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Editors Unplugged: Get to know our panellists for Sound Mind: A Celebration of Mindfulness and Mental Health through Fiction, Memoir, and Music
Interviews conducted by Catherine Dorton.
Our popular monthly program meetings often feature a jam-packed agenda. We like to keep our introductions short, so you can hear more from our panellists and less from us! It’s hard to do justice to the incredible wealth of experience these guests bring to the table, so we are offering you a preview with this short Q&A beforehand.
This month, we are honoured to be joined by Ranjini George, Rebecca Higgins, and Erika Nielsen.
We hear you use a gong. What’s that for?
Sound is a wonderful way to centre oneself and move beyond the carousel of non-stop thoughts. It is a way to be present to the Now, the Present Moment. The gong is a way of coming home to oneself. I love the words of Zen master Thích Nhất Hạnh regarding the bell/gong: “Listen, listen to the sound of the bell that calls you back to your true home.”
Try this: If you walk by the lake, listen to the sound of the waves. If you’re taking a neighbourhood walk (yes, spring is here!), listen to the sound of the birds. Notice your breath. Feel your feet on the earth. Breathe. Be present.
Listen to the lovely bell chant offered by the Plum Village community.
Why do writers and editors need mindfulness training?
I think it’s not just writers or editors who need mindfulness training. I think mindfulness is something that can help anyone. We enter this life with our first breath and transition from it with our last. So, we always have our breath.
Mindfulness is a way of using our breath—it is a way of being awake to our lives. Mindfulness is a practice: it is a simple and profound way of creating peace in our hearts. In our work as editors or writers, mindfulness helps create focus and clarity. We can bring the energy of mindfulness into our home, our workplace, and the world.
When: Thursday, March 28, 7:30–9:30 PM
Where: Room 1050, Earth Sciences Centre, 33 Willcocks St., University of Toronto
Important notice: This month’s program meeting will take place on Thursday, March 28, not on our usual date of the fourth Tuesday of the month. Please mark your calendars. The location is also different this month as we’re meeting at the University of Toronto (UofT). We’ll return to the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) Spadina for our April 23 meeting on poetry editing.
Sound Mind: A Celebration of Mindfulness and Mental Health through Fiction, Memoir, and Music is geared to helping cultural producers across a variety of fields (including writers, editors, visual artists, and musicians) learn about mental health challenges and adopt new strategies for wellness, mindfulness, and creativity. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a mindfulness session at the beginning and end of this event.
This special event is a joint production of Editors Toronto; Canadian Authors–Toronto; and the Creative Writing Program at the School of Continuing Studies, University of Toronto.
Our featured guests this month are Ranjini George, Rebecca Higgins, and Erika Nielsen.
By Emma Warnken Johnson
Mindfulness is everywhere these days. There seems to be an endless supply of books, articles, and apps touting its benefits. The practices vary, but they all seek to focus the mind on the present moment, shedding distractions and helping us appreciate the little things in our lives. I’ve been meaning to try mindfulness for quite some time, but never seem to be able to fit it into my busy schedule.
This makes The Art of Stopping Time: Practical Mindfulness for Busy People a timely book for me, and I suspect it will be for a lot of other busy editors too. Taoist monk and Qi Gong master Pedram Shojai adapts the 100-day Gong—a traditional Taoist practice—to create a mindfulness routine that can fit into a busy schedule. The book is divided into 100 short chapters, and each one describes a brief daily activity that promotes mindfulness and a healthier relationship to the way we think about and spend our time.
The activities vary widely. Readers are asked to do some breathing exercises, to stretch and relax their muscles, and to eat a meal without the distraction of other activities (like watching TV). Some days include simple activities designed to give your mind a short break, like going for a walk, taking a bath, or making a cup of tea—and several of these seem tailor-made for an editor who takes regular breaks to improve productivity. Other days are more reflective, asking you to think about how you spend their time and review your priorities. Reading through the activities, I found several that I thought I would enjoy and could easily integrate into my daily schedule. (more…)