Urban Mindfulness--The Book!


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    Entries in fun (2)


    Minding the Fun Stuff

    By Jenny Taitz, Ph.D.

    You’re in a funk and you coincidentally bump into a friend. Are you able to enter the moment and take pleasure in it? It can be quite easy to stay lost in our minds. What may happen if the moment is one where you let go and fully enjoy the chance encounter?

    So often, we may find ourselves in a certain mood and gravitate toward information consistent with our mood. For example, if you’re feeling sad in a restaurant you generally like, you may notice a bunch of other diners who seem to be elated and compare yourself to them, maintaining and potentially exacerbating your negative emotional place. It’s hard to relish in the fun stuff when we’re weighed down by emotions.

    It’s also challenging to enjoy potential pleasantries when we’re too busy to notice. I often encourage my clients to purposefully plan activities they enjoy. As busy New Yorkers, many people often insist, “There’s just no time!” The good news is we may not necessarily need to actively schedule enjoyment if we practice awareness of small spontaneous surprises.

    I’ve been recovering from a month long flu. A couple of days ago I felt exhausted and overwhelmed. A colleague presented me with bag of cough drops and a warm note (thank you, Laura!). For several minutes, I felt revitalized observing about how lucky I am to work with wonderful colleagues. I also noticed a woman bopping along enjoying singers on the subway platform and found myself experiencing subtle happiness while noticing her enthusiasm. That same day, a gym instructor played a song I loved in high school and hadn’t heard in a while, hello four minutes of bliss!

    None of the aforementioned examples are especially notable though each entailed taking note.

    A potential challenge we all face when we experience joy involves wanting the event to last. Please play my song three more times! Oh no, it’s coming to an end! Does joy penetrate when we worry about the fun stuff ending? Do you ever find yourself distressed about something you enjoy coming to an end (only 2 more days of vacation!)? How does that affect that moment? You’re hardly on vacation if you’re imaging leaving.

    It may be helpful to practice being mindful of the fun stuff by:

    1. Bringing your full attention to your experience

    2. Letting go of the thoughts about the past or worries about the future

    3. Beginning again when your mind leaves the moment

    4. Not clinging or pushing away from what arises in the moment

    Relax, City Dwellers! It's Summer!

    By Jennifer Egert, Ph.D.

    Like many of us, I have a love-hate relationship with the city. For much of the year, it seems like a lot of effort goes out just to manage the noise, crowds, and challenges city life presents. It is hard to be mindful in the midst of a lot of tension. Tension (mental, physical, emotional) distracts us and depletes us of energy. Funny thing about making the effort to be mindful, it requires relaxation to open to the experience in front of you. But somehow, every year, things seem to transform after Memorial Day weekend…

    I love the city in the summer. When everyone is packing up the cars, getting on the bus or running to the train to escape the concrete canyon for a weekend away, that is my cue to stay put.

    You can get tickets for any movie at any time in the summer. No problem with a table at a restaurant or a stool at the bar. There are seats on the subway, and space to breathe on the sidewalks. Let’s not forget the obscene abundance of parking spaces and decreased traffic. But the best part of the summer in the city for me is the free events and art... music at Prospect Park, Summer Stage or the central park drum circle, midsummer night swing, free movies on the piers, ping-pong in Bryant Park, art shows, crafts fairs, cultural celebrations and the public art installations around the city. These are the things that help me to take notice, pay attention, and relax just a little bit and experience city life a bit more fully.

    The other day, walking to the train from work, I was reminded of this when I stopped in my tracks on 23rd street. Someone was standing on top of a building at Broadway, right on the edge about 15 stories up. I got a bit scared. He was standing so still. I wondered if he was contemplating jumping or just meditating! Around me, no one else seemed be concerned. But then I noticed a couple of tourists looking up at another building, where there was an identical man, standing, watching over Madison Square Park. And then I see there was another, and another, and another. Have you seen them? An art installation of Antony Gormley’s “Event Horizon.” They look so present, so peaceful, mindful warriors overseeing the city. The unexpected gems of city life, such as this art installation, always manage to make me stop, get out of my head and connect to the joy of city life.

    I thought that we could share some of our favorite summer experiences here on Urban Mindfulness, to help us all find new ways to relax into city life and enjoy the ride with a bit more presence. Please share any special “stop you in your tracks” moments you’ve had lately. Enjoy the summer!

    For info about public art in the city and summer events see: