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Mindful : February 2016
By Steve Flowers Illustration by Brad Amorosino While on a flight home 10 years ago, I found myself sitting next to a woman who seemed like she wanted to bring something up with me. Finally, she got up the courage to ask me her ques- tion: “Did you ever attend Fairfield High School?” “ Yes I did,” I said. “I attended Fairfield for the first semester of 10th grade.” Before I could say another word she had an even more aston- ishing question: “Is your name Flowers? Are you Steve Flowers?” I was blown away! “Yes, I am, but that was 46 years ago! How could you possibly see that skinny boy in me now?” “ You were in my class,” she said, “and I had a terrible crush on you. I wanted so much to say hello and introduce myself, but I never could muster the courage to approach you, and then you were gone. But I never forgot you and still think of you to this day.” My heart and my eyes welled up with such an ache I couldn’t contain my tears, “ You wanted to be my friend? I didn’t think anybody could see me. I felt there was something wrong with me and that I was different from everybody and that no one could ever like me.” I might have been able to have a friend, at least one friend, throughout that hellish eternity of high school. Both of us had thoroughly indentified with a flawed and unworthy sense of self that was separate and disconnected from everyone else. My life path through those days has led me to become a student of mindfulness and look for a way out of this painful delusion I’ve shared with millions. A Mindful Path Through Shyness If you too are shy you can probably relate to this pain. Fearing the judgments and rejection of others, you avoid them and find yourself prin- cipally in a relationship with your own thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, often this isn’t such a great relationship. In fact, you’ve probably noticed that you can say critical things to yourself that you would never say to anyone else or toler- ate from anyone else for that matter. → February 2016 mindful 71 practices insight