellen J. Langer wrote the book Mindfulness that changed the way doctors and therapists treatment of mental illness. The concept has helped innumerable people by improving their lives by looking at the world differently. She has now written this book "The Mindful Body" (Thinking your way to chronic health). This book made me realize I have been approaching my health/health care in a way that is going to shorten my life! I am so thankful for the opportunity to read this book. I feel this book will be helpful, and bring peace to anyone at any age regardless of your current health.

Was this review helpful?

This isn't your typical 'how to be mindful' book, instead it's full of perspective-adjusting ideas backed up with research about how everyone has the potential to get healthier regardless of prognosis. Good health is largely governed by our psychology and what we believe (or are told) is our prognosis.

This is not mindfulness in a spiritual sense but in a thoughtful, think past the rules, kind of way. It's very research-heavy and would probably be best suited for the health practitioner looking to think a little more deeply about each patient.

Most of the research cited is from Dr. Langer's own research or from her psychology department. Thankfully, her research career is long and distinguished, so there was much to choose from, but the book would have benefited from adding more research from other sources.

The book rounds off on a positive note, about how life could be even better if we lived in a more mindful society, with schools, healthcare and businesses all benefitting. The Mindful Body will help you adjust your thinking so you don't simply accept a diagnosis as a fait accompli.

Thank you to the publisher and author for access to an advanced digital copy. All opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

This is a must-have resource to help one improve their health, resiliency, and live a more full and happy life. It is full of great strategies, advice, and easy to implement ideas. This is one I'll return to again and again. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the ARC!

As someone with health issues of my own, I was looking forward to this book. I was surprised by how statistically heavy and psychological it was. There were plenty of examples of behavior analysis and scientific studies that showed how the research supports changing your frame of mind.

Mindfulness is a subject I’m always curious about. While it was full of interesting information - including a new topic to me (iridology) - it was also fact and statistic heavy and at times I found it more cumbersome than interesting.

If you enjoy scientific studies particularly about behavior and neurosciences then pick the one up.

Was this review helpful?

This book was both informative and educational. I enjoyed the writer's writing style and found that it was relatively easy to follow along with. Although the book was informative, I found that I could not stay focused at times. The book was just okay for me, but I would still recommend it to other!

Was this review helpful?

Our thoughts and perspectives can shape everything in our body. What a concept. I was happy to receive an ARC from NetGalley for the purpose of this review. Four stars. Langer does an excellent job detailing mindfulness within the body. I learned a lot of facts based on research.

Was this review helpful?

I would like to have more practical application in this book rather than it reading like a dissertation/research paper. There is some interesting information here, but I don’t know how much of it is usable for the average reader and how much needs to be analyzed through a research lens.

Was this review helpful?