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Mindful : August 2017
For the first time since starting this course, I miss my mantra. After all, learning Transcen- dental Meditation was quick and easy, and for 44 years thereafter my behavior rarely wavered: close both eyes and sit for 20 minutes, morning and evening, performing an effortless technique of unquestionable benefit to mind and body. By contrast, MBSR instruction and practice demand an escalating number of hours, some dedicated to tasks I’m finding boring, baffling, or, despite that recent triumph with my wife, not apparently useful. Last week, for example, we reflected each day on a pleasant event, while this week our journal entries dissect unpleasant ones in all their wretchedness. We’re now to “cap- ture” moments throughout each day, pondering why our mindfulness knuckled under to the automatic pilot that typifies our muddled think- ing. Our expanded readings in Full Catastrophe Living still feel like they’d benefit from a cipher machine. And we’re alternating body scans with hatha yoga, which is intended to let us inhabit our anatomy with full awareness. While I appre- ciate the benefits of yoga, my limbs and torso Getting more intimate with the body via a mindful yoga practice, as well as noticing the pleasure of being in the present moment. WEEK 03 Man of La Mantra are as flexible as rebar, so I perform my series of Sphinx poses with eyes on the clock, unable to practice with the same mindful attitude I’m bringing to body scans and sitting meditation. But as the week winds down, a succession of Aha! moments effectively squelches my creep- ing skepticism. First, I impulsively revisit our earliest readings, including passages cataloging the seven attitudinal factors underlying this mindfulness practice. They include nonjudg- ing—rejecting the impulse to get caught up in one’s ideas and opinions, likes, and dislikes; let- ting go—intentionally putting aside the tendency to elevate some aspects of our experience and reject others; and patience—allowing things to unfold in their own time. These pillars of MBSR speak uncannily to my ambivalence, and they’re followed in the book by musings about commitment and self-discipline that, as a longtime distance runner, crystallize my thinking: An athlete trains daily, despite the conditions or circumstances, whether the goal seems worthy or not. Finally, I’m reminded that while practicing TM has paid dividends, I’ve chosen this new path because of my pressing need to find some- thing more helpful. So the next morning, I duti- fully unroll the mat for my Cat-Cow stretches. meditation