Thursday, May 11, 2006

end of semester reflections

The semester has come to an end - what a transformation of the campus! At the same time, summer is kicking in - we're getting ready for the hot weather. The past weeks had the theme of producing lots of results and giving talks, as well as grading exams and finishing up the class I am the teaching assistant for. It is very interesting to see how people learn at the same time that you are studying human memory (the subject of the course). For your information, spaced repetition is really the best way to learn. Also, really anything you experience changes you, because it changes your episodic memory, which subsequently continues to influence your perception. Interesting how Western science of memory and Buddhism came up with these insights independently!

A recent interest of mine is trying out raw food dishes. I got this amazing cookbook by Jennifer Cornbleet called Raw food made easy, and there is also a very nice website with raw recipes. I think this diet is probably not completely balanced and feasible by itself, but it is definitely good to eat more raw fruits and vegetables, which is also a lot easier as summer comes along.

Another project these weeks has been to work with mindfulness, inspired by the rigpa study pack about meditation. One relatively easy way to develop mindfulness is to tie it for yourself to particular stereotyped actions, such as eating: just remind yourself to think of "mindfulness" as you're eating. This not only transforms your experience of that particular action, but also increases the number of times you remember to remember! The four applications of mindfulness (see "genuine happiness" by Alan Wallace for a good description of those) are also very interesting: I tried to apply the mindfulness of feelings to my hurting toes during pointe class, and it was definitely very helpful. Mindfulness is really an amazing tool!