Mindfulness is another type of mental practice, similar to meditation, but many people find it easier. It can also be incorporated into your everyday life which makes it more appealing to some people.
I think that when you start any type of mental practice you will probably become more mindful naturally, but there are also specific exercises.
The best book I have read on this (although I haven’t read very widely it’s true) is Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Happiness”. Actually reading the back cover again it’s not surprising that this is such a good book. This Vietnamese Buddhist monk is a Zen Master, a nominee for the Noble Peace Prize and this book collects all of his mindfulness practices developed over his 60 years as a monk. Wow! It’s quite a lot to take in in one go, so if you do choose this book I recommend that you choose one meditation or mindfulness exercise to practice at a time.
Mindfulness practices are simply practices that bring the mind back to the body, to be more fully alive. I don’t think I am explaining it very well - but here is an example, using Thich Nhat Hanh’s Mindful Eating exercises, which, if you have any issues with dieting or food are revolutionary. Instead of, for example, eating whilst watching the TV, or working, or with half an eye on the kids, Mindful Eating is about communing with the others around a table, appreciating all the wonderful energy that has gone in to the food, remembering how lucky we are to have enough to eat, being mindful that the conversation at the table enhances awareness and happiness, contemplating on our eating practices to help us to learn to eat in moderation, contemplating the healthfulness of the food, and the purpose of our eating; to provide us with nourishment. This mindfulness can also be extended to the preparation of the food, the setting of the table and the clearing afterwards, so that our mealtimes can be a wonderful experience, rather than a chore.
Although I found this book very interesting and useful I do prefer his other book “Cultivating The Mind of Love” which is really a talk that he has given about falling in love when he was a young Buddhist monk. If you ever experience any romantic issues then I highly recommend this book. Although I don’t remember it containing any specific meditations about romantic love what it does contain is his own struggle with romantic feelings, and his own understanding of the interconnectedness that made his love both powerful and impossible at the same time. It was, for me, a revelation in understanding love on a deeper level.
Although I have read translated works by the Dalai Lama I found the explanations very hard for me to follow. Reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s work is, for me, much easier, effortless and allows me to focus much more on the underlying messages. It’s also wonderfully refreshing to know that even a Buddhist monk can find romantic love a challenge.
For more information on Thich Nhat Hanh and mindfulness you can visit this website and order or download the periodical magazine
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© Pearl Howie 2014. All rights reserved.