When I first discovered mindfulness back in the late 1990s my Tibetan Buddhist teacher at the time taught me a phrase which I have used ever since. Reality is a field of potential. At first it seemed just like one of those New Age, Eastern spiritual quotes that suggest a lot but actually don’t make sense when examined.

But I pondered it over the years. At the same time I dropped or adapted aspects of my Buddhist teachings, and added the latest neuroscience findings and psychological insights into the mix of what is now the secular form of mindfulness that I teach.

Over time the phrase started to be reworked in my brain.

Reality is a field of potential.

Reality, we are constantly reminded in our mindfulness practice, only exists in the present moment. Therefore the phrase can be reworded as The present moment is a field of potential. That struck me as less abstract, and of greater practical application in my life.

But I had still to decipher or clarify what the field of potential meant.

Then the wonders of the human brain came to help. When we practice mindfulness and study the science that it rests upon, we start to see that in most everyday situations our mind works automatically – that is it creates moods, emotions, reactions and thoughts without our conscious input. It’s more like the music app Spotify’s option of Shuffle Play. This allows you to choose an album but the app then randomly chooses which song gets played one after another.

If we don’t intervene on our mind’s creations of feelings and thoughts then we have no choice. We are, in those moments, the slave of our automatic mind. But if we are mindful, we can notice this automatic mental production run as it occurs, and if we feel that what the mind has produced is not healthy or appropriate at that time we can let the thought go.

Then all of a sudden everything opens up, wide and deep and fresh and alive. We are no longer on automatic. This means we can choose among a million options in the next moment. Do you want to sing? Dance? Stay quiet? Look at the trees outside? Check your emails? And so on.

This is the field of potential in the phrase above. The field represents the infinite choices we now have available to us. We are liberated for a moment from our automatic mind and what is produced. The potential means, with clear thinking, we have the potential to create something special in this new moment of our life. With kindness we can make someone’s day in the moment. With intelligence we can solve a problem or help make a situation better. With creativity we can write a poem, sketch something of beauty.

Which brings me to a beautiful new book which I’m still reading. It’s a called The Mindful Day by Laurie J Cameron. As some of you may know by now, I am pretty fussy when it comes to books of any genre. Most seem to me dry, unoriginal, often lacking in insight or passion. The Mindful Day is a joy to read. It combines a flowing narrative with clear explanations of what being mindful is like in real life. It covers the science in a neat way, sprinkled through the book so that it remains relevant to the topics covered chapter by chapter.

It is also an easy read, structured as a series of short chapters most of which are only four to five pages long, and each chapter has a How? section giving examples of ways to try to bring mindfulness into that aspect of your day.

Laurie has worked with some of the world’s largest corporations so a fair amount of the book covers how to be mindful at work. She does so in a refreshing, open way, recognising common negative traits most of us feel at times in the workplace. Boredom at meetings, loss of focus at the desk, stress and tiredness and all the things you have personally experienced.

She also covers important parts of our life that are increasingly squeezed out by our use of technology and mass entertainment. The joys of personal relationships, and our innate connection with the natural world are movingly covered, as are the benefits of doing these things with a quiet sense of attention, appreciation and gratitude.

The books covers from the moment we wake up to our last thoughts at night, and most of what we would normally do in between. There are so many suggestions and practices in the book that I’d caution you to start with one or two, build them into habits first, then slowly but surely add on more and more, so that your life becomes intertwined with your mindfulness practice. Ultimately in my view that’s what true mindfulness is, just living your life more fully, more appreciatively, more altruistically and joyfully precisely because you are mindful of what life offers moment by moment. Mindfulness is not a set of practices you do while you take a pause from real life. Mindfulness is living real life properly.

So I’d very highly recommend this book, and hope you work with it to nurture your mindfulness qualities as well as enjoy the reading of it.

So back to reality as a field of potential. You have moments, thousands of them each and every day. Each one gives you a potential choice; to do whatever your mind randomly creates in that instant, or, with the help and insights gained from Laurie’s book, to transform each one into something better, something special, something worthy of this precious life we have.