What is mindfulness? As Jan Chozen Bays simply explains at the beginning of The Mindfulness Revolution : ‘mindfulness means deliberately paying attention, being fully aware of what is happening both inside yourself (in your body, heart, and mind) and outside yourself in your environment. Mindfulness is awareness without judgement or criticism.’
There are many definitions and reflections about mindfulness in this wonderful new book published earlier this Spring by Shambhala. In this a collection of short articles, eminent meditation teachers, thinkers, scientists, academics share their lifetime personal and professional experience with mindfulness.
The Mindfulness Revolution includes articles by Jon Kabat Zinn who brought this Buddhist practice to the West and started to apply it to medicine and psychology in the 70s. You can find, among many others, a short but insightful text by Chogyam Trungpa, as well as a delighfully simple and optimistic piece by Thich Nhat Hanh entitled ‘Mindfulness Makes Us Happy’ and a heart-warming article by Pema Chodron.
This collection has been edited with great care and I found myself stumbling upon nuggets of wisdom in every article; so each time I would vote one as my favourite, I would find the following even more inspiring.
This is a great book to own and to keep at reading distance wherever you are. Reading it is in itself a practice of mindfulness; it’s a good way to collect ‘free mindfulness points’ anytime and to not forget -Thich Nhat Hanh writes that forgetfulness is the opposite of mindfulness- that whatever drama is playing in our minds, it can often be simply solved by stopping and listening to our breath.
‘Mindfulness is simple but not easy’ as we are reminded here, it’s a lifelong practice, and this book offers many suggestions and help as to how to practice it and be happier with yourself, your life, others and the world.
There is food for much thought in The Mindfulness Revolution as well as much thought on food, as several articles are about our relationship with eating and preparing food. So I will leave you with a ‘mis-en-bouche’ – a series of mindfulness exercises, suggested by Norman Fisher who is the principal meditation teacher in Google’s Search Inside Yourself program- and hope it will whet your appetite for more mindful delights:
“- Taking three conscious breaths -just three!- from time to time and interrupt your busy activity with a moment or two of calm awareness.
– Keeping mindfulness slogan cards around your office or home to remind you to ‘Breathe’ or ‘Pay Attention’ or ‘Think Again.’
– Training yourself through repetition to apply a phrase like “Is that really true?” to develop the habit of questioning your assumptions before you run with them.
– Whenever you get up to walk somewhere during the day, practice mindful walking -noticing your weight as it touches the ground with each swing of your leg and footfall.
– Instituting the habit of starting your day by returning to your best intention, what you aspire to for yourself and others when you have a benevolent frame of mind.”