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Mindful : August 2017
Those enrolled in this class are hopeful that their investments of two months and $550 will provide the elusive remedy for what ails them: the fallout from disabling medical conditions and the loss of loved ones, the distress of not measuring up to life’s challenges, and minds that loop like Mobius strips. In my case, it’s the aftermath of a three-year struggle to navigate my wife’s unforeseen bout of psychotic depression—an incessant drip of mad- ness so toxic that our worlds corroded beyond recognition. Fortunately, she finally received the care that returned her to the person who’d gone missing, and by all credible accounts her illness was likely a one-off. But a year on, my memories of the ordeal and my anxiety about her relapsing still seize me like rip currents, causing sleepless nights and days that leave me feeling as if her mental instability were contagious. So I’ve embraced MBSR in hopes of neutral- izing my heebie-jeebies, throttling my insomnia, and exorcising my post-traumatic dread. As instructed, I’ve broadened the raisin-mulling exercise to entire meals of eating mindfully. I’ve waded into Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living, which feels like navigating a literary corn maze. I’ve scribbled journal entries detailing the practice and aftereffects of my daily body scans. And as the first week gives way to the second, I add to the routine mindful breathing meditation and exercises designed to help see the world in ways more attuned to cultivating mindfulness. Call it coincidence or wishful thinking, or maybe it’s a glimpse of the insight afforded by embracing the “beginner’s mind” (scrapping preconceived notions and forging ahead non- judgmentally), but as week two unfolds and my fledgling practice settles into a habit, I feel as if my body current has been dialed down a few amps and layers of brain fog are dissipating. As this happens, I become especially aware of sidestepping the trapdoors that have been my undoing. For instance, one morning my wife appears to be uncharacteristically subdued, and I panic over the clearly inevitable prospects of her again careening over the edge. But I rec- ognize this manufactured thought, then let it go and return to the present moment. An hour later we’re at the park with our dog, enjoying a perfect autumn day. Cultivating a beginner’s mind and other qualities that support mindfulness, such as self-awareness and compassion for ourselves and others. WEEK 02 Embrace for Impact August 2017 mindful 47