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Mindful : August 2013
Consciously, confidently meeting experiences, instead of being carried away by them, is a practice you can apply in all situations. It is helpful not just in emotionally charged events like the one above, but also in situations that may seem insignifica nt, but which could become more significant if left unexamined. Let’s say you’ve taken the attitude that the tasks assig ned to you are unim- portant or undervalued. Ask yourself if you feel that way because it is true. Or do you feel that way because you’re so used to telling yourself it’s true that you can’t think of it in any other way? Think even smaller. Imag- ine something as routine as the way you hoist the phone to your ear when it rings. By really examining this ac- tion—seemingly so incon- sequential, so unworthy of examination—you feel like it’s something you’re doing for the very first time. You may detect anxiety traveling down your arm and tension as you pick up the phone. Experienc- ing everyday actions up close in this way is not about being self-conscious. It’s about bringing choice, attention, and awareness back into things that you’ve allowed to become automatic. By open- ing up to the tiniest habit, you ma ke it possible to crack open the larger habits, which seem more resistant to cha nge. You can look at every action and interaction freshly. The more you understand your own mind, the more you can understa nd the minds of others. If you come to understand your own body la nguage, you can read the body la nguage of others better. Mindfulness doesn’t give you a crystal ball, but it tends to increase your empa- thy, your ability to put your- self in someone’s shoes with greater understanding. It en- hances your connection with other people and supports you as you build relationships. No action, reaction, interac- tion, or relationship ever feels uninteresting or unworkable if a curious mind is brought to bear on it. You can actually tra nsform that feeling of, “Oh ma n, here comes John, my supervisor—I bet he wants me to change my work, again” into “Here comes John again. How can I see and hear him, without judgment, as though we were interacting for the very first time—just dealing with what comes up in the moment?” → Pay Attention to the Small Stuff in practice 74 mindful August 2013 insight