When I was a young woman I was a film and sound editor in the New Zealand film industry. I worked on many projects – some of which were good and some of which have gone the way of all things, perhaps thankfully. I very much enjoyed this work: it was intense, creative and provided a way of compulsively distracting myself from my back pain. Of course this method of pain management was not at all intelligent and eventually led to a complete crash; but for a time I was gainfully employed in enjoyable work.

One of my lesser known skills is that I know how to create the sound of a head hitting the tarmac in a fight scene. Plunge a knife into a cabbage and slow the sound down and it is remarkably authentic. I know how to create atmosphere and a 'soundscape' by adding a dog barking in the distance in a night scene. And I know many such tricks of the trade when designing sound for a feature film or drama.

So, isn't it strange how this week I found myself in a recording studio for 4 full-on afternoons recording the audio version of my new book 'Mindfulness for Health'. Here I was dealing with microphones, sound quality and feeding my obsessive side again – in the fabulous company of Jenny Leow from Strathmore Publications, based in London. She and I come out of the same mould and the jury is out as to which one of us is the bossier. I, of course, think Jenny was much more bossy than me, but she may disagree. It is really rewarding to find a new outlet for my recording experience – especially when produced by someone who is as fussy as me when it comes to quality.

At one point we were both sitting there with our headphones on, intensely working away, when we both heard a 'squeak, squeak' in the background. "What was that?" we cried out to one another. And then it came again "squeak, squeak". She said, "It's an owl". I said, "no way" and didn't believe her and said, "go and ask Matt" (the guy who runs the studio). Sure enough, she came back and said it was indeed a local owl that sometimes comes out for a little daytime calling. For some reason he/she was quite chatty on this particular occasion so we had to wait for the owl to go back to sleep. We think we didn't record over it, but perhaps we could have a competition when the audiobook comes out to see if any really sensitive listener can spot the owl call that may have escaped our brutal editing.

The audio version of the book comes out at the same time as the print version on Sept 5th. I am so very happy about this as I know many of the people who could benefit from the book can't read a print version for one reason or another: they may be visually impaired; they may suffer from paralysis; they may just be too tired to hold a book. I hope all the work and, perhaps somewhat unhealthy feeding of my obsessive side, bears fruit for future listeners who want to learn how to apply mindfulness and compassion to their health difficulties and to learn to live as well as possible.

Vidyamala Burch

June 2013