Maggi Summerhill: Learning the key skill of mindfulness

Posted on August 2, 2012

Photo credit: Trey Ratcliff –

I had to laugh out loud the other day.

We were all at the table having dinner a friend had joined us and there were lots of talking at laughing going on. Couldn’t quite follow what they were talking about as they were all interrupting each other, so I just ate my food and from time to time handed one the buttered bread (we are in Wales Y’know)and another the salt or ketchup. That’s until I noticed our friend looking a bit mystified. And then I laughed as I realized he couldn’t understand how I would know, he or the others wanting something without them asking.

Almost 30 years ago my stepfathers friend was turning 60 and decided to celebrate by throwing his nagging wife and daughter out and buy himself a Thai bride (as you do).

I was living and working in Madrid at the time and very rarely came back to Denmark, but a couple of years after this, I had a business meeting in Copenhagen and my stepfathers friend immediately offered I could stay with him and his new wife.

I arrived late at night and didn’t get to meet his wife (can’t remember her name) until breakfast the next morning. It was a splendid breakfast table with, eggs, rolls, salami, cheese, pastries and much more. Immediately as my then boyfriend and I sat down coffee was placed in front of us and throughout the whole meal we only have to vaguely think of what we wanted and it was there in front of us. Neither of us could work out how she knew in advance what we wanted, that’s until the other day when my friend looked so mystified.

I realized my acquired deafness had forced me to learn mindfulness, a key skill in Buddhist teaching – the faith of most Thai people. This entails being completely in the present and giving what you are doing your full attention. Of course at the dinner table I was playing the role of mother, wife and hostess and because I wouldn’t have heard it if anyone had asked me for the salt. over time I had simply learnt to make the observations necessary to ‘predict’ what they wanted.

Thanks for reading and I hope you will leave a comment. :)’

Maggi describes herself as a “self-made billionaire. No, that was just to grab your attention – If I had been more organized I probably would be a millionaire, alas, I spend two thirds of my life looking for something I’ve just put down…. somewhere. When I am productive I write…lots, I volunteer with Hearing Link, look after my children and walk the dog. You can follow her on Twitter as @maggisummerhill, check out her blog for Hearing Link and check out her online ‘writing for confidence’ course at

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