|Dr. Ellen Langer signs copies|
of her new book, Counterclockwise
Dr. Langer's presentation was part of the 10th Anniversary Celebration for The Healing Garden, a peaceful place offering integrative therapies for women with breast cancer in Harvard, MA. My friend, a breast cancer survivor and volunteer at The Healing Garden, said that the minute she walks through the door she is transformed. I haven't been there, but I plan to go this spring to see for myself.
Mindful Health and The Power of Possibility:
Ellen J. Langer, PhD., Professor of Psychology, Harvard University
Dr. Langer's studies have shown that living in a mindful way actually improves health and well-being. In a nursing home study, residents given a plant to take care of were actually more cheerful, active, alert and healthier than their counterparts. A year and a half later, less than half as many of the residents who took care of the plant had died than those in the control group. The study outlined in Langer's new book, Counterclockwise, showed that elderly men who lived as if it were twenty years earlier had improved vision, improved hearing, improved grip and looked noticeably younger than the control group.
Mindfulness is an active state of mind characterized by novel distinction.
The Psychology of Possibility is what might be rather than a description of what is.
Mindfulness made easy: all you have to do is notice new things - that's it! Noticing things puts you in the present moment. The more you notice, the more you like something because you are fully engaged. Active noticing is literally enlivening because the neurons are firing. Even if you are unsuccessful, the journey itself is good for your health and well-being because it makes you feel engaged.
I was a little anxious this morning so I decided to notice five things on my way to QiGong class and it did lessen the anxiety. Here are the things I noticed:
- there were more parking spots than usual - I didn't have to park all the way on the top level
- birds were chirping - it sounded like Spring
- the lilacs had blossomed - a beautiful lavender color.
- less gas, more mileage: when an elderly student asked the QiGong instructor what to take for high blood pressure, he said "nothing." It's about energy (chi) and water. Drink just water one day a week.
- root stress to the earth: if you stand rooted to the ground with strength in your legs, all the stress will flow out of your neck and shoulders and go into the earth.
One plus one isn't always two - if you add a wad of chewing gum to another wad of chewing gum you get one bigger wad. To prevent mindlessness, learn conditionally. What may be true in a certain context might not always be true. Mindfulness is visible in the products of our labor: art, music and the written word. People actually prefer music played mindfully or artwork created with intention.
Great Quotes from Dr. Ellen Langer:
- We mindlessly accept what we're told. We're taught in an absolute way.
- When you're mindless, you're not there to know you're not there.
- Mindfulness is energy begetting not fatiguing.
- No matter what we're doing, we're doing it either mindlessly or mindfully
- Most suffering is an direct or indirect result of mindlessness
- Mindfully created pieces are more fun to create and preferred by others.
- Mistakes make things we're doing more interesting
- Mindfulness is no cost with no side effects
- Behavior makes sense from the actor’s perspective or else he wouldn’t have done it, which leads us to be less evaluative of others and ourselves
- Put the mind and body back together
- Solutions are usually right in front of us but we have to look for them.
- If it doesn't work for you, change it!
- If we remove our negative mindsets regarding health and presumed limits we may create all sorts of possibilities for ourselves.