Book Review – Mindfulness Pocketbook: Little Exercises for a Calmer Mind, Second Edition by Gill Hasson

This edition published, 2020

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Some time ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw an old school friend of mine. I haven’t actually spoken to the girl in twenty years so I clicked on her profile to see what she was up to these days.

In her most recent post, she’d wished everyone a “mindful morning”. Frowning (which I can’t help, it’s my age), I asked my partner what mindfulness was. She’s younger than me, I figured anything I don’t know, she’ll know. She said, “Well, you know that feeling when you first wake up and anything’s possible?”

I thought for a moment, before replying. “No.”

It transpires that mindfulness is paying special attention to your feelings and thoughts, and living completely in the moment. Mindfulness is acknowledging even the less positive emotions, but not focussing on the difficulties of the past or the concerns of the future. Mindfulness is now, and only now.

It’s not that easy, making yourself really notice everything – the colour of the wall, the shape of the clouds, the smell of the flowers, the taste of the wine. But in retaining focus, the mindful person can thoroughly experience the world.

I’ll admit, when I first started reading, I was a cynic. However, having read this book as a guide to daily philosophy, I can see how engaging with trees and learning to give compliments, for example, could be an excellent way to engage with the world, in real time. There are some lovely, mantra-like quotes throughout the text, small prompts to keep the reader on track.

The section on learning poetry was wonderful. I am now determined to learn a few poems by heart – for use when I need grounding, slowing down or calming.

However, I couldn’t disagree more with the section on how to think your way out of a panic attack. Recognising a panic attack for what it is, using mantras and counting breaths – just can’t happen when I can’t remember how to breathe. That said, there’s a lot of good stuff here and it’s worth a read.