Ora Nadrich knows of what she speaks. Nadrich is described as a pioneering Mindfulness expert, and works as an international keynote speaker and coach, having founded the Institute for Transformational Thinking. In a topical field where the name Carlos Castaneda has become somewhat dismissive when coming from the mouths of skeptics or critics of the approach, Nadrich is refreshingly earnest. She makes no attempt to hide her personal and professional beliefs and outlook with respect to achieving a mindful outlook during this time. She is, however, not a cliché of the typical holistic presence.
She balances the more esoteric aspects of her beliefs with quotes from a surprisingly chameleonic array of references, ranging from philosophers to scientists to the Bard of Avon himself. It makes anyone who is initially skeptical of a book unapologetically titled Mindfulness & Mysticism: Connecting Present Moment Awareness with Higher States of Consciousness hesitate. After all, there have been statistically backed accounts of considerably negative psychological effects on both the national and international populations affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The book is part of an overall trend being observed across a wide margin: people trying to find solace within certain traditions, be it religion, spiritual movements, mindfulness, therapy, or other alternative techniques. Nadrich has been quoted as saying, “We are all worthy and deserving of knowing the sacred truths of life, but we must first strip ourselves bare of that which is not real.” An expansion of this arguably is in the book’s second chapter, aptly titled Demystifying Mysticism.
“I’ve explained the chemicals in our brain that can produce euphoria, and the type of bliss people can feel on drugs or alcohol, but I’m interested in exploring further an area where I strongly feel we can understand ourselves better. These unusual or inexplicable feelings and sensations that might be hard to put into words, and that’s mysticism, which has been mostly thought of as esoteric, or only understood by mystics,” she writes. “Mysticism has also been defined as ‘the practice of religious ecstasies’ and a ‘religious experience during alternate states of consciousness.’ Does that then mean it can only be experienced through religion? Evelyn Underhill was ‘walking down the Notting Hill main road’ when she had a mystical experience, and someone like primatologist, Jane Goodall, described having a mystical experience in a forest in the following passage: ‘Lost in awe at the beauty around me, I must have slipped into a state of heightened awareness. It is hard, impossible really to put into words the moment of truth that suddenly came upon me then…’”
In short, having a so-called ‘mystical’ experience is a fairly subjective phenomenon. Unlike a lot of meditative authors, part of Nadrich’s appeal is she never tells the reader what a ‘mystical’ experience entails. Rather, she lays the groundwork for the mindset to allow one to be capable of experiencing something around them as mystical. Hence the rumination on a skeptical perspective. Whether Mindfulness & Mysticism is promoting a calming state, in cynical terms a positive placebo effect, or in actuality an ability to tap into something more — it’s a book that might add a little comfort to one’s perceptions. Particularly in a uniquely troubled climate, such as the one we are still battling now.