Dr. Charles T. Tart, Mindfulness, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology,
Lecture 4, Part 2 of 19 parts. To start class from beginning, click here.
CTT: So we’re trying to be bodily present in the here and now, I’ll give reminders once in a while, but otherwise have a more general discussion. What I’m going to do is something I normally never do until the end of class, and that is to pass your last two papers back with my comments on them. I’ll give you a few minutes to look at those because I often make notes on them that you should bring such and such a topic up in class. You often raise issues of general interest and importance, and then it tends to be forgotten a week or two later when the opportunity might arise to bring it up in class, so I thought I’d spark the discussion in this particular fashion.
Start some of them going this way and, like passing the pad around, remain aware of your body, what’s happening in the here and now. You may find it helpful to slow down ever so slightly while you do it because that often aids mindfulness, to just do ordinary actions at a slightly different speed from usual. I should warn you that if you make that slight slowing a practice in everyday life, though, you will be subject to more scrutiny.
CTT: It’s quite amazing. I used to teach a humanistic and transpersonal psychology class at U.C. Davis which was a long class. We’d have a coffee break in the middle and often walk over to the coffee shop across the quadrangle. As a mindfulness exercise, I would tell people to just do everything normally, but walk maybe 5 percent slower than usual.
Now in the grand cosmic scheme of things, and with natural variability, walking 5 percent slower than normal shouldn’t mean a thing. It has no significance whatsoever. But my students were always conscious of how other people who weren’t in the class would look at them. They sensed something funny was happening.
I may have gotten the idea from a colleague who told me about a trip he’d taken to Istanbul. He was being shown around the city by a friend, and the markets especially were very crowded. It was hard to get anywhere. So the friend told him “Oh, we’ll walk slightly slower than normal, because that’s what wise men do, and we won’t have any trouble getting around.” And sure enough, by a very slight drop in speed, crowds just automatically parted and they could go wherever they wanted. So now you know how to fake being wise.