Book Review: From Suffering to Peace: The True Promise of Mindfulness by Mark Coleman

Mindfulness is the extremely difficult art of leaving the past and the future alone.
— Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Unless you’ve been under a rock the last few years, you’re already aware of the “Mindfulness Movement”.

It. Is. Everywhere.

From yoga studios to the military, Instagram to public schools, Mindfulness is having its very own Renaissance. It’s also become quite the selling point. There are phone apps, guided journals, high-tech gadgets, and Instagram personalities - all promising you the fastest, sleekest way to a life without stress or frustration…if you’ll only buy this thing. The most seductive aspect of all this marketing is that the benefits don’t appear to be false advertising. Regular practitioners of mindfulness techniques consistently report better sleep, lower anxiety, and a whole slew of other, equally positive effects. It’s quite literally transforming people’s lives and it’s doing so at a breathtaking rate. Around 8% of adults in the U.S. practice some form of mindfulness on a regular basis. So what’s wrong with throwing your money at this beneficial practice? Nothing…

…except that becoming mindful shouldn’t cost a dime.

Enter Mark Coleman, founder of the Mindfulness Institute. Mark holds a MA in Clinical Psychology and has been a practitioner of Mindfulness meditation for over 30 years. When he isn’t leading mindfulness workshops for companies such as Prana and Google, he’s hosting meditation retreats around the globe. His most recent book, From Suffering to Peace: The True Promise of Mindfulness is a recent read of mine, and one that I enthusiastically recommend.

If I’m being completely honest, Coleman’s book landed on my desk almost four months ago. I really did want to tear into it, but life just kept happening. From a lengthy YTT program in Thailand to my marriage in August, this summer just got crazier and crazier. The book moved from my nightstand to my coffee table, coffee table to my desk. Weeks went by until one day, mostly just because I wanted it out of my pile, I picked it up and started to read. By the end of Chapter 3, it was painfully clear that I had made a huge error: I should have read it the moment it arrived.

From Suffering to Peace is a deceptively simple read. There’s no mysticism, no grandstanding, and no allusions to a deeper practice behind the pay-wall. There’s just good, relevant conversation followed by uncomplicated instruction. It felt less like a study guide and more like those little epiphanies that sometimes occur while exploring a yoga posture alone. Somehow, Coleman manages to convey both kindness and patience in his writing, and it’s never more apparent than in the little “Practice” sections he gives at the end of each chapter. These little activities, to be done in your own time and at your own pace, are windows into your own mind that you’ll come back to again and again. Why do you experience pain as the opposite of pleasure? What inner statements do you make without realizing it? How can you communicate, both to others as well as to yourself, in a way that’s honest and helpful?

How is each moment uniquely its own…and more importantly, how many moments are you missing out on?

Mark Coleman’s From Suffering to Peace isn’t asking any mystic questions. It’s not trying to sell you anything, correct a misconception, or change a worldview. It’s merely providing an open, compassionate space to think in. It’s the kindness of a warm mug placed soothingly in your hand along with an invitation to explore your own mind. As one of the best contributions to Mindfulness literature I’ve ever come across, I greatly encourage you to take it up on its offer.

From Suffering to Peace: The True Promise of Mindfulness can be found on Goodreads as well as the author’s personal website, markcoleman.org. I encourage you to purchase books from independent bookstores if at all possible. Your local library is another fantastic resource and I hope you give them your support.