No clapping please, we’re mindful

Last week’s ‘Mindfulness Prom’ was a quiet affair. The music was all lento and pianissimo.

Just when clapping between movements has begun to be permitted, if only at the Proms, the audience for this concert listened in total silence. There were times when I had to move closer to the radio and turn up the volume to be sure that the orchestra was still playing.

Mindfulness has acquired a new meaning. The old meaning, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which I bought as a student in 1965 and have consulted ever since, was derived from the adjective, mindful: ‘taking thought or care of, having remembrance of’. The noun and adverb are mentioned only in an end-note: ‘Hence Mindful-ly adv., -ness.’

An end-note elevated now to a word which is on everyone’s lips, a word with a completely different meaning. Far from ‘taking thought or care of’ or ‘having remembrance of’ someone or something, mindfulness is a way of taking care of ourselves, of the inner workings of our own mind.

A concert which makes no greater demands on its audience than that scarcely deserves applause.

 

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