I am the type of person who spends a good chunk of her time anywhere but in the present. I brood about the past and angst over my future. Is angst a verb? It is when it pertains to me, anyway.
I rely on my volunteering and my arts patronage to transport me into the present, to take me to a place where I am “being” or “doing.” But I want to be present more often. I want to be still more often.
I’ve started dabbling in meditation. I did a free meditation course sponsored by Deepak Chopra and Oprah a few months ago. I meditated for 20 minutes daily and I did feel more calm and relaxed. But then the course ended and life got busier and busier.
Recently, I found out about Mindful magazine through my health insurance provider. I liked the sound of becoming more mindful. Whatever that meant.
Cut to last weekend, when I volunteered at and attended the Boston Book Festival. Lo and behold, the “mother of mindfulness” was speaking at a session called “Conscious Choice and Mindful Living.” Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard, is one hot ticket. She is whip-smart and very witty. She wrote a book about mindfulness 25 years ago and has been conducting research on the mind/body connection for decades. The tidbits of research she shared were fascinating. I’m planning to read all of her books.
She explained the difference between meditation and mindfulness this way (paraphrased): When practicing meditation, stray thoughts appear and you just let them float by. When practicing mindfulness, stray thoughts appear and you “attack” them. You engage with them and then let them go.
Her co-presenter, Peter Georgescu, was also fascinating. He overcame the experience of working in a labor camp in Communist Romania as a child to become the CEO of Young and Rubicam. His recent book seems to be part memoir and part philosophizing about the choices we make to be good or evil.
So I’m excited to see what works for me: meditation, mindfulness, or maybe a combination. Do you practice either or both? I would enjoy hearing about your experiences!