“The secret to living mindfully. Just don’t breathe a word of it …”
There are a couple of reasons that tempted me into buying the little book, The Art of Breathing. Firstly, the name appealed and also the author has an excellent reputation within the field of mindfulness. I think too, I fell for the look of it, the gorgeous blue cover and the smaller than average size of it. (In all honesty, I’m a hopelessly visual person). But the content of the book does not disappoint. In fact there is a light hearted joyfulness to it which is sometimes missing in meditation and mindfulness books. In no way does the joyfulness detract from the underlying message of mindfulness or the different techniques outlined.
Without giving anything away, the opening chapter of this book is breathtaking and drew me in at the outset. Other gifts in this book for me were its conciseness and that it can be picked up and put down at any time because of its ease of reading. If you have family or friends who may have expressed an interest in mindfulness, this little book would make a great introduction, and a beautiful gift. I dip into it regularly.
“The changes that mindfulness brings to your life aren’t instant. Be patient. They come gradually, slowly, almost invisibly. “– Tamsin BishtonI hate housework! It’s a gene inherited from my mother. Such a surprise then, when over the course of a month or so, I’ve experienced moments of pure happiness while washing the dishes. Not only moments of happiness, but a vivid awareness of colour, reflections and texture, not experienced before. So where have these moments of happiness come from?
I’ve posted before about my thirty year flirtation with meditation which became daily practice in early 2014. In the three years since, I have experienced benefits while at other times I’ve asked myself, has life really changed or am I just imagining it? Well, I think that question’s been answered. As Tamsin Bishton said, the changes “come gradually, slowly and almost invisibly”, and I think I agree with that.
Awoke this morning, to the sound of gentle rain; sitting in an upright position, with my back against the head of the bed, I settled in to listen. Focusing attention on the sound of rain on the roof, and then on the garden, back and forth, just listening. Noting when I got caught up in thought, and gently bringing myself back to awareness of the rain. Simply listening …
“We can cultivate our well-being by concretely applying mindfulness to our daily living” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Do you apply yourself to informal mindfulness, or like me, has your focus been on sitting practice?
When I look back over 30 plus years of meditation, I wonder why it’s not produced better results. In all fairness, the first thirty years I only practised off and on. The last three years, my daily commitment has been very strong. For all that, I think I’ve bombed out a little on taking meditation and mindfulness into daily life, into the very place it needs to be. So, next step for me is setting up reminders, or prompts. Wonder how I’ll go …
What about you, do you practise mindfulness in everyday life? Want to share what you do, the successes and the challenges?
Into the Heart of Mindfulness by Ed Halliwell is one of the best books I’ve read on meditation and mindfulness. Why?
Firstly because the author’s excellent writing skills come into play, the book is so beautifully written. Secondly, the author’s personal story of depression and anxiety and subsequent journey into mindfulness is presented with raw honesty and wisdom, and will resonate with many experiencing the same challenges. There’s also clear instructions for a range of meditation practices.
In a world where meditation and mindfulness have become rather commercialised and surrounded by hype, Ed Halliwell’s book is a breath of fresh air. He talks about the hard yards of meditation and the fact that even after fifteen years of practice he still has occasional relapses. These relapses are met with mindfulness and as time goes by are decreasing in length and power.
A couple of the take home messages for me are his observations “… that I was a normal human being experiencing normal human suffering (and reacting to it unskilfully) … ” and also to “… be with whatever is happening …
For me as a meditator who has read many books on the subject, there were no negatives to this book. It’s one that will remain at the top of my reading pile to be read again and again.
From the blog of Matt Young at Melbourne Meditation Centre comes this wonderful breathing technique which is easy to do and I just love … it will take you about one minute. It’s a good one to get in the habit of doing a couple of times over the course of a day.
For instructions on how to do 7 deep breaths, just click on the link here.