Today, an interesting conversation between Tami Simon from Sounds True and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder and director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts, whose trailblazing research has helped bring mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine. Jon is the author of Wherever You Go, There You Are, and with Sounds True he has created many unique audio programs, including Adventures in Mindfulness and the Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series. In this episode, Tami speaks with Jon about the role of science in validating mindfulness practice, the 180-degree shift that lets us rest in awareness instead of identifying with our thoughts, and the potential renaissance in the world that may arise from a “mindfulness revolution.” (73 minutes).
There’s much that’s been written about Mindfulness. If you believe the media, there’s a “revolution” afoot. Views on mindfulness vary. It strikes me that there’s validity to some of the critique (see, for example, this post by Chris Erdman, or this one by Mark Vernon (see especially his concluson in the final paragraph), but not all of it when one thinks about what “mindfulness” in its present incarnation actually is, and what it’s trying to do, the ends for which it is being used.
There’s an important secularity to its approach, one which many non-religious find useful. You’re more likely to attend a mindfulness workshop in the workplace than one on contemplative prayer. Notice the link above. Kabat-Zinn is the founder and director of the Stress Reduction Clinic. There are important health benefits, which cannot be underestimated.
Contemplative prayer (my preference), within the Christian tradition, might well produce similar outcomes. I am however not aware of the science to support this, contra the increasing amount of science being done in relation to mindfulness.
Anyway, have a listen to Jon Kabat-Zinn. You’ll find the podcast here.
A lot, always and rather constantly. Too much to mention in detail. Life is not an either-or situation or a success-failure situation. We're all a bit successful and a bit failed. The egg was cooked perfectly but the toast was burned. I'm a Wabi-Sabi sort of person I hope. Wabi-Sabi; the lovely Japanese idea about aesthetics that sees true beauty in the qualities of imperfection, incompleteness and impermanence. The beauty of the worn and well-loved thing. I failed badly with my formal education but the sky did not fall in - in fact the clouds parted and the sun came out.
What is the best way to allow children to become who they need to be?
To not loom over them too much and boss them about. To recognise they are essentially intelligent. I think children are pretty good at the start and it's our job to preserve them like that rather than to prepare them for the world. Let what is natural in them grow so they have a good sense of themselves. Give them a lot of freedom and trust. A happy child wants to learn. Look after their sense of security, their natural wisdom and the rest will work itself out.
There seems to be a lot about lately in everyday media on sex addiction and the pervasive and deeply damaging nature of pornography in a digital age… Barry Taylor offers some thoughts, and points to an interesting article in the Guardian. This video – Why Married Women Cheat – on a NZ media lifestyle page on the web. And finally the boys at Nomad feature an interview with Prof. Gail Dines, Wheelock College in Boston, where she is Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies and Chair of the American Studies Department. Dines is the author of PornLand: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality and in the interview she discusses themes from her book. You’ll find the interview here.
And of course there’s the Spike Jonze movie Her which again raises interesting themes for reflection and discussion. Questions like: “What is Love?” “How do we truly and genuinely love another person?” “Why is there an epidemic of loneliness?” etc.
‘Hiding is an act of freedom from the misunderstanding of others, especially in the enclosing world of oppressive secret government and private entities, attempting to name us, to anticipate us, to leave us with no place to hide and grow in ways unmanaged by a creeping necessity for absolute naming, absolute tracking and absolute control. Hiding is a bid for independence, from others, from mistaken ideas we have about our selves, from an oppressive and mistaken wish to keep us completely safe, completely ministered to, and therefore completely managed. Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside interference and control. Hiding leaves life to itself, to become more of itself. Hiding is the radical independence necessary for our emergence into the light of a proper human future.’
~ David Whyte, excerpted from his forthcoming collection of essays - Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and the Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. Sadly I couldn't track down any information on a publication date pr publisher details.
One of the most thought-provoking TV series that I’ve watched over the last couple of years was Breaking Bad.
“…The TV series Breaking Bad tells the story of Walter White, a one time high school chemistry teacher and suburban family man. After being diagnosed with lung cancer, he turns to producing and selling methamphetamine, his life ultimately descending into crime and violence. The series transcended cult status and is regarded as a modern classic of TV drama.
It's creator and executive producer, Vince Gilligan, is in conversation with Adam Spencer about the making of this iconic TV show.”
Catching up with some archived editions of ABC Radio show Poetica. It’s a nice follow on from yesterday’s post featuring Clive James. I’ll never forget listening to Colquhoun live in the New Plymouth library a few years ago. He’s a fine poet to hear live. His is a fascinating story.
Here’s part of the “promo” for the show.
“Glenn Colquhoun is a New Zealand poet and GP. After the breakup of his marriage he went to live in the small Maori community of Te Tii where he was taught to fish, to cook, and how to speak Maori. His first book of poems, The Art of Walking Upright, grew out of this experience and is a kind of extended love poem to Te Tii, its people, land and seascapes…”
I must say I’ve discovered Clive James – the poet – late in my life, and towards the end of his. My first encounter was by way of James’ translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. More latterly blogging friend Jason Goroncy has indirectly, by way of his excellent blog, provided some motivation to explore. This post (James’ sad and haunting poem “Sentenced to Life”) is a recent example. I also valued this audio podcast - Abundance in a Small Space: the poetry of Clive James, which aired on the 17th May 2014.
Here’s the “promo” for the show.
“Clive James has been writing poetry since the 1950s and his dedication to poetry has continued alongside his more high profile work as a TV host, critic and the writer of Unreliable Memoirs. In fact, James sees himself first and foremost as a poet. He has lived in the UK for five decades and has honorary degrees from the universities of Sydney and East Anglia. In this intimate program, James reads some of his favourite poems, and gives us a glimpse into his life, influences and writing practice. As he faces the biggest challenge of his life - battling two terminal illnesses, leukaemia and emphysema - the ABC’s foreign correspondent Mary Gearin recorded Clive James at his Cambridge house for this Poetica feature.”
In a podcast of a poetry reading by Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama’s I so appreciated his reading of the following poem. I appreciated too the references and thus the introduction to poets I hadn’t heard of before: Patrick Kavanagh, Christian Wiman, Jane Kenyon, Sinead Morrisey and Meg Kearney.
The Facts of Life
That you were born
and you will die.
That you will sometimes love enough
and sometimes not.
That you will lie
if only to yourself.
That you will get tired.
That you will learn most from the situations
you did not choose.
That there will be some things that move you
more than you can say.
That you will live
that you must be loved.
That you will avoid questions most urgently in need of
That you began as the fusion of a sperm and an egg
of two people who once were strangers
and may well still be.
That life isn’t fair.
That life is sometimes good
and sometimes better than good.
That life is often not so good.
That life is real
and if you can survive it, well,
survive it well
and meaning given
where meaning’s scarce.
That you will learn to live with regret.
That you will learn to live with respect.
That the structures that constrict you
may not be permanently constraining.
That you will probably be okay.
That you must accept change
before you die
but you will die anyway.
So you might as well live
and you might as well love.
You might as well love.
You might as well love.
Padraig O Tuama, from Sorry for Your Troubles (Canterbury Press, 2013)