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Book Review: The Art of Stopping Time: Practical Mindfulness for Busy People by Pedram Shojai

Art of Stopping Time

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…)

Wordplay: The ides of March would be where?

Wordplay is a regular column by editor and language writer James Harbeck in which he tastes and plays with English words and usages.

Beware the ides of March!

Beware the ides of every other month, too. And the nones. And the calends. Actually, beware Roman calendars pretty much altogether. But beware the ides of March especially.

We generally think of ides as being a March thing, since Julius Caesar was stabbed on that day. But every month in the Roman calendar was marked by three days: calends, nones, ides. All the other days were counted in relation to them. But how they were counted serves as a reminder that things we take for granted as plain and obvious are actually not inevitable and have been done differently in other places and times.

The Roman calendar was originally a lunar calendar. A month started with the new moon. That was the calends (Latin kalendae), which appears to trace back to calare (“proclaim”). About a week later would be the half moon. That became the nones (Latin nonae), so called because it was the ninth day before the ides—which is to say, it was eight days before the ides. (Confused? We’ll get to that.) The third day of note was the full moon, which was the ides (Latin idus, from some Etruscan word). And then…apparently nothing of note between full and new moon. (more…)