Had a fantastic experience at the City Hall last Thursday. No flags, no police, no argy-bargy, just 350 people all gathered for a morning of Mindfulness.
This is the practice of bringing your attention to your breathing, your body, your physical presence in the here and now. Sitting usually. We sat and listened to a man who left Belfast in the early Seventies and after travelling the world ended up falling in love with the Buddhist way of living, with meditation and the benefits it brings for our mental and physical health. This man, Paul Haller, has now retired as Abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center and is back in his native city for a short while.
The simplicity of bringing your attention to your breathing and noticing your thoughts and feelings as opposed to simply thinking and feeling them, is quietly revolutionary. And free. And there's no huge goal to achieve or place to get to. Practice, it's called. And everyone can practise. You don't need to wear lycra or have a mat.
You don't have to be a famous Buddhist like Richard Gere or Sarah Jessica Parker either. You just have to sit and breathe and be you. Results show that practising mindfulness reduces stress and increases wellbeing. Well done City Hall for giving us this taste of self-help in action.