Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world
by Prof Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman
I’ve been doing lots of air miles lately so my body and mind are tired but also working over time, and as I prepare this week for hosting the BAFTA red carpet for E!, I’ve been attempting to install some much needed focus and calm. So, I settled down to read this incredible book, to keep me on my A-game.
It was recommended to me by a friend who initially said I should just buy it for the mediation CD that comes with it (it comes as an audio file on the pages of Kindle too if you prefer it like that). So I started by listening to the CD each morning some time ago as it has many different meditations to pick from and track 1 is only 5 mins long, for example. “I can do this just before I start my day” I thought. What’s 5 mins?
I’d always felt like meditation of some kind might be key for me because I’m naturally like a coiled spring, quite tense and always thinking and doing at 100 miles an hour. Some say over thinking and over doing lol. Trouble is until now I’ve really never been able to consistently keep the meditation alive. I tell myself “I don’t have the time” and “I can’t seem to get into the habit”.
So I was happy to find:
a -A guided meditation that didn’t grate on me. The voice is very easy to listen to
b – A guide that allowed me to lie down while doing it, rather than me thinking I had to assume a Yogi pose
c. A meditation that is so short that I really didn’t have an excuse not to do it upon rising, no matter HOW busy my day was due to be.
The guide is also great because it re-assures you that although your mind WILL wander, there’s no harm in that, AND that’s the whole point. So rather than beat yourself up over the idea that you’re not doing it right and can’t clear your head (thus causing more stress which is the opposite of what we’re trying to do here) you should merely acknowledge where your mind has wandered to and gently nudge it back to focusing on the one thing that you always have available to you – your breathing.
After nailing that for a few days I then decided to actually read the book too lol.
I mean – I had 10 hours coming back to London from LA so why not. I’ve seen most of the films.
And, you know what? I’m so glad I did.
Williams and Penman, quickly get into explaining how in life we often become fused with our thoughts and if we’re not careful one or two negative thoughts can spiral into a world of pain and stress. They maintain that there is scientific evidence as a result of MRI scans and such like, which show how the brain’s neuro pathways can actually change for the better the more we mediate.
Put very simply here, some proven benefits include :
– Experiencing a greater zest for life, and an increased sense of purpose
– A reduction in the amount of disease related mortality for those who meditate versus those who don’t
– An increased levels of focus and clarity
– A significant reduction in the chances of suffering from depression
(to name a few).
This book suggests that you should try different tips and tricks over an 8 week period as well as using the guided meditations of the audio CD in order to really make a difference to your life, physically, mentally and spiritually.
But if you don’t want to spend, to zen, I just found out you can download the audio part for free here.