I adored Yuval Noah Harari's books, Homo Deus and Sapiens, and his TED talk, What explains the rise of humans? I finally got around to 21 Lessons for the 21st Century on Audible (my first pandemic purchase). He covers liberal democracy, terrorism, the rise of Donald Trump, religion, and meditation. The one thing he doesn't cover? The pandemic. Because it hadn't happened yet. This is my first book specifically about history and ideas and what we humans do and why since the pandemic, and it's kind of ironically quaint. It deals with huge topics, your position on which largely determine how you go through life, and yet there's something suddenly missing from the conversation. That's not commentary about his book, as there's nothing he could have done. It's commentary about how all-encompassing or integrated the pandemic has become for me. It's part of the fabric of my life, and anything that doesn't touch on it is insufficient somehow.
If you've heard Harari on Sam Harris's Making Sense podcast (Episodes, 68, 138, and 201), you likely know his positions and his clarity around them. What's most interesting to me is how he gets to the heart of mindfulness with the above quote as well as with:
We think we are reacting to things outside of us--events and what other people do.
But we are really reacting to the feelings inside of ourselves.
The deepest source of our suffering is in the patterns of our own minds.
Almost every time I give a presentation about mindfulness or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and I lead a short practice, someone is surprised by, confused by, or even upset by the focus on what is occurring in the body. There is this notion floating around that mindfulness is about the mind and only the mind, in the form of thoughts. But thoughts are just one part of our moment-to-moment experience, along with sensations and emotions.
We aren't brains in jars. We have bodies, and those bodies, as they say, keep score. They remember what has happened. They hold it all, and there is much they can teach us about ourselves if we can learn to listen to them. We are walking around--bags of wisdom--mostly untapped.
If you are interested in learning more about what Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is and what it isn't, email me - firstname.lastname@example.org for a link to the next Intro to MBSR, on Thursday, May 28, at 6pm, ET.