I recently caught the story of Ursula Populoh, a fibers-enthusiast who has begun an undergraduate course in Fiber Arts at the age of 70 at The Maryland Institute College of Art,
Mrs. Populoh grew up in Germany during the aftermath of the Second World War, and after emigrating to America, she focused on running a business and raising a family, not having the opportunity to pursue secondary education until recently. From an interview in Juxtapositions:
“We walked by a studio, and I saw a dress form,” she explained. “I started to cry, because I wanted so badly to be here..”
It took a long walk in the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain for a friend to issue the final encouragement which convinced Ursula to pursue her dream.
“I remember so clearly when we walked up this steep hill, and she said, ‘Well, go.’ And I looked at her as if she would have lost her marbles. I said, ‘I cannot go to college, I am 70.’ And she said, ‘So? You have the time.'”
Ursula’s commitment to her dream is an inspiring reminder that life does not progress in neat or predictable packages. Despite what others might want us to say or feel, richness comes when our individual path diverges from that of others.
“The exchange of thoughts of the perspective I have compared to my classmates in their 20s is really interesting. Because, when we talked about feminism, I can tell them what Germany was like when I was 20…When I told them when I was a child-no TV, no anything-they cannot even imagine being without social media. I think that’s really, really interesting.”.
You can read the full article about Ursula here, and watch a lovely video of her below.
Jack Cheng, a Shanghai-born, U.S.-based writer, has recently published an article on ‘The Slow Web,’ a movement aimed at cultivating a more mindful relationship with the Internet and digital technologies.
“..Timeliness. Rhythm. Moderation. These things dovetail into what I consider the biggest difference between ‘Slow Web’ and ‘Fast Web’. Fast Web is about information. Slow Web is about knowledge. Information passes through you; knowledge dissolves into you.”
One of the outcomes of a regular mindfulness practice is the ability to more easily absorb distinct pieces of information. The way we use our tools — for both learning and labor — reflects our aspirations and supports a specific way of being in the world. Increased concentration means knowing our limits and using all our senses to skillfully string together moments of awareness.
“Fast Web is destination-based. Slow Web is interaction based.”
I aim to run Living with Mindfulness in a Slow Web fashion: publishing material after several rounds of proof-reading, posting the most relevant articles only after I’ve read them thoroughly, and not spending too much time worrying about how many times a web page has been viewed.
I’d recommend reading Jack’s article, and, if you’d like to, please leave any thoughts about how you practice mindfulness on the Internet in the comments below.
Paula Kuitenbrouwer keeps a lovely online portfolio and shop of “Mindful Drawings.” Most masterful artists would likely have developed a refined quality of mindfulness, but Paula’s work breathes from a deep and clearly-articulated intention to work from a place of mindfulness.
“I carefully prepare my drawing session by laying out all the tools. I think long about what I want, and I pay attention to the composition. I also do research, because I like to know what I am drawing. When I draw a bird, I study that bird in real as well as with the helps of books. When I draw a flower, I have it seen in nature or it is right before me on my table. I read about the flower, and I like to study and know its Latin name. The same counts for bugs: I do not draw any bug I haven’t seen or studied.”
More examples on the Mindful Drawing website
“I meditate. I don’t look at my mobile device. The greatest days are where I take the time to be silent.” – Oprah Winfrey
via Third Metric
Third Metric is redefining success beyond money and power, to include well-being, wisdom, wonder and our ability to make a difference in the world.
Zen Habits author Leo Babauta has embarked on a “Year of Living Without” Project. It’s an experiment to fine-tune his lifestyle in order to “Make Room for Life”
This approach is in line with how I view a lot of my own Mindful Living practices, and people who know me well might share that I’ll often undertake these kinds of projects as well; sometimes out of curiosity, sometimes out of necessity.
For Leo, July was no coffee month and he claims he” had absolutely no difficulty in giving up coffee, not the first day, not the first week, not at all..”
Next month, Leo will not be sitting down for more than 30 minutes at a time, a big move for anyone whose work requires them to be connected to the internet.
Read more on Leo’s blog.
Last week blogger Andrew Price shared his story of turning to meditation to help overcome “Internet Brain,” which he described as “..jumping from one diverting link to another, and sampling little snippets of text and imagery for as long as they hold your increasingly attenuated attention… [a]ny task that requires the sustained and focused application of your brain has become impossible.”
Anyone who has sat down on social media for any significant length of time could likely relate to this experience. It’s not a fun to emerge from a session of internetting (for yourself or an employer), with a fuzzy brain, and wondering if you accomplished anything at all.
So how does mindfulness relate?
Mindfulness meditation helps us become familiar with the inner urges which would make us jump from one thing to the next, be it a webpage, a candybar, or tv show. It helps us to keep our values and intentions in mind while we open ourselves to information in the world around us.
When meditating regularly, my work life is much easier. I can take a break in the middle of a larger project to look up a critical piece of information or check for an important email and then catch myself immediately if I start to get sidetracked. I found that I can work consistently and productively for longer periods of time—and this means that I have more free time as well.
In her film Connected, director Tiffany Schlain explores the idea of being and feeling “connected” in the age of the internet. What she shares about her personal experience, studies in brain chemistry, and attempting to ‘de-tox’ from technology once-a-week, is a wonderful exploration in mindful living in the age of “Internet Brain”
If you’re interested in learning mindfulness practice, send me an email at email@example.com to discuss one-on-one or group coaching, in-person or, ironically, through the internet.
“I may be weird, but I’m also in charge of the company.’
– Mark Bertolinin, CEO of Aetna, Mindfulness-at-work Advocate.
A recent article by Peter S. Goodman tracks some of the corporate wellness programs that utilize “Mindfulness,” “Meditation” or more broadly branded programs like Chade Meng-Tan’s “Search Inside Yourself” to promote employee well-being.
“Approximately one-fourth of all major American employers now deliver some version of stress reduction..”
“Aetna determined that workers in its most stress-prone positions were racking up medical bills that exceeded those of other employees by an average of $2,000 a year. Last year, Aetna reduced its health care costs by 7 percent — a savings the CEO pegs in part to limiting stress through meditation and yoga.”
“I have so many action items on my plate at all times that I can’t ever get my brain clear,” Kubly says. “This is a chance to just clear out. If you’re doing what is right for yourself, then you’re doing what is right for your organization. You get clarity, and that helps you make better decisions.”
And the article goes on to explore the link between well-being, profit, long-term & short-term costs and ‘conscious capitalism.’
“A business enterprise can be far more than a bunch of numbers that create a bottom line and return profit to shareholders,” Linton says. “Businesses have an opportunity, just like people, to say, ‘What are we here for?’ My goal is to align the self-actualization of the business with the self-actualization of the people who actually work here.”
“The popularity of the wellness initiatives amounts to a recruiting tool, say the company’s human resources people. Such programs also help explain why 91 percent of Promega’s employees stick around from one year to the next, according to the company, minimizing disruptions and holding down training costs.”
Mindfulness is becoming super-popular in corporate circles, but the basic practice is still the same:
“If at any point during our meditation you feel yourself losing focus, like you feel the workday creeping back in, the breath is always available,” Lyle says. “The breath can anchor us into the moment.”
If you’d like to read the full article from the Huffington Post here.
If you haven’t yet been acquainted with Tuna the Chiweenie, he is a rescue dog made famous for his heart-opening powers of cuteness. His owner, Courtney Dasher, keeps a well-curated Instagram with over 400,00o followers, which captures the daily life of this vulnerable little being.
Looking at photos of Tuna reminds me that even when life is difficult, there are lovely, loving beings like Tuna, who persevere despite lacking evolutionary conveniences like opposable thumbs and credit cards. Thanks, Tuna, for your inspiring perseverance.