Wednesday 24 January 2018

Practical mindfulness without the spirituality

Self-help: Mindfulness for Worriers, Padraig O'Morain, Yellow Kite, pbk, 256 pages, €19.50

Padraig O'Morain: His book diminishes worry and brings back some sense of perspective
Padraig O'Morain: His book diminishes worry and brings back some sense of perspective
Mindfulness for Worriers

Mary McEvoy

The industry around mindfulness has grown so much that even gullible folks such as myself are developing a cynical muscle or two.

"Mindfulness? Yes, I know, be in the moment, watch the breath, slow down. I could teach the damn thing!" These were some of the thoughts that crossed my mind when I received this work.

The author, Padraig O'Morain, is a psychotherapist and has practiced mindfulness for 25 years so I couldn't accuse him of being a parvenu. Then, the full title of the book came to my attention, Mindfulness for Worriers, and if I was honest with myself, when it came to worrying, I could use all the help I could get. So I dropped the attitude and started to read.

A lot of mindfulness books have spiritual bases but in this book, Padraig O'Morain is relentlessly practical. He has divided his work into seven sections with headings such as 'Stopping the Worry Spiral' and 'Dealing with the Negative'. These sections are divided into subsections, explaining what is going on in the fretting brain and describing methods to ameliorate the suffering. This makes the book easy to pick up and leave down. This, to me, is very helpful because when one is in the thrall of anxiety, the idea of reading an entire book just seems impossible.

The practicality of this book is what makes it particularly valuable. I am given to seeing everything through a veil of mysticism which can be very helpful, but not during an anxiety attack, when the mind is so shredded and tangled that all it can receive is the simplest of messages.

This book is full of simple advice that comes in the form of short chapters if you can manage them, or pithy "quick thoughts" if you are really mithered. One of the quick thoughts that I found illuminating was this one.

"When you notice you have begun to worry, silently say ' just worrying' and then get on with what you're doing or make a rational plan to deal with the issue you're worrying about."

For me, this puts worry in its place, 'just worrying' diminishes worry and returns some sense of perspective. I have practiced this for a while now and it works. Sometimes, a message is so simple it takes a lot a of repetition to get it to be received. Also, people realise things in their own way, in their own time, according to their mental make up. Having read many books on the subject, I feel Mindfulness for Worriers, with its practicality, has been the most helpful to me.

It may seem that the mindfulness market is an overcrowded one. Padraig O'Morain's work, however, is a book of true value, so if you worry and torment yourself with anxiety, be sure to seek it out. When you feel overwhelmed, just open it anywhere, it will help you make some space in your mind, and that could just be all you need in that moment.

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