Book Review “Mindfulness on the Go: Peace in your Pocket” Padraig O’Morain
Disclosure: This review is entirely my own opinion based on my experience however there are Amazon links contained within this post meaning I may receive a commission should you visit the retailer and purchase a product.
Since finding mindfulness practice last year, I have been positively raving about this book to everyone. I was in a bit of a downward spiral and needed something to quickly help get myself back on track. I’d heard about mindfulness and was on the lookout for books on the subject. I was lucky to come across a great one in the library, Mindfulness on the Go: Peace in Your Pocket which I managed to read most of in just one day (the kids weren’t in the house just in case you were wondering!).
Padraig promises to deliver ‘peace in your pocket’. At 188 pages this book is short but it packs a powerful punch.
Padraig recommends reading the first chapter to get a grounding of the topic and I agree. It answers any objections on why you’re too busy to practise, it explains the benefits of mindfulness and outlines three exercises to try (mindful movement, walking mindfully, and slowing down).
Padraig manages to get to the heart of the problem for busy people when he notes the main objections people have against practising mindfulness:
- I am too busy to be mindful…
- I am too busy to sit and meditate….
- I don’t like all this Buddhist stuff….
- I’m a parent of young kids – when am I supposed to find quiet spaces in my life?
Yes, I know, the last one really piqued my attention too. The author’s response:
That’s OK: this book will show you how to practise mindfulness and scream at the kids at the same time!
I don’t know about you, but that line hooked me big time – a way to be mindful during the chaos – how is this possible?! Also, just to note, I don’t actual want to scream at my kids, I’d kind of like to stop doing that – part of the reason I’m practising mindfulness!
In a nutshell, as Padraig would say it’s about learning how to bring your attention back to the moment without making any judgements. This makes you feel more grounded and has a positive effect on how you react which in turn has a calming effect (quite possibly leading to less screaming in future – sounds good to me).
Following chapter two on the science behind mindfulness, which appealed to the psychology graduate in me, is a chapter on mindfulness of breathing. Previously I’d come across some of the techniques such as the 7/11 breathing, but it was helpful to read up on it again and practise daily. The technique is so simple – breathe in to a count of 7, and out to the count of 11. This not only focuses your awareness but it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing about a calming effect.
I found the anchoring technique to be beneficial too (see below on how to practise this). Here you focus on the point where the breath is strongest – your nose, throat or chest for example. Breathe in and out for a while focusing on this anchor point, really noticing the sensation This is a great way to refocus when you’re feeling stressed and need to move away from unhelpful feelings and thoughts. You’ll also find notes on practising ‘counting the breath’ and ‘focus on the out breath’. All of these exercises are simple to learn and do, and the benefits are instant.
The rest of the book features chapters on how to use mindfulness at home, with teenagers, when eating, at work and for relationships.
Mindfulness at Home
The mindfulness at home chapter was perfect for me as I’m sure it will be for other parents. It includes a section on using mindfulness with young children and outlines how to establish mindfulness practice throughout the day.
I used Padraig’s children’s techniques ‘toy breathing’ and ‘happy place’ with my two boys. They both enjoyed it and I’ve started using it every day after school and playgroup, a traditionally tricky time when they’re tired and tantrums are common.
Also of particular merit are the resources included towards the end of the book:
- Ten strategies for everyday mindfulness (great for including a bit of mindfulness in your daily routine)
- A month of mindfulness (a schedule of practising mindfulness over the course of 31 days)
- Resources on where to find more
You don’t need to read all of the book but you will find speedy and practical tips in whichever section you do choose. You’ll be able to read the first couple of chapters on the basics quickly enough and will already be practising before you finish them. The rest of the book you can dip into as needed – some of the chapters won’t be relevant to everyone. As a parent I would fully recommend the Mindfulness at Home chapter or Mindfulness with Teenagers.
My overall opinion
Overall, this book is fantastic if you’re a busy person who feels they don’t have time for mindfulness but would like to know more. It’s not a book for learning about mindfulness in great detail however it’s a quick and far easier read than some of the other books out there and is a great introduction to the practice. The book is also very useful for dipping into should you need to remind yourself of a technique or ways to use mindfulness in your daily life.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Let me know below!
The anchoring technique
The anchor is the point in your body at which you are most aware of your breathing. Sit in a quiet place and focus on your breathing. You might feel a particular place where the breath is strongest, typically your nostrils, chest, tummy or throat. Bringing your attention to the anchor point can return you to mindfulness straight away. If you don’t have a particular anchor point, you can establish one by focusing for a while on sensations of breathing at the tip of your nose and then following the breath in and out to feel where you notice it most.