Griot Institute hosts Dancing Mind Challenge

By Heather Hennigan

Contributing Writer

On Saturday, Nov. 19, I participated in the second annual Dancing Mind Challenge. I woke up early, chugged about a pot and a half of coffee and spent my afternoon curled up on a couch in Walls Lounge with a pile of papers and a new book to read.  I forced myself to be somewhat academically productive for a bit, but then I was able to indulge in a book that, for once, was merely a pleasure read (“Silver Sparrow” by Tayari Jones – really good!). I’m ashamed to admit how long it’s been since I’ve cracked open a book just because, with my endless to-do list, need for sleep and Facebook, it’s basically impossible to fit in a solid chunk of time to read. I’m one of those lunatics who literally can’t put a book down once I begin reading it. So, for me, plowing through a 352-page book from start to finish wasn’t anything too unusual. To actually force myself to step away from the crazy pace of my life and read, though, was definitely a new and rather strange experience.

You would think that spending six hours of a Saturday afternoon, a decent window for productivity, purely for pleasure would make my life more stressful, but as I sit here and write this I’m surprisingly calm. Yes, that’s right, I just spent six hours reading and now I’m writing this article. I think I just want an excuse to touch my laptop keys for a bit–-oh, how I’ve missed my Macbook! My planner’s laying right next to me and as soon as I finish typing this out, I’m going to have to open it and confront all of the tasks that need to be accomplished entirely too soon. For the whole afternoon, though, I was in a room with my book and nothing to do except lean back, prop my feet up on an ottoman and read. I sat in front of a giant window with the sunlight shining on my face, turning page after page, my mind dancing far away from the four walls of the lounge. It was liberating.

This experience has also made me aware of how pathetically weak I am when it comes to disconnecting from technology. As I was reading, I actually felt my phone vibrating in my pocket when it wasn’t even there. Talk about addicted. I’ve also realized today that, along with technology, I’ve missed reading terribly–-a lot more than I originally thought I did. I plan on including more reading in my schedule and giving myself some time away from the buzzing of my phone and the light of my laptop screen. The Dancing Mind Challenge is definitely an event that I’m going to participate in again next year, and I really hope it grows in popularity over time.

Please visit for more information on The Dancing Mind Challenge, and also be sure to check out the Dancing Mind blog, which contains the reflections and experiences of all of the participants over the last two years (

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