When I worked in London I used to pass through Baker Street tube station every morning. This war memorial always caught my attention.

Baker Street war memorial

Baker Street station war memorial

 

What does this have to do with mindfulness? Quite a lot I think. Clinical mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn explained at the ‘Becoming Conscious: the Science of Mindfulness’ conference that mindfulness is: “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non judgementally”.

Reading the names of these soldiers on the stone plaque who, ‘left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of sight…giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom,’ always had the immediate impact of focusing my attention on the present moment. It’s easy to be negative about public transport in London: it’s over-priced, people are rude, it’s not clean enough, there’s never a seat…the list of complaints is endless. Taking a moment to read this plaque every morning reminded me to be grateful that our country is not at war, and that my friends and family are healthy.

I would normally stand in front of this plaque for a minute or two before catching the eastbound circle line train to euston square. I would then rush to the office and begin multi-tasking until the end of the day, but those two minutes were important.

It’s not easy to find stillness when you’re travelling through London, particularly in rush hour, but if you look hard enough then opportunities like this are dotted all over the city. The key is to stop inwardly complaining, stop rushing, stop checking your phone for a moment and look around – for me this plaque was a daily reminder to be present and grateful.

 

 

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