Published October 1st 2017 by Rider Books
Full title: Inhale, Exhale, Repeat: A meditation handbook for every part of your day
Author: Emma Mills
Genre: Non-fiction/Personal Development
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“I don’t know about you, but I think life is precious.”
We’re all living faster, working harder, and often so busy we forget to take a moment to sit back, close our eyes, and just breathe. Yet this hectic lifestyle can get us down, making us lethargic, stressed, and burned out. So how do we break the cycle?
Inspired by traditional Eastern lessons of meditation and mindfulness, neuroscience, and insights from literature, Emma Mills offers fresh and simple tools to keep our minds healthy, from that early morning coffee through to the moment we climb into bed, without having to invest in expensive detox courses or far-flung retreats. She guides the reader through the course of a single day, with easy tips, meditations, recipes, literary recommendations, and practical takeaways that can be completed in a matter of minutes.
So just inhale, exhale, and repeat–and let a sense of calm and focus transform your day.
Earlier in the year when I was still studying towards my MA in Magzine Journalism, our class went to the PPA (Professional Publishers Association) Festival. There, they had a section dedication to mindfulness and mental wellbeing, and Emma Mills was one of the guests giving a talk.
She talked about meditation and how it can be implemented into our everyday life and activities, and then we did some guided meditation which was a really nice moment. One of the features of this book is also that Emma recommends poems and short stories that we should seek out and read. I’m a big reader anyway (really? I’d never have guessed!) so if reading poetry can become a form of being calm then I’m all for it.
I’ve tried mindfulness in the past to help me with my anxiety, and since I’ve recently come off medication, I decided to read this to see if I could find anything that would help, or give me any ideas about how to calm down on a particularly anxious day. The answer is, yes, but not as much as I’d hoped.
Emma takes you through your day, providing exercises and meditation techniques for each part of the day. When I read it, it sounds good in theory. Like, yes, this would be amazing if I could actually motivate myself to do it. I don’t connect well with things like meditation, and when I’ve tried it in the past it’s just made me more aware of my anxious feelings, or brought on my anxiety.
There are some really good things in this handbook though, and I liked the technique of organising your things for the next morning the night before, so that when you wake up you don’t need to bother, you can just get up and go. This is good for people who want to run or do exercise in the morning: have your kit ready and waiting.
The book also makes use of simple symbols to indicate what kind of meditations you are reading, and there’s also really nice illustrations throughout the book. My favourite is on page 86:
The illustration is about switching off from work. You get home, you’re tired and just need to relax. By changing your clothes and choosing something nice and cosy to wear (and a cute pair of socks) you’ll feel a lot better settling into your evening. This is the kind of stuff I can do, and that does actually work to calm me and make me feel better and less anxious.
One thing that I was put off by a little bit was how the layout of the daily routine assumes that the person goes out to work everyday to an office. YES the book does acknowledge that there are lots of different types of work, and some people may also be self-employed. But as someone who gets anxious about not having a job that requires going to an office everyday, I just found reading those sections a bit more difficult. Although, it’s easy enough to skip. But even then, you only have to look at the contents to see the layout and choice of content for the book is influenced heavily by the idea of the working day. And I could really do without that.
So, if you’re a busy working person and you need some meditation in your life, then this book is perfect for you. If you don’t have a job…maybe find another book on the subject to help you. If you’re self-employed like me, you can still get some great stuff out of this, and some lovely ideas for alternative meditation. Plus there’s lots of literature recommendations and further reading to delve into.
Link to the book on Goodreads: Inhale, Exhale, Repeat