, Derry, New Hampshire

February 6, 2014

Column: There is relief for the stressed out among us

John Edmondson
Derry News

---- — Are you tethered to your electronic devices like a dog to its leash? Can you navigate TurboTax, text a friend, and read the latest Jodi Picoult novel at the same time?

If so, according to a recent cover story in Time magazine, you can probably benefit from something called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR.

It’s telling that we’re all in such a hurry to get more things done faster that there’s no time to utter the full name of a therapeutic technique that’s supposed to help us slow down and smell the cappuccino, KWIM (know what I mean)?

Anyway, the writer of this article begins her piece by describing what it’s like to “mindfully” eat a raisin, and the process begins long before she pops it into her mouth. She begins by looking closely at the raisin, how its “skin glistens,” how she notices “a small indentation where it once hung from the vine.”

Then she writes, “Eventually ... I place the raisin in my mouth and roll the wrinkly little shape over with my tongue ... then finally, I chew -- very slowly.”

Seems to me that if all of us were this mindful of everything we did, it would be like getting stuck behind someone at the ATM -- ATAD (ain’t that a drag?) -- who takes their sweet time depositing a check, begins to drive away, then brakes when they remember they needed some cash too, but lacks the mental acuity to re-enter their password.

MBSR sounds like LITSLTM (life in the slow lane to me). Maybe what we need instead is an HM (happy medium), something in between FSA (full steam ahead) and ATTSSIAT (a three-toed sloth stuck in a tree). Let’s start with some good old-fashioned common sense as we strive to get more done in less time.

Winter tends to bring out the dumb in many of us. A few days after a recent snowstorm, I spotted a driver who thought it was OK to drive a motorized igloo. The entire upper portion of his car was encased in snow, save for a tiny opening on his windshield and one in the rear.

This man decided to risk life and limb -- his and others — to get to his destination faster when a two-minute workout with an old broom would have been the intelligent thing to do.

The morning after another snowstorm, I spotted two SUVs upended, with police and rescue vehicles close by. It’s one thing for motorists in a city like Atlanta to freak out and then spin out on icy highways. It’s quite another for hardy New Englanders, used to snowy conditions, to drive too fast and wind up impersonating a turtle on its back.

Leave a little earlier. Slow down. Steer clear of drivers who seem hell-bent for a face-plant in a snow bank.

Not that winter is the only stupid season. I’ve noticed many a Corolla packed high and tight with enough beach gear for an Annette Funicello movie, all held down with one bungee cord. All in the name of saving a few minutes’ wait at the Sagamore Bridge.

At the end of the Time article, the author writes how the MBSR workshop has made a small but lasting impact: “I’ve started wearing a watch, which has cut in half the number of times a day I look up at my iPhone and risk getting sucked into checking email or the web.”

Wow, going old-school to avoid the cyber vortex. WAC (what a concept).

John Edmondson is a teacher in Hampstead.