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Mindful : August 2015
x...or “Soft and Gooey Girl” OMG. You’re not meditating? You so have to. It’s only like the most, mind-blowingest thing ever. I’m not kidding. It changes everything! Waves of inner peace envelope me. I’m literally completely zenned-out all the time now—so long as I’m not at work, or studying, or with friends, or, you know, just chilling... DH: Yes, but one of the things I love the most about meditation is the idea of beginning again. It applies on and off the meditation cushion. It’s OK to make mistakes, mindless mistakes. Just try to learn from them rather than mindlessly plowing ahead. BB: Mindfulness is a process of failing forward. It’s forgiving and it’s experimental. That’s something people really come to love about it, as you say, and why one of the best messages about meditation, once people express some curiosity, is “Try it, and see for yourself.” For myself, though, I find that I can some- times be fuzzy, because I’m, hyper-aware that every time I say something about meditation I’m distorting what is essentially a wordless experience. I become less willing to nail down what meditation is, because my curiosity about meditation far outweighs my certainty. DH: People who have a lot of experience might forget what it’s like to struggle to get started and figure out what meditation is all about. You need to keep remembering what that struggle is like. Then, you can be sure to communicate with people who have no experience of meditation in a way that takes their perspective into account. If you don’t speak in very, very concrete terms, would-be meditators are simply not going to know what they’re getting into. ● Maybe it plants a seed and later on he or she gets interested and does some Googling. If you’re going to have a more fulsome conversation, though, the voice in the head is a really great way to go about it, because it gets into probably the most intimate parts of all of our lives. You’re right in the heart of people’s internal dialogue, which they may or may not have even considered before. You’re delving into really interesting issues of identity and day-to- day coping, and then if you point out that much of our inner dialog ue is negative and self-refer- ential, most people—at least those who aren’t in denial—recognize themselves in that. So the notion of having a tool to better manage that becomes pretty compelling, especially if it’s a tool that has some scientific backing. BB: The clumsiest situations I’ve ever got into have been when I’ve been the one to initiate the conversation, à la, “ You should try...” DH: I cannot recall an initiated discussion that went well. The urge of a new meditator is to see people who are behaving reactively or who seem super stressed and to take them aside and gush about this new thing that’s going on for you. I tried that and people didn’t really seem to like it. It came off as judgmental and preachy. Over time I realized that the smartest approach, and you often hear about this in Christian evangeli- cal circles, is never to bring it up unsolicited but instead let people see your behavior and ask you questions out of their own curiosity. Enthusiasm is a good thing. You just need to figure out how to tap it wisely. Letting people come to you is the smartest approach. BB: Even when you let people come to you, how do you walk the line between proselytizing and being genuinely open to whatever comes up? A proselytizer tries to communicate whatever their particular thing is because they would like other people to join in to confirm the validity of what they’re doing. I’ve been that guy, and in weak moments I can still go there. I’m no longer helping. I’m enjoying the sound of my own voice. DH: It seems you have to be on the wrong side of it for a while to realize what feels right and what seems to work over time. You have to build your own internal douchebag-meter. BB: You have to make a lot of mistakes to hone that. Words, phrases, and clichés that might turn off a newcomer: Sacred space Goddess mother Interiority Presencing In the moment Totally present Inner being Radiance Beingness Relationality Inner quietude What it is Be here now ENOUGH ALREADY! August 2015 mindful 57