Am I the kind of person who … ?
How would you finish this sentence? The kind of person who … Runs marathons? Eats vegan? Listens to Beyonce? Drives a Prius? Meditates?
The activity that completes the sentence – run, eat, etc. – almost seems less important than the sense of membership that comes with it. Am I that kind of person?
Let’s face it, we all think along these lines at one time or another. We can’t help building identities for ourselves and we often build our identities on the backs of others. Perhaps I know someone who runs, eats vegan, etc., and I think to myself, “I respect and like that person so its ok for me to associate myself with that person.”
Celebrities and their lifestyles certainly point us this way. If I learn that Madonna meditates, will that turn me towards meditation? If I learn that Barack Obama likes a microbrew at the end of the day, will that boost my beer intake?
The July 6 edition of The New Yorker offers its own take on the Celebrity Meditator in “The Higher Life” (subtitled, “A mindfulness guru for the tech set”). While several celebrities are mentioned, the article’s main focus is Andy Puddicombe, a once-upon-a-time Buddhist monk in the Tibetan tradition, and the creator of a meditation app called Headspace.
According to the article, Headspace has been downloaded 3,000,000 times which means it is competing with dancing cat YouTube videos in terms of popularity. Of course, downloads are one thing and actual time spent meditating is quite another. So here is my wish: on any given day, tens of thousands of Headspace owners will take out their mobile devices in order to step out of “busyness” for a few minutes and cultivate some awareness of the present moment.
That’s a happy thought for me and I don’t mind being seen as the kind of person who has thoughts like that.