Live in the moment, they say. Who is they, anyway, I have been wondering so I went in search of the they that are trying to help us all exist with less stress and more Zen. (http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200810/the-art-now-six-steps-living-in-the-moment) And that is how I discovered Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Now how can I trust a man who added the name Zinn to his own name Kabat, I thought. So I searched some more. Because if this is just a hook to trick me into believing I should buy yet another self-help book like that book that should have been called Hey Sucker Who Wants a Shortcut To Getting Skinny Without Diet or Exercise, I am not buying it. I did buy HSWWASTGSWDOE because if someone can do that I’ll sure pay the price of a hardback…plus shipping! But HSWWASTGSWDOE didn’t do a thing to make me thin, probably the opposite because I followed its advice and didn’t weigh for a while…a really, really bad idea.
But back to Zen Kabat-Zinn. He has written many books and been on many TV shows and has a Ph. D and is the real thing. He’s a professor at the University of Massachusetts and the founder of their Stress Management Clinic. Here is a really interesting radio interview he did on public radio (http://www.onbeing.org/program/opening-our-lives/138). I listened to the entire 51 minutes and I really enjoyed what he said. But he never said how come he added Zinn to his name. Being the suspicious, distrusting woman I am, I continued to look for evidence. I tried staying in the moment like he recommended on the radio, but my mind kept going back to his name. It was very distracting.
I learned he was born Jewish but was raised scientist/artist. I learned his upbringing forced him to try to find the commonalities between his father’s beliefs (the scientist) and his mother’s (the artist). That is what brought him to Zen back in his days as a student at MIT (http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2012/kabat-zinn-addresses-mit-medical-clinicians). So the Buddhists were the ones who really set him on his quest for mindfulness.
Now those Buddhist monks weren’t out to trick me into buying a self-help book and I really have been thinking about how to enjoy my retirement to the fullest and so I read and listened and learned. I learned to be still (theoretically, anyway) and pay attention to my senses, all of which are pretty good, except for my sense of smell. My nose has long been a source of worry for me because it mostly just holds up my glasses, but on occasion it has stepped up to the plate and smelled things like freshly cut oranges or cinnamon. (You see a problem and the need I had for HSWWASTGSWDOE, right?) I also learned to feel my emotions, good or bad, for that is a moment of acceptance. And I learned to breathe –to be aware of how that act alone loosens knots in my shoulders and tension in my stomach.
I was on the way, thanks to the monks and Kabat-Zinn to a more present, mindful retirement. But still his name nagged at me. Finally I found it hidden halfway down an article about his books, hidden in a parenthesis as though it was an afterthought, hidden as though no one but doubtful Marie had ever wondered or suspected or questioned his sincerity. There is was: (www.publishersweekly.com/pw/print/20041206/27421-mindful-writing.html?subject=http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/print/20041206/27421-mindful-writing.html ) the reason he added Zinn to Kabat. He married a Zinn. That was her last name. He married Myla Zinn and this enlightened man, a man of the modern era, took his wife’s last name, too. It wasn’t a ploy. It wasn’t a trick. It was an act of love and commitment.
Now that’s a man I can trust!
And why all this interests so late in life (67 and counting) in living in the moment, you ask?