Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Monday, March 7, 2011

As Spring Struggles to Get In the Door, the Writer Comtemplates the Wisdom of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the cultivation of open-hearted awareness of one's present-moment experience.The practice of mindfulness is beneficial for people experiencing anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and physical symptoms related to stress or disease. Through mindfulness we can see clearly, accept, and gain freedom from the suffering brought on by our automatic thoughts and assumptions. We can experience the joy of being fully present in our lives, learn from difficult times, and be open to compassion for ourselves and others. Vickie Fine

Yes, yes, yes, I'm a skeptic. In fact, let me write that with a capital S--Skeptic. But there is this thing I have about Buddhism. After spending a lifetime scouring the world for religions that make sense, and finding none, another look at this ancient philosophy reveals some common ground--some, just some.

While Buddhism does not embrace the irrational beliefs of other religions (holy ghosts, devils, spirits, etc.) Buddhism does include the notion of reincarnation. There is no rational evidence to believe in ghosts or spirits or reincarnation either, period, and I challenge you to provide it. And the other unfortunate irrationality that Buddhism shares with other religions is their negative take on sex.

Yesterday, I was listening to an NPR radio program on which a woman, who had spent years traveling the world's exotic places studying Zen Buddhism, described her adventures. She said that while spending a year meditating, she was instructed to forgo the following: stealing, cheating, lying, and sex. Seems to me it's counterproductive to vilify the reason we are all here, but most religions seem to do it.

Back to the point at hand: Where Buddhism gets it right--really right--is with the theory and practice of mindfulness. No spirit-ghost-afterlife mumbo jumbo here. No worshiping of some fearful, vengeful god, no praying for forgiveness for sins (lying, cheating, stealing, and sex, mostly). No, mindfulness is something real you can wrap your brain around.

There are lots of books out on this topic, all offering relief from your particular neurosis via mindfulness, but the wonderful thing about mindfulness is you don't have to be a bull goose looney or a Woody Allen-type neurotic to benefit from it. Even the emotionally fit among us will experience a pleasant rush of relief in taking your mind off autopilot for a while and focusing on your awareness of your awareness of your awareness--of the moment, that is. Your breathing, the feelings in your body, the sounds around you, your heart beating, your....It's a huge relief, in any event, to slow down and become, if only briefly, a part of your own life, a life that is screaming by at warp speed and will be over way to soon

                                                                          Move slowly, smile, breath.

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