It was only in the final chapters of my last book Sane New World did I begin to describe mindfulness and why it works. After it was published, mindfulness became the 'it' girl; the zeitgeist so I knew I was onto something. Maybe it was kismet or coincidence that I had just graduated but I thought, and clearly Penguin also thought, that my next book should be the quintessential manual on how to train your brain. In my book, I'll give you (and yet still approved by Mark Williams so you don't think I made it all up over the weekend) my six-week course on how to do mindfulness. I will always stick to my coda of keeping it funny because that's the greatest foreplay on earth. I've found scientific information is more easily swallowed when laughing. I mentioned neuroplasticity in the last book and no one even flinched. The brain is plastic, not set for life, it can change until just before you drop dead. MBCT trains you to intentionally re-wire your brain, by breaking those debilitating habits of thinking, "I'm a victim, I never do anything right, I'm too shy, etc."
In the book, I'll explain how to be mindful and yet still part this madness we call life; how to stay mindful at work when your boss throws a hissy fit. How to be mindful when your husband's driving and loses his direction for the 70th time, mindful when your kids tell you how boring you are and mindful when in the headlights of the on-coming school bully. I'll also give you my 'seven ages of man - mindfulness guide'. Exercises specifically for babies and their mothers, kids, teens, middle-aged, older aged and beyond. The brain is malleable right to the end of your life so you might as well learn to keep it serviced. Why not treat your brain as well as you do your car?
The point of mindfulness isn't to just sit in a tissue-lined box wrapped in self-obsession it's about learning to cool your engine before it burns you out. If you learn (it's mental training there is no magic pill) to be reflective rather than reactive it will have a hit on effect on everyone around you. We work like neural wifi; our state of mind is infectious it passes from you to the people around you, your family, your business, your community, your country and eventually the world.
You can tweet, blog, bitch and bore people senseless at dinner parties on how to improve the world but really in my opinion, what has to change first, is our thinking. The conflict is in our minds and we project onto the world as if something out there is making us feel demented. And without hammering the point, whatever's out there, we created, unless a meteorite hits then it's not our fault.
The only antidote for us to last into the future is to learn when to calm our minds down, even for a moment; to be able to put our fingers to sleep after an orgy of emailing. Consciously becoming aware that our brains need refuelling just as we know exactly when our car is on empty. If we try to drive with no petrol, in both cases the engine dies. Rather than using our brains to build yet another skyscraper, a flashier piece of software, a rocket to Neptune, we should take charge of our own mental technology. And that is exactly what my next book is about.
Wake The **** Up - A Mindfulness Guide For the Frazzled will be published in January 2016 by Penguin Random House
I'm talking about mindfulness at the St James' Theatre in London 2-14 March 2015. Hope to see you there.