Mindfulness Made Easy – Why Practice and Mediate?

Here is the Preface from my upcoming book: Mindfulness Made Easy. I am looking for beta readers so email me if you want to read the whole thing.  It’s only 50 pages. I welcome any feedback!

MINDFULNESS MADE EASY – 50 SIMPLE PRACTICES TO REDUCE STRESS AND CREATE CALM – FOR  TEACHERS, PROFESSIONALS AND PARENTS.

PREFACE  

 “Simply put, mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness. It is cultivated by purposely paying attention to things we ordinarily never give a moments thought to. It is a systematic approach to developing new kinds of control and wisdom in our lives based on our inner capacities for relaxation, paying attention, awareness and insight.” Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living, 2004, 2

After ten years of practicing mindfulness, I am convinced that if you practice regularly you will not only be able to better deal with life’s stresses, but you will become a better person. You will feel more alive, joyful and even more productive. You will be able to truly smell the roses, no matter how busy you are.

I only want to do one thing with this book. I want to give you a taste of what mindfulness is so that you want to do it more and more. I don’t want you to wait until you have turned fifty, read thirty books or attended several workshops or retreats (like me!) .

My story

A few years ago I had a wake-up call while attending a talk on Stress and Anxiety at my teenage daughters’ school. I was greeted with shocking statistics showing that anxiety is almost epidemic in teenagers and that in one school alone eight teenagers had attempted suicide in the prior year.  This hit me particularly hard, having just completed my doctoral research and finding the exact same problem among lawyers, doctors and other professionals. Could it be that stress is not a personal problem and that we are all suffering in ways never seen in prior generations?

Anxiety is epidemic

According to recent research, anxiety is the number one medical ailment in North America today. Most of us are stressed-out walking zombies. We are moving a break-neck speed under enormous strains, pressures and expectations. As a result, we are frenzied, frayed, disconnected and filled with anxious thoughts. We rarely allow ourselves to slow down.

And worse yet, most people suffer alone in silence. Only a few seek therapy and learn a handful of coping strategies. Others get prescriptions or are urged to exercise and eat well. But those who seek help are few and the therapies can be costly, to individuals, families and workplaces.

Research shows it works

Yet the newest cutting edge research on anxiety shows very clearly that the concept of mindfulness-based therapy is completely shifting the way psychologists and counsellors look at the human condition and our responses to life pressures.

The research clearly shows that mindfulness helps people deal with both physical and emotional pain, stress, anxiety, depression and ADHD. The hugely successful Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program has not only been rigorously tested, but is now being taught over 250 hospitals across the United States. Cutting edge therapies, like acceptance therapy, which have emerged from the work of Dr Daniel Siegel’s and his mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) are being used extensively by psychologists and counsellors across North America.

But to the general population, mindfulness is foreign.  Very few people know about mindfulness and the powerful impact it can have on stress, anxiety and life. Although it has found its way into hospitals and therapists offices, it is only recently emerging in classrooms (through organisations like the Goldie Hawn foundation) and it is almost non-existent in workplaces.

So I wrote this book, not to tell you about all the amazing research, but rather to give you a quick and practical introduction to mindfulness so you can experience it yourself.

Here is the secret

Even after ten years of practice I still find it very difficult to sit still and meditate.  Luckily, I now know that it’s not necessary to sit on a pillow in order to become more relaxed, calm and focussed. The secret is to commit to trying your best to stay awake. Completely awake to all that is happening.  This means  staying in the present moment, here and now. And although it’s quite easy to learn this skill, its not so easy making it a habit. In fact being mindful is often more about un-learning our bad habits, like rush, panic and clinging and replacing them with new habits like accepting and loving.

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