On mindfulness (and, tangentially, on my deep appreciation of Christopher Walken)

Reader, I am too absorbed in my mindfulness CD right now to write a blog post for your pleasure.

Of course, I’ve been doing my nails as I am listening so I am pretty sure that I am missing the point.

This is a CD authored by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the University of Massachusetts’ Stress Reduction Clinic. He has a soothing voice, with faint undertones of Christopher Walken. To get an idea of what the CD sounds like, imagine if Walken was your father and reading you a bedtime story.

Puts me right to sleep.

Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “What comes out of paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally and as if your mind depended on it – nothing else than awareness.” It’s official, I did miss the point, although my nails do look fabulous in an earthy, Thanskgiving-esque brown.

It’s a great exercise for me to slow down – actually, to stop – and be aware. It doesn’t come easily. For me, the problem is not that the world moves too quickly for me, but rather that I move too quickly for myself. That can generate a lot of anxiety and generally unpleasantness of being.

Even with the description and definition of mindfulness that makes up the first part of the CD, Kabat-Zinn integrates meditation concepts and neuroscience in such an interesting way that it makes me want to take notes. (The point: it has been missed.)

I have yet to work my way through the CD contents in their entity, but I am already reminded of the book “My Stroke of Insight” by Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor (another neuroscientist!). In the book, she recounts the shift in perception she experienced as a result of a left brain haemorrhage at age 37 – in fact, I believe she even mentions how she now practices mindfulness.

I leave you with this (non-rhetorical) question, courtesy of the Stress Reduction Clinic: Can you question who you are and be comfortable with not knowing?


The experiences recounted in the two reads of the week would in and of themselves make anyone want to pick up mindfulness (if only as a coping mechanism).

Friends Don’t Let Friends Fly American Airlines |  Matthew Iglesias | Slate

A Trans-Atlantic Trip Turns Kafkaesque | Gary Shteyngart | New York Times

– Girl Friday

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