Today, while on My day gig as a Typer of Terrifyingly Long Medical Words, I chanced upon the November-December 2008 issue of Psychology Today. Therein I found a particularly good article called The Art of Now, subtitled "Six Steps to Living in the Present".
I haven't had time to go through the article in great detail yet, but even a cursory glance over afternoon coffee has paid off handsomely.
For one thing, a lot of wordy concepts are starting to crystallize into things that actually make sense. It's a relief to know that I actually have been practicing 'mindfulness', in the sense of 'Pay attention to what's going on Right Now, dammit!' I assure you that yes, doing this actually does work in the real world. There is no magic about it. It is simply a matter of taking the time to pay attention, close attention, intent and committed attention to... Well, anything at all.
The mystery of breathing exercises to calm the mind is also explained. Why use the breath, and not something else? Because breathing happens in realtime, and it's something we carry with us everywhere we go. No magic there, either.
I was delighted to see an old friend, the 'Flow' concept of Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, also referenced in the article. I'm generally happiest when working on an intense project; that's the place where intention and action dovetail into a seamless and satisfying whole.
There's more in there, all very practical and useful stuff. I'm hoping to score a dead-tree copy of the magazine at the mall tomorrow; it'll make an excellent supplement and glossary for the horde of meditation and psychology books that already haunt My bookcases.
And I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the Lakshmi Project, Phase II: Cleaning up the mind as well as the desk. (puts away a few stray pens and pencils and pets cat in mindful, engaged manner)