Blooming into Mindfulness by Martha Brettschneider – Review

In a world that pushes us to always look for the next best thing, BLOOMING INTO MINDFULNESS shows you how to break the cycle of discontent and take control of your own happiness.

Narrated with humor and raw honesty, Martha Brettschneider shares her transformation from ego-centered screaming mommy to a meditation-touting creative, finally at peace with the world.

Inspirational, motivational, and sprinkled with practical tips to silence our internal bully (the first step: recognizing that not all of our thoughts are to be trusted!), BLOOMING INTO MINDFULNESS is a must-read for anyone in search of an extra dose of internal peace.

If you’re looking for strategies to reduce suffering in yourself and others, boost positive energy in your life, and not only unveil but also embrace your purpose, this book is for you.

 Purchase on Amazon – http://amzn.to/1UoGGWd

Martha Brettschneider is a writer, blogger, and award-winning photographer with a passion for inspiring mindfulness, the practice of finding beauty in the present moment. She stumbled upon mindfulness teachings in 2010 after breast cancer forced a reorientation of every aspect of her life—body, mind, and spirit. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, two sons, and a rascally golden retriever puppy who takes great pleasure in eating her garden. Visit her at www.marthabrettschneider.com.

From the Author (taken from Amazon)

As a young international economist, I had fully expected to lead a life of global work and exciting travel. But after swearing that I would never live in the suburbs, never step off the career ladder, never own a minivan, and never wipe my kids’ faces with my own spit, I ended up doing all of those things.

Through it all, my ego muttered incessantly in my ear, “So when are you going to start living YOUR life again? My garden was the only place where that internal critic was silent. Though I didn’t know it at the time, the garden was my first mindfulness mentor.

In 2009, breast cancer forced me to clear my calendar for a year. Pruning was required on many fronts, from my body to my habits to my clutter (both internal and external). With more spaciousness in my life and my thinking patterns, I was open to a shocking truth revealed to me one day in the garden: by only focusing on when my “next chapter” would begin, I was missing the beauty of life right in front of me. As my garden had been trying to tell me all along, joy can be found in every stage of our unfolding.

My Review – 

Blooming into Mindfulness opened my eyes to many things. The book is very well written and contains loads of information. The book is divided into three parts. The author takes the reader through her everyday life in Part One, then her journey through cancer in Part Two, and Part Three is about her awakening. The book is honest, informative, and humorous.

The author writes of her journey through cancer and finding a new normal; a life that would center around the prevention of cancer which would include meditation, gardening, jogging, and eating healthy. The author delves into feng shui to make her house and life more peaceful.

Weeding became more than weeding. I discovered myself clawing and stabbing at the earth with my trowel, gritting my teeth as I unearthed the roots of invasive, unwanted plants like so many cancer cells.

There were many parts of the books that were “ah ha” moments for me. One was her weeding episode. I recognized the actions in my own life where I’ve taken my anger out on unsuspecting activities. There was one such time my anger helped me win a zip code change “situation” for our community. I realize now that had I not had so much anger pent-up inside, that I may not have had the drive needed to pursue the project.

One of the earliest lessons I took from Eckhart’s teaching was to reframe how I thought about “problems.” We tend to infuse the word “problem” with drama and negativity, when in reality each life event is better thought of as a “situation.” His simplified sound bite “There are no problems, there are only situations” clicked with me, since I was now able to see how things in my life that appeared to be bad had actually led to good things (new circumstances, rewarding experiences, greater insight).

After reading about how a simple word change can change the negativity of a “situation”, I decided to try doing this as an experiment. It truly does work. If this were the only lesson I took away from the book, I would consider the book worth reading. But, I learned other valuable lessons as well.

You’re not putting your graduate degree to work! Yank that thought and toss it into the weed bin. Your friends are getting promotions at work and you’re earning nothing! Yank that thought, laugh in its face, and toss it into the weed bin alongside the other one. What do you even “do”? Are you kidding me? Yank that most ridiculous thought and pile it onto the rest of the unproductive thoughts that ego devises to make us suffer. And let’s go ahead and burn that pile.

From this particular quote, I learned how toxic the mind can be. While she weeds the negatives out, I write them down and then scratch through them. Different roads, same result. Valuable lesson.

“Many roads lead to the same end.” There is no single “right” way to get there. “Draw from the past to grow in the present.” “There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.”

I really liked the above quote. There are so many variations of the quote and we have all heard it before.

Andy has made it his life’s work to “demystify meditation for the masses,” spreading the word through Headspace.com…He makes the case that all you need is a chair and ten minutes a day to achieve calm, clarity, and increased awareness.

I used to think that meditation meant sitting in a pose for a very long time, thinking of what I don’t know, I never thought much past the sitting part. I find myself sitting in a quiet place or on the front porch swing quite often meditating. I just would not have called it such.

As I pushed the load up the back hill, Wilma the snake was on my mind. How could I blame her? She had simply been lying in her regular spot soaking in the warmth of her jungle. I would have reacted in the same way if rocks were being thrown at me in the comfort of my own home. They boys got off easy. Wilma had plenty of opportunity to bite, but she chose to gamble for a good long warning. She had more self-control than most of us. Years later I would learn some of Wilma’s skills. All of us have rocks thrown at us from time to time when we’re just minding our own business. How do we react in those situations? When faced with a perceived threat, the ability to resist biting back goes a long way in diffusing a crisis. Paying very close attention to the source of negative energy – calming staring it in the face like Wilma did – often dissolves it.

I think the most important thing I got out of the book was how to present in the moment. It was really a huge enlightenment to learn how to just be present; my mind is always going backward or forward.

The only thing I found bothersome in the book was the author’s adamant attitude toward not being spiritual. I am a deeply spiritual and religious person and I know that God is the center of my life. No matter how much we like to say that we control our destiny, we simply do not. I have a difficulty understanding why it is so difficult for some to believe in God. Deep down, I think it is fear. I am including this part because it is how I felt when reading the book and I thought it should be included as to not mislead anyone about my review.

That being said, I totally enjoyed the book and learned a great deal about myself while reading. It is written with honesty and a sense of humor. I am giving Blooming into Mindfulness five stars.

 Most of us spend our lives waiting for the next thing to happen, thinking that the next acquisition or experience will make us whole. Yet always looking forward to the next thing (in my case, my “next chapter”) prevents us from being able to appreciate the moment we are in. Being full present in the moment allows us to experience inner tranquility, recognizing that this moment – no matter what we have, what we are doing, how society views – is the best moment there has ever been. Only in the present moment can we take action, not in the past (which still controls so many of us) and not in the future (which is just a set of imagined scenarios).

 Purchase on Amazon – http://amzn.to/1UoGGWd

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee may be earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

Organizing Tip – Backup your computer soon! Do you remember to back up your computer? My PC automatically reminds me, but not my MAC. Since I write and have so many files on my computer, it is essential for me to back up my computer regularly. Don’t get caught like I did, standing at the Geek Squad counter with a computer that crashed and praying that you remembered to back up! Schedule your backup soon! Set an alarm on your phone to remind you. Write it in your planner. Just don’t forget!