Lisa Langer, PhD is the author of Deeper into Mindfulness: Next Steps to Sustain your Meditation Practice and Find Inner Peace. In this interview, she shares insights on the benefits of mindfulness and the process of writing a mindfulness book.
Initial Inspiration for Deeper into Mindfulness
Olivia Edwards: What initially inspired you to write Deeper into Mindfulness?
Lisa Langer, PhD: I was inspired to write the book by the participants in the MBSR course I taught as well as the people I’ve taught mindfulness to through the years.
People often asked me if I could give a follow up course to the MBSR 8-week course. The book was my effort to provide a practical, “hands on” guide for people.
Lisa Langer, PhD: When people become more mindful and/or practice mindfulness meditation, there is a greater awareness of what their triggers are, how stress lives (feels) in the body. One of the greatest impacts of mindfulness is that it helps people cultivate an ability to respond vs. react habitually in conditioned (often unhelpful ways). The ability to choose a response vs. simply reacting is freedom for people.
Writing a mindfulness book that addresses self-doubt in meditation
Olivia: One theme that comes up often in Deeper into Mindfulness is that people believe they are not “good” at meditation. Some lack confidence in their ability to sustain a meditation practice on their own. How can reading Deeper Into Mindfulness help readers address these issues?
Lisa Langer, PhD: Every chapter of Deeper Into Mindfulness, through the stories and videos of real-life people, addresses the issue of not feeling “good enough” at meditation. Everyone in the book and almost every question speaks to the issue of how to address the self-doubt that arises when we sit down to meditate.
Olivia: Deeper into Mindfulness speaks to people who have already taken an MBSR course and want to deepen and sustain their practice. How did you choose this group as your target audience?
Lisa Langer, PhD: I choose MBSR participants as my target group because I have taught the course many times and have listened to the needs of this audience throughout the course and at its ending. However, the book is universal in terms of its wider applicability for a general audience.
Including videos in a book about mindfulness Tweet This
Olivia: Deeper into Mindfulness is an interactive book that includes video content which the reader can conveniently access by scanning QR codes. What do you think are the advantages of including multiple media in your book?
Lisa Langer, PhD: I think the book is unique because the reader can watch videos of people like themselves and hopefully relate to them. I am also able to provide videos of myself leading meditations and demonstrating posture, for example. The videos provide a more hands-on style of learning. My writing coach and editor, Lisa Tener first brought up the idea of including videos and introduced me to Tamara Monosoff who helped me implement the idea.
Olivia: As a reader, I felt that the videos helped me feel more connected with you, the author. Can you please talk about your experience of filming the videos? From a technical perspective, what resources did you use and what challenges came up in the process?
Lisa Langer, PhD: I’m so glad you felt the videos helped you connect to me. That was certainly the intention.
I used Zoom video for the recordings. I learned how to Zoom video myself as well as the people I interviewed who (all but one) were in a separate location. As a novice at technology, I was thrilled that I could record the 8 videos. Once filmed, I sent them to Tamara Monosoff, who is helping me launch the book, and she took it from there.
Structuring a mindfulness book to promote intimacy
Olivia: Each chapter is divided into a narrative section followed by a “Top 5 Questions” section. What do you think are the advantages of structuring the chapters in this way? And how did you decide on the questions?
Lisa Langer, PhD: The structure of the chapters promotes an intimacy. Beginning with the story of a real person, moving into a teaching piece and then answering the “Top 5 questions” was all designed to be an intimate, resourceful, practical guide. For the book, I interviewed people, sent out questionnaires, and reviewed evaluations that had been filled out for the course. From these, I developed the “Top 5 questions.”
Gathering information through interviews and questionnaires Tweet This
Olivia: That sounds like a rigorous process. How did you develop the interviews and questionnaires, and what kinds of questions did you ask? Did people respond with enough information right away, or did you need to follow up for more detail? Most importantly, do you have any tips for eliciting details when conducting interviews?
Lisa Langer, PhD: I utilized the questionnaires that participants in the MBSR course complete at the halfway (4-week) point and then at the end of the course.
- Please describe your overall experience of the course and what discoveries you’re making in all the mindfulness meditation practices.
- Talk about the time you are making to practice and challenges/obstacles to practicing
- When I am practicing and challenges arise, I …
- What have you learned about yourself as a result of meditating.
- What additional support would you like
- How will you keep mindfulness alive for yourself after the 8 weeks.
Tips for effective interviewing Tweet This
Telling stories of real people when writing a mindfulness book
Olivia: In Deeper into Mindfulness, you share stories about the experiences of participants in your MBSR course. Can you please talk about your author’s craft in integrating these stories into your book?
Lisa Langer, PhD: Each person who attends a mindfulness course comes with their own aspirations, needs and wants, as well as stressful life circumstances. I wanted to tell some of their stories to share our common humanity and the ways in which becoming more mindful is a way to care for ourselves.
In the stories, I wanted them to be intimate yet real. That was the author’s craft aspect of including them.
Words that inspire readers on their mindfulness journey
Olivia: Each chapter of Deeper into Mindfulness begins with an epigraph. Some are from poetry and some are quotations from people who practice mindfulness. How did you choose these epigraphs?
Lisa Langer, PhD: At the end of each MBSR session I read a poem to the class. Many of the quotes come from my favorite poets and/or poems.
Olivia: How do you envision readers using Deeper into Mindfulness? What do you hope they will take away from the book?
Lisa Langer, PhD: I hope the reader will use the book as a practical resource guide. It’s not meant to be read cover to cover. The book lends itself to simply reading a person’s mindfulness story (journey), watching a video or reading the answer(s) to a question. Of course, if a person wants to read cover to cover that’s good too!
Olivia: An important concept you discuss in the book is responding versus reacting. How do you think Deeper into Mindfulness can help people better respond to the challenging times in which we live?
Lisa Langer, PhD: When we are more mindful and we move through our daily lives in this way, we become more aware of what is happening inside and outside of us. Greater awareness creates the opportunity to choose our responses in any given situation from moment to moment—a skill we all need in greater supply during these challenging times.
Mindful meditation itself is a grounding, steadying, settling experience in which we simply sit and breathe and take time to care for ourselves. I am encouraging everyone (my patients, clients etc.…) to take this time to ground oneself. The news, for example, is often chaotic and frightening. Meditating can help us develop and tune into all our inner and outer resources.
Applying mindful strategies to writing a book
Olivia: Which mindfulness techniques or practices helped you in the process of writing this book? How would you recommend that other authors use a meditation practice?
Lisa Langer, PhD: My meditation practice was helpful and applicable in writing this book. One helpful way of sustaining and deepening one’s practice is to “simply commit and show up” to meditation. I used the same strategy when I sat down to write the book—I simply “showed up,” so to speak, during the schedule I created to write and focused my attention on the present.
I learned to be less judgmental about my writing and let go of the need for “perfection,” another attitude I cultivated through a mindfulness practice.
Choosing mindfulness in the face of new challenges
Olivia: As we are experiencing a global pandemic, everyday life presents new challenges and becomes more unpredictable. How can Deeper into Mindfulness help readers face these challenges?
Lisa Langer, PhD: There are so many things each of us can’t control right now during this global crisis. The practice of mindfulness as presented in Deeper Into Mindfulness, encourages the cultivation of a daily practice that we can control.
We can choose to live mindfully, we can choose to breathe, we can choose those things that are life affirming.
That’s the whole intention behind the book. Mindfulness is a tool to manage and live with stress that has always been a part of life. All of us must navigate new territory during this crisis. Mindfulness is a way of helping us do just that.
Olivia: You decided to donate 100% of the proceeds from the book sales on May 13 to FeedingAmerica.org/Covid-19 Relief Fund. What a great way to give back to the community in these difficult times! How did you make this decision?
Lisa Langer, PhD: To be honest Olivia, I was simply reflecting on launching my book during the Covid 19 pandemic, and I’ve hoped the book would offer support, solace and resources to the community. It seemed a natural extension to offer proceeds of book sales to the FeedingAmerica Covid-19 relief fund. I have given to this organization before, and I thought others might feel similarly. The organization looks for local food banks that can help in the most hard hit areas.
About the Author
Lisa Langer, PhD, is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Roslyn, NY, and the founder of PRACTICE Body Mind Soul Co., a wellness center acquired by the Katz Women’s Institute/Northwell Health System as their first Center for Wellness and Integrative Medicine. Dr. Langer’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher certification and 30-plus year history of mindful meditation and body practices, combined with her background as a psychologist, distinguish her as a multifaceted and uniquely qualified mindfulness instructor, speaker and facilitator. She is published in the Huffington Post and Thrive Global citing the benefits of mindfulness meditation to care for ourselves.
Note: If you purchase a copy today or tomorrow, May 13 or 14, Lisa is donating 100% of the proceeds to FeedingAmerica.