My life is not this steeply sloping hour in which you see me hurrying."
- Rainer Maria Rilke
("A Gift of Well-Being" article included below)
An Invitation to Learn
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
New Zealand Lakeside
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
Diane Handlin, Ph.D. is the only instructor in New Jersey and one of the few 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.
The Summer Day
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down
in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
excerpt from "The Summer Day" by Mary Oliver. From New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA
Let's say it's the silver
in the grass
and not the grass
and we could move it
who's to say
it's not the coinage
of the crickets and cicadas
the bullion of wine
and mint of night
and who's to say
that through the stretches of moonlight
we cannot touch
the roof of things
and pull ourselves up
to walk its shingles
where the gift is
not the silver
but the unwrapping.
Summer 2014 Course in Edison NJ
begins June 30
All are Welcome
Reservations are required.
Free Fall 2014 Talk and Winter 2015 course
in Summit NJ
Dates to be announced soon
For more information or to reserve a place for course, please contact Dr. Diane Handlin at 732-549-9100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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.)
Worthy of Note
Mindful magazine article
on Jon Kabat-Zinn
No blueprint, just love
Time Magazine issue on
The Mindful Revolution
February 3, 2014
Videos with Jon Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn discusses MBSR and the stress of modern life, YouTube.
Jon Kabat-Zinn discusses the significance of MBSR for leading a healthy life,
Google talk, YouTube, Oct 11, 2007.
Jon Kabat-Zinn discusses the scientific research on MBSR and its relationship to health,
Google talk, YouTube, March 8, 2007.
Jon Kabat-Zinn's most recent book Full Catastrophe Living; Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness
(Released in Fall of 2013, thoroughly updated
and has the most recent research
Selected past issues of The Living Moment
A Gift of Well-Being
I had to undergo an invasive exploratory medical procedure. At first it
was a bit challenging, mainly because there was some initial anxiety
about potential deprivation.
I tried to clear my day as I hadn't the last time I had this procedure
(and that had been a mistake). But even with my supposedly cleared day, I
still had many practical tasks to attend to, and I resented that a bit.
Whenever I've approached a fast for a medical procedure, I've found
myself remembering that I had fasted on spiritual retreats for a number
of days in my earlier years and that the fasts had been, by and large,
experiences, not of deprivation, but of sustenance.
I also found myself remembering that when Hurricane Sandy hit and we
lost electricity and heat for a number of days, and moved my 92-year-old
mother into our home to keep her safe, I had at first experienced
deprivation fed by anxiety.
We lit fires in the fireplace as well as candles in hurricane lanterns
around the house. I also remembered that during the hurricane, I had had
the experience of lying in the darkness of my bedroom, watching the
flickering candlelight of the lantern when suddenly, in stillness and
silence, struck by its beauty, all fear and experience of deprivation
melted away, replaced by a deep sense of well-being.
I was at the surgical center being prepared for my procedure, I
remembered that on retreat, I had not found the experience of no solid
food unpleasant at all.
In that moment, I realized as I dropped the "story" or labeling of
my experience as "deprivation," that what I was actually
experiencing was a deeply felt sense of lightness and well-being. The
nursing staff was caring. I was cold and asked for another blanket and
they brought me a heated blanket which felt like a beautiful treasure.
I can still remember every detail of the faces, gestures, conversations
and quality of the people who were caring for me. Lying there naked on
the gurney, being prepared for the light anesthesia which is given, I
suddenly was in touch with my mortality and vulnerability.
Again, a surprise, in being so unusually present, I wasn't experiencing
what I would describe as fear, but rather a kind of humility, in touch
with the reality of my aging and the preciousness of my life.
Also, as has happened to me before in similar circumstances, I found the refrain from a meditation that we practice in the MBSR
course beginning to be repeated inside me. It has come to me, along
with other such meditative experiences (such as the body scan), at
similar moments of vivid presence. If I were to try to describe the
process of what the action taken, or rather, received by me, in those
moments was, perhaps it can be best described in a letter written to me
by a student in one of the MBSR classes I recently taught:
"I more have the feeling that at the root of mindfulness is simply mindfulness.As
we discussed on the phone, there is lots of evidence of the benefits of
the practice, but the practice is itself incredibly simple and
fiendishly difficult since it is no more or less than being aware.
And as you said, the contents of that awareness are always shifting
while the awareness is always the same.I kind of think of it as if
we are holding our experience of our bodies, our minds, etc. the way a
person would hold a baby bird in one's hand; that is, in the most gentle
way.At least that is my present experience as you would say."
I write to you today, I find myself recalling something Jon Kabat-Zinn
shared a number of years ago at a conference on Meditation and
Psychotherapy at Harvard Medical School. The Dalai Lama was the keynote
speaker and Jon was up on the stage sitting with him and a group of
The Dalai Lama, laughing a bit, in an almost child-like way, stopped
what had been an intense discussion by asking, "What after all is modern
Most people on the stage answered very intellectually. Kabat-Zinn
suddenly stood up and said, with great passion and intensity, "Modern
psychology is the West's attempt to alleviate the suffering of those
beings who have mistaken a small part of themselves for the whole."
I never forgot that moment and once, several years later, spoke of it at
the microphone at one of the Center for Mindfulness MBSR
Later that evening, Jon sought me out and sitting with me, said, "I
don't think I ever said anything that good." Indeed he did....and
I'll never forget it!
realize that the sense of wholeness that Kabat-Zinn spoke about arose
for me as I approached my medical procedure, as a result of the gift of
dropping away from my fear and projections and "the story of me," and
opening into the present moment.
Reflecting on that experience of being present, I was also reminded of a
Harvard research study entitled, "A wandering mind is an unhappy
mind," Killingsworth MA, Gilbert DT. Science 330, 932 (2010)
According to John Tierney who wrote about the study in The New York Times
and again in mindful.org
, the researchers in the study, using an iPhone app called trackingyourhappiness
contacted people around the world at random intervals to ask how they
were feeling, what they were doing and what they were thinking in that
on a quarter of a million responses from more than 2,200 people, the
researchers were surprised to find that, at least through self-report,
minds were wandering 47 percent of the time. In addition, over the
several months of the iPhone study, it was found that the more frequent
mind-wanderers remained less happy than the rest of the people in the
study. The researchers concluded that no matter what people were doing,
they tended to be happier if they focused on the activity they were
doing rather than thinking about something else. Matthew Killingsworth,
the other lead author of the Harvard study concludes:
matter what people are doing, they are much less happy when their minds
are wandering than when their minds are focused," and "we should pay at
least as much attention to where our minds are as to what our bodies
are doing - yet for most of us, the focus of our thoughts isn't part of
our daily planning...we ought to ask, 'What am I going to do with my
mind today?' "
Your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror
up to where you're bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here's the joyful face you've been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
from The Essential Rumi,
Transl. by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, Castle Books, 1997.
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
(with Stephen Damon)
Kabat-Zinn is quick to point out that, "... mindfulness is not about
forcing your mind not to wander...It's more about being aware of when
the mind is wandering, and, as best you can, and as gently as you can,
redirecting your attention and reconnecting with what is most salient
and important for you in that moment, in the here and now of your life
unfolding." (Full Catastrophe Living, 2013, p. xxxiii). He adds
that, "Mindfulness is a skill that can be developed through practice,
just like any other skill. You could also think of it as a muscle. The
muscle of mindfulness grows both stronger and more supple and flexible
as you use it. And like a muscle, it grows best when working with a
certain amount of resistance to challenge it and thereby help it become
stronger. Our bodies, our minds, and the stress of our daily lives
certainly provide us with plenty of resistance to work with in that
regard. Indeed, you might say they provide us just the right conditions
for developing our innate capacities for knowing our own mind and
shaping its ability to stay present to what is most germane and
important in our lives, and, by doing so, discover new dimensions of
well-being and even happiness without having to change anything."
Diane Handlin, Ph.D.
NJ Lic. #3306, NY Lic. #015840
|Diane Handlin, Ph.D.|
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
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
NJ Lic. #3306, NY Lic. #015840
|Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Center of New Jersey™
328 Amboy Ave, Metuchen NJ 08840
Tel: 732-549-9100, www.mindfulnessnj.com