Under the bonnet. Can we learn to repair ourselves?

Some people drive a car with no idea how it works.

This is OK while the car is performing, but when it breaks down, there’s a problem, which may leave them stranded, frustrated or in a panic.

If they understood how the car worked, much of the terror would be gone; they’d know how to deal with it. They may even be able to fix it themselves.

Mindfulness is like car maintenance. It’s a science of human understanding, revealing how we work.

It’s a science because it involves investigation and testing; it involves looking and learning, noticing things about ourselves which life has trained us not to see.

As I walk home from the station, for instance, I am surprised by disturbance from nowhere.

A thought appears in my head, and then a strong feeling, arising from the thought, follows it.

Suddenly, I am snatched from my state of serenity, like one kidnapped; I am abducted into disturbance and I trace back the mechanics of how it happened.

Unravelling these two strands of experience – thought and feeling – reveals the restless movement of my mind, how my feelings are constructed and what they do to my body.

I see that my restless mind is doing this all the time, not just on the walk from the station.

It’s like the first session of a car maintenance course.