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Mindful : October 2016
AD Whether or not you have a child, all of us are relating, constantly. Whether it is to our partner, colleagues, friends, neighbors, or the person at the post office, being with another human being is an incredible opportunity to practice mindful- ness, and we get to do it all day long. At the Mindful Awareness Research Center, we call practices that involve taking mindful- ness “off the cushion” (although many of us sit in chairs) and out into the world of speaking, listening, and interacting, “relational mindful- ness.” Often mindfulness students say they don’t have time to practice mindfulness in the midst of their busy lives, but if they were to bring mindfulness into the countless verbal interac- tions they have throughout the day, they could be practicing mindfulness 24/7. In a culture that is now deifying disconnec- tion, where people live in a state of overwhelm, where virtual presence is considered just as valuable as actual presence, where two-year- olds are adept at iPhones, where at any restau- rant on any given day you will see an entire fam- ily ignoring each other while pecking at their devices, relational mindfulness can be a radical act, both personally and culturally. When my colleague Dr. Marvin Belzer and I first started teaching these practices, it was with teenagers and college students. In one of Marv’s early meditation classes at the college-level, he found that many of his students connected with a basic meditation practice, but some just didn’t click with it. Perhaps they were bored or restless, or felt too anxious to sit still. However, once he began to introduce relational practices, including speaking and listening in dyads and triads, small groups, and larger group practices, he found these hard-to-reach students were suddenly “getting ” mindfulness. Students found they could concentrate on the present easily while listening to their peers. They relaxed No one has to know what you are doing. It’s a form of “stealth” mindful- ness—you can practice all day long and no one will know. 74 mindful October 2016 insight