Our book this month is Be Present In This Moment, a Practical Guide to Mindfulness by Tessa Watt.

The author Tessa Watt is based in London England where she has been practicing and teaching meditation for 20 years at the London Shambala Meditation Center. This book is not a new book. It was published in 2012.

Mindfulness is growing in popularity as a technique which teaches us to appreciate our life. This Practical Guide explores how to listen to your body to reduce stress and anxiety in all areas of your life; how to focus better at work by becoming more aware of what is happening in the present, and how to enjoy life more by bringing mindfulness into everyday actions. Free of jargon but full of straightforward advice, case studies and step-by-step instructions, this book makes the practice of mindfulness accessible.

Through mindfulness, you’re not trying to get calm, or relaxed or to become a better person. You are befriending the person you already are, and the place where you are, and you get to experience the present moment as it is. You’re not thinking about how you wish it would be, or how it could be, or how it was. You are simply experiencing the present moment as it is.

Mindfulness is an exercise in slowing down the mind, letting go of the racing thoughts. It’s not a theory, or a science. It’s a practice. I think of it like doing push-ups. Push-ups are something that done regularly. You don’t just do 10 perfect push-ups and say OK, good. I’ve done it, and now I’m set for life. Push-ups are the development and strengthening of a muscle. Mindfulness is just like that.

I’m a busy guy and my mind is full of projects. I find myself bouncing from the next initiative to be taken on a development project, to how I’m going to solve a staffing shortage, to how I’m going to solve a capital shortfall on another project, to the next topic for a podcast episode.

One of the most powerful exercises in the book is surprisingly simple. It involves eating a single raisin. Most of the time when I eat a handful of raisings I grab a handful out of the bag, and slam it back barely paying attention to what I’m eating. I’m probably on the phone while I’m grabbing a snack and raisins are not crunchy so they won’t interfere with the phone call. But this exercise is different. It involves eating a single raisin. You want to look at it carefully first, examining the exterior texture, the wrinkles, the shininess of the skin, the softness. Is it soft and malleable or hard and dry?

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally.

The exercise involves exploring the raising with all the senses. When you put it to your mouth, first run it along your lips. Notice how you mouth reacts to the raisin. Maybe your mouth starts to salivate. When you put the raisin in your mouth, taste it with different taste receptors in the mouth, on the tongue, on the cheeks. Bite into it and observe how it squishes. 

You probably never knew there was another way to eat a raisin. There is the usual way, and then there is a mindful way that involves being fully present. How did this raisin experience compare with your memory of eating raisins?

I’ve spent a lot of time studying the habits of high achievers. Ray Dalio from Bridgewater Associates, the largest Hedge fund in the world credits his success to his mindfulness practices. So many of the members of the mastermind that I belong to say the same thing. I hear over and over again how the shift to mindfulness practices changed their lives. How it improved their relationships, how it lowered their stress level, and how it brought inner peace.

This book is a workbook, designed to improve your mindfulness practices and create stronger habits.