Tag Archives: books

This is Happening Book Review

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rohan book coverImage has black background. The words This is Happening are in blue neon text (block capitals) underneath that in white text is ‘Redesigning mindfulness for our very modern lives’. Near the bottom of the page in sky blue text is ‘Rohan Gunatillake’ Underneath that in white text is ‘Creator of buddhify’.

 

This is the second time that I read this book through and I have found a useful both times. It is written in a way that if you want to, you can just  pick it up and read specific chapters, each of which focus on a different core technique within meditation, but I would recommend reading it all the way through at least once. The unique thing about this book is that as well encouraging you  to develop meditation techniques in the traditional way ,it also really encourages you to develop what it refers to as “mobile  meditation” where you take aspects of a core technique and use it while you’re out and about.

This book is written in a really accessible way but it still manages to be a really useful reference text. I like the way that each chapter starts with introducing the core technique and immediately relates it to a real life example of someone who had found it useful, which then made it easier to see how to apply the technique to myself. Each chapter then has ten exercises, a mixture of formal and mobile practices. A couple of my favourites are ‘Shoot Kindness’ and ‘Watch TV’   I have already used the book multiple times when I needed to refresh myself on a technique, for example when I was discussing the Loving Kindness technique and the RAIN technique, this book was one of the resources that I went to.

There are lots of things I will take away from reading this book, but the main ones are: thoughts are not facts, try not to take life too seriously and most of all how important it is to try and make mindfulness fit into your life rather than changing life to fit around mindfulness because that wouldn’t be sustainable.

The other unique thing about this book is that the last chapter is dedicated to encouraging you to develop your own meditation techniques. Something which I haven’t yet managed to do completely but I am working on. This book was also one of the main reasons that I  was inspired to start this blog, because it made me realise as I felt there was no information that was completely suited to people with specific needs then why not create it? this is a book that I will definitely keep coming back to and I am confident that I will always find something useful every time I read it. I would recommend it to anyone that is trying to find or develop mindfulness techniques to really suit them.

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Mindfulness: Small Actions, Big Changes

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Mindfulness isn’t just about meditation, it’s also about remembering to look after yourself when you need it most. For me, this mostly takes the form of making a small change. Once I have noticed that I’m in a bit of a bad mood, trying to find something I can do that will change that, whether it’s  reading a chapter of a good book or talking to a friend, I try and do something that will lift my mood. it won’t always work but sometimes that small shift can be enough  to make my day go that little bit better

I had a lovely surprise in the post this week, I received a Buddy Box. The Buddy Box is put together by The Blurt Foundation  who are dedicated to helping people affected by depression. This month’s box was all about taking the time to just ‘bee’. It’s full of little things that made me smile. Particularly the Koala magnet with the slogan: I give Koality hugs

This box  also contained YOU, a book which is full of small ideas to bring little but effective changes to the day. One of my favourites is: listen to a powerful song, in my experience listening to music is always a good idea, especially if you want to lift your mood. I will probably revisit later and let you know whether it has been helpful. I hope that it will be. I know that I am not the best at making changes, so breaking things down into smaller more approachable ideas seems like a good place to start.

One of the things I have been learning as part of my mindfulness practice is that doing something good for another person can take your mind off things if you are having a bad day. I’m not saying it will work for a long period of time, but I’m saying that sometimes it is good to try and make connections with other people. This box encourages that in a random sort of way, as every box I’ve seen includes a postcard for you to leave with some positive thoughts for another person. I love the idea of leaving things for other people to find, whether it’s postcards with something positive on or sharing books that you have loved.  (Bookcrossing.com is a good way of doing this.)

Doing little things for yourself and those around you could start to make a big difference and for me trying to put that into practice as much as possible is what mindfulness is about.

 

The Art of Meditation by Matthieu Ricard

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I discovered this little book while doing some research at work. Although the author is a Buddhist monk I think he does a good job of keeping this book open to anyone who has an interest in deepening their understanding of meditation. There were so many moments in this book where the author explained things that I had heard before but in a way that somehow made the concepts so much clearer and therefore made me feel like I was much more likely to be able to apply them successfully.

In terms of  meditation and being able to change the way that we  view our attitude  to things, he says:  “Understanding that the essential nature of consciousness is neutral permits us to understand that it is possible to change our mental universe.” (Loc 117) Later on in the book he talks  about  this neutrality being the centre of mindfulness.  The ultimate aim is for there not to be any judgement around the tasks we do anymore,  instead, there is just a task that we are doing and an open mindful approach to it. Something which I think will take me years to master.

Even though he does talk about posture in a very specific way and there are some diagrams which would be considered far from inclusive,  he also talks about changing your posture in accordance with your mood, or  taking a moment to change it when you are uncomfortable rather than being in unnecessary pain. These concessions help do away with any  resistance that was initially caused by his very specific instructions.

He  uses very strong imagery throughout the book which I found both helpful and oddly comforting. For example, when talking about turbulent thought processes he uses the image of a very  strong waterfall gradually going through its journey to become a calm ocean. I find this a good image to focus on, especially when I have a busy meditation, as I can get demoralised when my mind does not want to be calm. Focusing on this image helps to remind me that it is all part of the practice.

When he talks about body scans he uses more detail than I have seen in previous books and by using small details such as fingernails and other body parts that don’t normally get included I thought that this would help me create stronger visualisations when I’m trying to do body scans although  I acknowledge that some people might find the extra detail off-putting.

There was a lot of emphasis put on changing  your mindset and making an effort to care more about other people rather than yourself. This was very much put in the context of it being better for your own well-being to think this way rather than just for the good of humanity. Suggesting this idea is interesting, because the loving kindness meditations can often seem contrived or forced, so putting them in a wider perspective in this way could be helpful.

There are also many ideas for practical meditation on many different aspects of mindfulness,  with inspiration from different texts to go along with each meditation, so there are many ideas about how to develop practice.

The Habit of Happiness Ted Talk by Matthieu Ricard Click on the link if you would like to watch a Ted Talk given by Matthieu Ricard on the ideas surrounding meditation wellbeing and happiness

I was using the Kindle Edition but it is available from bookshops and libraries or Click the Link to go to The Book Depository

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

*This blog was mostly typed with speech recognition software, please forgive any mistakes or oddnesses that have slipped through my proofreading process. Thank you.

Starting out: A Book That Really Helped Me

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Quiet the mindImage shows Quiet the Mind book cover, red spine,  white background, with the text Quiet the Mind above an illustrated image of a man in a landscape of green hills and blue sky with a few white clouds. The man’s eyes are closed he is smiling and blue sky and a cloud are shown where his brain would be. Underneath in blue text is ‘An illustrated Guide on How to Meditate. Underneath that in black text by Matthew Johnstone.  .

Starting out with meditation can seem daunting,  if you’re anything like me it can take a long time before you stop making excuses about why you  have got no time,  or why it wouldn’t work for you anyway.  Something that really helped put an end to these thoughts was  a little gem of a book called Quiet the Mind by Matthew Johnstone: An illustrated Guide on How to Meditate.  It’s a small and beautifully illustrated book, a great introduction or refresher as it probably  only takes 10 minutes to read. I  have personally used it over and over again, when I first  started meditating and was finding things difficult,  I used to read through this book before every single time I meditated and I still use it to remind myself of certain things, like not beating myself up when I get distracted.

Another reason I think this book is great if you are just starting out is because  when you first start to meditate a 10 minute guided meditation can seem a lot to achieve (at least it was for me). I   just read this and set a timer when I’m ready to start meditating. At first, I would advise starting with a really low target, set your timer for 1 or maybe 2 minutes and just focus on your breathing. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you will get distracted, whether it is by something in your mind or your body. That is fine, the important thing is to try not to get upset or frustrated, just acknowledge it and go back to focusing on your breath.  Once you  become comfortable with this then move up to 5 minutes, then gradually increase the time if you want to.

This book also gave me an alternative  when it came to what to do with my hands when meditating. Having my palms flat on my knees often wouldn’t work for me, as it would be difficult for them to stay that way throughout my entire meditation which would be distracting so in this book  it suggests curling one hand comfortably inside the other (like a cat in a basket.) The important thing is to find what works for you.

Although this book is instructive, I found it good to think of this as a base  for my meditation. I use the things I liked and ignored things that I found didn’t work for me (for example, this book suggests using a mantra to help with focus, but I found that I would get too  caught up in whether I was saying the mantra right and this would take away from my meditation practice so I have never followed through with that.)

This week  I finally found an accessible meditation class, which I have just started, so I will be writing about my experiences with that soon.

If you want to purchase the book you can do so here: http://www.bookdepository.com/Quiet-Mind-Matthew-Johnstone/9781780331188. (Or ask if they can get it in your library)

I hope this post was helpful it is in no way meant to be an advert.

*This blog was mostly typed with speech recognition software, please forgive any mistakes or oddnesses that have slipped through my proofreading process. Thank you.