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Nome del file originale: Mindfulness Dummies.pdf
Titolo: Mindfulness for Dummies
Autore: Alidina, Shamash

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Anteprima del documento


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Learn to:
• Develop constructive attitudes and
become happier and healthier
• Incorporate mindfulness meditations
into your daily routine
• Use mindfulness to overcome stress,
anger, anxiety, depression and more
Follow the guided meditations on
the audio CD to achieve calm and
well-being

Shamash Alidina
Mindfulness trainer, lecturer and coach

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Mindfulness
FOR

DUMmIES



Mindfulness
FOR

DUMmIES



by Shamash Alidina
Foreword by Steven D. Hickman, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, Assistant Clinical Professor, University of California at
San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, Director, UCSD Center for Mindfulness

A John Wiley and Sons, Ltd, Publication

Mindfulness For Dummies®
Published by
John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
The Atrium
Southern Gate
Chichester
West Sussex
PO19 8SQ
England

Disclaimer: This eBook does not include ancillary media that
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ISBN: 978-0-470-66086-7 (hardback), ISBN 978-0-470-66515-2 (ebk),
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Printed and bound in Great Britain by Bell & Bain Ltd, Glasgow
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

About the Author
Shamash Alidina has been practising mindfulness since 1998. He was invited
to experiment with a short mindfulness exercise whilst studying in an Eastern
philosophy evening class, and caught the mindfulness bug! He was amazed
at the power of mindfulness meditation to transform his state of mind, both
during the meditation itself, and through exercises in day to day life. He
decided to dedicate his time to learn and teach mindfulness to others. He
taught mindfulness to groups of adults, and then additionally taught in a
children’s school in London for eight years which integrated meditation into
the curriculum.
Shamash formally trained at Bangor University’s Centre for Mindfulness in
Wales. He runs his own successful training organisation, Learn-Mindfulness.
com, to teach mindfulness professionally to the general public, as well as to
coaches, therapists, clinicians and business organisations, both in-person
and through distance learning. He has trained in managing workplace health
with the Health and Safety Executive and regularly coaches executives in
stress reduction. He has taught mindfulness all over the world, including the
Middle East, the USA and Europe.
Shamash has been interviewed by several national newspapers in the UK,
including the Sunday Times Magazine, has featured in mindfulness campaigns,
and regularly blogs on his two main passions, mindfulness and advaita
philosophy. He currently lives in London next to the delightful Bushey Park.

Dedication
This book is dedicated to you, the reader. May the practice of mindfulness be
of benefit to you, and those close to you.

Author’s Acknowledgements
I would like to personally thank Jennifer Prytherch and Nicole Hermitage
from Wiley for commissioning me to write this book on such a topical and
important subject, and for coming to visit me personally! I would also like
to say a special thank you to Jo Theedom who has been so tolerant and
patient of my many questions, and hugely supportive of the book throughout
production. I would like to wholeheartedly extend my thanks to the whole
production team at Wiley, especially Rachel Chilvers, Anne O’Rorke and Zoe
Wykes for their incredible attention to detail - I must say, I’ve honestly been
very impressed by the For Dummies team.
Special thanks go to Sandra, for sharing my excitement of the project, and
providing the many cups of tea while I spent evenings and weekends either
practising mindfulness exercises, or staring intently at my laptop looking
confused. Thanks to my brother, Aneesh, who first suggested the idea of
Mindfulness For Dummies, and my parents Manju and Fateh, who supported
me throughout. Thanks to Sarah Silverton of Bangor University’s Centre of
Mindfulness, who commented on some of the chapters, and Jon Kabat-Zinn
for his comments and positive support. Thanks to my wonderful friends
Maneesh Juneja, for his encouragement, comments and advice on some chapters and Garry Boon, whose wisdom and humor continue to be a source of
joy.
I would like to thank Steven Hickman, Director of the UCSD Center for
Mindfulness, for his positive comments about the quotes I post on-line,
and for writing a beautiful foreword to this book.
Finally I’d like to thank Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta and ‘Sailor’ Bob
Adamson for their lifetime of dedication in inspiring others to look deep
within themselves and discover who they truly are.

Publisher’s Acknowledgements
We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our Dummies online registration
form located at www.dummies.com/register/.
Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:
Commissioning, Editorial, and
Media Development
Project Editor: Jo Theedom

Composition Services
Project Coordinator: Lynsey Stanford

Commissioning Editor: Nicole Hermitage

Layout and Graphics: Ashley Chamberlain,
Joyce Haughey

Assistant Editor: Ben Kemble

Proofreader: Lauren Mandelbaum

Development Editor: Rachael Chilvers

Indexer: Christine Karpeles

Copy Editor: Anne O’Rorke

Special Help

Proofreader: David Price

Brand Reviewer: Zoe Wykes

Production Manager: Daniel Mersey
Cover Photos: © Okea/Fotolia
Cartoons: Rich Tennant
(www.the5thwave.com)
CD Recording and Production:
Heavy Entertainment, with special thanks
to Davy Nougarède and David Roper

Contents at a Glance
Introduction ................................................................ 1
Part I: Introducing Mindfulness .................................... 5
Chapter 1: Discovering Mindfulness ............................................................................... 7
Chapter 2: Enjoying the Benefits of Mindfulness ......................................................... 19

Part II: Preparing the Ground for Mindful Living .......... 33
Chapter 3: Nurturing Your Motivation .......................................................................... 35
Chapter 4: Growing Healthy Attitudes .......................................................................... 47
Chapter 5: Humans Being Versus Humans Doing ........................................................ 67

Part III: Practising Mindfulness .................................. 83
Chapter 6: Getting Into Formal Mindfulness Meditation Practice ............................. 85
Chapter 7: Using Mindfulness for Yourself and Others ............................................ 113
Chapter 8: Using Mindfulness in Your Daily Life ....................................................... 131
Chapter 9: Establishing Your Own Mindfulness Routine.......................................... 147
Chapter 10: Dealing with Setbacks and Avoiding Distractions ................................ 163

Part IV: Reaping the Rewards of Mindfulness ............ 181
Chapter 11: Discovering Greater Happiness .............................................................. 183
Chapter 12: Reducing Stress, Anger and Fatigue ....................................................... 199
Chapter 13: Using Mindfulness to Combat Anxiety and Depression ...................... 217
Chapter 14: Getting Physical: Healing the Body ........................................................ 233
Chapter 15: Coaching Children in Mindfulness.......................................................... 247

Part V: The Part of Tens ........................................... 259
Chapter 16: Ten Top Tips for Mindful Living ............................................................. 261
Chapter 17: Ten Ways Mindfulness Can Really Help You......................................... 269
Chapter 18: Ten Mindfulness Myths to Expose ......................................................... 277
Chapter 19: Ten Paths to Further Study ..................................................................... 285

Index ...................................................................... 293

Table of Contents
Introduction ................................................................. 1
About This Book .............................................................................................. 1
Conventions Used in This Book ..................................................................... 2
What You’re Not to Read ................................................................................ 2
Foolish Assumptions ....................................................................................... 2
How This Book Is Organised .......................................................................... 2
Part I: Introducing Mindfulness............................................................ 3
Part II: Preparing the Ground for Mindful Living ............................... 3
Part III: Practising Mindfulness ............................................................ 3
Part IV: Reaping the Rewards of Mindfulness .................................... 3
Part V: The Part of Tens ........................................................................ 3
Icons Used in This Book ................................................................................. 4
Where to Go from Here ................................................................................... 4

Part I: Introducing Mindfulness ..................................... 5
Chapter 1: Discovering Mindfulness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
Understanding the Meaning of Mindfulness ................................................ 8
Looking at Mindfulness Meditation ............................................................... 9
Using Mindfulness to Help You.................................................................... 10
Allowing space to heal ........................................................................ 11
Enjoying greater relaxation ................................................................ 12
Improving productivity ....................................................................... 12
Exploring for personal discovery ...................................................... 13
Starting the Mindfulness Adventure ........................................................... 15
Beginning the voyage .......................................................................... 15
Overcoming challenges ....................................................................... 16
Exploring the journey of a lifetime .................................................... 17

Chapter 2: Enjoying the Benefits of Mindfulness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Relaxing the Body .......................................................................................... 19
Getting back in touch .......................................................................... 20
Boosting your immune system .......................................................... 22
Reducing pain ....................................................................................... 22
Calming the Mind........................................................................................... 23
Listening to your thoughts ................................................................. 24
Making better decisions ...................................................................... 24
Coming to your senses ........................................................................ 25
Creating an attentive mind ................................................................. 26

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Mindfulness For Dummies
Soothing Your Emotions ............................................................................... 27
Understanding your emotions ........................................................... 27
Managing feelings differently ............................................................. 28
Becoming Aware: Discovering Yourself...................................................... 29

Part II: Preparing the Ground for Mindful Living .......... 33
Chapter 3: Nurturing Your Motivation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35
Exploring Your Intentions ............................................................................ 35
Clarifying intention in mindfulness ................................................... 36
Finding what you’re looking for ......................................................... 37
Developing a vision.............................................................................. 39
Preparing Yourself for Mindfulness ............................................................ 41
Looking Beyond Problem-Solving................................................................ 41
Honing Your Commitment............................................................................ 42
Mastering self-discipline ..................................................................... 43
Making a commitment that’s right for you ....................................... 44
Inspiring you with extra motivation .................................................. 45

Chapter 4: Growing Healthy Attitudes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47
Knowing How Attitude Affects Outcome .................................................... 48
Discovering Your Attitudes to Mindfulness ............................................... 48
Developing Helpful Attitudes ....................................................................... 49
Understanding acceptance ................................................................. 50
Discovering patience ........................................................................... 52
Seeing afresh ........................................................................................ 53
Finding trust ......................................................................................... 54
Practising curiosity.............................................................................. 55
Letting go .............................................................................................. 56
Developing kindness............................................................................ 58
Appreciating ‘Heartfulness’ .......................................................................... 60
Understanding mindfulness as heartfulness .................................... 60
Developing an Attitude of Gratitude ........................................................... 61
Letting go through forgiveness .......................................................... 62
Tackling Unhelpful Attitudes ....................................................................... 63
Avoiding ‘quick-fix’ solutions ............................................................. 64
Overcoming perfectionism ................................................................. 64
Finding out from failure ...................................................................... 65

Chapter 5: Humans Being Versus Humans Doing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67
Delving into the Doing Mode of Mind ......................................................... 67
Embracing the Being Mode of Mind ............................................................ 70
Combining Being and Doing ......................................................................... 71
Overcoming Obsessive Doing: Distinguishing Wants from Needs .......... 73
Being in the Zone: The Psychology of Flow ............................................... 74
Understanding the factors of flow ..................................................... 74
Discovering your flow experiences ................................................... 76

Table of Contents
Encouraging a Being Mode of Mind............................................................. 76
Dealing with emotions using being mode ......................................... 78
Finding time to just be......................................................................... 79
Living in the moment........................................................................... 80

Part III: Practising Mindfulness .................................. 83
Chapter 6: Getting Into Formal Mindfulness Meditation Practice . . .85
Preparing Your Body and Mind
for Mindfulness Meditation ...................................................................... 85
Savouring Eating Meditation ........................................................................ 86
Relaxing with Mindful Breathing Meditation ............................................. 88
Engaging in Mindful Movement ................................................................... 89
Trying Out the Body Scan Meditation ........................................................ 91
Practising the body scan .................................................................... 91
Appreciating the benefits of the body scan meditation ................. 93
Overcoming body scan obstacles...................................................... 95
Enjoying Sitting Meditation .......................................................................... 96
Finding a posture that’s right for you ............................................... 96
Practising sitting meditation ............................................................ 101
Overcoming sitting meditation obstacles....................................... 104
Stepping Out with Walking Meditations ................................................... 105
Examining your walking habits ........................................................ 105
Practising formal walking meditation ............................................. 105
Trying alternative walking meditations .......................................... 106
Overcoming walking meditation obstacles .................................... 107
Generating Compassion: Metta Meditations ............................................ 108
Practising loving-kindness meditation ............................................ 109
Overcoming metta meditation obstacles........................................ 110

Chapter 7: Using Mindfulness for Yourself and Others. . . . . . . . . . . .113
Using a Mini Meditation .............................................................................. 113
Introducing the breathing space...................................................... 114
Practising the breathing space ........................................................ 115
Using the breathing space between activities ............................... 118
Using Mindfulness to Look After Yourself ................................................ 118
Exercising mindfully .......................................................................... 119
Preparing for sleep with mindfulness ............................................. 120
Looking at a mindful work-life balance ........................................... 121
Using Mindfulness in Relationships .......................................................... 122
Starting with your relationship with yourself ................................ 122
Engaging in deep listening ................................................................ 124
Being aware of expectations............................................................. 125
Looking into the mirror of relationships ........................................ 126
Taking responsibility for your emotions ........................................ 127
Meeting difficult people anew .......................................................... 127

xiii

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Mindfulness For Dummies
Chapter 8: Using Mindfulness in Your Daily Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131
Using Mindfulness at Work......................................................................... 131
Beginning the day mindfully ............................................................. 132
Dropping in with mini meditations .................................................. 133
Going from reacting to responding ................................................. 134
Solving problems creatively ............................................................. 136
Practising mindful working ............................................................... 136
Finishing by letting go ....................................................................... 137
Using Mindfulness on the Move................................................................. 138
Meditating as you walk...................................................................... 139
Driving meditation ............................................................................. 139
Travelling on public transport ......................................................... 140
Using Mindfulness in the Home ................................................................. 141
Waking up mindfully .......................................................................... 141
Doing everyday tasks with awareness ............................................ 142

Chapter 9: Establishing Your Own Mindfulness Routine . . . . . . . . . .147
Trying the Evidence-Based Mindfulness Course ..................................... 148
Week One: Understanding automatic pilot..................................... 148
Week Two: Dealing with barriers ..................................................... 150
Week Three: Being mindful in movement ....................................... 150
Week Four: Staying present .............................................................. 151
Week Five: Embracing acceptance .................................................. 152
Week Six: Realising that thoughts aren’t facts ............................... 153
Week Seven: Taking care of yourself ............................................... 154
Week Eight: Reflection and change.................................................. 154
Choosing What to Practise for Quick Stress Reduction ......................... 156
Going Even Deeper ...................................................................................... 158
Setting aside a day for mindfulness ................................................. 158
Joining a group ................................................................................... 160
Finding an appropriate retreat ......................................................... 161

Chapter 10: Dealing with Setbacks and Avoiding Distractions . . . .163
Getting the Most out of Meditation ........................................................... 163
Making time ........................................................................................ 164
Rising above boredom and restlessness ........................................ 164
Staying awake during meditation..................................................... 166
Finding a focus ................................................................................... 168
Re-charging enthusiasm .................................................................... 169
Dealing with Common Distractions........................................................... 169
Handling unusual experiences ......................................................... 170
Learning to relax ................................................................................ 171
Developing patience .......................................................................... 171

Table of Contents
Learning from Negative Experiences ........................................................ 172
Dealing with physical discomfort .................................................... 172
Getting over difficult emotions ........................................................ 173
Accepting your progress................................................................... 174
Going beyond unhelpful thoughts ................................................... 175
Finding a Personal Path .............................................................................. 176
Approaching difficulties with kindness........................................... 176
Understanding why you’re bothering ............................................. 177
Realising that setbacks are inevitable............................................. 178
Setting realistic expectations ........................................................... 178
Looking at change .............................................................................. 179

Part IV: Reaping the Rewards of Mindfulness ............. 181
Chapter 11: Discovering Greater Happiness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .183
Discovering the Way to Happiness ........................................................... 183
Exploring your ideas about wellbeing ............................................. 184
Challenging assumptions about happiness .................................... 185
Applying Mindfulness with Positive Psychology..................................... 186
Understanding the three ways to happiness ................................. 187
Using your personal strengths mindfully ....................................... 188
Writing a gratitude journal ............................................................... 189
Savouring the moment ...................................................................... 191
Serving others mindfully ................................................................... 192
Generating Positive Emotions with Mindfulness ..................................... 193
Breathing and smiling ....................................................................... 193
Releasing Your Creativity ........................................................................... 195
Exploring creativity ........................................................................... 195
Creating conditions for originality .................................................. 198

Chapter 12: Reducing Stress, Anger and Fatigue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .199
Using Mindfulness to Reduce Stress ......................................................... 199
Understanding your stress ............................................................... 200
Noticing the early signs of stress..................................................... 201
Assessing your stress ........................................................................ 201
Moving from reacting to responding to stress............................... 202
Breathing out your stress ................................................................. 204
Using your mind to manage stress .................................................. 205
Cooling Down Your Anger .......................................................................... 207
Understanding anger ......................................................................... 207
Coping when the fire rises up........................................................... 208
Adopting mindful attitudes to cool the flame of anger ................. 211

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Mindfulness For Dummies
Reducing Fatigue ......................................................................................... 212
Assessing your energy levels ........................................................... 213
Discovering energy drainers ............................................................ 213
Finding what uplifts you.................................................................... 214
Using meditations to rise and sparkle............................................. 215

Chapter 13: Using Mindfulness to Combat Anxiety and Depression. . . .217
Dealing Mindfully with Depression ........................................................... 218
Understanding depression ............................................................... 218
Understanding why depression recurs ........................................... 218
Using mindfulness to change your relationship to mood ............ 219
Discovering Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)................. 222
Pleasant and Unpleasant Experiences ...................................................... 223
Interpreting thoughts and feelings .................................................. 224
Combating automatic thoughts ....................................................... 225
Alternative viewpoints ...................................................................... 226
De-centring from difficult thoughts ................................................. 227
Listing your activities ........................................................................ 227
Making wise choices .......................................................................... 228
Using a depression warning system ................................................ 229
Calming Anxiety ........................................................................................... 229
Feel the fear . . . and make friends with it ....................................... 230
Using mindfulness to cope with anxiety ......................................... 230
Being with anxious feelings .............................................................. 232

Chapter 14: Getting Physical: Healing the Body. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .233
Contemplating Wholeness: Healing from Within..................................... 233
Seeing the Connection between Mind and Body ..................................... 235
Acknowledging Your Limits ....................................................................... 236
Rising above Your Illness ........................................................................... 237
Using Mindfulness to Manage Pain............................................................ 238
Knowing the difference between pain and suffering ..................... 238
Coping with pain ................................................................................ 241
Using Mindfulness during Ill Health .......................................................... 243
Aiding the healing process ............................................................... 244

Chapter 15: Coaching Children in Mindfulness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .247
Children and Mindfulness: A Natural Combination ................................ 247
Teaching Mindfulness to Children ............................................................ 248
Setting an example ............................................................................. 249
Taking baby steps .............................................................................. 249
Playing Mindfulness Games and Exercises .............................................. 250
Memory game ..................................................................................... 250
Teddy bear.......................................................................................... 250
Paper windmill spinning ................................................................... 251

Table of Contents
Curious mind ...................................................................................... 251
Loving-kindness meditation ............................................................. 252
Bubble meditation ............................................................................. 252
Drawing meditation ........................................................................... 253
Body meditation................................................................................. 254
Mindful Parenting ........................................................................................ 254
Being present for your children ....................................................... 254
Trying out tips for mindful parenting.............................................. 256

Part V: The Part of Tens ............................................ 259
Chapter 16: Ten Top Tips for Mindful Living . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .261
Spending Some Quiet Time Every Day...................................................... 261
Connect with People ................................................................................... 262
Enjoy the Beauty of Nature ........................................................................ 262
Enjoy the Journey ........................................................................................ 263
See the Wonder of the Present Moment ................................................... 264
Listen to Unpleasant Emotions .................................................................. 264
Remember That Thoughts Aren’t Facts ................................................... 265
Be Grateful Every Day ................................................................................. 266
Let Go ............................................................................................................ 267
Breathe and Smile! ....................................................................................... 268

Chapter 17: Ten Ways Mindfulness Can Really Help You . . . . . . . . .269
Training the Brain........................................................................................ 269
Improving Relationships............................................................................. 270
Boosting Creativity ...................................................................................... 271
Reducing Depression .................................................................................. 272
Reducing Chronic Pain................................................................................ 272
Giving Deeper Meaning to Life ................................................................... 273
Reducing Stress ........................................................................................... 274
Combating Anxiety ...................................................................................... 275
Regulating Eating Habits ............................................................................. 275
Increasing Your Happiness ........................................................................ 276

Chapter 18: Ten Mindfulness Myths to Expose. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .277
Mindfulness Is All about the Mind ............................................................. 277
Mindfulness Is the Latest Fad .................................................................... 278
Mindfulness Is Positive Thinking ............................................................... 279
Mindfulness Is Only for Buddhists ............................................................ 279
Mindfulness Is Only for Tough Times ....................................................... 280
Mindfulness Is a Set of Techniques ........................................................... 281
Mindfulness Isn’t for Me ............................................................................. 282

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Mindfulness For Dummies
Mindfulness Meditation Is Relaxation ....................................................... 282
Mindfulness Can Be Used Instead of Therapy or Medicine ................... 283
Mindfulness Is Complicated and Boring ................................................... 283

Chapter 19: Ten Paths to Further Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .285
Websites ....................................................................................................... 285
Learn Mindfulness ............................................................................. 285
Insight Meditation Society ................................................................ 286
Books, CDs and Films .................................................................................. 286
Full Catastrophe Living ..................................................................... 286
Peace Is Every Step ............................................................................ 287
The Mindful Way Through Depression ........................................... 288
Mindfulness CDs ................................................................................ 288
Life Is Beautiful DVD .......................................................................... 288
Retreats and Lectures ................................................................................. 289
Gaia House .......................................................................................... 289
Mind and Life Institute ...................................................................... 290
Plum Village ........................................................................................ 290

Index ....................................................................... 293

Foreword

S

itting down to start a book has many similarities to sitting down to a
great meal. There is a warm felt sense of anticipation (in body and mind)
of a pleasant experience. There is curiosity in the mind. There is an awareness
of a certain “hunger” for what is about to be taken in. And there we are, fully
present to what we encounter before us: whether it is the visual experience
of the design of the book or the plate presentation of the meal, whether it is
the aroma of a desired food or the fresh smell of a newly-printed and opened
book. Perhaps this captures something of your experience as you read these
words, but on the other hand, as they say, “your mileage may vary.” Take a
moment to stop and notice what your experience ACTUALLY is right now in
this very moment. What is the quality of your mind? What do you notice in
your body? Are you aware of your breath moving in and out of your body,
essentially “breathing itself”?
Few things are more elementally basic and simple, yet so hard to convey in
words and instructions, than mindfulness. At its essence it is simply being
present, to our experience, our whole experience, and nothing but our
experience. Yet you can read that previous sentence dozens, even millions of
times, and still not know (at a level well below words) how to systematically
practice it and bring it into your life with all its stresses and challenges. The
only way to truly know mindfulness and cultivate it in one’s life is to practice
it like your life depends on it. Because in many ways it does. The degree to
which you can be fully present to your experience, letting go of judgment
when it is not useful and truly seeing things as they are, really determines the
degree of suffering and stress you will experience in this crazy life of ours.
So the biggest difference between sitting down to this book and sitting
down to a fine meal in a gourmet restaurant is that this book, as wonderful,
instructional and inspirational as it is, is simply the menu and not the meal
itself. We’ve all seen many beautiful menus in amazing restaurants the world
over, but not one of them would have tasted anything like the meals they
described! Those menus, like Mindfulness for Dummies, simply (but elegantly)
point to the real heart of the matter: the practice of mindfulness. A practice
that has the potential to nourish and fulfill us in ways that nothing else truly
can, and bring equanimity, kindness and balance into every corner of our
busy, full lives.

xx

Mindfulness For Dummies
So, the invitation is to approach this book as Derek Wolcott (in his poem
Love After Love) suggests we approach our very existence: “Sit. Feast on
your life.”
Steven D. Hickman, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist, Assistant Clinical Professor,
University of California at San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, Director,
UCSD Center for Mindfulness

Introduction

W

hen I was about eight years old, I discovered an amazing fact – I’m
actually alive, on this planet, in this universe! And so is everyone else.
The fact that there’s a universe at all is amazing, but that I’m in it too . . . that
was mind blowing. I started going round telling everyone, but they didn’t share
my excitement. I saw adults mechanically going to work and doing the shopping, and friends playing games, but I was conscious of an incredible sense of
existence happening that they weren’t able to share. It was like an amazing set
of fireworks was exploding, but everyone was looking the wrong way.
As I grew up, I began to lose my grip on this sense of wonder until I stumbled
upon mindfulness and a range of philosophies. I was relieved to find others
who’d contemplated questions similar to mine, and to learn a way of managing my stress at the same time. I continue to enjoy asking the big questions,
and find that mindfulness beautifully compliments my natural tendency to be
philosophical.
In this book you can discover how to re-ignite your perception of this mystery called life, so you aren’t just existing to complete to-do lists, but are
actually living. You find out how to practise mindfulness, so you can integrate a new way of being into your everyday life, helping you to cope with
managing stress, challenging emotions, and increasing your general sense of
wellbeing in a rich variety of different ways.

About This Book
Mindfulness For Dummies provides you with the tools to practise mindfulness
on your own. Each chapter is brimming with insights about what mindfulness
is, how to practise mindfulness quickly and easily, and how to deepen your
experience. I wrote this book with the beginner in mind, but the knowledge
goes far deeper, and experienced mindfulness practitioners will find lots of
new aspects to ponder. As the research on mindfulness continues to develop
rapidly, I’ve chosen to explain in detail the core mindfulness practices and
approaches that have been tested many times before and found to be effective.

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Mindfulness For Dummies

Conventions Used in This Book
To help you get the most from this book, I follow a few conventions:
✓ Italic emphasises and highlights new words or terms that I define.
✓ Boldfaced text indicates the action part of numbered steps.
✓ Monofont text displays web addresses.

What You’re Not to Read
You don’t have to read everything in this book. From time to time you’ll see
grey boxes – sidebars – which contain interesting bits of info and stories
which may amuse or inform, but aren’t crucial to your understanding of the
fundamentals. Read them, or not – whatever you want.
I hope you’ll get something from the ‘Wise Words’ icon next to some of the
text, but again, feel free to ignore them to your heart’s content.

Foolish Assumptions
In writing this book, I made a few assumptions about who you are:
✓ You’re keen to learn more about mindfulness, but don’t know exactly
what it is, and how to practise it.
✓ You are willing to have a good go at trying out the various mindfulness
exercises before judging if they’ll work for you.
✓ You’re interested in the many different applications of mindfulness.
✓ You’re not afraid of a bit of mindfulness meditation.
Beyond those, I’ve not assumed too much, I hope. This book is for you
whether you’re male or female, 18 or 88.

How This Book Is Organised
I’ve organised Mindfulness For Dummies into five parts. Each part covers a
range of subjects to help you to discover and practise mindfulness, and is
further divided into chapters containing all the information you need.

Introduction

Part I: Introducing Mindfulness
I know you’re keen to dive in and begin practising mindfulness, but you
probably need to pick up a few basics from this part. Here you find out what
on earth mindfulness is, and how mindfulness can help you. This is also the
place to find out what you can hope to achieve if you get into this whole
mindfulness thing, and practise over the long term.

Part II: Preparing the Ground
for Mindful Living
Everyone knows that if you want to grow a decent plant, you need to prepare
the soil, and ensure it’s suitable. Well, guess what – it’s the same with mindfulness. If you prepare yourself with the right attitudes and motivation, your
ability to be mindful will grow big and strong. Check out this part for the lowdown on all this info, and get your mindfulness soil extremely nutritious, so
you’re all set to be a mindfulness superstar!

Part III: Practising Mindfulness
This is where you get down to some serious mindfulness practice and discover
the core mindfulness meditations that have been tested and found to be effective for thousands of people all over the world. Also, you learn how to use
mindfulness to look after yourself and enhance your relationships with others,
as well as lots of clever little ways of being mindful in your daily activities, to
keep you cool, calm and collected no matter what you need to deal with.

Part IV: Reaping the Rewards of Mindfulness
Mindfulness has some powerful benefits for people with a range of different
issues. In these chapters you find out how you can use mindfulness to reduce
stress, anxiety, depression, anger, chronic pain and other ailments. But mindfulness isn’t just for reducing the bad stuff. You also discover the wonderful
charm of mindfulness in helping you to feel happier, and use mindfulness with
other techniques to boost your wellbeing. You can also find a chapter on how
to teach mindfulness to children, as well as tips on parenting in a mindful way.

Part V: The Part of Tens
Every For Dummies book has one of these parts. The Part of Tens offers four
fun-sized chapters covering top tips for mindful living, how mindfulness

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Mindfulness For Dummies
helps you, some common unhelpful ideas about mindfulness that often get
people stuck, and lots of exciting sources for further study that I personally
love, including books, CDs, websites and retreats.

Icons Used in This Book
Sprinkled throughout the book you’ll see various icons to guide you on your
way. Icons are a For Dummies way of drawing your attention to important
stuff, interesting stuff, and stuff you really need to know how to do.
This is information you need to know: whatever else you carry away from this
book, note these bits with care.

Have a go at different mindfulness exercises and tips with this icon.

Take careful note of the advice beside this icon, and you’ll avoid unnecessary
problems – ignore at your peril.

Find some precious pearls of wisdom and meaningful stories next to this icon.

The audio CD that comes with this book includes a selection of guided mindfulness meditations. This icon marks some of the exercises that you can find
on the CD.

Where to Go from Here
I put this book together so that you can dip in and out as you please. I invite
you to make good use of the Table of Contents – or the index – and jump
straight into the section you fancy. You’re in charge and it’s up to you of
course. If you’re a total beginner, or not sure where to start, take a traditional
approach and begin with Part I.
I wish you all the best in your mindfulness quest and hope you find something of use within these pages. Happy mindfulness!

Part I

Introducing
Mindfulness

Y

In this part . . .

ou are introduced to the star of the show, Mindfulness.
You learn what it is, explore it’s meaning and are
taken on a mindfulness journey. You’ll discover why
mindfulness is so popular as you read about the benefits
of mindful living for your body, thoughts, emotions and
even for self-discovery.

Chapter 1

Discovering Mindfulness
In This Chapter
▶ Defining mindfulness
▶ Discovering the benefits of mindfulness
▶ Exploring the journey of mindfulness

M

indfulness means paying attention on purpose, in the present
moment, with qualities like compassion, curiosity and acceptance.

Through being mindful, you discover how to live in the present moment in an
enjoyable way rather than worrying about the past or being concerned about
the future. The past has already gone and can’t be changed. The future is yet
to arrive and is completely unknown. The present moment, this very moment
now, is ultimately the only moment you have. Mindfulness shows you how
to live in this moment in a harmonious way. You find out how to make the
present moment a more wonderful moment to be in – the only place you can
create, decide, listen, think, smile, act or live.
You can develop and deepen mindfulness through doing mindfulness meditation on a daily basis, from a few minutes to as long as you want. This chapter
introduces you to mindfulness and mindfulness meditation and welcomes
you aboard a fascinating journey.

8

Part I: Introducing Mindfulness

Understanding the Meaning
of Mindfulness
Mindfulness was originally developed in ancient times, and can be found in
Eastern and Western cultures. Mindfulness is a translation of the ancient
Indian word Sati that means awareness, attention and remembering:
✓ Awareness. This is an aspect of being human that makes you conscious
of your experiences. Without awareness, nothing would exist for you.
✓ Attention. Attention is a focused awareness; mindfulness training develops your ability to move and sustain your attention wherever and however you choose.
✓ Remembering. This aspect of mindfulness is about remembering to pay
attention to your experience from moment to moment. Being mindful is
easy to forget. The word remember originally comes from the Latin re
‘again’ and memorari ‘be mindful of’.
Say that you want to practise mindfulness to help you cope with stress.
At work, you think about your forthcoming presentation and begin to feel
stressed and nervous. By becoming aware of this, you remember to focus
your mindful attention to your own breathing rather than constantly worrying. Feeling your breath with a sense of warmth and gentleness helps slowly
to calm you down. See Chapter 6 for more about mindful breathing.

Awareness from the heart
The Japanese character for mindfulness is this:

This Japanese character combines the words
for ‘mind’ and ‘heart’ and beautifully captures
the essence of mindfulness as not just awareness, but awareness from the heart.

Chapter 1: Discovering Mindfulness
Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, who first developed mindfulness in a therapeutic setting,
says: ‘Mindfulness can be cultivated by paying attention in a specific way,
that is, in the present moment, and as non-reactively, non-judgementally and
openheartedly as possible’.
You can break down the meaning even further:
✓ Paying attention. To be mindful, you need to pay attention, whatever
you choose to attend to.
✓ Present moment. The reality of being in the here and now means you
just need to be aware of the way things are, as they are now. Your experience is valid and correct just as it is.
✓ Non-reactively. Normally, when you experience something, you automatically react to that experience according to your past conditioning.
For example, if you think, ‘I still haven’t finished my work’, you react
with thoughts, words and actions in some shape or form. Mindfulness
encourages you to respond to your experience rather than react to
thoughts. A reaction is automatic and gives you no choice; a response is
deliberate and considered action. (Chapter 12 delves deeper into mindful responses.)
✓ Non-judgementally. The temptation is to judge experience as good or
bad, something you like or dislike. I want to feel bliss; I don’t like feeling afraid. Letting go of judgements helps you to see things as they are
rather than through the filter of your personal judgements based on past
conditioning.
✓ Openheartedly. Mindfulness isn’t just an aspect of mind. Mindfulness is
of the heart as well. To be open-hearted is to bring a quality of kindness,
compassion, warmth and friendliness to your experience. For example,
if you notice yourself thinking ‘I’m useless at meditation’, you discover
how to let go of this critical thought and gently turn your attention back
to the focus of your meditation, whatever that may be. For more on attitudes to cultivate for mindfulness, see Chapter 4.

Looking at Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a particular type of meditation that’s been wellresearched and tested in clinical settings.
Meditation isn’t thinking about nothing. Meditation is paying attention in
a systematic way to whatever you decide to focus on, which can include
awareness of your thoughts. By listening to your thoughts, you discover their

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Part I: Introducing Mindfulness
habitual patterns. Your thoughts have a massive impact on your emotions
and the decisions you make, so being more aware of them is helpful.
In mindfulness meditation, you typically focus on one, or a combination, of
the following:
✓ The feeling of your own breathing
✓ Any one of your senses
✓ Your body
✓ Your thoughts or emotions
✓ Whatever is most predominant in your awareness
This book and CD include guided meditations.
Mindfulness meditation comes in two distinct types:
✓ Formal meditation. This is a meditation where you intentionally take
time out in your day to embark on a meditative practice. Time out gives
you an opportunity to deepen your mindfulness practice, and understand more about your mind, its habitual tendencies and how to be
mindful for a sustained period of time, with a sense of kindness and curiosity towards yourself and your experience. Formal meditation is mind
training. Chapter 6 contains more about formal meditation.
✓ Informal meditation. This is where you go into a focused and meditative state of mind as you go about your daily activities such as cooking,
cleaning, walking to work, talking to a friend, driving – anything at all. In
this way, you continue to deepen your ability to be mindful, and train
your mind to stay in the present moment rather than habitually straying
into the past or future. Informal mindfulness meditation means you can
rest in a mindful awareness at any time of day, whatever you’re doing.
See Chapter 8 for more ways to be mindful informally.
When I say ‘practise’ with regard to meditation, I don’t mean a rehearsal. To
practise meditation means to engage in the meditation exercise – not practising in the sense of aiming one day to get the meditation perfect. You don’t
need to judge your meditation or perfect it in any way. Your experience is
your experience.

Using Mindfulness to Help You
You know how you get lost in thoughts? Most of the day, as you go about
your daily activities, your mind is left to think whatever it wants. You’re
operating on ‘automatic pilot mode’ (explained more fully in Chapter 5). But
some of your automatic thoughts may be unhelpful to you, or perhaps you’re

Chapter 1: Discovering Mindfulness
so stuck in those thoughts, you don’t actually experience the world around
you. For example, you go for a walk in the park to relax, but your mind is lost
in thoughts about your next project. First, you’re not really living in the present moment, and second, you’re making yourself more stressed, anxious, or
depressed if your thoughts are unhelpful. (Chapters 12 and 13 explore overcoming unhelpful thoughts.)
Mindfulness isn’t focused on fixing problems. Mindfulness emphasises acceptance first, and change may or may not come later. So, if you suffer from anxiety, mindfulness shows you how to accept the feeling of anxiety rather than
denying or fighting the feeling, and through this approach, change naturally
comes about. As an old saying goes, ‘What we resist, persists’. Mindfulness
says, ‘What you accept, transforms’.
This section explores the many ways in which mindfulness can help you.
In mindfulness, acceptance means to acknowledge your present moment experience. Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation, or giving up.

Allowing space to heal
Physical illness can be a distressing time. Your condition may be painful, or
even life-threatening. Perhaps your illness means you’re no longer able to do
the simple things in life you took for granted before, like run up the stairs or
look after yourself in an independent way. Illness can shake you to your very
core. How can you cope with this? How can you build your inner strength to
manage the changes that take place, without being overwhelmed and losing
all hope?
High levels of stress, particularly over a long period of time, have been
clearly shown to reduce the strength of your immune system. Perhaps you
went down with flu after a period of high stress. Research on care-givers who
experience high levels of stress for long periods of time shows that they have
a weaker immune system in responses to diseases like flu.
Mindfulness reduces stress and for this reason is one way of managing illness. By reducing your stress you improve the effectiveness of your immune
system, and this may help increase the rate of healing from the illness you
suffer, especially if the illness is stress-related.
Mindfulness can reduce stress, anxiety, pain and depression, and boost
energy, creativity, the quality of relationships and your overall sense of wellbeing. The more you do mindfulness, the better – monks who’ve practised
mindfulness all their lives have levels of wellbeing measured in their brains
way above anything scientists thought was possible.

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Part I: Introducing Mindfulness
Chapter 14 is all about how mindfulness can help to heal the body.

Enjoying greater relaxation
Mindfulness can lead to relaxation but remember that the aim of mindfulness
is not relaxation.
Mindfulness is the development of awareness of your inner and outer experiences, whatever they are, with a sense of kindness, curiosity and acceptance.
However, relaxation is a possible by-product of mindfulness. You may experience very deep states of relaxation when practising mindfulness, or you may
not. If you don’t, this doesn’t mean you’re practising mindfulness incorrectly.
Why is relaxation not the aim? Try being totally relaxed for the next few
minutes. Can you ‘do’ relaxation? If you aim for relaxation, you’re going to
succeed, or fail. If you feel you’re failing, you’re just going to become more
tense and stressed, which is exactly what you don’t want. In mindfulness, you
can’t fail because you don’t have some experience you have to achieve. You
simply practise paying attention to whatever your experience is, as best you
can, and whatever happens, happens. You gain an understanding from your
experience.
Table 1-1 shows the difference between relaxation and mindfulness exercises.

Table 1-1

Relaxation versus Mindfulness

Exercise

Aim

Method

Mindfulness

To pay attention to your
experience from moment
to moment, as best you
can, with kindness, curiosity and acknowledgment

To observe your experience
and shift your attention back
to its focus if you drift into
thought, without self-criticism
if you can

Relaxation

To become more relaxed

Various, such as tightening
and letting go of muscles

Improving productivity
To be mindful, you usually need to do one thing at a time. When walking, you
just walk. When listening, you just listen. When writing, you just write. By
practising formal and informal mindfulness meditation, you’re training your
brain. You’re training it to pay attention with mindful attitudes like kindness,
curiosity and acknowledgement.

Chapter 1: Discovering Mindfulness
So, if you’re writing a report, you focus on that activity as much as you
can, without overly straining. Each time your mind wanders off to another
thought, you notice what you were thinking about (curiosity), and then
without criticising (remember you’re being kind to yourself), you guide your
attention back to the writing. So, you finish your report sooner (less time
spent thinking about other stuff), and the work is probably of better quality
(because you gave the report your full attention). The more you can focus on
what you’re doing, the more you can get done. Wow – with mindfulness you
can improve your productivity!
You can’t suddenly decide to focus on your work and then become focused.
The power of attention isn’t just a snap decision you make. You can train
attention, just as you can train your biceps in a gym. Meditation is gym for the
mind. However, you don’t need to make a huge effort as you do when working
out. When training the mind to be attentive, you need to be gentle, or the mind
becomes less attentive. This is why mindfulness requires a kindness about it.
If you’re too harsh, your mind rebels.
Awareness also means that you notice where energy is being wasted. If you
have a habit of worrying or thinking negatively, you can become aware of
such thoughts and try to stop them.
Stress is the biggest cause of absenteeism (not turning up to work). Mindfulness
is one way of managing your stress levels and therefore increasing productivity, as you’re more likely to stay healthy and be able to work in the first
place. (Perhaps that’s not a benefit after all!)
Your work also becomes more enjoyable if you’re mindful, and when you’re
enjoying something you’re more creative and productive. If you’re training
your mind to be curious about experience rather than bored, you can be curious about whatever you engage in.
Eventually, through experience, you begin to notice that work flows through
you, rather than you doing the work. You find yourself feeding the children or
making that presentation. You lose the sense of ‘me’ doing this and become
more relaxed and at ease. When this happens, the work is totally effortless,
often of very high quality and thoroughly enjoyable – sounds like a nice kind
of productivity, doesn’t it?

Exploring for personal discovery
Many people begin coming to mindfulness meditation to reduce their levels
of stress but as their stress levels reduce they continue to practise in order
to help regulate their other emotions, and discover a greater emotional
balance. Eventually, meditation becomes a quest for personal discovery.

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Part I: Introducing Mindfulness
The word person comes from the Latin word persona, originally meaning
character in a drama, or mask. The word discovery means to dis-cover or to
uncover. So in this sense, personal discovery is about uncovering your mask.
You probably wear all sorts of different masks for different roles that you
play. You may be a parent, daughter or son, partner, employee. Each of these
roles asks you to fulfil certain obligations. But who are you behind all these
masks?
Mindfulness is an opportunity to discover your true self. In meditation you
sometimes have clear experiences of being who you are. You may feel a deep,
undivided sense of peace, of stillness and calm. Your physical body, that feels
so solid and real, sometimes fades into the background of your awareness,
and you have a sense of being more than yourself.
Some people become very attached to these experiences and try hard to
repeat them, as if they’re ‘getting closer’ to something. However, over time
you come to realise that even these seemingly blissful experiences also come
and go. Your true nature, who you truly are, isn’t just a feeling. You are that
witness, that observer, that which is aware of all that arises and passes away
in your mind. This isn’t so much an experience to be gained, but something
very simple that everyone can observe. In fact, being naturally yourself is so
simple, you easily overlook it.
According to Eastern philosophy, as a witness you are perfect, whole and
complete just as you are. You don’t feel as if you are because you identify
with your thoughts and emotions, which are always changing. Ultimately you
don’t need to do anything to attain this natural state, because you are this
natural state all the time – right here and right now.
As Shakespeare said, ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women
merely players’. In this way, you begin to see your roles, your persona or
mask(s), as part of the game of life. You still do everything you did before;
you can keep helping people or making money or whatever you like doing,
but know that this is only one way of seeing things, one dimension of your
true nature.
Self-knowledge leads to a freedom from suffering as pointed at by an Indian
sage, Ramana Maharshi:
‘Wanting to reform the world without discovering one’s true self is like trying
to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and
thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.’

Chapter 1: Discovering Mindfulness
Once you see that you’re the witness of all experience, you’re no longer disturbed by the ups and downs of life. This understanding offers you the freedom from suffering. You go with the flow and enjoy the play of creation.

Starting the Mindfulness Adventure
Mindfulness isn’t a quick fix but the adventure of a lifetime. Imagine mindfulness as being like a journey on a boat. You’re an explorer looking for new and
undiscovered land. Along the way I’ll explain how mindfulness mirrors such a
journey.

Beginning the voyage
The journey begins and you set sail. You’re not sure what you’re going to
find, and you may not be too sure why you’re going in the first place, but
that’s part of the excitement and adventure. You may think that you’re finally
doing something you really enjoy and can gain from. This is what you wanted
to do and you’re on the boat now. At the same time, you’re a bit anxious
about what may happen – what if things don’t work out?
The beginning of the mindfulness journey may feel like this for you. You may
be thinking, ‘Finally, I’ve found what I need to do’, and you’re keen to find out
how to do it, being curious and in anticipation. At the same time, you may
feel unsure that you can ‘do’ mindfulness – you suspect you don’t have the
patience/focus/discipline/inner strength. You have ideas about the journey
of mindfulness. At the moment you may suffer from x and y, and after reading this book, you want to have reduced those painful feelings. You may have
clear goals you want to achieve and hope mindfulness is going to help you to
achieve those goals.
Having a long-term vision as to what you hope to achieve from mindfulness
is helpful, but concentrating too much on goals is unhelpful. Mindfulness is
ultimately a goal-less activity. Mindfulness is process-oriented rather than goaloriented. You’re not actually going anywhere. This is the paradox of meditation.
If you get overly obsessed with the goals, you focus on the goal rather than the
process. However, meditation is the journey itself. You aren’t going to reach
the present moment sometime in the future – you can only be in the present
moment now. More important than anything else is how you meet this moment.
If you can train yourself to be open, curious, accepting, kind and aware of this
moment, the future takes care of itself. So, as you steer your boat, keep aware
and awake. See Chapter 3 for more about vision in mindfulness.

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Part I: Introducing Mindfulness

Overcoming challenges
As you continue your mindfulness journey, before long the initial excitement
begins to wear off. You experience rough seas and pirates! Some days, you
wish you weren’t on this journey in the first place. Perhaps you should have
just stayed at home.
Regularly practising mindfulness can be challenging. What was new and
exciting to begin with no longer feels fresh. You may sense a resistance to sit
down and meditate, even for a short period, but without knowing why. Don’t
worry – this is very common. When you overcome the initial resistance, you
may discover the practice isn’t as bad as you imagined meditating to be. As
soon as you start, you feel okay and even enjoy it. You also feel great afterwards, because you managed to overcome the initial resistance of your mind
to do something for your own health and wellbeing.
Each time you struggle with the thoughts and feelings in your meditation,
you’re generally not accepting or acknowledging them as the natural state of
your mind. Lack of acknowledgement usually means criticism of yourself or
of the whole process of meditation. If you persevere, you discover slowly and
surely the importance of accepting your thoughts and emotions and the situation you’re in and not blaming anyone for that situation, including yourself.
In mindfulness, acceptance always comes first, change comes after.
Another common challenge is understanding the right attitude to bring to
your meditation. Unhelpful but common attitudes include:
✓ I’m going do this and must get it right.
✓ I should focus 100 per cent.
✓ I’m going to try extremely hard.
Having done a bit of meditation, you get thoughts like ‘I can’t focus at all’ or
‘My mind was all over the place. I can’t do it’ or ‘That was a bad meditation’.
However, as you continue your journey of mindfulness, your attitudes begin
to shift towards thoughts such as:
✓ I’m going to bring an attitude of kindness and curiosity and acknowledge
whatever my experience is, as best I can.
✓ I won’t try too hard, nor will I give up. I’ll stay somewhere in the middle.
✓ My mind is bound to wander off. That’s okay and part of meditation.
As your attitudes change, meditation becomes easier as you’re bombarded
by fewer judgemental thoughts during and after the meditation. And even if
you are, you treat them like all the other thoughts you experience, and let
them go as best you can.

Chapter 1: Discovering Mindfulness

Reaching the other side
One day, a young man was going for a walk
when he reached a wide river. He spent a long
time wondering how he would cross such a
gushing current. Just when he was about to
give up his journey, he saw his teacher on the
other side. The young man shouted from the
bank, ‘Can you tell me how to get to the other
side of this river?’

You may feel that you have to change, when
actually you just have to realise that perhaps
you’re fine just the way you are. You’re running
to achieve goals so that you can be peaceful
and happy, but actually you’re running away
from the peace and happiness. Mindfulness
is an invitation to stop running and rest. You’re
already on the other side.

The teacher smiled and replied, ‘My friend, you
are on the other side.’

Exploring the journey of a lifetime
After sailing for a long time, you finally see some land in the distance that’s
more beautiful than anything you’ve seen in your exploration. You decide to
stop when you get there. The land looks so new and fresh, but at the same
time, very familiar and cosy. As you draw closer, you discover that you’re
approaching your own house. Of all the places you’ve been and all the adventures you’ve had, you feel most at home here, where you left! However, the
journey hasn’t been fruitless. You’ve discovered much along the way, and
had to travel that journey to discover what you most treasure.
Ultimately in meditation, you realise that you don’t need to search for anything at all. Everything is okay just the way things are. You’re already home.
Each moment is magical, new and fresh. Each moment is a treasure never to
be repeated again, ever. Your awareness is always shining, lighting up the
world around you and inside you effortlessly. Awareness has no off or on
switch – awareness is always effortlessly on. Although you experience ups
and downs, pleasures and pain, you no longer hang on to things so much,
and you therefore suffer less. This isn’t so much a final goal as an ongoing
journey of a lifetime. Life continues to unfold in its own way and you begin to
grasp how to flow with life.
Buddha is quoted as saying:
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past,
worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present
moment wisely and earnestly.
The journey of mindfulness is to discover how to live this way.

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Part I: Introducing Mindfulness

Chapter 2

Enjoying the Benefits
of Mindfulness
In This Chapter
▶ Understanding what mindfulness is for
▶ Discovering the effects of mindfulness on your emotions
▶ Exploring the heart of mindfulness

T

he enjoyment that comes from mindfulness is a bit like the enjoyment
that comes from dancing. Do you dance because of the cardiovascular
benefits, or for boosting your brain by following a tricky dance routine? When
you dance with a goal or motive in mind, it kind of spoils it a bit, doesn’t it?
Dancing for the sake of dancing is far more fun. But of course, dancing for the
sheer pleasure of it doesn’t reduce the benefits of dancing on your mind and
body – they’re just the icing on the cake.
In the same way, be mindful for the sake of being mindful. Mindfulness is
about connecting with your senses, being curious, exploring the inner working of the human mind. If you’re too concerned about reaping the benefits
of mindfulness meditation, you spoil the fun of it. The journey of meditation
isn’t to reach a certain destination – the journey is the destination. Keep
this in mind as you read the various benefits of mindfulness described in
this chapter and let the dance of mindfulness unfold within you. The benefits of mindfulness – relaxation, better mental and emotional health and an
improved relationship with yourself and others – are just the added bonuses
along the way. Read on to discover how mindfulness can help you.

Relaxing the Body
The body and mind are almost one entity. If your mind is tense with anxious
thoughts, your body automatically tenses as well. They go together, hand
in hand.

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Part I: Introducing Mindfulness
Why does your body become tense when you experience high levels of
stress? The reason is mechanical and wired in the human body. When you
experience stress, a chain reaction starts in your body, and your whole being
prepares to fight or flee the situation. So a lot of energy surges through your
body, which doesn’t know what to do with this energy, so you tense up.
The aim of mindfulness isn’t to make you more relaxed. Trying to relax just
creates more tension. Mindfulness goes far deeper than that. Mindfulness, a
mindful awareness, is about becoming aware and accepting of your momentby-moment experience. So if you’re tense, mindfulness means becoming
aware of that tension. Which part of your body feels tense? What’s its
shape, colour, texture? What’s your reaction to the tension, your thoughts?
Mindfulness is about bringing curiosity to your experience. Then you can
begin breathing into the tense part of your body, bringing kindness and
acknowledging your experience – again, not trying to change or get rid of the
tension. And that’s it. Rest assured, doing this often leads to relaxation, but
relaxation isn’t the aim. See Chapter 12 for more on stress reduction.

Getting back in touch
As a baby, you were probably very much in touch with your body. You
noticed subtle sensations, and may have enjoyed feeling different textures in
the world around you. As you grew up, you learnt to use your head more and
your body less. You probably aren’t as in touch with your body as you were
as a young child and don’t notice those subtle messages that the body gives
to you, through the mind. I’m sure that some people see the body as simply a
vehicle for carrying the brain from one meeting to another!
In fact, the messages between your mind and body are a two-way process.
Your mind gives signals to your body, and your body gives signals to your
mind. You think, ‘I fancy reading that For Dummies book’ and your body picks
it up. You feel hungry and your body signals to your mind that it’s time to
eat. What about the feeling of stress? If you notice the tension in your shoulders, the twitch in your eye or the rapid beating of your heart, again your
body is sending signals to your mind.
But what if your mind is so busy with its own thoughts that it doesn’t even
notice the signals from your body? When this happens, you’re no longer
in touch with or looking after your body. Hunger and thirst, tiredness and
stress – you’re no longer hearing clearly your instinctual messages. This
leads to a further disconnection between bodily signals and your mind, so
things can get worse. Stress can spiral out of control.

Chapter 2: Enjoying the Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness emphasises awareness of your body. An important mindfulness
meditation is the body scan (described in full in Chapter 6). In this meditation, you spend about 30 minutes or so simply being guided to pay attention
to different parts of your body, from the tips of your toes to the top of your
head. Some people’s reaction is, ‘Wow, I’ve never paid so much attention to
my body, that was interesting!’ or ‘I now feel I’m moving back into my body’.
You may find the body scan a challenging experience if you’re not used to
being so in touch with your own body. Emotions you experienced in the past
but weren’t ready to feel, perhaps because you were too young, can be suppressed and trapped in the body. Sometimes, people suffer for years from a
particular physical ailment but doctors are unable to explain the cause of it.
Then, through counselling or meditation, the suppressed emotion arises into
consciousness, which releases the emotion. The tightness in the body, or
unexplained ‘dis-ease’, sometimes disappears with the release of the emotion.
This is another example of how interconnected mind and body really are, and
the benefits of getting back in touch with the body. Chapter 14 has more on
healing the body through mindfulness.

The cracked pot
Once upon a time there was a water bearer
who carried two pots of water to his teacher
each day. Each day he would walk to the nearest stream, fill both pots with water, and walk
back, one pot on each side of a pole he carried across his neck. One pot was cracked and
so by the time the water bearer reached his
teacher, it was only half full. This continued for
two years, with the water bearer only bringing
one and a half pots of water. The perfect pot
was proud of its achievements. The cracked
pot was sad that it could only do half the job it
was supposed to do. One day, the cracked pot
said to the water bearer, ‘I feel so upset and
ashamed. I’m imperfect and I can’t hold a full
pot of water. What use am I to anyone?’ The
water bearer told the cracked pot to look on the

ground as he carried it. The cracked pot noticed
the most beautiful wild flowers and plants on its
side of the path. The water bearer explained,
‘When I realised you were cracked, I decided to
plant seeds on one side of the path, and every
day, as you leak, you water that side of the path.
If you weren’t cracked, these gorgeous flowers
wouldn’t be here for all to enjoy.’
Sometimes you may think you’re not perfect,
or your mindfulness practice is not perfect,
but how do you know? This story goes to show
even a cracked pot can be seen as perfect, just
as it is. In the same way, you’re perfect just the
way you are, with all your imperfections – that’s
what makes you unique.

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Part I: Introducing Mindfulness

Boosting your immune system
If something’s wrong with your body, normally your immune system deals
with it by fighting disease. Unfortunately, one aspect of the stress response is
your immune system not working as hard. When threatened, your body puts
all its resources into surviving that threat; energy required for digestion or
immunity is turned off temporarily.
Stress isn’t necessarily bad for you. If your stress levels are too low, you’re
unable to perform effectively and get bored easily. However, if you’re
stressed for sustained periods of time at high levels, your body’s natural
immune system is going to stop working properly.
Mindfulness enables you to notice subtle changes in your body. At the first
sign of excessive stress, you can bring a mindful awareness to the situation
and discover how to dissipate the stress rather than exacerbate it. In this
way, mindfulness can really benefit your immune system.

Reducing pain
Amazingly, mindfulness has been proved to actually reduce the level of pain
experienced in people practising it over a period of eight weeks. I’ve had
clients who couldn’t find anything to help them manage and cope with their
pain until they began using mindfulness meditation.
When you experience pain, you quite naturally want to block that pain out.
You tighten your muscles around the region and make an effort to distract
yourself. Another approach is that you want the pain to stop, so you react
towards the pain in an angry way. This creates greater tension, not only in
the painful region, but in other areas of the body. Sometimes you may feel
like fighting the pain. This creates a duality between you and your pain and
you burn energy to battle with it. Or perhaps you react with resignation – the
pain has got the better of you and you feel helpless.
Mindfulness takes a radically different approach. In mindfulness, you’re
encouraged to pay attention to the sensation of pain, as far as you can. So, if
your knee is hurting, rather than distracting yourself or reacting in any other
way, you actually focus on the area of physical pain with a mindful awareness. This means you bring attitudes like kindness, curiosity and acknowledgment towards the area of pain, as best you can. This isn’t easy, but you can
get better with practice. You can then consider the difference between the
sensation of the physical pain itself, and all the other stuff you bring to the
pain. You begin to understand the difference between physical pain and psychological pain. The physical pain is the actual raw sensation of pain in the

Chapter 2: Enjoying the Benefits of Mindfulness
body, whereas the psychological pain is the stress, anxiety and frustration
generated. Through mindfulness, you begin to let go of psychological pain so
that all that’s left is the physical pain. When the psychological pain begins to
dissolve, the muscle tension around the physical pain begins to loosen, further reducing the perception of pain. You begin to be able to accept the pain
as it is in this present moment. Read Chapter 14 for more about mindfulness
and physical healing.

Calming the Mind
Just as the aim of mindfulness isn’t to relax the body, though this sometimes
happens, so the aim of mindfulness isn’t to calm the mind, though this sometimes happens too.
Your mind is like the ocean – occasionally wild, and at other times calm.
Sometimes your mind goes from thought to thought without stopping to
rest. At other times, your thoughts come slower and have more of a space
between them. Mindfulness isn’t so much about changing the rate of your
thoughts, but about noticing the thoughts arising in the first place. By taking
a step back from thoughts, you can hover above the waves. The waves are
still there, but you have more possibility of watching the show rather than
being controlled by the thoughts themselves.

Being too keen
A martial arts student went to his teacher and
said earnestly, ‘I’m devoted to studying your
martial system. How long will it take me to
master it?’ The teacher’s reply was casual, ‘Ten
years.’ Impatiently, the student answered, ‘But I
want to master it faster than that. I’ll work very
hard. I’ll practise every day, ten or more hours
a day if I have to. How long will it take then?’
The teacher thought for a moment and replied,
‘Twenty years.’

What does this story mean to you? To me, it
shows that hard work and attaining a goal don’t
necessarily go together. Sometimes, especially
when practising something like mindfulness,
you need simply to let things unfold in their own
time. If you’re anxious, you may just block your
understanding.

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Part I: Introducing Mindfulness

Listening to your thoughts
Everything man-made around you was originally a thought in someone’s
head. Many people consider thought to be all-powerful. All your words, all
your action and activities – everything is motivated by thought. So, being
aware of the kind of thoughts going through your mind makes sense.
The brain easily gets into habitual patterns, as your thoughts travel their
paths within the brain. Neurons that fire together, wire together. Each time
you have a particular thought, or carry out a particular action, you slightly
increase the chance of having the same thought again. Through repeated
thinking or action, the connection between neurons strengthens. If you aren’t
mindful of these thoughts or actions, you may have all sorts of negative,
untrue, unhelpful thoughts or behaviours that influence your life without you
even being aware of them or questioning the truth or validity of them.
Mindfulness encourages you to watch your thoughts, emotions and actions;
then you’re better able to notice unhelpful thoughts and question their
truth. Turn to Chapter 6 for a sitting meditation that includes mindfulness of
thoughts.

Making better decisions
Every moment of every day you make decisions, whether you’re aware of
them or not. You made a decision to read this chapter. At some point, you’ll
decide to stop and do something else. More significant decisions you have to
make have a bigger impact, and a ‘good’ decision is highly desirable. All that
you do and have at the moment is partly due to the decisions you made in
the past.
Awareness of your body can help you make better decisions – a gut feeling
is a signal from your belly telling you what to do and has been found in some
experiments to be faster and more accurate than logical thinking. Research
shows a mass of nerves in the gut that’s like a second brain. This intuition is
routinely used by top CEOs of corporations to make critical decisions. For
example, Michael Eisner, CEO of Walt Disney until 2005, says his body reacts
when he hears a good idea. Sometimes he feels it in his stomach, sometimes
his throat or his skin. Your unconscious mind has far more information than
your conscious mind can handle. Making decisions just based on conscious
logical thought misses out on the huge capacity of the subconscious brain.
Mindfulness helps to deepen your level of awareness, and begin to tap into
your intuitive, subconscious side.

Chapter 2: Enjoying the Benefits of Mindfulness

Coming to your senses
One of the key ways of becoming more mindful and of calming the mind is to
connect with your senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Consider the
expressions, ‘That was sensible’, ‘I sense something’s wrong’, and ‘She’s come
to her senses’. People’s use of the word ‘sense’ shows we appreciate and
value being in touch with our organs of perception. You know innately the
value of connecting to your senses if you want to make a sensible decision.
What is the benefit of purposefully connecting with your senses? Well, if you
aren’t paying attention to the stimulation coming through your five senses
you’re only paying attention to your thoughts and emotions. You’re not
aware of anything else. Your thoughts are mainly based on your experiences
from the past, from memory. You may imagine something new, but on the
whole, your mind reworks past experiences, or projects ideas into the future
based on your past experiences. Emotions are also very much influenced by
your thoughts. So, without paying attention to your senses, you’re stuck with
your own thoughts and emotions based on the past instead of the present.
By purposefully connecting with one of your senses, say, touch, you begin
naturally to calm your mind a little. In mindfulness you can begin by focusing
on your breathing. Focus on your belly stretching or your chest expanding
or perhaps the movement of the air as it enters and leaves your body. By
focusing on a particular sense, in this case the sense of touch, you’re focusing your attention. Rather than your mind wandering wherever it pleases,
you’re gently training it to stay on one object, namely your breathing. And
in the same way as you train a puppy to walk along a path and not keep running off, each time your attention strays, you bring it back, just as you would
gently pull the puppy back to the path. You’re discovering how to be gentle
with yourself, as well as finding out to focus your attention. See Chapter 6 for
a short mindful breathing meditation.
By coming to your senses mindfully you are:
✓ Training your attention to focus.
✓ Being kind to yourself when your mind wanders off.
✓ Realising that you’ve a certain amount of choice about what you pay
attention to.
✓ Understanding that you can deliberately choose to shift attention away
from thinking and into the senses.
✓ Calming your mind.

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Part I: Introducing Mindfulness

Creating an attentive mind
Attention is essential in achieving anything. If you can’t pay attention, you
can’t get the job done, whatever the job is. Mindfulness trains your attention
by sustaining your attention on one thing, or by switching the type of attention from time to time.
There are several types of attention, as shown in Figure 2-1:
✓ Narrow attention is focused and sharp, like the beam of a laser. You may
use this type of attention when chopping vegetables or writing a letter.
✓ Wide attention is more open and spacious, like a floodlight. When you’re
driving, ideally your attention is open so you’d notice if a car moved
closer to you from the side, or if children were playing up ahead.
✓ Outer attention is attention to the outer world through your senses.
✓ Inner attention is an awareness of your thoughts and feelings.
✓ Observer or witness awareness is your capacity to know what type of
attention you’re using. For example, if you’re drawing a picture, you’re
aware that your attention is narrow. If you’re walking through the countryside, you’re aware that your attention is wide. For more on witness
awareness, see the section ‘Becoming Aware: Discovering Yourself’
below.
All the different mindfulness meditations you read about in this book train
your mind to be able to sustain attention in the various different ways mentioned in the preceding list.
Observer, witness of all experiences

Awareness
Figure 2-1:
The different types of
attention.
Narrow, focused attention

Wide, spacious attention

Chapter 2: Enjoying the Benefits of Mindfulness

Empty your cup
A professor once went to visit a teacher of
mindfulness. The professor was a worldfamous scholar of mindfulness and had studied
all the different ways, methods and techniques.
He knew all the Eastern scriptures and Western
science on the subject. He could answer any
question on mindfulness with ease and a
sense of pride. The teacher asked if he would
like a cup of tea, and the professor said yes.
The teacher began filling the cup until it was
full and kept going. The tea was overflowing,
and teacher continued to pour. ‘What are you

doing! The cup is already full!’ exclaimed the
professor, panicking. ‘You are like this cup,’ said
the teacher calmly. ‘How can I teach you anything of real value until you empty your cup?’
If you want to benefit from mindfulness, you
need to put aside all your ideas about it, especially if you think you know what mindfulness is
all about. Opinions, ideas and beliefs block the
beauty and simplicity of mindfulness.

Soothing Your Emotions
Emotions are tremendously influential on your behaviour and thoughts. If
you’re feeling low, you’re probably far more reluctant to go out with friends,
or laugh at a joke, or work with zest. If you’re feeling great, you’re on top of
things, everything feels easy and life flows easily.
How do you deal with emotions? Are you swept up by them, and just hope for
the best? Mindfulness offers the opportunity to soothe and step back from
emotional ups and downs.

Understanding your emotions
What is an emotion, a feeling or mood?
You experience emotion partly from a survival point of view. If you didn’t feel
scared when faced with a raging bull, you’d find yourself in lots of trouble.
Other emotions, like happiness, help to create social ties with those around
you, increasing your security. Even depression is thought to have evolved for

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