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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The impermanence of Benedict Cumberbatch

The ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch shockingly enough takes time for himself -- in addition to
appearing in TV, film, and on award shows for both of those. He tells the Wall Street Journal:

I meditate a lot. That’s a huge tool in trying to calm myself, get away from the crazy circus of it all, have a focused mind as well as be a kinder, considerate person in the world. I took a lot of stuff away from my experience in Darjeeling, West Bengal, right at the Nepali border. It was Tibetan Buddhist monks in a converted Nepali house in India, with a view of Bhutan. It was a profoundly formative experience at a very young age. It’s something I’ve tried to keep in my life. It features already.
(Cumberbatch took a semester off from college to teach English to Tibetan monks in India."
"There's an ability to focus and have a real sort of purity of purpose and attention and not be too distracted. And to feel very alive to your environment, to know what you are part of, to understand what is going on in your peripheral vision and behind you, as well of what is in front of you. That definitely came from that."
But I think it's a question about fear of failure, not meditation directly, that shows how it works:

Also, it’s important sometimes to step back and not take it too seriously, in order to be free and light and remember the childish innocence. You should be alive to the moment, you should be able to play. While a hell of a lot of work goes into the most seemingly off-the-cuff stuff in our industries, I think it’s really important in those moments when you’re delivering that lightness to be free of all of that. You play the scene. You really look into people’s eyes, what they’re saying, and everything else sort of falls back. You get those wonderful moments of clarity – they’re not Eureka! moments but they’re as close to it as acting gets, where you are lost in the moment. I challenge any actor, whatever methodology, to say that that’s a permanent state.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Meditation helps students cope

During the four years since Vistacion Middle School in San Francisco instituted twice-daily 15-minute meditation sessions, suspensions dropped by 79 percent and attendance and academic performance improved, NBC reports.

Nearby Burton High School, once nicknamed "Fight School," has seen similar results. The principal, Bill Kappenhagen, was skeptical -- and he didn't want to take time from academic instruction for students to do nothing. He made the school day 30 minutes longer to provide time for meditation. The result, he said, is better academic performance and a 75 percent decrease in suspensions. And students say they're more conscious of their actions, calmer, and less angry. 

The San Francisco Public School District partnered with the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education for the meditation program, called "Quiet Time," in four schools. 

NBC News
The schools are in neighborhoods where violence is part of daily life. Kappenhagen says he can't change that environment, but he's glad meditation "helps our students find ways to deal with violence and the trauma and the stress of everyday life." 

For details on Quiet Time go here.