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Mindful : February 2014
The Space Outside You’re at a party. There’s a break in the conversation, and a thought pops into your head: “Can we afford to replace the washing machine?” The thought grabs you a nd a chain of thinking is unleashed. Before long, you’re lost in thought and wrapped up in your own concerns. If someone starts talking to you, you’re startled. You apologize for being “preoccupied.” When swirling thoughts take us into a world of our own, our surroundings are still there reliably wa iting for us. When we come out of our little dream, we take off our proverbial headphones and the outer world rushes in with full force. We may still need to reach a decision about the wash- ing machine. What we don’t need is to take ourselves out of our surroundings a nd gnaw on our concerns like a dog with a bone. We can attend to the washing machine in due course, and in the mean- time we ca n appreciate the simple vividness of what we are encountering with our senses. Wherever we are, a full array of color and texture and flavor and smell is ours for the taking. People’s faces and gestures and voices are communicating with us in big and small ways. Our bodies are primed to sense the world with great precision, allowing us to navigate with grace and ease. Aware of where we are— the space around us and the space we’re taking up—we can dance with life, rather than plow through it. When a door opens, we can graciously leave space for others to come through before entering ourselves. We are open for business. Explore: With your eyes open, turn your head to the far left. Slowly rotate your head back past the middle and as far right as you can, taking several minutes to do so. Drink in the sensations of your surround- ings. Return your head to the center. Rest. Repeat. in practice insight 74 mindful February 2014