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Mindful : August 2017
From the get-go, the message to those enrolled in this course hasn’t wavered: Suspend judg- ment and stick with the program. “ When the eight weeks are over,” Jon Kabat-Zinn writes, “then you can tell us whether it was of any use or not. For now, just keep practicing.” Adding walking meditation to the MBSR practice and learning to accept with kindness and compassion what’s happening in the present moment. WEEK 05 Señor Moments Halfway home the class roster is still intact, although some fear they’re not doing that prac- tice correctly or their efforts won’t be rewarded. But the commitment has paid obvious dividends to others, who are learning to temper self-doubts, moderate impatience, or stifle tendencies to turn uncomfortable thoughts into crippling rumina- tions. Particularly striking is a man whose anxi- ety on day one was so palpable he appeared to be tightrope walking the black hole that swallowed my wife. A month later, he not only speaks with startling ease about his emotional triggers, but he looks as if years lost to stress and sleeplessness are magically being re-gifted. As for me, I’m most heartened by my newfound ability to sometimes recognize stress emerg- ing and respond in a mindful way, rather than automatically react inappropriately. For example, I’m learning to stop fighting those debilitating rip currents of anxiety, and instead ride them out until I can peel away from their grasp. Despite such progress, this group of Washing- ton, DC-area Blue-Staters is so discombobulated by the election outcome that our instructors, thrust into the roles of grief counselors, gen- tly nudge us toward recognizing our feelings, rather than resisting them, as a means of coping. This makes sense, although it feels like trying to thrive amid a plume of volcanic ash. But we’re thankfully introduced to another strategy to help calm minds and bodies: As a complement to sitting meditation, we’re taught to slowly and deliberately walk a narrow lane, feel- ing the weight of our body as we lift, move, and place our feet, then turn and repeat the process. I find walking meditation to be uniquely quieting, and adding it to my routine pushes my daily formal practice to more than an hour. By week’s end, all this time devoted to MBSR pro- vides welcome, albeit fleeting, glimpses of what I hope will be a more regular benefit: the sen- sation of my life evolving moment by moment, rather than in its usual haphazard rush. 50 mindful August 2017 meditation