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Mindful : August 2015
before acting. So the first step is to meet the situation with an attitude of “not-knowing.” In practice, this means that our very first act is to do nothing: We simply pause, so we can let go of our psychological momentum and open our senses and attention to the details of the new situation. By stopping that way, we often experience our internal busyness, nervousness, impulsiveness and assumptions more vividly, reducing our chances of allowing them to distort our experience without our realizing it. This willingness to look freshly despite feeling shaky is what it means to be genuinely “open.” It’s the fundamental attitude of mind- fulness practice, allowing whatever comes up in our experience to be there—including our fears and reactions and desire to flee from the spot. Pausing at this stage doesn’t mean that we simply persist in doing nothing. It means, rather, allowing ourselves to do what the moment calls for without imposing a preconceived idea or → impotent; action without insight is reckless. What follows is one model for wise action, for how we can respond with the right approach at the right time. It proposes five steps in the life- cycle of an action—Entering, Exploring, Acting, Completing and Letting Go. Each step calls for a different attitude and different skills, and evokes a different aspect of mindfulness. ENTERING When you get to the branch office, you notice that everyone is nervous. Some employees are too friendly, others are wary, and some seem frozen in panic. They’re waiting for something to happen. It’s easy to get carried away by the energy of your nervousness or emotions and react before you have the necessary information. But in any new situation, we need to learn ILLUSTRATIONS©VICKYDROSOS/IKONIMAGES/CORBIS(RIGHT),ANDBYMINDFUL(LEFT) August 2015 mindful 73