How mindfulness migrated from traditional Buddhist meditations to mainstream acceptance in modern psychology is something of a mystery. Having dedicated our intellectual resources to trying to understand the mind, we’ve finally come to the conclusion accepted in Asia for a couple of thousand years that it’s also key to know how to control the mind.
The Sahara meditation retreat frequently attracts therapists looking to reconnect with themselves in the silence of the desert and a few years ago a counsellor called Simon Cole joined us – his Stillness in Mind arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago and I finally slowed down my overactive internet-addicted brain enough to read it.
Stillness in Mind begins with an introduction to mindfulness and how to create a regular sitting practice to reconnect with oneself. Cole observes that unless we take the time to listen to our thought processes, our emotions and our bodies, we will be out of synch with our core being like a film where the audio track doesn’t quite match the movements of the actors’ mouths.
The attraction of mindfulness mediation to many is that it requires no religious belief or mumbo jumbo and Cole’s meditation is true to this as he takes us through breathing techniques and the mental obstacles that might arise. Stillness in Mind is more than a meditation manual, however, as Cole shares his many years as a counsellor to explore the essence of enigmas like anger, guilt, stress and sadness.
‘Sadness comes from compassion…for ourselves, for others,for what has never had a chance to be. Always there is this: if what happened had been otherwise, then a better future could have been enjoyed. In all sadness we hear the word “if only”. With those words comes a belief in a possible alternative future for its own sake. We have become hostages of the unknown and unknowable.’
Cole maintains this level of lucid insight throughout the book and explores how meditation might take us to the heart of emotion and other life experiences so that our practice of mindfulness might become our practice of being alive.
Stillness in Mind is available in paperback and on the Kindle at Amazon.