It’s a little over a year since the pandemic began and in spite of lower case numbers and available vaccines, it’s still far from over. It’s so easy to feel our lives are on hold. But they aren’t. It’s just this is what are our lives are right now: staying at home and doing very few of the activities we think of as normal life. And that’s hard. But whatever tension, restlessness and stress you’re struggling with, meditation can help. Studies have shown that meditation can help control anxiety, lower blood pressure, and reduce symptoms of depression. Some of the first research on meditation to reduce stress and enhance mental health was actually done here in Massachusetts at UMass Medical School. And the best thing about meditation is you can get started with it right now. You can find meditation instructions online, or you can take advantage of our growing collection of books on the subject, such as one of SPL’s newest titles, Commit to Sit: Tools for Cultivating a Meditation Practice —a guide to getting started with advice and instructions from some of the most experienced meditation teaches in the country, such as Sharon Salzberg (co-founder of the Insight Meditation Center in Barre) and Jon Kabbat-Zinn (founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction Program at UMass Medical School). Commit to Sit covers everything from basics such as finding a comfortable sitting position to transformative practices such as using meditation to conquer fear.
Speaking of pandemic stress and restlessness, many of us have been dealing with it by baking. But let’s face it, that’s not for everyone. For many of us, any kind of cooking probably causes more stress than it alleviates. If that’s you, you might want to check out one of our new cookbooks, Pantry to Plate: Kitchen Staples for Simple and Easy Cooking it’s both a collection of recipes and a guide to stocking your kitchen so you always have what you need to make for dinner.
If that sounds appealing, you might also want to watch SPL’s popular YouTube series, Cooking from Your Pantry with Ellen.
Now for something completely different: it’s been a couple of years since Game of Thrones ended and some of us still haven’t found an equally addictive TV series to replace it (and yes, I know the last season was awful; let’s not talk about that). But you might enjoy reading about some of the historical events and people that inspired George R. R. Martin when he was writing A Song of Ice and Fire. I heartily recommend The Brothers York: A Royal Tragedy, a gripping retelling of the conflict among three brothers from England’s most powerful family as they each fought and schemed to become king: a real-life Game of Thrones that wracked England for a generation.
But I regret to tell you there are no dragons.
--Kevin O'Kelly, Reference Librarian