Method to sharpen focus and open minds

March 22, 2013

Alina Tugend, The New York Times: Like most people, I have my share of tension and anxiety. And I’m happy to find ways to cope that don’t involve illegal drugs. So when the term mindfulness began cropping up everywhere, I became intrigued.

Elementary school students practice it. Doctors practice it — and their patients. Prisoners practice it. There’s mindful eating that promises a healthier way of eating. And scans show mindfulness may change the way our brains function and help us improve attention, reduce stress hormones and even bounce back faster from negative information.

But, skeptic that I am, I wondered if…

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Penn class teaches students how to live like monks

February 11, 2012

Associate professor Justin McDaniel’s religious studies class on monastic life and asceticism gives students at the University of Pennsylvania a firsthand experience of what it’s like to be a monk.

Students participating in the class are required to observe disciplines drawn from various monastic traditions, including refraining from using any technology other than electric lighting, quitting coffee and alcohol, avoiding physical contact and prolonged eye contact, and eating only unprocessed foods.

Students also have to follow a dress code, with males wearing black shirts and females wearing white shirts, and males and females have to sit on opposite sides of the classroom.

That’s not all.

No makeup, jewelry or hair products. Laptops are prohibited; notes

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