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Mindful : April 2018
If you can choose where you have a discussion, think about this ahead of time. You probably don’t want to talk about your sex life or money problems with your partner in a noisy bar. Be flexible. When you listen, you may hear something unexpected or helpful. You may real- ize that there’s more common ground than you anticipated. Our projections and biases often cloud our perceptions of what’s happening in a situation. So listen and reflect on what you’re hearing, and be prepared to change your mind, on the spot. Express your tenderness and vulnerability. A lot of times, we try to hide tender emotions. But that is often what can melt the aggression in the situation. Are you exposing yourself to further attacks if you let yourself be vulnerable? Some- times that may be true. But often, opening up is what allows the other person to open and meet you on neutral ground. Winding Down At the end of your difficult conversation, check in with yourself. After you’ve argued with someone, set aside time for meditation, a long walk, or other forms of mindful reflection. How are you feeling? Did the argument go the way you expected? Do you feel good about the outcomes? You learn a lot about yourself in this kind of “postmortem.” The Unplanned Argument Almost every mindful strategy to prepare for and conduct a planned arg ument will also help in unplanned—and usually unpredictable— disagreements. Find yourself furious that a fam- ily member (beyond toddler age) has left their stuff all over the house? Did your boss ask you to work all weekend again, even though they knew you had something special planned? Had no idea that your least-favorite uncle would be at your table at the wedding reception and would spend the whole evening baiting you? Your son wants to drop out of college and open a marijuana dispensary? Your mom still treats you like you’re twelve, and you can’t believe she’s going to tell that story again at Thanksgiving? Your partner just asked you for a separation? How is mind- fulness going to help when arguments erupt in such situations, seemingly without warning? 76 mindful April 2018