"My life is not this steeply sloping hour in which you see me hurrying."
- Rainer Maria Rilke

(" Mindfulness: A Dime Store Remedy?"
article by Diane Handlin   included below)
An Invitation to Learn
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Casablanca Lily  -- Photo by Sandy Renna

Learn to live with greater vitality, health and well-being through  Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program.

Presented by the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Center of New Jersey, the program offers powerful methods for reducing stress in your everyday life.

Diane Handlin, Ph.D. is one of the few instructors in New Jersey and in the world (not just trained) but actually Certified by Jon Kabat-Zinn's and Saki Santorelli's Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School. She, and her husband, Jim Handlin, Ed.D., who is also Certified by the CFM, often teach together.
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Let yourself be silently
 drawn  by the strange pull
of what you really love. 
It will not lead you astray.
~ Rumi ~
(Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks)

And so
it has taken me
all of sixty years
to understand
that water is the finest drink,
and bread the most delicious food,
and that art is worthless
unless it plants
a measure of splendor in people's hearts.
~ Taha Muhammad Ali ~    
(So What: New and Selected Poems, 1971-2005,
 translated by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi, and Gabriel Levin)

Upcoming Events   
~ Free Spring 2018 Talk ~
in Edison NJ
Wednesday, April 25, 7:30-9:00pm
Temple Emanu-El
100 James Street
Edison, New Jersey

 All are Welcome
Reservations are required

~ Summer 2018 Course ~
in Edison NJ
begins Tuesday, June 26,  7:30-9:30pm
Reservations are required
~ Winter 2019 Course ~
in Summit NJ

For more information or to reserve a place
 for the talk or course, please contact
Dr. Diane Handlin at  732-549-9100 or diane@drdianehandlin.com  

For more information go to  www.mindfulnessnj.com 

(Please note that MBSR is an educational course and not psychotherapy. If you suspect that you have medical or psychological issues, please pursue appropriate treatment.)

Mindfulness: A Dime Store Remedy?
(This issue of the newsletter is dedicated to the students of Parkland who lost their lives, their families and friends, as well as all victims of violence around the world, and all who have been touched by such senseless and heartbreaking events. )
Dear Reader,

The true journey of discovery
consists not in seeking new landscapes, 
but in having fresh eyes.
Marcel Proust
     Mindfulness is now everywhere. As an adjective the popular media talks and writes about mindful this and mindful that. Early in the development of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program's curriculum, Jon Kabat-Zinn cautioned not to make mindfulness "a dime store remedy." While ideas about mindfulness are interesting and stimulating, mindfulness properly understood through direct experience is not about ideas or states of relaxation or about being a synonym for remembering. Mindfulness is the process of awareness itself or awarenessing. It's more a participle/gerund rather than an adjective. Mindfulnessing is a process rather than something rigid and fixed. It is not a given.  It is about being aware of the present moment, the right now, in a very active way. Seemingly simple, mindfulness is a skill that needs to be acquired and practiced. Taken out this context "mindful" and "mindfulness" become just fancy words. It is at heart, an inclusive loving attention that moves both toward the object and toward oneself.
     The implication of using the word "mindful" in a dime store way as an adjective or the word "mindfulness" as a noun in this way is that all the benefits and the scientific validation of those benefits of the active practicing of mindfulnessing are automatically being attached to whatever product or self-improvement program is being advertised. This is one characteristic of "dime store remedy." As the ancient Romans would say, Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware). Mindful "this" and mindful "that" is gradually becoming cliché, as if mindfulness too can be put on automatic, on autopilot. The new myth that our contemporary culture fosters is the myth of the efficacy of multitasking and its benefits. 
     So how does someone begin practicing mindfulnessing? Jon Kabat-Zinn is fond of saying that when we are born, we are not given a user's manual that can enable full human potential. We are on our own, subject to our cultural conditioning and that usually means we are on automatic, on autopilot. To come off that we need training to counter our personal and cultural entrainment. Jon Kabat-Zinn designed MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) for this purpose, and it has been the "gold standard" that is used in the majority of the scientific research studies that have validated the benefits of regular mindfulness practice including numerous positive health effects such as lowering blood pressure and helping to relieve both physical and emotional stress. ( Although the summary of all the research on the health benefits of MBSR is beyond the scope of this newsletter the research on the positive effects of MBSR on health and the neuroplasticity of the brain has been  well-documented. Finally, more recently, the ability of MBSR to reduce the use of opioids for people in pain and to reduce inflammation has been documented, as well as exciting research on MBSR's potential for lengthening life through its impact on telomeres at the end of chromosomes.)
    Specifically and on purpose, the very first mindful practice in the very first class' curriculum of the eight week MBSR course is not a formal meditation practice, but an eating experience. What better place to start. Food is ubiquitous in our culture to the point of creating an obesity crisis. "Fast food" has become a new noun. "Throwing things down" (while working or texting), "wolfing down", "gulping down", "inhaling", etc. are the new verbs in a culture where the rhythm of life is becoming faster and faster. We educate for fast. So why not begin with what mindfulnessing is right here. Begin with the "full catastrophe" (the name of Jon Kabat-Zinn's first book is Full Catastrophe Living) of contemporary eating.
     Those of you who have heard me speak know that I have told the story of how a number of years ago I found a journal I had kept as a child which I had entitled, "Things I've noticed about Diane." In it I carefully documented such things as, "When I pick up a grapefruit, I experience its shape before I experience its texture," and, "When I put soft, cooked peas in my mouth, I experience salt on a certain part of my tongue and sweet on another." I like to quip that this all came in very handy years later when taking a wine tasting course. Interestingly, when similarly as part of our eight week MBSR course students and alumni come to the course's half day retreat, they often comment on how richly satisfying the experience of eating the simplest lunch can be, when we are all practicing eating it together mindfully. 
     When we bring mindfulnessing to eating, we start by slowing things down-by approaching the food in front of us as if for the first time: By smelling the food, tasting the food, really seeing the food, experiencing its color and texture...while all the while becoming more and more aware of how the body is reacting to the food and how the mind and feelings are interacting with it, perhaps even making up a story about it or recalling a memory associated with it. (As I write this I realize this sounds like it might be a lot of work since many of us have become habituated to workaholism, texting, tweets and soundbites as if they were an inevitable fact of life. Ironically, the experience of eating something mindfully is quite the opposite.) What I am trying to say is that as we begin to really attend to what we are eating, we become somehow aware of how our feelings and emotions are engaging with it, how we might actually be liking, disliking or even indifferent to the experience, and this actually takes no time at all and perhaps seemingly, paradoxically, can be truly renewing.
     Paying attention, acknowledging, and becoming aware, with affection, of anything else that might be spontaneously arising while eating such as: why am I eating this, does my body need this, how pleasurable is this, what am I actually tasting, what associations am I having, etc. (all of this occurring in the flash of an eye without "work" as we ordinarily understand it) can be accompanied by much bigger insights such as: "Am I mostly unconscious when I eat?" "Where do I go?" "Can I practice experiencing myself eating both 'mindfully' and 'mindlessly' and recognize that as mindfulnessing practice?" If so, something truly new and fresh (and difficult to put into words) is seen and experienced. And this seeing is a moment of true nourishment. It is the antidote to the insight a manager for AT&T shared in a workshop led by David Whyte, when she said in effect, "Ten years ago ...I turned my face for a moment... and ten years had gone by."  Living mindfully has actually been described by some of our students as being akin to going on an easily accessible "vacate"-ion, or, "visiting my life in a new way, with fresh eyes."
     William Faulkner, the great American novelist, in one of his letters writes that there are only two plots in all of literature. One is the story of the self and the other is the story of the world. Mindfulnessing is a way of being with oneself and the world. It's a practice one keeps working toward. It is a tool for self-discovery and world discovery. It is attempting to sincerely and nonjudgmentally see what is. And this, like any skill, needs practice, practice, practice. It's not about trying to fix anything, but about being more fully with whatever is, just as it is. It's as simple and as difficult as knowing what we are doing, when we are actually doing it. Or put another way, it is about learning to actually re-cultivate the too often forgotten skill of bringing a more visceral awareness of what we are doing (or not doing) to what we are doing. 

Diane Handlin, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist

NJ Lic. #3306

Diane Handlin, PhD
Diane Handlin, Ph.D.
Founder and
Executive Director
Jim Handlin, Ed.D.
Educational Consultant

Ten years ago...
I turned my face for
a moment
and it became my life.
~ David Whyte ~
(from The Heart Aroused,
quoting a woman manager at AT&T from one of his workshops)


____________ ________

From Blossoms
From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the joy 
at the bend in the road where we turned toward 
signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs,
 from hands, 
from sweet fellowship
 in the bins, 
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour,
 dusty skin and all, 
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside,  to carry within us
an orchard,
to eat  not only the skin,
but the shade,
not only the sugar,
 but the days,
to hold  the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into  the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live 
as if death were nowhere
in the background;
 from joy  to joy to joy,
from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to 
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
~ Li-Young Lee ~

____________ ________

Do not
Want to step so quickly
Over a beautiful line on God's palm
As I move through the
...Something has happened
To my understanding of existence
That now makes my heart always full of wonder
And kindness.
I do not
Want to step so quickly
Over this sacred place on God's body
That is right beneath your
Own foot
As I 
Dance with
Precious life
~ Hafiz ~
(from The Gift-versions of Hafiz by Daniel Landinsky)

____________ ________

Every day, priests minutely examine the Law
And endlessly chant complicated sutras.
Before doing that, though, they should learn
How to read the love letters sent by the wind
and rain, the snow and moon.
~ Ikkyu ~
(Ikkyu and the Crazy Cloud Anthology, trans. by Sonya Arutzen)

____________ ________

The Living Moment 

There is a stillness at dawn
asking for me

I hear the note not played

I see the line not written

I understand the word not spoken
I am in stillness

I am the Living Moment
~ Cliff Woodward ~
 (with  Stephen Damon)

Worthy of Note
The Medicine of  the Moment: How mindfulness is making inroads in health care through habit change, stress reduction, self-care, and decreasing physical burnout, Barry Boyce and Peter Jaret, 5th Anniversary Issue of Mindful magazine, April 2018

Too Early to Tell: The Potential Impact and Challenges-Ethical and Otherwise-Inherent in the Mainstreaming of Dharma in an Increasingly Dystopian World, Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2017

Some Reflections on the Origins of MBSR, Skillful Means, and the 
Trouble with Maps, Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2011

Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body, Daniel Goleman & Richard J. Davidson, 2017
The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smart-phones to Love - Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits, a new book by Judson Brewer
with a forward by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Congressman Tim Ryan, A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance and Recapture the American Spirit, with a forward by Jon Kabat-Zinn 

Mindfulness, Healing and Transformation: The Pain and the Promise of Befriending the Full Catastrophe with Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn's Keynote Address at the 2016 Psychotherapy Networker Conference: "The Radical Gesture of Mindfulness: Let the Beauty We Love Be What We Do"  
  New Jersey Psychological Association - December 2016 e-newsletter,  "Why Mindfulness Matters," editor, Diane Handlin

Mindfulness and Education  at Newark Academy in the Fall of 2015 (for further information on Jim Handlin's college guidance work, visit www.strategiccollegeplacement.com)

Nobel prize-winner Elizabeth Blackburn and researcher Elissa Epel
who have demonstrated how the telomeres at the end of chromosomes have the capacity to lengthen as a result of lifestyle changes and the development of stress reduction skills, resulting in enhanced health and increased longevity. 

60 Minutes interview of Jon Kabat-Zinn by Anderson Cooper, (13 min), CBS News, December 14, 2014 

Additional valuable interviews
from 60 Minutes Overtime


"A Necessary and Vital Moment,"
Jon Kabat-Zinn's Science of Mindfulness,
Opening to Our Lives:
an interview with Krista Tippett

Jon Kabat-Zinn discusses Mindfulness in Education, January 26, 2006
Mindfulness in Education ( Part 1)
Mindfulness in Education ( Part 2)
Mindfulness in Education ( Part 3)

More Videos with Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn discusses the scientific research on MBSR and its relationship to health,
Google talk, YouTube, March 8, 2007.

Bill Moyers PBS video
on  Healing from Within
from the series  Healing and the Mind

Readings Page  at our website

Audio & Videos Page at our website

Selected past issues of The Living Moment

As always, so much gratitude goes to Dave Kapferer, our steadfast Technical Artistic
Director who jumped on board after appearing in our life when we needed him most,
and graces this newsletter with his best attention and to Triston Handlin, our Technical
Project Manager, without whose deep caring it would not be possible for us to share
this newsletter and so much else with you.

"As to the value of the course, I would note that the group workshop designed to work through Jon Kabat-Zinn's curriculum is very effective. The workshop / course added a great deal of depth and opened my mind to a different way of looking at things and fostered exploration. When mindfullly present, time seems to expand for me. I relax, freed from thinking about the next place I have to be or the next thing I have to do ... I have discovered that if I hold off, I usually do not act along the lines of my first reaction. I've realized that I almost always have time not to act immediately. I've also rediscovered my happy me, what I remember from soooo long ago ..., and that is really wonderful."       - Jane Dobson, Corporate attorney


IMPORTANT NOTICE: Although Dr. Handlin is a licensed psychologist and has a separate psychology practice, please note that this is an educational course and not psychotherapy. In addition, information contained in this document is informational and not to be construed as medical advice. If you suspect you have medical issues, please pursue appropriate treatment. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is a separate educational course for those interested in developing mind-body connections. MBSR is a non-psychological service offered apart from Dr. Handlin's psychology practice and is not meant to substitute for personal or professional psychological advice which must be received from a licensed mental health professional.

NJ Lic. #3306

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Center of New Jersey™

328 Amboy Ave, Metuchen NJ 08840

Tel:  732-549-9100,  www.mindfulnessnj.com