Social psychologist Ellen Langer's unconventional studies have long suggested what brain science is now revealing: our experiences are formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. Naming something "play" rather than "work" can mean the difference between delight and drudgery. She is one of the early pioneers — along with figures like Jon Kabat-Zinn and Herbert Benson — in drawing a connection between mindlessness and unhappiness, between mindfulness and health. Dr. Langer describes mindfulness as achievable without meditation or yoga — as “the simple act of actively noticing things.”
I faked my way through all of them: the Christian retreats with my confirmation class in eighth grade, the retreat to help freshmen adjust to their first year of college, a spiritual retreat to find my true calling in life, a writer’s retreat.
Each week I write a weekly column trying to capture and replay a tiny bit of the incredible conversations and efforts taking place behind the scenes at On Being. Sometimes it's a listener's response on our Facebook page or a gorgeous photo on Instagram, but it's often intriguing. If you'd like to receive my column in your email inbox, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!
Hello! If you missed the most recent edition of my weekly On Being newsletter, here's the blog version to catch you up. A passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson taught us a new word, Parker Palmer and Lynn Ungar reminded us that work doesn't define you, a sweet mother/daughter yoga team made us smile, a lockpicker got us thinking about ethics, and so much more. If you'd like to receive it in your email inbox, sign up here.
Human memory is a sensory experience says psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Through his longtime research and innovation in trauma treatment, he shares what he's learning how bodywork like yoga or eye movement therapy can restore a sense of goodness and safety. And what he’s learning speaks to a resilience we can all cultivate in the face of the overwhelming events that after all make up the drama of culture, of news, of life.
Can a yoga class really make a difference in the midst of a war zone? Emily O'Dell on finding our way home.
Our capsule of inspiration for the week includes a new way forward for visualizing our work, fantasy, Epiphany, and the sage words of a French Buddhist monk.