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Zen and the Art of Cathy Thorne, the Satirist of Modern Day Mindfulness

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Yes, we've all heard that meditation will literally change our lives, make us better at our jobs, and give us yet another excuse to wear yoga pants all day. But, you know what? Sometimes sitting really still and being in the moment is hard as hell.

And in the digital age, where most of our time is spent staring at one screen or another, our attempted moments of zen aren't always as meditative as we'd hoped.

That's where cartoonist Cathy Thorne comes in. She's the writer and illustrator behind Unlightenment: A Guide to Higher Consciousness for Everyday People, a book for those of us who can't get mindful at a moment's notice. 

Thorne, whose work has appeared in many newspapers and magazines, said she wrote the book because even though meditation and yoga are very wonderful in theory, the pressure to integrate them into our everyday lives can cause even more stress.

"Instead of simply taking a deep breath and living in the moment, we try really hard to be perfectly zen-like," Thorne tells Levo. "I guess we’re just human, and we’re bound to bring our perfectionism into every aspect of our lives. Thank goodness we have humor to bring us back to peace."

The purpose of her book is not to make fun of these practices—Thorne believes "the world would be a better place if everyone took a few deep breaths." Mindfulness shouldn't be about perfecting an Instagrammable yoga pose, but rather about being alright with who you are—wherever you are—right in the moment. For Thorne, that means finding the funny.

"When I’m in a dark place, I’m miserable and self-centered," Thorne says. "Funny thing is, I don’t always know I’m in a dark place, I just think I’m viewing the world objectively. Until I stumble across something funny and am gently jolted back to center."

"That’s why I made Unlightenment," she adds. "To remind myself, and others, to laugh at everyday situations, and hopefully, that laughter brings us a sense of peace that we can bring into the world."




(Images courtesy of Unlightenment/Cathy Thorne)

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