Nathaniel Livingston Photograph


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Mindful of the warmer weather

February 4, 2012   

I’m all over the map, I suppose.

Well, not really – I’m very rooted.  It crossed my mind that one could spend an entire semester on College Hill without ever having to leave.  Meal plans take care of any sustenance needs, and the people offer the best companionship.  One could literally not leave this single hill, this speck of elevated topography, for months.

But I assure you, sometimes it’s nice to travel down the hill and experience other parts of central New York.  The weather has been particularly warm this season.  There is currently no snow on the ground, and I’d say that the grass has been visible for the better part of the semester.  But we are just beginning February – the coldest month (because the cruelest month is April).  Anyways, this warm weather makes me dream of vacationing away from the hill for a little and maybe going on some nice hikes around the area.  The air is crisp and clear, usually, and it wouldn’t be as cold as normal.

As far as really getting off the hill though, I did so a few days ago for an exceptional dinner at a professor’s house.  Naomi Guttman is a professor of poetry, but this was no poetic dinner.  It was a dinner designed to kick off the introduction of the contemplative and the mindful onto Hamilton’s campus.  What does this mean?  Well, one of the dinner’s participants, Jan Fisher, offered a few definitions she found from the web:

""Mindfulness is the non-judgmental, compassionate awareness of
interior and exterior present moment experience".
Jon Kabat Zinn

"...paying attention, on purpose, non-judgmentally."
Jon K Zinn

Basically, it’s all about paying attention in the moment.  From an academic perspective, this means (for me at least) feeling passionate about the work you are doing, and not judging the fact that I get really excited about poetry, or novels, or the study of bones.  It’s all about embracing the opportunity of education – but mindfulness goes beyond the classroom.  It accounts for a healthier lifestyle and relationships.  I think it is a good initiative that is being introduced to the campus.

At the dinner we discussed different ways to introduce mindfulness, or maybe just the idea of awareness, onto the campus.  I feel very lucky to be a part of these dinners, where three students and about 10 members of the faculty came together for one of the most enlightening conversations I’ve had this semester.

The next dinner will be in March.  February will pass, and hopefully without much snow either – though sometimes the snow can be quite beautiful, and sometimes I do miss it.