Presence of Mind: A Practical Introduction to Mindfulness & Meditation

For having such a wise father, I was surprisingly bad at embracing his wisdom.

I remember getting dinner with Dad the summer after graduating from college. I was finally old enough to order a beer, but still naïve enough to think I could write an entire book while applying to graduate school. My dad listened to my plans and offered encouragement, but also tried to gently temper my expectations by framing it as a good learning experience. I thought to myself: I can probably skip straight to the writing a great book part.

Years later (still without a book in hand), my dad reminded me that we can write best about the things we’ve taken the time to master. But I’d been obsessed with mindfulness for a few years, so I was pretty sure I was ready.

Years later (still no book), my dad mentioned that his success as a writer was thanks to having spent years learning how to express ideas in simple language that anyone could understand. How hard could that be, I thought.

I wonder what it was like to watch through my dad’s eyes as I disregarded so much of his advice only to slowly and painfully learn the same lessons on my own. Will Ruby take the same path, ignoring my advice while I wait patiently for her to discover it?

Ten years after that dinner with my dad, the book is finally here. I can’t help but laugh thinking about the younger version of myself convinced I could easily crank it out in a year. Nothing about this book came quickly or easily. It emerged painstakingly, line by line, and only at the rate that I was willing to reexamine my own life based on the ideas I hoped to express.

My dad passed away before I even finished the first chapter. I wish he could read the book, but I think the fact that he won’t is an ironically happy consequence of my taking at least one piece of his advice. He would often work tirelessly on academic papers long past when his colleagues were ready to submit, often saying “I’m not proud of it yet.” Those words have echoed through my mind for years as I’ve worked to write something that I feel proud of—and that I hope he would be proud of too.

The advice I’ve received most recently is that even after your pour everything you have into writing a book, you’re only half way there. The world isn’t waiting with bated breath for your book to finally appear. You have to tell people it exists. So in the spirit of taking good advice even when it means going against your inclination, I’ll make a request: give this book a shot.

For a week-long promotion, we’ve dropped the price down as much as they will allow us ($5 hard copy, $1 ebook). If you read it, I’d appreciate your writing an honest review. And if you like it, share it with a teacher or principal you know. My work at UCSB these days is focused on making evidence-based mindfulness training available to high school students around the world, and one my hopes for this book is that it helps educators develop an appreciation for just how much mindfulness can help their students.

Maybe in the end we have to learn our own lessons, but I still think it helps to hear about each other’s. Although I didn’t intend for it to be, this book became a compilation of the most important lessons I’ve learned throughout my life. In one way or another, they all circle back to recognizing the power we have to use attention to shape what we experience and how we experience it. I’m persuaded this is among the most important yet unappreciated skills we can develop, and this book is a comprehensive guide for cultivating that skill and using it to improve your life.

Check it out at Amazon