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Mindful : February 2016
Jeany Duncan got interested in meditation five years ago. A big-city paramedic, she found it helped with the stress of her job. Today she works in clinical research at the University of California, San Francisco. She still faces stress, but she has a place of calm to turn to—her med- itation stool. “I sit down and I bring my little timer over and I think, ‘Whew, I am home,’” says Duncan. “Sometimes when the bell goes off I keep going because it is so comfortable.” But it took a while. In the beginning it was really hard because she felt so antsy. She kept at it, though, and today it’s an important part of her life. “ What I get from staying with it is a com- pletely calm, safe place to go,” says Duncan. “ You just have to get through the uncomfortable part. “I set the bar at a something I know I will do,” she says, “say 20 minutes in the morning, and if I do more that’s wonderful. If I don’t have time, I just do it for five minutes, and then do more later.” When her mind wanders off, or as Duncan puts it, begins “vibrating,” she merely re-focuses her attention on her breath. She’s found that medita- tion stays with her. “If I notice myself revving up inside, I can stop and take a couple of breaths,” she says. “I can get back to that calm place easily. It’s really a minor commitment for so much benefit.” A human being takes around 20,000 breaths in a day. Meditation requires that we pay atten- tion to just a tiny fraction of those breaths. How hard could that be? Remarkably easy—at first. The basic instructions couldn’t be simpler. Sit still and comfortably. Breathe and be aware of your breathing. If your thoughts wander, and they will, bring your attention back to your breath. It’s as if you put a little leash on your mind and when it strays, you gently pull it back, breathing in, breathing out. → February 2016 mindful 39