Listen and Breath: A Conversation with Mr. Durand

Breathe in. Hold. Exhale. Ok. Ready? We’re in a dilapidated wood barn; not the horse and hay type, but the enlightening kind, the hippie kind. We drink green tea, let the honey dissolve, and allow ourselves to dissolve into the couch. You talk about your worries, your woes, and the unbearable catastrophe of life. And I listen to you. And you listen to yourself. This is where I am with Humanities teacher Mr. Durand in his class after school on a Tuesday. 

I want to understand what people believe, why, and how it relates to what they do. So, to write this article on a conversation about meditation, I meditate. I focus on the moment, my breath. I empty my head and listen. “You are the one who gets to fill your mind ” So, from that blank sheet, let’s make something. We interpret the past with a view from the present, so how will we make the future? That’s Humanities, the study of the expression of humanity. Mindfulness is harder to define. It requires a lot of approximations to get an approximation, so let’s agree on this for a while: be nowhere else but where you are. Essentially, read the article I wrote and look at the advertisements after. 

Mr. Durand started his path of mindfulness when he was 17. He learned from family and mentors how to breathe, be listened to, and listen. “I was 17. I was pretty stressed out. I felt insecure, I felt anxious, I felt worried about what I was going to do with the rest of my life.” 

Now pursuing a master’s in mindfulness at Lesley University, Mr. Durand climbs his way to enlightenment. But not all of us can be monks or zen lunatics. However, we all can benefit from the power of mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you calm the hurricane of your mind, “Your most powerful tool is your perception. The power to become a more peaceful, generous, open-hearted, clear-sighted version of yourself. That’s power. That’s the kind of power that if people had it, they wouldn’t wield it over people. They would want to share it.”

By now, you’re probably finding this article all over the place. I’m trying to reduce encyclopedias into a pamphlet. You’ll only understand this if you choose to explore it yourself; only if you explore yourself. I want you to take something valuable away from someone’s story, just as I did. We learn from stories. So what story can you tell? What epic tale is written by the essence of your soul?  The question I was most excited to ask Mr. Durand was how does mindfulness relate to expression? If you’re stressed out, you’re going to have trouble creating. “If you got a lot of stuff plaguing your mind, pulling you in all kinds of directions except the one you want to go. It’s going to be hard to be creative. How are you going to create something when you’re being drained?” You never have the moment to get to know what you believe. Mindfulness helps you get to know yourself and calm the storm which devastates your focus. Concentrate. Bring the thoughts and feelings together, fill the page with the words you choose to write. “When you make something, you make the future. So you should probably create something that has some nobility to it, some depth in it.

Start to breathe out. Release. Relax. Clear and calm like sand shifting over in the Sahara, constant, “settled into the space of your life”. Now fill that empty head of yours with the person and goals you want to be. Irrigate your creativity. Never be mean to yourself, and seldom be critical of others. Go into the world with a sense of confidence and motive. I asked Mr. Durand why he liked to teach seniors. He enjoys the sense of urgency in educating them. We are not learning for another year of high school, but for the rest of our lives. From high school, all of us will go into a much larger, stranger world. That’s a mystery; that’s an adventure. “Sending you out into the mystery, hoping you know how to live in mystery, that you know how to thrive in mystery.” 

Breathe. Clear your mind. Listen to yourself and what you want. Fill your capacity with action. Most of all, listen and breathe. Make Conversation.


“Yeah. Rock and Roll” – Mr. Durand

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