Our coffee is served in two tiny mugs, one black and one yellow, each with a matching saucer.
“Oh it’s beautiful,” mindfulness teacher Dean Mundey tells the waiter, looking at the foam art – a heart and a leaf – neatly presented on top of each caffeinated beverage.
Deeply inhaling the smell of the piccolo lattes, my salivary glands begin to do their work to encourage that first delectable sip.
I’ve just had my first taste of mindfulness, defined by scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn as the awareness that arises by paying attention on purpose to the present moment without judgment.
“The without judgment part is pretty tricky because as humans we are meaning makers and to make meanings we have to make judgements,” Mr Mundey said.
“When we’re saying without judgment we're not really saying some impossible state of not being judgmental, but being open and maybe even kind with our judgements.”
Mindfulness is a key theme in this year’s Tamar Valley Peace Festival, and Mr Mundey is careful about how he positions mindfulness and peace.
“Mindfulness is often presented with people in peaceful positions, they’re often beautiful people, slim bodies, they are often white, in a beautiful location and it has this aura of peace… I don't think that’s entirely helpful, as mindfulness is not about trying to cultivate a state of peace,” he said.
“It’s a meditation process ultimately about paying attention to the present moment, which can often be far from peaceful, and consequently reducing our habitual and often unhelpful reactivity. We may then make more thoughtful choices about how we respond to life’s circumstances. That’s where the peace part comes in, as our reactivity can bring a lot of suffering to ourselves and others in our day to day lives.”
After working for two decades in higher education, Mr Mundey came into contact with Pamela Lovell, the director of Mindful Intent. The Hobart-based organisation aims to bring the principles and practice of mindfulness to organisations and individuals across the country, to help increase productivity, satisfaction and personal happiness. Now he runs an eight-week program for Mindful Intent in Launceston, based on the theory developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “It’s the program that’s had most of the research done on it because it was developed in a medical context and in a university context, and that’s probably what has contributed to the boom in mindfulness in public discussion in the past five years,” Mr Mundey said. A free two hour Mindfulness taster will be part of the Peace Festival on Saturday, July 30.