the easy way to mindfulness by allen carr book review

This week, I was lucky enough to be invited to preview "The Easy Way to Mindfulness" by Allen Carr.  As fans of Allen Carr will know, he sadly passed away in 2006. A "stop-smoking" guru, his Easyway method has helped millions of smokers to quit. This book is written in his voice by John Dicey, Senior Therapist, using the same Easyway method. Moving beyond the addictions for which Carr was so famous for tackling (including gambling, alcohol, and spending) this book focuses on sharing  "the proven principles of mindfulness with a wider audience in simple accessible terms." It aims to help the reader find happiness, and to free them from the anxiety, depression and other man-made conditions that are sometimes prevalent in modern society. 

As a complete novice to the principles of mindfulness, I have to admit that I was a little bit sceptical. My only previous experience of mindfulness was in high school, trying not to giggle with my friends when our teacher led such exercises in religious studies classes. However, the claims of the book are desirable and I was interested to learn more.

The book contains lots of useful information for the beginner - such as the origins of mindfulness and how it can be applied to modern life. In parts, it does seem to focus on repetition, as a way of reinforcing the ideas in the mind of the reader. Personally, I liked this....I'm one of those people that sometimes has to read things a few times before they sink in. However, if you have more knowledge of mindfulness then this format might be less attractive to you.

So, what did I like? These are just a couple of sections that resonated with me and I hope it gives you a glimpse into some of the ideas that the author explores.

Develop an open mind - distance yourself from "mind pollution". The author talks about the difference between the pure mind we're all born with and the constant distractions and even brainwashing that we encounter in modern society. He writes, "advertising fills your head with false ideas about what is attractive, successful, happy, healthy, popular, respectable, etc., and then offers to sell you the solution." The book talks about counteracting this "mind pollution" by adopting a mindful approach - by taking time out to pause and reconnect with our senses and genuine needs. It talks about the wondrous machine that is the human body and mind...and that by listening to - and reconnecting with - our natural instincts, we can lessen the anxiety and stress heaped upon us by modern day living.

The analogy of a box of flies - the author compares the stresses of modern life (work, relationships, money, time, etc) to a swarm of flies that buzz around your head like flies in a box. He writes that we can try to combat these flies in different futile ways - lashing out, ignoring them or trying to tackle them with rational thought (almost impossible when your head is mired up with so many issues buzzing around). He suggests, instead, adopting a fourth way - mindfulness; simply observing them and then letting them go. He asserts that by constantly worrying about things that have happened in the past (regret), or things that "might" happen in the future (anxieties) we're separating ourselves from the present, and missing out on the here and now. By being more mindful, we can separate ourselves from these problems (several of which it's likely we can do nothing about/or won't happen anyway) and appreciate what's going on in the present. The sunshine on a cold morning, the birds that wake you up at dawn, a cuddle from your child as you drop them off at the school gates.

Tips for being more mindful, today. The book contains mindful exercises, as well as suggestions, to help readers become more mindful in their daily lives. Some examples include -

  • Mindful walking - taking the time to notice the feel of the ground underneath your feet, the aromas in the air and the people and places that you come into contact with.
  • Tuning into reality and mindfulness whilst completing regular activities such as chores.
  • Focus on being instead of "doing". When you have a few spare moments, practise mindfulness techniques instead of surfing the net or reading the paper.

I hope you found the review useful and I'd love to hear what you think in the comment section. I wonder if mindfulness is something that you already practise or whether this is something that you believe could help you, too? Or perhaps you have some books you could recommend. 

The Easy Way to Mindfulness, published by Arcturus, is available from November 17 from Amazon.co.uk and http://shop.allencarr.com/.

If you enjoyed this book review, then you may also enjoy:

Goodbye, things by Fumio Sasaki - Book Review

The Joy of Less by Francine Jay - Book Review

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23 comments on “The Easy Way to Mindfulness by Allen Carr – Book Review”

  1. Ooh!!! I quit smoking after reading his book! This sounds great!! I suffer terribly with anxiety (actually have agoraphobia) so this could be a fab book for me to read (or listen to!) x

    • Hi, Lu. I was just thinking that listening to this in an audiobook would be great, especially for the mindfulness exercises. It sounds like we’re on the same wavelength 🙂 I hope the book helps with your agoraphobia if you decide to try it. Thanks for your comment and for stopping by.

  2. I try to practice mindfulness, but when things go wrong (you know, one of THOSE days!), then I get all out of sorts. But I’m trying to improve because being mindful in stressful situations would make “those days” a lot better! Thanks for the review. It sounds like a lovely book.

    • Oh, I know exactly what you mean Priscilla!! I had one of those days last week! I’m hoping mindfulness will help ease the stress a little. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

  3. This sounds great. I actually have the no smoking book and it really did help me to stop. I think I need to read this as I really need help with being more mindful x

    • Hi, Sonia. I’m glad that the no smoking book helped you quit, that’s a great achievement. Well done! I hope you enjoy this book, too, if you decide to try it. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experiences x

    • That’s so interesting Zarja, I’m glad that you found the course so beneficial. I hope you can get back into the routine of the exercises…that’s something that I’m working on at the moment too! Hope you have a great weekend.

    • Wow, it seems like this book has worked for a lot of people 🙂 Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your story!

  4. Mindfulness is great – but it seems so hard for me to practice it! I had tried another book – the name escapes me now completely! – it had a CD with instructions. I remember feeling a bit calmed after I practiced, I slept miles better. But then I didn’t really always find the time to do it again. Must give this book a try.

    • Hi! I can totally relate to the sleeping better part…that wasn’t something I was expecting so it was a lovely bonus 🙂 Hope you have a great weekend x

  5. I try to practice mindfulness every day, but lots of days are just too hectic with two small children. Even just reading the book and trying to relax might be good for me!

    • Hi Eva, oh I can so relate. It can be difficult with little ones, can’t it? Some of the exercises are actually really short, though, and I’m finding them useful 🙂 But, like you say, it’s finding the time to read it in the first place. I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  6. Mindfulness is such a hot topic now but I definitely see the difference when I try to incorporate it in to my life. I try and used the Headspace app each morning to try and get a few minutes to myself but I’ve been trying harder to apply it throughout the day too 🙂

  7. I’m another that never knew he’d done a book on mindfulness! I quite like the sound of this if it’s made easy to ‘digest’, so to speak, so thanks for the heads up! 🙂

  8. I love the idea of being focused on ‘being rather than doing’ it’s so easy to automatically flick onto you’re phone but I’m trying to make a conscious effort not to!!

  9. I love books like this and always find it interesting to see what different authors say about these kind of subjects. It sounds like a book I wouldn’t mind reading. Being mindful or at least trying I find really invites you to be calmer with yourself and your thoughts. xx

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