During the 1970s Christopher Titmuss spent six years as a Buddhist monk in Thailand and India where he learned about and practiced mindfulness and insight meditation. The author of many spiritual books, he now leads insight meditation retreats. This beautifully illustrated volume focuses on the value of mindfulness, which the author believes "changes our relationship to daily life so that we feel more in tune with ourselves, with others, and with what is happening around us." There are thematic sections on mindfulness of activities, of energy, and of inner life.
According to Titmuss, if we are to take mindfulness seriously, we must address the mind's habit of clinging. The antidote is the spiritual practice of renunciation. "Instead of thinking in terms of being 'upwardly mobile,' we should consider becoming 'downwardly mobile,' and adopt a philosophy of life that values less rather than more, contentment rather than desire, a connection with what is, rather than chasing after what we want. When we ground ourselves in the here and now, it takes the pressure off our desire for accomplishments. This will take some of the pressure off our existence and, equally, off the disappearing resources of the natural world."
He also sees a place for renunciation in cutting back a particular pattern of speech, whether anger, gossip, or complaining. He suggests we start the day with a commitment to let go of the impulse to use unwise speech. "Try to make your speech unhurried, calm, and thoughtful, even in the face of provocation, so that in the renunciation of unhealthy speech, wholesome speech comes naturally."
Titmuss writes gracefully about mindfulness in many kinds of relationships. To enhance friendship, he suggests writing a prayer, observing noble silence when there is the urge for negativity, listening to the kind voice within rather than the harsh judge, developing generosity of spirit, and remembering to treat others as we would have them treat us. The author relates mindfulness to patience, compassion, making changes, and much more. This is a cogent and engaging work on a subject that far too often is treated unimaginatively.