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The Wakeful Body: Somatic Mindfulness as a Path to Freedom
Willa Blythe Baker
Shambhala / Softcover / 2021-11-01 / 161180874X
Mindfulness Meditation / Buddhism
price: $24.95
204 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

A highly practical and approachable guide to somatic meditation with easy practices for accessing the body's inherent mindfulness, from an expert in somatic meditation.

Tap into the wisdom of the body with down-to-earth practices like "Surrendering to the Breath" and "Befriending Feelings" that allow the body to become the source of mindfulness. Willa Blythe Baker introduces meditation practice as the cultivation of a way of being, rather than a way of doing. It is a way of being that is self-aware, self-compassionate, and embodied. This way of being is not limited to practice on the cushion or on the yoga mat--somatic mindfulness is available at any moment, activated by attention to the body's wisdom and its teachings.

Discover the three layers of embodiment, from the earth body of flesh and blood, the subtle body of sensory experience and emotion, and the awareness body of consciousness. The three parts of this book explore these layers through turning attention to the physical, energetic, and mental dimensions of human experience. By diving deep into the body, readers will find that they already have what they need. Concentration, wisdom, compassion, kindness, and joy are waiting there.


“This remarkable book brings the body into clear focus as a medium of awakening.”—Roshi Joan Halifax, abbot, Upaya Zen Center

The Wakeful Body is a wisdom treasure bringing forth the insights, life stories, hidden teachings, and practice pathways on how to tend the ‘agriculture of the soul,’ including knots, entanglements, and uprooting embodied suffering toward liberation and integration. Lama Willa’s experience and collection of teachings on the power of flow, dance, and movement practices in Tibetan Buddhist traditions is a rare treasure offered by a pioneering teacher with great benefit to all. Emaho! A classic is born for future generations.”—Shiva Rea, founder of Samudra Global School of Living Yoga and author of Tending the Heart Fire

“In a most refreshing way, Lama Willa invites us to wake up to the wisdom of our bodies. Her skillful and practical guidance, informed by years of deep practice in yoga and Tibetan Buddhist meditation, literally moves us in new ways to be embodied and get out of our heads. The Wakeful Body is a treasure of a book filled with countless gems to nourish and ground. It will be a trusted resource for years to come that I will return to time and time again.”—Susan Bauer-Wu, PhD, RN, president of the Mind & Life Institute and author of Leaves Falling Gently

The Wakeful Body is a gift to the world and cements Willa Blythe Baker as one of our strongest and most convincing voices of a deeply somatic approach to Buddhist practice. Baker persuasively theorizes that meditation is misconceived as something we do with our mind. Far more profitable is an exploration of bodily experience, and this shift in focus from mind to body changes everything for the aspiring meditator. Filled with anecdotes from her life, we follow her journey of awakening as she enters as a young novitiate on the path and emerges as one of the most important teachers of our time.”—Will Johnson, author of The Posture of Meditation and Breathing through the Whole Body

“The human body is a sacred form full of potential. This book lays out rich and practical guidance to utilize it as a doorway to healing and spiritual awakening.”—Anam Thubten, author of Choosing Compassion

“A beautifully written expression of devotion to the body as teacher—wherein one can clearly feel the depth and authenticity of the author’s exploration and practice.”—Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel, author of The Logic of Faith

About the Author:

Willa Blythe Baker, PhD is the founder and spiritual director of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Boston, MA, and its retreat center Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH. She was authorized as a dharma teacher and lineage holder in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism after twelve years of monastic training and two consecutive three-year retreats.

Willa completed a doctorate at Harvard University and was visiting lecturer in Buddhist Ministry from 2013 to 2017. At present, Willa writes, teaches, guides meditation retreats, and develops curricula for lay Buddhists interested in cultivating a deep meditation practice in daily life. She also teaches at Kripalu. She is the author of several other works including The Arts of Contemplative Care (Wisdom, 2012) and Everyday Dharma (Quest Books, 2009), and is the translator of Essence of Ambrosia: A Guide to Buddhist Contemplations (Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 2005.)

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