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Kathie Gansemer concentrates on her breath first.

Slow, steady breaths.

Then, perhaps, she recites an inspirational quote or a poem to set the mood. One of her favorites is from the 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi. It encourages the reader to welcome even the most disturbing thoughts and emotions as a potential means to clear the way for an unexpected delight.

Then, focus.

How can mindfulness techniques help improve mental and physical health, especially as we head into the pandemic winter? Writing for "Scientific American" last week, Melinda Wenner Moyer presented tips from disaster psychology that she says can help people cope during times of crisis. Among them are mindfulness and finding new ways to connect with family and friends.

This hour, our guests explore different ways to find happiness and incorporate mindfulness during the pandemic winter. They also discuss the connection between physical and mental health. Our guests:

According to an American Psychiatric Association poll, 39 percent of Americans said they were more anxious in 2018 than they were the previous year. Mindfulness training has emerged as a popular method to address anxiety and stress – both at work and at home.

This hour, we discuss one approach to mindfulness – Buddhist meditation – with two teachers. They share meditation techniques and talk about why they think this approach to mindfulness can be effective in responding to life’s challenges. In studio:

What does it mean to be "Acting Human?" The concept refers to a mindful way of living -- of living in the moment and writing one's own story. Musician, director, and author Richard Dubin has written an eBook on the subject, and is collaborating with other creative people on a series of projects designed around it. He encourages readers to live their lives using the skills employed by artists as they create their art. He says the practice can help people find identity and push against the constraints of a polarized society -- one in which life can seem mechanical.

Dubin joins us to explain how to act human, and how the concepts of mindfulness, creativity, art, and play intersect and reflect social issues. Our guests:

  • Richard Dubin, musician, producer, and author of "Acting Human"
  • Loren Toolajian, composer, broadcaster, and owner of Sandblast Productions in New York City