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When disaster strikes, no matter how many mindfulness meditations we’ve practised, it can often cause panic, despair and uncertainty. Anita Chaudhuri discovers real calm is a practice, rather than a state of being…

This time last year, I completed the eight-week mindfulness training, as pioneered by American microbiologist and all-round super guru Jon Kabat-Zinn. By the end of the course, I was positively Zen-like. I couldn’t wait to get out there and live life as the non-excitable, never remotely hyper nor shouty, new me. I didn’t quite go out and buy myself a shiny gold halo, but that’s only because I was too busy boasting about my transformation to anyone who could be bothered to listen.

Fast-forward to the present. Did I manage to experience a whole year in that blissed-out, unruffled state? Er, not exactly. And that’s actually a good thing. As Psychologies’ book Real Calm (John Wiley & Sons, £9.99), reveals, a little bit of stress and adrenaline, now and then, can help us to become more resilient, better able to cope with the unexpected and more willing to take risks.

The one thing I discovered on my mindfulness journey, backed up by the panel of experts interviewed for Real Calm, is that even the best strategies in the world can’t completely inoculate us from those gut-churning moments when crisis hits. If you arrive home to find that your house has been burgled, or you’re handed your P45, or a child gets ill, no meditation technique exists to make the pain magically disappear. But the good news is that, with practice, you can learn to deal with difficult situations more effectively when they arise.

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Psychologies June 2017 - Real Calm