Skip to main content

Mindfulness - A Practical Guide To Finding Peace In A Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman

Warning - I'm annoyed
by Amazon and might
vent...
A book on mindfulness - now, this is a departure for me. I wasn't planning on reviewing this for a number of reasons, including but not exclusively because I've not finished the course of meditation it prescribes. I wasn't really planning on reading it either, but I did, also for reasons which I am not going to relate. Good stuff so far, eh?

For a few years my wife has been gently suggesting that I try meditative activities to temper my tendency towards displays of extremes of emotion. I have resisted thus far because the one time I did concede ground and attended a Buddhist centre to take part in a guided meditation session, when asked how it was afterwards by a kind and gentle soul, I told him it filled me with a rage so profound that I felt I should go and stand outside so as not to hurt anyone. I did also read a book by Karen Armstrong on compassion, which had a 12-step process (instant recoil) towards a more compassionate life. I was greatly tickled and, one might say, equally upsetting to my wife as a result. However, for one reason or another, I decided that this time, I would read, absorb and practice, in whichever small way I was able, all of the guidance and exercises contained herein.

On this side of the coin, I find myself uncharacteristically disinclined to find fault. Mark Williams has a simple eloquence when talking about the mind and the practice of mindfulness which I found most appealing. There is some "science", and also anecdote, and it mixes rather well, if oddly arranged in some chapters - I expected that the daily routine suggested would come neatly at the end of each chapter describing the 8-week programme, for want of a better word. Plus, the meditations did seem to work, when I actually followed what was expected. So far as my limited experience of meditation and meditation aids is concerned, this is by far and away the most accessible book that I have found. I try every day to find time to meditate, and am not unhappy to say that it's a great challenge, both in terms of time and motivation, but thus far seems to work. I am more mindful, and this has taken the edge off some of the edginess, and my rages are less frequent and always more short-lived. My wife is greatly appreciative, and so is my son, I suspect.

On the flip side, and what really does boil my bunny, is that, through no fault of my own*, the edition I downloaded for my Kindle (the basic model - no fancy pants colour and wi-fi enabled shennanigans here), had enhanced content, essential enhanced content no less, which I WAS UNABLE TO ACCESS ON MY KINDLE.

I therefore had to swallow a large amount of bile and stretch to another £11 for the iBooks version so I could listen to the guided meditations through my iPad. Not before posting a helpful and righteously febrile review on Amazon, those vile and wretched purveyors of human misery. God, how I hate Amazon.

So, in conclusion, being mindful won't stop you hating. You'll just be aware of it and not be ashamed or self-critical. Win win I think you'll agree, and if you fancy a bit of it, BUY THE APPROPRIATE VERSION OF THIS BOOK, Goddamnit.

*Usual disclaimer applies here folks - I rushed into the purchase and therefore was ill-informed so of course, it is my fault, but try telling the Hulk he only has himself to blame

Comments

How's about that then?

Metaliterature - what meaning to have is this for meaning?

Not a review this time, more of a curiosity. It seems I'm receiving lots of hits from Russia (Здравствуйте России!) from people searching for the definition of "metaliterature". As such, it is something of a bespoke word, created to fit a need and probably not yet recognized outside literary theory / criticism circles (Merriam-Webster Online certainly don't like it). I was wondering what they typed in to end up here, so, for fun (it's not fun, sorry) I thought I'd bung it in Google Translate and see what came out. As it turns out, one needs a little hyphen for the rather ponderous machine to understand it, and even then only does half the job (meta seems to be meta in any language). 
Incidentally, below is, ironically, a Google Chrome Thesaurus definition* of "meta":

met·a Adjective/ˈmetə/
(of a creative work) Referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referentialInterestingly (not interesting, sorry) it says this for the full term, t…

Breakfast Of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

In days gone by, when repeatedly pressed about what my favourite book might be, a banal question seeking an impossible and crude reductionist answer to which I was usually rude in response, I would offer Breakfast Of Champions as a pacifier. 

I first read it in University, and it has, to some degree, influenced how I think and feel about a lot of things. Strikingly, I've never wanted to re-read it. Perhaps I was afraid I'd find fault the second time around and wanted to uphold it as a paragon of meta-fiction. Perhaps, but then I'm a relentless consumer of fiction and was always on to the next consumable work, never having time or inclination to go back.

So in the spirit of a more considered and thoughtful phase of my life I decided I wanted to read something that once made me feel good.

I'd clearly not remembered it very well.

But before that, I'm amazed I've gone *mumbles* years without once mentioning Kilgore Trout in my reviews, even in passing. The same goes fo…

Fup by Jim Dodge

If there was a comfort-food version of a book for me, then this would be it. It's funny, touching, humanistic, and features so many quotable quotes that its trim 120 pages could be represented in its entirety on some such authors' quotations page.

We're introduced to Tiny on the occasion of his mother's death, lured into a treacherously fatal situation by, of all things, a duck, while her 4-year-old son sleeps in the car where he wakes to a terrifying solitude. Meanwhile, we're treated to a potted but entertaining history of Granddaddy Jake, Tiny's grandfather, into whose care by fair means or foul (no pun intended) he is finally placed. But the titular Fup duck comes along only once Tiny is fully grown (and how!). A lost and lonely duckling, much like Tiny, she's discovered shivering in a freshly dug post hole, which betrays the attention paid to it by Tiny's nemesis, a wild hog called Lockjaw, who enjoys tearing up Tiny's fences just as much as he …

To Say Nothing Of The Dog by Connie Willis