An Interview with Erin Byron MA

1. Llewellyn's Complete Book of Mindful Living is the second book on which you've collaborated with Robert "Bob" Butera (the first being Yoga Therapy for Stress and Anxiety). How did that partnership come about?

When I was in graduate school studying to be a psychotherapist, I ran a study at a sexual assault crisis center. My thesis was that Yoga Therapy could help victims of recent and childhood abuse. I needed someone with a PhD in Yoga to support my studies, and through a mutual connection from The Yoga Institute of Mumbai, I got in touch with Bob. That was fifteen years ago and we have been friends and colleagues ever since! (By the way, the study showed that Yoga Therapy had a big impact on physical and mental health.)

2. Mindfulness is a hot topic these days. What exactly is mindfulness? Why is it beneficial to our daily lives?

Mindfulness is the simple act of bringing full consciousness to the present moment. It might also be called "awareness practice" or "insight meditation." We become mindful by observing what is being taken in by the senses and occurring around us, as well as noticing the inner flow of thought and emotion. It's important that our attention to these things is nonjudgmental; in other words, you do not label your thoughts, feelings, and experiences as "good" or "bad;" just let them be. Freed from judgment, we can have a complete experience. The "mindful self" is an objective witness who helps us gain a better understanding of our mental and emotional habits.

Mindfulness is beneficial to our everyday lives because mindfulness practices can be used anytime, anywhere, by anyone. Mindfulness techniques give us a clear picture of our own unique inner and outer reality. From this objective of nonjudgmental awareness we are empowered to take conscious action and create the life of our dreams. We come to know who we truly are and how to live in accordance with that.

3. Can anyone practice mindfulness? Is a background in other practices, like meditation or yoga, necessary?

The beauty of mindfulness is its accessibility! It is being taught in many different languages to people of all ages. You are never too young or old to cultivate this presence of mind.

While mindfulness practice may be a component of many lifestyle philosophies, fitness and wellness approaches, religions, and psychological pursuits, you do not need any specific background to begin a mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness is about noticing yourself and the present more deeply. "You" and "Now" are the only things you need to practice. It is for everyone!

4. The book includes articles and chapters from several noted authors, including Michael Bernard Beckwith, Jack Canfield, Rolf Gates, Cyndi Dale, Amy Scher, Tess Whitehurst, and a number of others. What was the collaboration process like?

Collaboration is a beautiful thing. Each of us has such varied perspectives, interests, and ways of expressing ourselves. Although I have studied mindfulness for almost twenty years, I learned a great deal from my fellow authors as we compiled this book.

The diversity of mindfulness applications presented in Llewellyn's Complete Book of Mindful Living is genuinely inspiring to me. Since writing the book I have begun incorporating many of the practices from fellow experts into my already thriving mindfulness lifestyle.

Each contributor offers ways we can simply be more mindful, healed, whole, and happy, without taking any extra time in the average day.

5. What do you hope readers take away from lewellyn's Complete Book of Mindfulness?

I truly hope each reader takes away personally-meaningful inspiration. This book is full of tools to improve life, awareness, and presence. There are many opportunities for increasing personal happiness, empowerment, and health. There is also inspiration to ripple the positive impacts into the lives of our loved ones, coworkers, community, and the world at large. A small shift for the better in each reader's life—as this book inspires time and again!—gradually makes this planet a safer, more compassionate home for us all. There are so many brilliant ideas and tips that each reader can take away what is needed most at any given time in life.

About Erin Byron MA

Erin Byron, MA, is a psychotherapist who has studied yoga psychology and expressive arts for twenty years. She is one of the founders of Comprehensive Yoga Therapist Training, specializing in mental health, and author of ...