There is a Saturday Night Live skit from 1976 that offers us a humorous take on a serious aspect of mindfulness practice. Gilda Radner and Dan Aykroyd are arguing over whether a product “New Shimmer” is a floor wax or a dessert topping. Radner is about to apply it to the top of her mop while Ackroyd wants to squeeze it onto his parfait. As a can of New Shimmer shuffles back and forth between them, Chevy Chase appears behind them and says, “Hey, hey, hey, calm down, you two. New Shimmer is both a floor wax and a dessert topping!” Comically, Chase sprays some onto the mop and the dessert. Ackroyd swallows a spoonful and announces, “Mmmmm, tastes terrific!” as Radner mops the floor and raves, “And just look at that shine!”
Mindfulness is a bit like New Shimmer. It is a dessert topping in that practicing mindfulness can be a pleasant experience—relaxing, calming, serene. And it is a floor wax in that practicing can develop resilience and a capacity to cut through the grime of confusion and distraction, see things more clearly, and perform at a higher level. If this metaphor sparkles with any insight, know that we’ve just begun.