Book Review: The Mindful Manifesto

The Mindful Manifesto: How Doing Less And Noticing More Can Help Us Thrive In A Stressed Out WorldThe Mindful Manifesto: How Doing Less And Noticing More Can Help Us Thrive In A Stressed Out World by Jonty Heaversedge & Ed Halliwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In an ever faster-moving world, moving beyond the demands imposed by increasing workloads, omnipresent technology and time-starved relationships and taking time to just ‘be’ can seem impossible, but the antidote to these problems – and more – is in The Mindful Manifesto. In this new and updated edition, the authors distil the essence of mindfulness meditation with compassion and skill, demonstrating its roots in ancient teachings and reinforcing this with reputable scientific research. Buddhist philosophy is explored without proselytising and is reframed in a psychological context: questioning, rather than passive acceptance is always invited.

Engagement with mindfulness is encouraged through practical exercises, and their benefits explored through case studies and the personal experiences of the authors themselves as we learn to contemplate a more present, compassionate way of living. Understanding the difference between thoughts and facts facilitates a reconnecting of mind and body and acceptance of our selves, giving us the tools to feel more in control of our lives and learn to manage chronic conditions like depression, anxiety, addiction and pain with greater insight. Modern holistic treatments endorse caring for the mind in conjunction with the body and the book emphasises the value of mindfulness in treating physical conditions – as always backed up by research data.

The big question, though, is does it work? Having read and worked through the first edition of The Mindful Manifesto, I realised I was feeling calmer and more awake to my daily life. Practising mindfulness seems to relieve the pressures of modern life – juggling emails and Facebook and text messages becomes less important, and rejecting the dastardly twin cults of perfection and speed an easier task. And despite the book’s eagerness to present mindfulness as ‘mental technology’, unencumbered by new age or hippy associations, I’ve been surprised to discover that mindfulness, whilst presented as a practical, functional activity, has quietly nurtured in me a lighter, more spiritual way of being.

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Reverb10 – Dec 01 – One word

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
(Author: Gwen Bell)

2010: Perseverance
It’s been a challenging year for so many reasons, some of them personal, some of them professional and some of them not actually my reasons, but rather things that were happening to those closest to me. There were times when these things directly impacted on me and my safety and security, and other occasions where my support or encouragement or understanding was needed by others. I had a big ‘blip’, health-wise, which was probably both symptomatic and the result of everything else that was going on, and whilst that was a truly awful time, it’s ultimately led to me sorting out some long-term medication issues and left me in better spirits than I’ve been in for years. And, of course, I finally started writing again, something I was starting to believe was nigh-on impossible.

I chose the ‘perseverance’ to describe this past year because I’m at a point now where I can see how being strong – standing up for myself and my family and my principles – has paid off. It would have been so easy to give up; if I look back at this year there are several occasions which in hindsight could have had very different outcomes – like in the movie, Sliding Doors -if I hadn’t decided to fight for what I believed in. If I was allowed two words for 2010, the second one would have been ‘gratitude’, because I am immensely blessed to have a quite charmed life, loving family, good friends, a job I love and a happy home.

2011: Embrace
Next year I’m going to try and reach out from my little bubble of safety and embrace whatever opportunities life presents me with. I want to make new friendships and nurture existing ones. I want to be brave and embrace change and uncertainty and risk instead of hiding behind what’s safe and reliable and predictable. I want to swim hard against the tide and jump into waves instead of treading water and slowly getting water-logged and heavier. I want to make sure that everyone I love knows that I love them. I’m ready to start saying ‘Yes’ instead of ‘Maybe’.

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