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Mindful : October 2013
6 mindful October 2013 our thoughts A piece of garbage changed my life. Okay, maybe its effect wasn’t quite that profound, but it did trigger a change in how I look at—and really see—what’s right in front of me. I was 15 and walking to school along my usual route, head down, not really paying at tention to my surroundings. It was raining and I was grumpy, preoccupied with typical teenage thoughts: How hard will the test be? What’s it like to fall in love? Can I really pull off wearing horizontal stripes? Then I noticed a gum wrapper on the ground. It was bright pink and glossy from the rain. It had crumpled in such a way that it looked like a small, delicate piece of origami. The pink of the wrapper made the grass it was lying on look deliciously green. I was struck by how ut terly beautiful it was. Other thoughts fell away, including my grumpiness and irritation at the rain. Some space and delight arose in their place. I realized that my thoughts get in the way of seeing what’s around me. I’d been playing a movie in my head—with me in the starring role—and com- pletely missing moments of beauty, ever y where and in the most unexpected places. I star ted taking the time to stop and actually look at my surroundings. I noticed dust bunnies under my bed. I saw for the first time that grass is trans- lucent, how the golden light of the sun shines through each blade. A snow flake landed on my coat and I saw that snowflakes aren’t just clumps but spiky and symmetrical, like the cutouts we made in grade school. I started practicing meditation shor tly after the gum-wrapper incident. To my delight, I discov- ered that mindfulness is a won- der ful suppor t in my quest to slow my thoughts down enough to really see the world. Oh, I do get distracted and irritated. But I also have mind- fulness practices I can bring out whenever I notice myself becoming too speedy to appre- ciate the palette of whites, browns, and grays of winter, or the way a shadow moves across a wall, or to notice when my husband needs a hug or a colleague a helping hand. Mindfulness tools have helped me become more gen- erous and appreciative of the beauty around us. I hope you, too, will find tools in the pages of Mindful—and moments of beauty—that open up the way you experience the world. — Jessica von Handor f Art Director