Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Book Review: 'Mindfulness for the Mindless: A No Nonsense Guide to Breaking Free From a Mindless Life' by John Burley
'Mindfulness is just about deliberately paying attention to what is happening right now’
British author John Burley lives in Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom and is the director of a software development company producing software solutions to mainly the gaming industry. Though he is very active on the Internet – blogging – this is his first published book.
Reading John’s book is more like a conversation with a man who cares about the quality of life we carve. His Introduction is an example of the book’s mission – ‘Mindless Adjective | Mind - less lack of consciousness or mind, not mindful. I live in a bright and colourful world full of interesting people, different cultures, amazing animals and a wonderfully diverse nature. A world that makes every moment worth savouring and enjoying as much as possible. I awake each morning not knowing what the world has to offer me today differently to yesterday. Sounds good doesn't it? Well you live in a world very similar to mine. After I'd started actively practising mindfulness I noticed some immediate benefits, for example, strangers smiling at me in the street, my general outlook was a bit more positive and I was more inclined to see my own and others’ mistakes as opportunities to learn. My friends and family immediately noticed the difference and started to ask what had changed in my life to cause a such a dramatic change. The quality and speed of my work improved almost overnight. Customers and people that I worked alongside also noticed a difference in my approach too. Once I'd explained it was down to me practising mindfulness they all wanted to try it and realise the same change as I'd had. While I could point them to my reading list on mindfulness, I quickly realised that there wasn't just one book that gave them enough information and guidance to start seeing the benefits as quickly as most of them would like. As with most people, before I'd started practising mindfulness I'd heard and seen many books in the shops about it. From the very little that I had heard about mindfulness in the media and from what I'd heard from other people it all sounded a bit wishy washy and too woo woo for me, and I knew I certainly didn't have time to sit around all day meditating. I had been told that it would help and I should give it a go several times but I'd had no idea where to start, and it wasn't clear what I was going to gain from doing it anyway. There are what seem like thousands of books on mindfulness in the bookshops and online, all with their own takes and viewpoints on how to practice mindfulness and get various benefits from it. People who already practice mindfulness will suggest books to you and quote wonderful and sometimes truly inspiring sound bites from those books to make you think there is something great to be found in mindfulness. But they all suggest different books, and who has the time to read them all just to find the one book that explains mindfulness in a way that works just for you? What I did was listen to the people closest to me that had actually read books on mindfulness instead of those who just quoted what they thought they knew from the media and social media posts. They were the people that lived in my world and would likely have a similar outlook to me, so in theory they would have been looking for similar benefits to me from mindfulness. This was my logic but it still meant reading many books. When you start reading these books there are some noticeable reoccurring problems that I found. Either the books were long and included everything possible about mindfulness, from the history of mindfulness to every possible benefit mindfulness could bring you if you dedicated vast amounts of time to it. After reading some of these you feel so overwhelmed with all the information that you're given that you become less mindful because you're now trying to think and digest it all. At the other end you have short books and e-books that get straight to point and tell you how to practice mindfulness and meditation techniques without explaining what you are trying to achieve with them. Some just talk in general terms without actually giving you useful instructions and some leave you feeling like you've wasted a few hours that you'll never get back. I am not saying that any of these books are bad, in fact in almost every book that I have read I have found something useful to take away, make me think, or just a better explanation of something I'd read in another book. I would also say that with the way, speed and focus that I read with, it is actually a good step towards being mindful in itself, as I shut out all the other chatter in my head so all this reading probably hasn't been all bad on a mindful front. So here is another book on mindfulness! The intention of this book is to provide a quick way to understand the principles of being mindful, so you can see some of the benefits as quickly as possible in your everyday life without having to give too much of your time to it initially. Mindfulness can help in many different areas, but my focus will be on just getting you started and helping you to see some close to instant improvements in your life. I will try to explain how to do it and what you can expect to gain by doing it in the shortest way and yet still give you enough information so you understand how it works. I will combine all the best explanations and methods that I have found so far from all of my reading on mindfulness to save you having to trawl the book shops. Like I explained earlier, once I'd actually bitten the bullet and given it a go, I got results almost overnight.’
John then divides his book into the following sections – MINDFULNESS, BENEFITS, PREPARATION, CONTROL, BEING HAPPIER YOU, BEING HAPPIER IN RELATIONSHIPS, BEING HAPPIER AT WORK, HOW TO BE MINDFUL, MINDFULNESS WITHOUT MEDITATION, and finally FORMAL MEDITATION.
Comfortable to read, free of extraneous sidebars that distract the process, this is one of the finest books on finding and achieving mindfulness. Highly Recommended.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.