Mindfulness is often viewed by not only beginners to the subject but also as well by experts, as a daily meditation practice – something that you dedicate half an hour or so as time and opportunity permits.
In her book ‘Living Mindfully’ mindfulness teacher Deborah Schoerberlein David expresses the personal belief that in fact this uniquely popular form of meditation can, and should, become an integral part of everyday living.
She believes that the principles that underpin mindfulness can be extended into every aspect of life and to great personal benefit.
A Very Modern Problem
Modern life and the daily challenge of trying to survive in this cut-throat world of ours creates a set of unique difficulties that we all have to deal with.
The most challenging of these is that presented by stress.
In her book, David identifies the two main types of mental pressure we all go through on a daily basis – that of general physical or emotional stress and the other of mental anxiety.
Mindfulness work can go a long way towards alleviating these conditions. In fact, the author suggests that if we get into the habit of engaging in what she refers to as the ‘Mindful Breath’ just before we engage in what we know is going to be a stressful experience then we can greatly mitigate any subsequent negative effects.
Integrated into the Mindful Breath technique is a key component which David refers to as the ‘Pause’.
‘Living Mindfully’ is not just a book on Eastern meditation practice for within the author explains the effect of mindfulness within the brain as it responds to the delicate shifts in breathing patterns that mindfulness is based upon.
These can change our emotional and psychological responses towards a wide range of challenging circumstances and if employed regularly can make a vital difference to the quality of life of anyone who is, for example, working in a high- pressured job or stressful environment.
Thoughts in Mind
Practicing mindfulness does create subtle variations in the way that we think and David recommends that whilst engaged in breathing meditation work these shifts can be monitored through a technique called ‘Mindful Counting’.
From Mindful Counting we can progress to Mindful Thinking and to a greater awareness of the amount of general mental activity that we all engage in on an hourly basis – but which, at the same time, generally goes unnoticed by us.
Prolonged use of this technique results in a subtle shift from that of thinking thoughts to actually consciously observing them. The result of this is that when you automatically enter into the Pause state, during any stressful situation, you become aware of your own mental and emotional responses and are able to control them rather than simply having your immediate response mechanism jump into gear.
Being in Your Body
Slowing down your automotive processes becomes fairly easy with regular and consistent mindfulness practice.
One of the beneficial offshoots of this, as David explains in her book, is the gentle shift that takes place towards becoming increasingly aware of our own body and the functioning of our five sense.
David advocates that during mindfulness we should move into closer contact with the way in which these senses operate.
In the first of these techniques, Mindful Listening, she advises the reader on how to learn to listen again – on how to divert ones attention to really listening to, for example, the chiming of a bell or a gong.
Next, she looks at Static Sensation, and Dynamic Sensation as ways of increasing sensory experience.
One of the most heightened of all sensory experiences is that of sex and whilst not usually a topic that is integrated into mindfulness practice the author offers specific advice on the benefits to be had from sexual pleasure to those partners who practice mindfulness together.
In a subsequent chapter she also explores the effect of mindfulness in personal relationships and the act of loving, kindness and even emotional conflict when it arises.
Mindfulness at Work
If meditation practice is really going to be worth the time and effort required to perfect it then the benefits have to be tangible and practical in their use.
David recognizes this and so shares with her readers its benefits in that most challenging and confrontational areas of life work and the workplace.
There is little doubt that dealing with a wide range of different people in a closed environment with time constraints and deadlines is invariably going to create stress, conflict and confrontation.
It is in this sort of environment that mindfulness really needs to be at its most effective and so the guidance offered by the author is tailored specifically to this end.
Finally, ‘Living Mindfully’ closes with a close examination on the benefits of mindfulness in other typically stressful situations – those of parenting and coping with physical pain.
its concluding chapter looks at the broader issues related to mindfulness work, namely that of finding and working with a teacher and the relationship that exists between modern mindfulness practice and its Buddhist origins.
As the author reminds us at the end of her book, mindfulness is really just a way of helping us get back in touch with ourselves, of regaining control of our lives and of learning to experience more, on a daily basis, of that thing we call life.
Our Review of ‘Living Mindfully’ by Deborah Schoerberlein David
As books about mindfulness goes this one is much the same as so many others in explaining the core benefits of what for many is a comparatively simple but effective form of meditation.
However, the author does an excellent job of taking the core techniques of mindfulness work and of integrating them into a form of daily expression. It is one that formulates, in its own way and time, a sort of integrated spiritual philosophy towards life.
This approach to the subject is markedly different from many other books on meditation – titles that tend to remove the practitioner from their daily life experiences.
With explanations on how mindfulness works upon the sensory and automotive system, practical exercises on how best to approach breathing and posture this is a book that very creditably stands a little way above those of its type.
In ‘Living Mindfully’ the science and practice of mindfulness is presented in a very personalised way with anecdotal accounts and recollections of the author’s own early forays into meditation – all of which makes what could have amounted to a pretty dry manual of instruction into something lively, thought-provoking and entertaining.