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Mindful : February 2016
A Berlin couple launched a web- site that connects refugees with room- mates, covering the cost of rent through donations. So far, 400 refugees based in Germany have signed up. Diversity is beauti- ful, but at one cafe in Israel, it’s worth a discount. The owner of Humus Bar in the town of Kfar Vitkin serves dishes at half price to tables shared by Pales- tinians and Jews. After a six-year-old boy’s piggy bank was stolen in a house robbery in Canada, people from around the world sent hundreds of cards and coins so he could rebuild his collection. HEADSPACE BOOMS The mindfulness app Headspace, which has taken the world by storm (with a repor ted 3 million users), now boasts serious sup- por t from Hollywood. In a recent round of funding, the star t-up received millions of dollars in support, and contributors include Jessica Alba and Jared Leto, Saturday Night Live creator and producer Lorne Michaels, as well as LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. YOUR BRAIN ON PLANTS Most video games run on adrena- line and make-or-break decision- making. Not so for Viridi, a new “video game,” or, perhaps more accurately, virtual “safe haven,” in which the only goal is to take care of succulent plants. Described by Ice Water Games, its Seattle-based developer, as a “meditative potted plant app” and “a place you can return to for a moment of peace and quiet whenever you need it,” Viridi requires only that you select a pot, choose from a variety of plants, and commit to watering and spraying the plant as needed, at the pace of around one “move” per day. Viridi is one of a few games representing a new genre intended as a contempla- tive and relaxing experience—the mindful antithesis of the traditional video game. 2015 was a pivotal year for mindfulness research. The number of studies on meditation and mindfulness is growing, and so is the quality: Researcher David J. Lee of the University of Miami was awarded the prestigious Fulbright scholarship to conduct a cross- cultural study of mindfulness practices in Australia. The University of Wisconsin-Mad- ison’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds received a $10 million grant from an alumna, which will fur ther their work in child development and well-being. Backed by a $4.7-mil- lion grant from the National Institutes of Health, Brown, Harvard, and UMASS have teamed up for a five-year study into whether mindfulness helps patients stick with lifestyle changes. APPS APLENTY UPCOMING RESEARCH OVERHEARD “Even if the person who died wasn’t a relative, health workers share some of the pain in the loss of each life— and need to be able to feel it, but without being overwhelmed. I can also acknowledge the pain that I bore witness to in caring for that family, and caring for that patient.” Jonathan Bartels, an emergency care nurse at the University of Virginia Medical Center, takes a one-minute pause with his team after a patient dies. The practice is now part of the curriculum at the university’s nursing school and is spreading to other US hospitals. In October, MPs and peers rallying under the banner of the “Mindfulness All-Party Parlia- mentary Group” released Mindful Nation UK, a blueprint for weaving mindfulness into pub- lic policies in health, education, workplaces, and the criminal justice system. As one of the first exemplary efforts, mindfulness is coming to the UK’s high-security prisons. One-on-one training will be offered to about 60 prisoners, held in segregation units in all Brits Declare Mindful Nation eight of the country’s high-security prisons, to help the inmates deal with stress, depres- sion, and violent urges. “The idea is to incorporate mindfulness as part of the day-to-day regime of our close supervision centers,” well-being strategy manager Mark Campion told The Guard- ian. Mindfulness now joins other voluntary pathways of therapy for prisoners. “ You can’t force people to do mindfulness,” he adds. “It is on an as-needed basis agreed by both the prisoner and the prison psychologist.” February 2016 mindful 11 PHOTOGRAPHS:©ISTOCK.COM/BJOERNMEYER,COURTESYOFHEADSPACE.COM,COURTESYOFICEWATERGAMES.COM,©PHOTOMELON,TASHKA2000,FRENTA/DOLLARPHOTOCLUB 3Extra ordinary Acts of Kindness