Mindfulness is Noticing New Things


A second video for starters. With the previous post these two videos highlight what Musicably is about – Mindful Music Making.

Renowned Harvard University psychology professor Ellen Langer, known as the “mother of mindfulness”, explains the topic of her career-long research:

“Mindfulness is the simple process of noticing new things. Noticing new things keeps us in the present, makes us sensitive to context and perspective and helps us being engaged … and authentic.”

She also explains mindlessness as the opposite state: “When we are being mindless, we’re letting the past overdetermine the present. … And I think that most of us are mindless most of the time. Mindlessness is pervasive.”

I find it quite funny how professor Langer further explains mindlessness: “Forty years of research keeps turning up that most of us just aren’t there. And the problem is, when you’re not there, you’re not there to know you’re not there.”

Even more relevant to the mindful music making, she described a research, where they had an orchestra playing their piece mindfully and also mindlessly. The result was that “when the pieces are played mindfully, the symphonic orchestra members not only enjoy what they are doing, but that mindfulness seems to leave its imprint on the product they produce. … So that you seem more attractive to other people, you are feeling better and more engaged and enjoying your work and the thing you are doing ends up prospering. So it is win-win-win!”

Unlike the Eastern meditative approach originating in the ancient Buddhist tradition, Ellen Langer represents the Western nonmeditative approach to mindfulness, which is more scientifically dominated and focuses on novel distinctions about the objects of awareness. Langer’s mindfulness definition is simple and clear in this.

The Western approach to mindfulness is better suitable for the purpose of music making I am planning to offer here at Musicably. And, again, Ellen Langer is a great source of information and knowledge, with her book On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity.

I will delve into this more in following posts.

You can watch the interview here.


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