What is mindfulness? The next time I’m asked, I may well recommend ‘The Little Mindfulness Workbook,’ by Gary Hennessey, co-founder of Breathworks. The small, compact size of this new mini book is appealing, yet Gary, with his extensive experience practising and teaching mindfulness, introduces many key principles and practices. He captures the essence of mindfulness, which can be so hard to articulate, in a down to earth and friendly manner.
Working through the book, you first learn what mindfulness is, through written explanation and experiential enquiry. By the end of the book, you may well find yourself having developed a rich and nourishing practice. The book is divided into clear, concise chapters, each outlining the theory behind a particular theme, introducing practical enquiry and ‘mindfulness in action’ exercises, meditations, reflective questions on your experience and a summary of the main ideas introduced. The principle ideas covered include definitions of mindfulness, the difference between reacting and responding, how awareness brings choice and how we can influence our feelings by considering primary and secondary experiences, readdressing the balance between doing and being modes, meditation postures, accepting difficult experiences whilst also opening up to let in the good, kindness to ourselves and others, and taking your practice forward.
To truly understand what mindfulness is, you need to experience it. This book introduces key meditations, explaining the relevance and significance of each one, including the body scan, mindfulness of breathing, mindful movement, and a variety of compassion, acceptance and connection meditations. As well as being included in the text, each meditation is accompanied by a guided audio, available for free on Soundcloud, which includes many other Breathworks’ meditations and is well worth a look in itself.
Whilst this book provides a wonderful introduction to mindfulness, I think it’s equally useful for the experienced meditator. If you are wondering what mindfulness is, are feeling overwhelmed by the wealth of information out there, or are looking for fresh input and a new perspective on your existing practice, this little book is well worth a read. It may be pocket sized, but it is packed full of wisdom and thought provoking ideas. I worked through it to boost my practice after recent illness. It’s a welcome addition to my ‘Mindfulness Toolkit’.
You can find information about many other books that have inspired me in my Bookshelf.