The UCLA campus was deserted the day I arrived during spring break, its stillness doing little to combat the sense of dread I felt as I made my way to a large conference room. Inside were 10 people of all different ages. They were sitting quietly. I took a seat and waited for someone to speak, and when nobody did, I looked around and wondered what brought everyone here and whether I should be here instead of doing the million other things I’d rather be doing. Then I thought about those other things while scolding myself for thinking about them, because today was about the opposite of that. Today was about the present.

I was at The Mindful Awareness Research Center, founded in 2006— just a year before the present moment of which I speak—which was hosting a program called “A Day of Mindfulness” to promote mindfulness in daily life. I was the perfect candidate: I, who hummed like a Chihuahua and couldn’t stop her brain from ricocheting all over the place; I, who read while the radio was on and stopped each activity for the other every few minutes; I, who had lists of things I wanted to do and did each one of those things simultaneously.

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