Andy Dayton, Associate Web Producer
Shortly before I dove into production on the Web site for this week’s program, Shiraz popped up in my Twitter feed with a little note:
is appreciating Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness presentation at Google. I wish I had heard of him 1,000 days ago.
This is how it often works. As the production process works its way forward, the material we’re covering hits us at different times. Krista watched this video even earlier during her interview preparation, and she brought it up in her conversation with Kabat-Zinn — asking him to do a guided meditation like the one in his presentation. (We actually ended up going with a clip from the video instead, but you can download an mp3 of the unedited interview if you’d like to hear his impromptu version.)
Kind of like Seane Corn’s demonstration of “body prayer” in our yoga program, it seemed necessary to give a sampling of meditation and mindfulness in practice, not just in theory. The necessity of this was pretty well articulated in the cuts & copy session last week; we had made it about halfway through the script, and most of us were soaking up Kabbat-Zinn’s words of wisdom when Trent stepped forward as a voice of dissent. His point was worth considering, which I’ll attempt to paraphrase: What’s the point of spending all of this time talking about mindfulness, rather than just doing it? The hope is that the clip from this video in the program gives listeners at least a little taste of the doing.
We all absorb things differently here — at different times, in different ways, and to different degrees. And sometimes there’s a bit of dissonance as well. Earlier this week I found myself stressed out while writing some language for the script, and very “mindful” of the irony of my situation. What to do when you’re producing a program that discusses tools for relieving stress and anxiety, and it’s causing you to experience stress and anxiety? Well, for starters, breathe…
A Culture of Availability to Everybody But Yourself?
by Trent Gilliss, online editor
Perhaps this TEDtalk gets at the heart of the matter. In the second half of our upcoming show with Jon Kabat-Zinn (first available in podcast on Thursday morning), he argues, to some degree, that the accelerated pace of technology and its significance in our lives doesn’t allow us to be mindful, to live in the present. All this communication and digital connectedness actually creates an inner dissonance — a disconnectedness with our own selves.
One memorable moment in Krista’s interview: Kabat-Zinn describes a person viewing a sunset. Instead of simply taking it in, he says, we either are thinking about how we might write about it (or perhaps tweet or blog it), or, that certain somebody standing next to you actually has to gab away and tell you how gorgeous it is — which completely removes you from the moment of recognition and contemplation. In other words, we have this compulsion to do something with the moment in order to make it meaningful. We are not being mindful.
In the video above, the presenter includes a couple images that capture something that Kabat-Zinn is getting at. In one photo, a girl is actually extending her arm with her camera while kissing her boyfriend. But, it looks awkward, inauthentic, dispassionate because you can tell her real interest is in telling the later story. Her body, her eyes, her lips are oriented more toward the iris of the lens than the irises of the boy. And, in another intimate setting of a public nature, a crowd of onlookers are almost all holding up their devices capturing the moment while the Obamas stand on stage in celebration.
I’m guilty of both, and then some. You?
Renny Gleeson wraps it up quite succinctly in his post-event blog post:
With all this connection comes the danger that in our mad rush to be everywhere, we end up nowhere. That the technology we use to connect, actually separates and isolates.
Kabat-Zinn isn’t necessarily gloomy about the technology onslaught though. He notes that the steep learning curve in learning how to deal with and incorporate this availability into our lives will be achieved. We, as individuals and as a society, just may have to bottom out first in order to create the balance within.