If you’re a Londoner then you’ll know that living with Londoners is like living with lions. Commuting on the train is like hunting for a breakfast-kill with a whole pack of competitors, when the only rule of this jungle is ‘always remain silent’. You may cough, page-turn or ‘tut’ loudly at anyone who doesn’t understand the unspoken rule of silence (or can’t grasp the act of balancing). All other activity must be conducted silently, breathing included. Most days I’m surprised I’ve survived.

Until a few months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to describe any of the faces I see on the morning commute and probably wouldn’t even recognise someone if I saw them again.

We often allow ourselves to be physically, but not mentally, present and I’m ‘exhibit A’ of someone easily distracted. It’s easy to slip into the cycle of something as automatic as getting into work, but practicing mindfulness and the art of remaining present could benefit your life in more ways than just remembering a stranger’s face.

There are different kinds of meditation and it can all become a bit complex to grasp. ‘Mindfulness meditation’ can sound a bit contradictory, especially as the aim of basic meditation is essentially to practice mindlessness.

Jon Kabat-Zin, creator of the Center for Mindfulness, describes it best:

‘“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;
On purpose,
in the present moment, and

To be mindful is to be consciously and purposefully aware. When commuting, I’m aware I’m on a moving train train, but may already be planning my day. It saves time but also means missing out on the now. It’s common to think or reminisce of the past or similarly plan for the future, but it takes practice to be able to remain mindfully present and so long as there is distraction this will always remain. The trick isn’t to be without distraction, but to learn how to bring your mind back into focusing on the present moment even on a packed train, squished under a sweaty armpit.

Before I began meditating, I experienced regularly intense dreams and would often wake exhausted after a full 8 hours. Some nights I’d be beating off crowds of robot clowns with a doll-sized John Lennon – all in Istanbul. I didn’t have the first clue about meditation or mindfulness. I’m glad to say the vivid dreams graually stopped.. Although John Lennon still features heavily just as he should.

Psychologists believe that memories which hold strong emotion are more easily recalled than memories holding no emotion.

I remember being 7 years old and waking up to find my mum and sister shrieking and in tears because Princess Diana had died. I didn’t know who Princess Diana was but remember crying anyway – mainly because I was sure I’d done something wrong. I can still recall the sounds and smells of that moment. The same goes for the 9.11 tragedy – and I’m sure you have a powerful memory of where you were too. But it’s not just moments of extreme sadness or happiness to which we can readily gain access. Through practicing mindfulness I now have better access to more vivid and memorable memories. At the end of each day it’s useful to take 5 minutes to recap on the day which has passed, allowing the mind to travel fluidly through the day from rise to rest. I usually think through what my eyes have seen, what I have eaten, the feelings, smells and sensations I’ve felt at each point of the day and then allow that energy to pass through me and let it disappear. This is good practice for putting your mind to rest and preparing for sleep with an empty mind. Mindfulness is also commonly useful for managing emotional situations by not passing judgment, but rather observing mindfully. This is thought to have great positive impact on the mind and body.

In recent years, mindfulness has had more media attention– with the help of the Headspace app and I’m glad more attention has been drawn to what really should be a staple practice. Meditation is no longer an act pinned to exotic yogi’s or wayward travelers, it’s recognized as a common practice in both modern and ancient society.

If you’re a beginner and looking to take up the art of meditation, practicing awareness or mindfulness then I would suggest you read Osho’s ‘Awareness- The Key To Living In Balance’.

Also check out the Headspace website https://www.headspace.com/

In a world of full of constant distraction, practicing mindfulness is key to survival, sanity and keeping your mind healthy.