I'm thinking a lot about the idea of the mind as its own place (thanks, John Milton) these days. As some of you know, I'm an inconsistent meditator, yogi and would be Buddhist. (Though lately I've been reading about Sufism, and that sounds pretty good to me.) In any case, some of what these things share (other than a healthy rep for being Eastern "woo-woo"--thanks Margaret) is that they all aspire to both tap into something beyond the self, a shared realm beyond consciousness that somehow links person to person to creature to plant to planet to universe, and also to place the self firmly in the moment, the now. (At least, that's my read on these practices. Scholars can feel free to augment and correct, as long as they're not nasty about my mistakes, intellectual or typographical.)
Last Sunday, I read the NYT's Sunday Styles piece on Jill Bolte Taylor, neuroanatomist, stroke victim, and advocate for the idea that the keys to the universalist kingdom, so to speak, lie within our own brains, specifically the right hemisphere. She asserts that the experience of bliss, nirvana, universality, peace (or whatever you want to call it) is accessible via the right hemisphere of our brain, that by accessing that part of ourselves, we can tame the left brain, which is all about chatter and worry and fretting about the past and projecting future and linear thought--in other words, everything but the experience of this particular moment.
I mentioned a few days ago that friends are enduring a particularly terrifying present. Their five year old son was diagnosed a week and a half ago with Wilm's Tumor, a cancer of the kidneys that occurs in little kids. Though it has around a 90% cure rate, it's not something you want to have to experience as a patient or a parent. If their blog is a fair representation of their reality (and I suspect it is, as much as any blog can be) they are dealing with this fearful adversity with great balance and love. Their ability to maintain calm and positivity speaks, I think, to all this right brain woo-woo stuff. I hope that as you all did for Mieke when she began her hard times this year, you will send all your powers of belief, hope and love towards Pablo and his family as they move through their cancer journey. Whatever your belief, it never hurts to send love in someone's direction.