What does it mean to be mindful?

Without wishing to attract accusations of taking this blog too deeply up its own back passage, I feel compelled to admit that the on-and-off debate about whether a full-on techie life can help or hinder happy immersion in the world around us has led me into potentially dubious territory (regular readers – hi Mum! – will know that this follows on from a piece I wrote a while back, and Rich’s more recent account of his own personal journey here).

By this I mean I’m beginning to suspect that the answer to all life’s ills – from smoking, eating and drinking too much to (for all I know) the crisis in the Middle East and global pandemics – comes down to a slippery but seductive concept called… mindfulness.

I’m going out on a limb here because I honestly don’t really know what mindfulness actually is. And I’m nervous because, as a committed rationalist, I have an in-built fear of anything that sounds or smells like it was thought up anywhere near a mountaintop by men and women in excessively baggy or too little clothing.

As far as I can tell from what little I’ve read, mindfulness is all about living in the here-and-now rather than in the future or the past, which sounds trite but when you actually realise this involves completely stopping focusing at all on goals and objectives is, frankly, terrifying.

One of the most interesting pieces I’ve come across so far in my quest to learn more is this, from the authors of The Mindful Manifesto, which I found appealing because it deals head on with the intersection between mindfulness and science.

Anyhow, I have no more to offer at this stage because there’s no more I know! But if any of the more wonky of you out there are still feeling sceptical, just remember this: Geoff Mulgan, one-time top advisor to Blair, now director of the Young Foundation, and one of the few people to be mentioned in only positive terms in Alastair Campbell’s diaries, trained as a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka. I shit you not.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

3 thoughts on “What does it mean to be mindful?”

  1. Thanks a lot Ed, that’s very kind. I’ve ordered your manifesto and am v much looking forward to finding out more!

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