Just had a chance to review Carmen Yuen’s “Cosmos in a Carrot” (on Amazon) and I thought the review itself makes a broader point that is of possible interest to a PsychCentral mindful eating reader.  So, here it is.

Mindful eating is one of my writing topics. So, you’d think, I really shouldn’t be supporting competition, so to say, but I don’t operate like that. If I like the book, of course, I am going to say so. So, I am researching for my next project and I stumble upon “Cosmos in a Carrot” by Carmen Yuen (Parallax Press,2006) and, after about an hour with it, I have this thought: if I had read this sooner, I, perhaps, would not have tried to publish my own mindful eating project, Eating the Moment (which originated back in 2000 but I didn’t get around to submitting the manuscript for publication until 2007, a year after “Cosmos in a Carrot” was written). 

I am not going to evaluate the nutritional guidance offered in the book because it’s not my area of competence (I consider “mindful eating” a “how to eat” rather than a “what to eat” genre). But I am truly impressed by the Buddhist part. An Amazon reviewer slammed “Cosmos in a Carrot” saying that its Buddhism is “shallow.”  I disagree: Buddhism in Yuen’s book is as deep as any Now.  In fact, “Cosmos in a Carrot” – in my opinion – accomplishes an extremely rare thing (when it comes to Buddhist-inspired “mindful eating” genre) – it strikes the sweet spot of moderation (and Middle Way) in explaining the Buddhist ethics of mindful eating.

A typical “mindful eating” book – and I’ve had a chance to review a few – tends to idealize Buddhist eating ethic. “Cosmos in a Carrot” doesn’t do that – Carmen Yuen manages to offer the big picture of Buddhist eating ethic without over-attaching to culture-specific details. That’s a huge accomplishment.

With this in mind, I highly recommend this book – at least, as one of several readings on the matter, which is really the way to go anyway. Prospective reader: grab yourself half a dozen of mindful eating books – “Cosmos in a Carrot” by Carmen Yuen, something by Thich Nhat Hanh, something by Susan Albers, a book on mindful eating by Jan Chozen Bays, a book by Linda Craighead.

In short, build yourself a personal mini-library of mindful eating books and experiment with what works.  This library doesn’t have to be an expensive investment: get yourself a handful of used copies (why buy new, after all?!) and recycle the mindful eating know-how by passing on the books to others as you yourself work through them.  Become part of the transmission process of this ancient self-regulation teaching.

I wish you well.

[image source: http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/features/arts/offthepage/blog/2008/08/whats_on_your_book_shelf.html ]