Author: Mina Samuels

The Interior Design Benefits of Meditating

Yesterday I hit Day 45 in my meditation streak. The streak was inspired in part by the utter randomness my meditation practice had become and in part by a meditation workshop I participated in on December 2. The last time I meditated for as many days in a row was in 2015. For this streak, I’ve asked myself to sit for at least 10 minutes every day, which means that for about 40 of the days I’ve sat for … 10 minutes. I’m tempted to judge myself for the shortness, but hey, I’ve been meditating regularly and so I’m less prone to! Have I achieved a higher level of consciousness? Am I having deeper thoughts now? If I am, then…

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How To Think About Gillette’s Believe Video: The Young Rooster, The Cat and The Baby Mouse

Gillette released its Believe video last weekend, stirring up much controversy. The video takes a bold stand against toxic masculinity, calling out aggression, fisticuffs, bullying, sexual harassment and other manifestations of the unhealthy boys-will-be-boys and men-will-be-men behaviours. As I was brushing away my tears and wondering if Gillette made women’s razors that I could start buying (oh, I already do but they’re called Venus, so I didn’t realize they were Gillette), there was wild pushback from men vowing to never shave with a Gillette razor again, claiming the right to be “real men” and to let the “soy boys be soy boys”. An aside: Among a certain quite large cadre of men, being vegetarian, as in, eating soy products, is considered…

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Not Running in Paris

I was in Paris for the month of December. Two weeks in my back started hurting for no discernible reason and I couldn’t run for the second half of my stay. In addition to the intense frustration at missing the pleasures of a run along the Seine (the light, the architecture, the people watching, the little exercise yard on the Left Bank), I felt old and creaky as I limped to the boulangerie in the morning for our breakfast baguette. (Side note—divine Paris breakfast—fresh baguette slathered with raspberry jam and sheep’s milk yogurt from an adorable little glass jar and crunchy salad of little gems, endive, snow peas, cherry tomatoes and carrots.) Getting out of bed as slowly as my back demanded…

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Making Room in My Mind: A Year of No Shopping

January 2019 is one week old and I haven’t shopped for more than a year now. I just finished my annual challenge for 2018: no shopping for clothes, shoes, handbags or jewelry. Way back in April 2018, when I wrote about the experience at three months, I had a clean feeling, as if I’d cut something pleasurable, yet toxic, out of my diet. At six months, a fog had cleared after that initial detox and I was starting to get a look inside my shopping mind. By the time nine monthsrolled around, weeks might pass when I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t shopping. I spent December, the final challenge month, in Paris, a city I go to often and where I…

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To Make Change Requires Us to Reach: The Fox and The Grapes

I feel helpless in the face of the enormous endemic problems in the world. Rampant consumerism, environmental degradation, the structural inequities of capitalism (a topic I’ve been stuck on latelysee Let The Winds of Change Topple Capitalismand The Impact of Capitalism Will Be Felt Long After It Dies). This can mean that I spend a lot of time complaining, because solving the problem feels way beyond my capability, something only a government or giant corporation can tackle. But when I do that, I’m giving away my power to make change. This is the time of year we think about change a lot, whether we are making resolutions or taking on an annual challenge (my preferred approach). And any change, even…

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Let The Winds of Change Topple Capitalism: The Oak and The Reed

Last week I suggested we get rid of capitalism (The Sooner We Start Mourning Capitalism, The Sooner We Can Move On: The Young Widow). Many of the responses I got were along these lines: It’s the only system that can work in a free society. Capitalism has become an incontrovertible, first principles, core truth in our imaginations. For an idea so young in the history of human society, capitalism towers over us. But does that mean it’s unassailable? It is particularly apt to look back for perspective, given that capitalism (and the United States, its most loyal booster) did not exist in its current form in the 17th century when Jean de La Fontaine’s was writing his fables. One day…

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The Sooner We Start Mourning Capitalism, The Sooner We Can Move On: The Young Widow

I’m in Paris for the month of December and just passed through my first weekend of the Gilets Jaunes protests. Action sparked by the fuel tax France is supposed to impose (in some form) under the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. As of last week, the fuel tax is no longer, but the protests continued this weekend, expanding the mandate to the pervasive, systemic problem of income inequality. While I am in favour of taxes, as a way to encourage fuel efficiency, the question of who pays and how for the depredations wrought on the environment is a high wire act. In our capitalist system of “intensifying inequality” (as Jonathan Beller puts it in Cabinet), the less money one has, the…

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Can 180 Seconds At −245°F Improve Your Health?

Cryotherapy is a new-to-me wellness trend. Easy and scary, cryotherapy is a process by which a near-naked human spends two to four minutes standing in a cold chamber cooled to below −100°C. The protocol claims to reduce tissue inflammation, which aids in sports recovery, alleviates diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and MS, increases energy, enhances sleep and focus, assists weight loss, brightens skin and reduces anxiety and depression (17 Proven Benefits of Whole Body Cryotherpay + Side Effects). Better to ask, what doesn’t cryotherapy promise? I decided to give it a try. Despite the skeptics at The Guardian (Whole-body cryotherapy: what are the cold hard facts?) and US News (Should You Try Whole Body Cryotherapy?), there are a lot of celebrity…

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Let’s Share The Work Of A Better Era: The Fly and The Ant

Has the Holocene Era ended and the Anthropocene Era begun? And with this new era comes a host of indoor pathologies because we humans spend too much time indoors and largely immobile. The Holocene (“entirely new”) Era began about 11, 700 years after the last major ice age. Anthropocene-ists (“new human”) argue that humans have so reshaped the environment of our planet, that our age merits that new designation. When humans emerged during the Holocene Era we were biologically designed to use our bodies in the outdoors to work and play. We don’t anymore. Instead, we reshape our environment to suit our sedentary, consumptive society, laying waste to our home planet. We’ve lost touch not only with our physical selves,…

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What If We Didn’t Shop This Holiday Season?—The Rat and The Elephant

Last week was exciting, intense and exhausting. I was at the University of Illinois for auditions to cast my first ensemble play (as playwright). Pinch me! The week ended with a 13-hour travel delay. These are the ingredients for psychological wreckdom. The next morning, to clear the jumble inside my head, my partner and I went to a new coffee shop in our neighborhood, right next to a clothing store I’ve never paid a lot of attention to. In the shop window was a lovely blouse—sheer black with silver pinstripes. Exactly the kind of thing I would buy to reward myself after the kind of thrilling and grueling week I had. Except, I’m not shopping for clothes (or shoes, or…

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