You should have seen the face of the guy behind the counter in the Manhattan bagel shop when I asked for the smallest, thinnest bagel they had. In a country where excess rules, where the credo is bigger is better, my request must have come as a shock. But I really needed that thin bagel to save a lecture I was about to give at Columbia University.
The focus of my lecture was on some interesting everyday applications of chemistry, and I wanted to start with a demonstration of how acrylic plastics can make our lives less risky. Dr. Mark Smith, head of emergency at George Washington University Medical Center, had made headlines across America by going public about a great underreported injury of our times: cuts resulting from bagel slicing. Anyone who has ever risked a mangled hand by trying to slice a bagel in half knows exactly what Im talking about. Luckily, inventors have risen to the challenge and have come up with a variety of devices to ensure that a perfectly good bagel isnt ruined by splattered blood. I had even found one that I really liked. It was a clear acrylic box that held a bagel snugly and had slits down two sides to guide a knife. Not only does it prevent injuries, it also protects bagel lovers from another great scourge a smoke-filled kitchen. This is what happens when the bigger half of an unevenly sliced bagel refuses to pop up after weve squeezed it into a toaster slot that is too small.
In Europe, the high-cultural appeal of psychoanalysis took it far beyond narrow medical circles. In Britain, France, Germany and Austria many of the most distinguished early practitioners were lay analysts drawn to psychoanalysis from the disciplines of literature, philosophy, law, pedagogy and natural science because of their interest in what was being discovered about the human psyche in the analytic hour.
The situation in the United States was quite the reverse. Here psychoanalysis developed almost exclusively as an extension of medical practice by doctors trained in psychiatry and neurology. Medical training was to become a prerequisite for psychoanalytic training and psychoanalysis was to become a leading branch of psychiatric practice. But within this narrowed professional scope, the frontier spirit prevailed. Psychoanalysis was adapted by a grouping of creative practitioners to treat cases of the most profound mental distress - the psychoses - in large institutional settings in the face of opposition from the Old World that it could not be done.
Iceland is literally a country in the making, a vast volcanic laboratory where mighty forces shape the earth: geysers gush, mudpots gloop, sulphurous clouds puff from fissures and glaciers grind great pathways through the mountains. Experience the full weirdness of Icelandic nature by bathing in turquoise pools, kayaking under the midnight sun or crunching across a dazzling-white ice cap.
Iceland’s creatures are larger than life too: minke, humpback and even blue whales are common visitors to the deeper fjords. Record-breaking numbers of birds nest in the sea cliffs: cutest are the puffins who flutter here in their millions.
Despite the devastating recession, signs of recovery have arrived surprisingly fast. Clean, green Reykjavík must contain the world’s highest concentration of dreamers, authors, poets and musicians. Little wonder, as the magnificent scenery of this Atlantic island forged in fire and ice make it one of the world’s most awe-inspiring sights.
If we know the divine art of concentration, if we know the divine art of meditation, if we know the divine art of contemplation, easily and consciously we can unite the inner world and the outer world.
Before meeting with potential donors, Steve spends a few minutes in meditation, concluding with an intention that helps him connect to purpose:
May [this person] be happy and peaceful May she be free from all inner and outer harm May her mind and body be healthy May she be happy with things as they are May she live with the ease of well-being
Steve, the physician/fundraiser at a major west coast university medical center, is charged with raising money to support the goals of the institution—at least on paper. But he likes to turn that description on its head. He considers himself an advocate for donors and in service to connecting the donors’ passions and motivations to the needs of the institution.
One of the things meditation practice does for him is remind him that the focus of his work is not the transaction, but building relationships. “When I am able to quiet myself and turn my focus toward understanding and advocating for the donor, I know I am not going to take actions that are coercive or manipulative. The meditation has been a way to bring the potential donor to the front of my mind. I can think about their needs instead of ‘How do I get them to do something I want them to do?’ Using manipulative selling techniques may get you something in the moment, but it won’t get you a lasting relationship.”