To celebrate the release of author and baker Samuel Fromartz's new book, In Search of the Perfect Loaf: A Home Baker's Odyssey, Mindful is baking up a challenge for our readers! If you can prepare the perfect mindful interrupter, we'll send you a copy of Fromartz's book, complete with recipes and essays on how to bring mindfulness home through bread-making—and we'll publish your interrupter on our social feeds and website.
Rising Awareness Challenge Rules
We're looking for the greatest mindful interrupters you can craft. Mindful interrupters are short mindfulness practices and reminders that allow us to pause, hit the reset button, and can briefly refresh you (instructions on how to create one below). Over the next month, we'll keep our eyes peeled for the best interrupters. We'll announce the four winners in the New Year.
Want to participate? Here's how:
• Craft a mindful interrupter, around 119 characters. If you're new to the concept of mindful interrupters, check out our Editor-in-Chief's explanation. You can also see examples of mindful interrupters on Twitter and on our mindful interrupter pinterest board.
• Submit your mindful interrupter to mindful[at]mindful.org with the subject line "Rising Awareness Challenge." Please put the text of your interrupter in the body of the email, not in an attached document.
Why Mindfulness and Bread-Making?
Here at Mindful, we often talk about how finding, or stumbling into, small moments in the day to savor and reflect enriches our lives. No one better illustrates how everyday moments can wake us up to the vividness all around us than author and baker Samuel Fromartz. He's fascinated by bread—as sustenance, culture, memory, and meditation. In his own kitchen, he finds his mind transformed from an obsessive thinking machine into an intuitive organ of the senses.
But it wasn't easy for him—like all of us, Fromartz found it difficult to fit his passion into his schedule. But something started to happen the more he baked. Here's a glimpse into the process, from Fromartz's new book, In Search of the Perfect Loaf, featured in Mindful's December 2014 issue:
But something else—something more substantial—happened the more I baked. The work itself wasn’t time consuming. It amounted to five or ten minutes here and there to take the bread to the next stage, whether feeding my sourdough starter bubbling away in a kitchen cabinet, hand mixing the dough, or shaping and baking a loaf in the oven. But because each was a distinct step that had to be carried out at precisely the right moment, I had to learn to pay attention to this living, changing, fermenting substance. I began to be guided by my senses rather than my thought process. The intuitive mind that feels and senses began overriding, or directing, the cognitive mind of logic and analysis.
This hit home for me one day as I slid a loaf of sourdough onto the baking stone in the oven, then set the digital timer on my oven. I had made this bread dozens of times, so each stage was familiar. But that day, as I was working in my office, I forgot about the bread and went about my work until a kind of toasty hazelnut aroma brought me to attention. My brain was off running, doing other things, but the smell brought me back, not unlike a bell rung in a meditation session. I stopped, jogged downstairs and arrived in front of the oven, with just a minute left on the timer. I peered inside. The crust was dark, toasted. I grabbed the flat wooden peel (the paddle-like tool that bakers and pizza-makers use), opened the oven door, and slid the loaf off the baking stone. I tapped the bottom and heard a rich, hollow knock. The loaf was done. What had happened? My sense of smell had, in effect, woken me up and told me the loaf was ready. This wasn’t chance. Not then, not now. No matter how long a loaf takes, smell guides me. Like so much else about baking, your senses—sight, smell, and especially touch—are your most important tools.