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Mindfullness is not Mindfulness

Mindfullness is not Mindfulness

The cursor on my screen moves along swiftly. My wifi is off and my mobile is on “do not disturb” – so no emails, no notifications, and no phone-calls or texts. I’m not worried. I know that in about 30 minutes I’ll check all those devices and whatever I need to attend to can wait until then. Just now I have to write this column and I want to be mindful and present for the task. In many ways, there’s something delightfully calming about this, which is paradoxical because it’s still work. It seems that as mindfulness is gaining more space in the public conversation, our...
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What is Bikram Yoga?

What is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Yoga is the creation of Bikram Choudhury (b. 1946), who began studying asana at the age of three. At 20 (so the story goes) he was badly injured in a weightlifting accident and despite a grim prognosis from the doctors, managed a full recovery with the help of yoga. Since the 1970s,...
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Let’s Do Lunch – in a Graveyard

Let’s Do Lunch – in a Graveyard

When I tell people that, for four years, I have spent most of my spare time in graveyards, they always look a little alarmed. They shouldn’t. In the process of writing and researching my book Finding the Plot: 100 Graves to Visit Before You Die, I have visited scores of graveyards: grand and tiny, Victorian and modern, manicured and tumbledown.  Not depressing, nor weird, they are fascinating places with so many things to notice: those names (like Myrtle, Ethel etc) you’d forgotten existed, intriguing epitaphs, and some amazing monuments which, in places such as Highgate in...
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Culture Tip: The Circle

Culture Tip: The Circle

I was racing through Dave Eggers' The Circle over Christmas and enjoying it so much, I just had to tweet something about it. But what? "Am loving the way this book makes social media sound like a totalitarian state #1984"  Or "Mister Cool Dave Eggers is acting like a technophobic dinosaur" Or simply "Step away from the screens!"? To explain. This novel is about a young woman, Mae Holland,  who gets a job at a Google-(or is it Facebook?)like company and gets drawn further and further into a technological takeover of her life. What starts out as social...
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A Jewish Family Christmas

A Jewish Family Christmas

Going away to a secluded part of the Norfolk countryside for a week, with 12 members of your family, ranging from in age from nine to 90, may strike fear into the hearts of most normal folk. And yet, my family has insisted on making this a sadistic tradition for the past three years. I’m currently writing this amidst a storm of testosterone over a heated game of Risk. Family reputation is on the line here. And I find myself reluctantly pulled into conversations about football, as the only younger woman in a family of men: 3 male cousins, 2  brothers, and me. In the...
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