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Mindfulness is for life ...

Mindfulness is definitely about being with your experience. 'Being in the moment' is a phrase often heard as an attempt to describe how we can immerse ourselves fully in whatever we are doing, seeing, hearing, etc.

“If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not "washing the dishes to wash the dishes." What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can't wash the dishes, the chances are we won't be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future - and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.” ― Thích Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness

Many people ask me, during a course, or at the end of one, "What books would you recommend, so that I can continue to study mindfulness further?"

I have to confess that, often, my initial internal response to this question is to think "We've just completed a course that took only 8 weeks - this is only the beginning. Go into your lives and simply put into practice what we've learned together. Keep coming back to the basics - because, in the end, the simple basics are all that matter."

It's not about competing with yourself, or anyone else, to see if you can break a Personal Best in the length of time you can sit still or watch your breath. It's not about giving yourself another hurdle to jump over (and secretly hoping someone saw you do it).

For me, a meditation teacher put it best when he said that all that is needed is to notice the 'micro-moments'. Notice the bird tweeting outside your window; notice the fleeting aroma of coffee someone has just made in the kitchen; notice the whisper of your breath (just the one is enough); notice the expression on the face of the person on the opposite pavement ...

We are not aiming to become Olympian meditators. We are allowing ourselves to 'unlearn' a lot of the hype, the expectations, the unrealistic standards we have set ourselves for most of our lives ... and allowing ourselves to simply be.

Some of us might be tempted to say "What are you on about?? There must be more to it than that. I want to learn tools, tips, techniques and all about neuroscience - then I'll start getting good at mindfulness."

Nah - allow all that to drop away for now. And just start by smelling the coffee.

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