Danny is a registered nurse, happiness coach and mindfulness teacher who is trying to help people around the planet make sense of meditation.
He is a passionate advocate of mindfulness as a powerful yet simple and accessible tool for personal transformation.
He has been practicing meditation since 1995 and spent long periods on silent, intensive meditation retreats in Asia and the UK including a brief stint as a Buddhist monk.
He says: “mindfulness is a really easy practice. I’ve found it to be deeply transformative in my own life and the lives of many others.”
He lives in London, loves to get around on his motorbike, and is known to his friends and students as the ‘Monk on a Motorbike’.
He is presenter of the popular, and aptly named podcast, Monk on a Motorbike.
We recently caught up with Danny and he kindly agreed to write a few words on the practice of mindfulness and how it can be of benefit for our mental health.
“My first meditation teacher used say to me over and again ‘dare to keep it simple.’ It took me a long time to really understand what he meant.
In a world of increasing complexity where we revere multitasking, we are asked to balance careers and busy family and social lives, attend to the pings, dings and rings of our devices and stay on top of implausibly long to-do lists.
And if we do not pull all this off with effortless ease and make it look like we are living the Instagram dream we consider ourselves failures.
That is before we factor in Coronavirus, lockdown, isolation, racial injustice, climate change, the tanking economy and anything else you care to throw into the mix.
It all seems so complicated and overwhelming; so, anxiety-inducing does it not? In the face of all this, it takes strength and courage to keep it simple. Mindfulness is a great way to do this.
At its most simple, mindfulness is just about noticing stuff. Right now. Not thinking about what happened ten minutes ago or what might happen tomorrow, but whatever is going on right now.
It is about taking the time to really notice the flavour of the food you are eating and not checking your newsfeed at the same time. It is about taking a moment to notice the beauty of a flower when you are out for a walk. It is about feeling the sensations of the water on your hands as you do the dishes. It is about finding joy in the mundane, the routine.
This simple act of stopping and taking notice pays rich dividends. There is the simple joy of a pleasure savoured which can stimulate a cascade of happy chemicals in the brain for starters.
Equally importantly it cuts into our endless stream of often negative self-talk and opens up some mental space.
This pause is deeply empowering because it gives us a moment in which we can choose a different response, a different storyline, instead of reacting blindly to whatever is going on. From here we can make better decisions and reclaim our sense of agency, of control over our lives. This is no small thing.
Sure, there is more to mindfulness meditation than this, but if we just practiced noticing more stuff every day and were caught up in our thoughts less of the time, then our lives would change for the better.
And sure, it might feel like it takes courage and strength to resist the urge to get lost in distraction. But it is something we are all capable of doing.
Perhaps if we all dared to keep it simple, we could achieve the seemingly, impossibly complex task of making a better future for us all right now.
Go on. I dare you!”