Review: Being Present: Cultivate a Peaceful Mind through Spiritual Practice

Author Darren Cockburn’s debut title Being Present: Cultivate a Peaceful Mind through Spiritual Practice is an alluring and grounded take on mental, physical, and spiritual presence.

The piece is very approachable and speaks to the layman with it’s by using succinct and digestible prose. It avoids many of the tropes associated with New Age and spiritual literature by skirting around convoluted and nebulous concepts with practical language and ideals that can be implemented by a vast majority of the population. This is most likely the result of Darren’s background in Buddhism, a philosophy famous for it’s pragmatism.

I’ve found that when discussing health and spirituality language is key and Darren manages to sound both insightful and matter of fact without being preachy or overzealous. It is because of this that it serves as both a primer for the uninitiated and a great reference for those who may be a bit further along in their practice.

Being Present is very workmanlike in it’s aspirations. It posits that through attentiveness, breath-work, meditation, and improved diet and/or exercise regimens we can begin to development a more complete living experience.

At the end of each chapter is a summary of the key ideas called Points For Reflection. These summations do an excellent job of highlighting information so that we may revisit or undergird each teaching for future reference. These sections alone if combined would make an excellent pamphlet for those on the go or in need of a constant reminder for improving their relationships with themselves. 

The only real point of contention here would be that Being Present doesn’t really say much that hasn’t been said before. If you are somewhat well-versed in the burgeoning “common sense” spiritual movements of recent years (which tend to be rooted in the more grounded sects of Eastern thought as well), or an advanced practitioner of these ideas, this piece is highly unlikely to offer too many new insights. Fortunately for most however, that is by no means a bad thing.

Overall, Darren’s debut is fantastic and is something i’d recommend to just about anyone looking to modify their lifestyle. It knows what it is, understands where it wants to go, and is an insightful read because of this. The title doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it simply reminds us how it works and I think this is why I enjoyed it so much. I respect that it opts to bestow us with methods to improve ourselves so that we may begin to understand or revisit complex topics in the future with renewed perspective, as opposed to trying to wrangle too many airy-fairy concepts and intimations. By obtaining a better brand of self-awareness, we are then able to construct a more purposeful worldview, one facet at a time. One hand washes the other and by being attentive and astute in regards to your personal needs, you will begin to see results in other areas of your life.

It doesn’t seem too farfetched then when we begin to say that perhaps the way to a healthier existence will require holistic solutions as opposed to reductionistic ones and “Presence” is the byproduct of those solutions.

For more information on Darren and his book, check out this interview.

Purchase: Being Present: Cultivate a Peaceful Mind through Spiritual Practice