The Mindful Manifesto by Jonty Heaversedge & Ed Halliwell
Introduced by Marva Jackson Lord, a Jamaican Canadian singer who lives in Wales. She produces a monthly poetry night in Hay-on-Wye.
A few years ago I accepted an internet advertisement to receive a free copy of a book called The Mindful Manifesto in exchange for a review. To my surprise, the book arrived a couple of days later and I began reading it. Within a few pages, I knew that if I wanted to review this book I needed to try out the practice, as I had meditated on and off over the years but had never committed to a practice. Gradually the method grew on me and I became an addict to the Idea of Mindfulness. I quickly recovered from the addiction as I saw what appeared to be a global mindfulness fad developing. I recalled the effects of the ‘painter pants’ fad of my teen years. However, I wasn’t put off. I kept learning, and developed a deeper understanding of what mindfulness practice truly is, more clarity about myself, and now mindfulness meditation is a part of my daily life. It simply makes sense.
I have been practicing mindfulness meditation for a few years now, mostly on my own, reading and listening to the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chödrön and others. I do not call myself a Buddhist although I embrace some of the philosophy and practice. I read and listen to many authors of motivational work, and I watch a lot of inspirational videos. This has helped me keep an open mind to learning and healing – emotional, spiritual, physical and psychological.
As a child I experienced a lot of trauma. However, I did not recognize myself as someone who had survived trauma until I was in my late forties. This meant that I kind of careened through life, trying to heal, often without realizing what I was doing. I did see therapists on and off, but the fact that my father had been a therapist meant that I was suspicious of the people who were trying to help me, something I had to face so that I could one day benefit from the healing. Today I am grateful to be able to see where I am in the present, and I practice living my best compassionate and fulfilled life.
I have known since my early twenties that I was prone to type 2 diabetes, but as a result of the depression, that I didn’t acknowledge at the time, I didn’t look after myself very well for many years. I had always been severely anemic and had a rough ride through menopause. When I noticed my metabolism had slowed, I couldn’t seem to commit to a regular exercise routine and I began eating a lot of fast food. I beat myself up, tolerating insults from others as my weight increased. But, I knew that my weight gain was not the source of my depression and low self esteem. I knew it was a symptom. I had to take better care of self not only for me, but also for my children. For many of us as black women, ‘Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.’ —Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light (1988)
I am grateful that I was able to allow myself to receive therapy at different points in my life. Not all therapy experiences were positive but I’ve taken the best from each one. But at the end of the day, I truly turned a corner for the better when I began to practice mindfulness meditation. Ever grateful.
Finally, as it is #NationalPoetryDay, a poem by Marva:
When I stumbled
On the poems
And joy mingled
As I read their words
Some, clothing for thoughts
They dared not speak
When my children
And knowing smiles
Have far to go
When I walked
The fields green
Inhaling the sun
Considering, I have
Always been here