Padraig O’Morain is a writer and psychotherapist, who has practised mindfulness for 25 years and who teaches this valuable practice in sessions all around the country.
He has taught people from all walks of life, from accountants to search-and-rescue workers. In such courses, he shows individuals how to marshall the power of their own minds so that they can remain calm in potentially stressful or threatening situations.
But his new book is about much more than the business of dealing with threat and danger. O’Morain’s accessible 200-page work demonstrates how we can feel more at home in our own skin, and more responsive to the presence of our own bodies.
Emotional eating, needless consumerism, feelings of dread about the future, or regret about the past can be remedied by the patient practice of mindfulness, as set out here in simple, direct language by this highly-experienced author.
The book can be dipped into, or started at the beginning and its chapters are short and pithy, sometimes running to less than a page each. You won’t be on your own either, as mindfulness is increasingly figuring on programmes devised by major companies, hospitals, sports organisations and trade unions.
O’Morain reveals that people who practice mindfulness even for just two months, experience increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, in effect the left side of the brain.
Such increased activity is linked to positive emotions and a positive attitude. He writes about developing our ‘planning muscle’, resisting ‘reminiscence’ about something that went wrong, say, on a previous occasion. Likewise, he steers us to not indulge in needless fantasy about things going wrong again.
Moreover, he has perfected a system of short practices, involving breathing and posture, which can be done literally where you are sitting. In other words, no one is obliged to devote large tranches of the day, or lose vast swathes of the weekend, to practice mindfulness.
The author begins his book with a novel approach, listing all the possible objections a potential reader might silently murmur to themselves, as they contemplate mindfulness.
“I can’t do the lotus position and I don’t like all this Buddhist stuff anyway,” runs one heading. O’Morain addresses that instantly in the following sentence: mindfulness has nothing to do with the lotus position.
So, expect a highly useful guide from a practical, helpful and wise writer, taking us through an invaluable practice for our times.