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Mindful : June 2016
The Center for Koru Mindfulness trains and certifies individuals to teach the Koru Mindfulness curriculum, the only evidence- based mindfulness curriculum designed for college-age adults. Apply today! korumindfulness.org upcoming certification trainings A ug 7-11, bA ltimore, m D PearlStone retreat Center AuguS t 26-28, l ouiS ville, KY inside you: “I really don’t feel like having this con- versation right now.” The pinch can come from the other person: She says something that rubs you the wrong way. Or the pinch can come from the situa- tion: Time is running out. No matter the source, when meeting resistance, a common stress reaction is for our focus to nar- row. Biologically, this is part of our body’s prepara- tion for fight-or-flight. Our deep instincts start to take over. At very high levels of stress, we may want to either hastily retreat or bulldoze ahead with our own agenda and shut down any opposing views. But even at moderate levels of stress, although we stay physically there, we start to tune out or shut down, or start to stonewall or jab back. Unfortu- nately, succumbing to any of these temptations quickly closes down the possibility of making more skillful choices. Instead, if you can catch yourself starting to react to resistance, go back to an alert-yet-relaxed posture and to your grounded curiosity breathing. Having shifted and re-collected yourself, you are better equipped to redirect your attention away from your stress response and narrowing focus toward a more generous interpretation of what is happening. Making this move raises the odds of transitioning from fight-or-flight into mindful constructive action. The move toward a generous interpretation can be quite difficult because it is so counterintuitive to the way we are feeling in the moment. This is exactly why making this move requires practice. At first you may be better off practicing the gener- ous interpretation during reflection on a previous difficult conversation. Your reflection could take the form of a quiet contemplation, a journal entry, or a discussion with a supportive friend. You may also practice it as a visualization in anticipation of a difficult conversation. Definitely road test it in a low-stakes conversation before attempting in a high-stakes one. With practice, your ability to translate your good intentions into mindful action in crucial conversations will become second nature to you. Like learning any skill, you may need to devote a certain amount of effort to learning to fully arrive by adopting an alert-yet-relaxed posture, to practic- ing grounded curiosity breathing, and to connect- ing with an unfolding moment of conversation by invoking a generous interpretation. For simplicity, you can commit these moves to memory using the letters A, B, and C—arrive, breathe, connect—and see whether you don’t show up and perform better than ever before. ● June 2016 mindful 77 insight practices