'We're at our happiest when our mind is not wandering – that is, when we're in a state of mindfulness. The highlight of my mindfulness seminars is often an exercise I call -the Lindt technique' where I invite participants to mindfully enjoy a Lindt chocolate. From opening the foil wrapper, to savouring the smooth, liquid heart of the chocolate as it bursts in the mouth. For two or three minutes a blissful silence ensues. Mindfulness applied to the eating of chocolate"- David Michie.
Mindfulness has moved firmly mainstream - so why all the confusion about what it really means? In this lively beginner's guide, best-selling author and meditation teacher David Michie explains why so many banks, business schools, athletes, artists - and even the US Army - are taking up mindfulness.
To be mindful is to pay attention to the present moment, deliberately and non-judgementally. Mindfulness practice can help you reduce stress, improve performance, manage pain and increase wellbeing. Boosting our immune system and pushing back our biological clock are also benefits of practicing mindfulness.
In Why Mindfulness Is Better Than Chocolate, David Michie explores:
What mindfulness is and how to meditate
The benefits of meditation and mindfulness both in personal and professional lives
Ten tips for getting into the meditation habit and how to apply mindfulness to our daily life
How mindfulness makes you happier
And much, much more...
Drawing on ancient Buddhist teachings and contemporary science, and combining lucid explanations with practical instructions, David takes us well beyond -mindfulness lite', highlighting how mindfulness can be a truly life-changing tool. Written with warmth and good humour, Why Mindfulness Is Better Than Chocolate is the ultimate guide to self-discovery.
David Michie is an internationally published writer and meditation coach. He is author of the bestselling Hurry Up and Meditate, Buddhism for Busy People, Enlightenment to Go, and The Dalai Lama's Cat series. He brings to this book his expertise in mind training as a practicing Buddhist, and his professional experience of the corporate world. David lives in Subiaco, WA.
Why Mindfulness Is Better Than Chocolate
Allen and Unwin
Author: David Michie
Question: What inspired you to write Why Mindfulness Is Better Than Chocolate?
David Michie: Not a week goes by that we don't hear about some new study on mindfulness, or come across an article on meditation. While some of these are wonderfully insightful, many of them provide glimpses of only one facet of the whole diamond. In particular, a lot of material never ventures near the original purpose of mindfulness - which is to experience the true nature of our own radiant and blissful mind for ourselves.
I decided it was time to offer a book that not only covers the proven benefits of mindfulness, physical and psychological, but which also explains how to experience your own primordial nature directly for yourself. For many people, this can be a life-changing encounter.
Question: What is mindfulness?
David Michie: The most widely accepted definition of mindfulness is: "Paying attention to the present moment deliberately and non-judgementally." What else might you be paying attention to? According to a recent Harvard University study, about 50% of the time we are paying attention to our thoughts, the constant narrative chatter in which we're engaged. The study also affirmed the direct correlation between happiness and being mindful. Apart from anything else, if we want to be happier, practising mindfulness is probably the best, single thing we can do.
Question: When did you first discover the practice of mindfulness?
David Michie: Through meditation. Years ago in London I had a stressful job in PR and was advised to start meditating purely for stress-management reasons. Like many people, I found this was the start of what has turned out to be a much bigger and more interesting journey.
Question: Can you talk us through your practice of mindfulness?
David Michie: Meditation is to mindfulness what going to the gym is to being fit. So I practice meditation at least once a day. I also deliberately cultivate mindfulness in relation to everyday activities like having a shower, drinking coffee and so on. Even without changing what we do, by doing it more mindfully we can create more space in our lives.
Question: How can we incorporate mindfulness into our work day?
David Michie: Even ten minutes of meditation in the morning will profoundly change your life for the better. There are other things you can do to bring your mind back to the present moment, such as assigning everyday rituals - such as coffee drinking - as a 'mindfulness activity.' Also, putting a gentle, random alert on your smart phone can be a useful reminder simply to mindfully inhale and exhale a couple of times. It is surprising what a difference this very gentle and natural practice can have on our state of mind.
Question: What are the main benefits of mindfulness?
David Michie: These are covered extensively in Why Mindfulness is better than Chocolate, but scientific studies have proven that mindfulness and meditation help manage stress, treat heart disease, boost immunity, slow ageing, help manage chronic pain and inflammatory conditions, lessen recurring depression, promote good sleep, enhance mental resilience and improve our working memory - to name just a few benefits!
Question: Who should practice mindfulness?
David Michie: Everyone with a mind!
Interview by Brooke Hunter