October 28, 2016
“Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a
chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings…a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you. –Henri Nouwen, Dutch priest, writer, professor
When sitting face-to-face in conversation with someone—a friend, child, partner, or work colleague—how frequently are you actually thinking about nothing else other than the words that are coming out of the other person’s mouth? Probably not too often. And you are not alone.
Research shows that only about 10 percent of us listen effectively. We are so distracted by the cacophony of dings and tweets from our smartphones, not to mention our ever-growing to-do lists, that we struggle to focus and listen when people talk to us. And if we’re not distracted by technology, our own thoughts can keep us from listening to another person. We often think that we are listening but we’re actually just considering how to jump in to tell our own story, offer advice, or even make a judgment—in other words, we are not listening to understand, but rather to reply.
To read the rest of the article, click here.
March 29, 2016
If you are either a resident or visitor in New York City, you won’t have to search very hard to find one of the growing number of centers, classes and public spaces where you can drop in to meditate. In my latest piece for The New York Times, I explore the who, the why, the how, the when, and the where…
When a photo of a wall covered in lush green foliage showed up on Grace Clarke’s Instagram feed, she felt an immediate urge to track it down. Stressed out and headed to a meeting at Madewell, where she works as a social media copy editor, Ms. Clarke clicked on the geotag and discovered that the wall’s location was on East 8th Street in Manhattan at a meditation studio called MNDFL, which opened in November 2015.
The next morning, Ms. Clarke, 29, went to the studio and spent 30 minutes in a meditation class led by Lodro Rinzler, one of MNDFL’s founders. Since that day last December, Ms. Clarke has attended classes nearly every other day, often going early in the morning before work. “Having a place with a stripped-down aesthetic and a menu of classes makes it feel very approachable and promotes a sense of calm amidst the craziness,” she said.
Tags: meditation, New York City, wellness
October 25, 2015
The other day I went back to college. As a student. For 90 minutes. It was the quintessential autumn day. The kind where the leaves have just begun to turn color, some gently unhinging from their branches and wavering in the air before they hit the dirt below. Or in my case, before they hit
the bricks that make up Locust Walk, the pedestrian pathway that cuts through the heart of Penn’s campus.
On the invitation of my daughter, now a sophomore at my alma mater, I arrived on campus—not just as a courier schlepping a winter coat, some homemade chicken soup and several necessities from Trader Joe’s, but primarily to attend a lecture in Emily’s class, Intro to Positive Psychology.
With a tendency to cut my timing close, I purposely gave myself an extra hour before meeting Emily so I could wallow in the beauty of the day, and the memories of my own walks down Locust Walk—nearly 30 years ago. I texted Emily to let her know where I was sitting–on the grass to the left of the iconic Button sculpture that sits in front of the main library–steps away from the hovering statue of Ben Franklin. Read More→
Tags: college, education, family, gratitude, learning, Penn, Positive Psychology
June 8, 2015
Last year in my son’s eighth grade social studies class, they discussed the civil rights era but according to him, they were short on time and (as he explained) “kind of rushed through it.”
So when the movie Selma came out last December, depicting the events that led 600 civil rights marchers to cross the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965, it seemed a ripe opportunity to add to the lesson. Simon and I watched the film together, and it was just a few weeks later when I announced we’d be taking a special trip together — a three-day journey to the deep South to learn more about civil rights.
“A what kind of trip?” Simon asked when I first broke the news we’d be going.
“A civil rights journey,” I answered with extra enthusiasm. “It’ll be really interesting and fun!”
I knew that an education-filled bus trip was hardly the top vacation choice for your average teenager. But I also knew that this type of opportunity — a trip geared toward kids his age, and already including two of his close friends — doesn’t come around every day.
Tags: alabama, atlanta, birmingham, civilrights, georgia, montgomery
March 2, 2015
It’s hard not to be mindful of your surroundings in Morocco—the North African country that seems to emanate a wondrous overload of the senses. The sights, smells, tastes and sounds can be overpowering and beautiful, startling and thought-provoking.
In a country where the terrain ranges from snow-capped Atlas mountains and the vast Sahara desert to the serpentine streets of Fez’s medina (old city) and the nearly 1,000 miles of Atlantic coastline, your senses are frequently on high alert. As they well should be.
On a recent trip to Morocco, our group had the good fortune to trek amidst the natural beauty of Mount Toubkal, feel the warm golden sand of the desert dunes, smell the aromas of animal skins at a tannery, and savor the flavors of many a sumptuous tagine. Thanks to the help of travel outfitter Quivertree, who helped us plan our trip and provided us with our amazing guide, Lahcen, our journey was filled with a varied exploration of Morocco’s fascinating offerings—heavy on adventure and a good dose of culture.
Here are a some of our trip’s highlights:
The 11th century Place Jemaa el-Fna is straight out of the movies—a large plaza filled with musicians, Read More→
Tags: adventure, cooking, family, Fez, food, Marrakech, Morocco, mountains, sandboarding, shopping, trekking