Mindfulness is supposed to calm you down and make you appreciate everything. Isn’t that the idea? I’m holding a book called Life with Full Attention by Maitreyabandhu who’s come up with a new approach on teaching mindfulness.
‘Mindfulness is a way of living consciously rather than being off somewhere in your head the whole time. Our life often gets run by our ruminations and our self stories which we get lost in. Mindfulness is stepping out of those into your direct experience in the body.’
Many people are put off the concept of mindfulness because they are told it’s all about meditation, and that the only way to practice mindfulness is to meditate. So Maitreyabandhu has come up with an eight week practical course on how practice mindfulness in our everyday lives.
This could be the perfect answer to a stress free Christmas! We all need a little helper, preferably not an addictive substance, to help us through the highs and lows of the festive season in order to emerge unscathed? Having intended to wrap the book and give it to some deserving relation, I just couldn’t resist reading the introduction to find out what this practical approach has got to offer.
From reading the introduction, and reading between the lines, Maitreyabandhu perceives a focus crisis in our society. He sees that we are all so wound up, stressed out and generally distracted that many of us would find meditation impossible.
In other words we need to spend three weeks getting a grip on day to day matters before we can even contemplate contemplation. And these weeks will be thoroughly beneficial because ‘mindfulness can be applied to all experience.’
Chapter One is sub-titled The Mindfulness of Small Things and it’s all about not losing stuff. We all lose stuff and forget what we are supposed to be doing. Then we waste time getting wound up as a result, and running around in circles trying to sort out our own muddles. ‘Day-to-day mindfulness is about remembering to recharge your mobile phone or switch off the oven.’
It would appear this book is intended for me. This morning I left home without any form of cash or plastic and realised only after I had filled up the car with diesel. Then I got changed at lunchtime to go running and found myself clad in black lycra but with no trainers. Minutes later, on opening my lunch tub it emerged that I had brought the sauce for tonight’s spaghetti bolognese instead of the ratatouille for lunch. An eight week course in mindfulness is definitely in order.
‘Full attention is a kind of relishing of things. But if we’re late for work because we’ve forgotten our bus pass or left our power lead at home, we’ll be in no state to relish anything.’
‘True dat’, as my daughter would say.
‘So we need to start with the basics’ he continues ‘remembering our PIN number, having a place where we keep our driving licence, sorting out the kitchen cupboard. It may not seem very exciting or very spiritual, but it will make all the difference.’
So no meditation? Well not in Chapter One anyway. The implication seems to be that we first need to calm down using the tools supplied in the first three chapters. If we can manage this and are still on board by chapter four, then we might be in the right frame of mind to devote 20 minutes a day to meditation which is described as: ‘an intensification of mindfulness and kindness.’
Over the next few weeks we’ll be following the course chapter by chapter, a week at a time in an attempt to bring calm attentiveness to The Sunny Times!