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“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
“Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.” – William Shakespeare
Mindfulness is more than just a mindset. It is the purposeful practice of discovering and cultivating the moments in life, and in those moments breath more meaning into our life. Varun Soni, Vice Provost for Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention and dean of Religious Life and co-chair of the Mindful USC initiative, hopes that the USC community will be able to develop mindfulness practices to help with the stress of their lives and also to help them think creatively and compassionately. And science supports Soni’s vision. Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Siegel has shown that mindfulness helps fine-tune brain connections and creates integration by developing new neural pathways. The good news from current brain research is that it takes as little as five minutes a day to build these new neural linkages that can lead to profound and lasting benefits emotionally, educationally, socially, and creatively. So why wouldn’t we want to cultivate this? Especially here, in the university environment, where Dean Soni says, “there are greater challenges being a student in this day and age, challenges that no generation has ever faced.” Polymath Amit Ray once wrote, “Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance.” So take a moment and join Dean Soni, our dance teacher, for a thoughtful conversation about cultivating mindfulness in our lives.
Varun Soni, Vice Provost for Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention and dean of Religious Life
Varun Soni, Vice Provost for Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention and dean of Religious Life, has led a polymathic life, earning degrees from Harvard Divinity School, a J.D. from UCLA School of Law, and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Cape Town. His research has taken him throughout South Asia where he even spent time living in a Buddhist monastery. Dean Soni is currently a University Fellow at USC Annenberg's Center on Public Diplomacy and is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. He is a member of the State Bar of California, the American Academy of Religion, and the Association for College and University Religious Affairs. Displaying a truly polymathic interest in music, he also produced and hosted his own radio show on Pacifica / KPFK, showcasing music from South Asia and its Diaspora. Born in India and raised in Southern California, he has family on five continents and they collectively represent every major religious tradition in the world.