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Mindful : April 2017
8 mindful April 2017 Barry Boyce Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org Our must-read stor y this issue: In “A House That Won’t Blow Down,” Will Kabat-Zinn reveals what really happens on a meditation retreat—and why you should take one. On page 68. One of the persistent misrepresen- tations of mindfulness is that it is predominantly a solitary struggle. One thinks of the sage on the moun- tain, the hermit sequestered in a cave, you sitting home alone in your room, privately gazing at your navel (which is a pretty strange image if you think about it). It’s true that mindfulness meditation does involve spending time alone with your own think- ing mind. In fact, a great benefit of cultivating more mindfulness, many people report, is that it helps them get along better with themselves. Medita- tion helps you be a better companion for your own throbbing mind, to be more comfortable with the fact that you have to travel the world alone with your thoughts much of the time. But being comfortable being alone does not equate with acting in isola- tion. An important feature of pro- grams like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is that you practice medita- tion along with others, and you share your insights, misgivings, struggles, questions, and joys with others in group discussion and inquiry. Donald McCown, a longtime MBSR teacher and coauthor of Teaching Mindfulness: A Practical Guide for Clinicians and Educators, has made the point to me on several occasions that participants regard the eight-week mindfulness programs they take part in as “a group activity” and that’s one of the reasons they want to come back. Mindfulness meditation often takes place in a small community you share with others, which supports Alone Together the meditation you do on your own. You have a group to bring your experience back to (sometimes using video-conferencing), which takes you out of the echo chamber of your own mind, clouded as it can be with self- doubt and recrimination (“I’m no good at meditation. I can’t possibly be doing this right. As usual, I suck”). People come to feel that their desire to make peace with their own mind is not a weird aspiration. They also find that others confirm for them that while meditation isn’t complicated, it does take effort, since it puts you in touch with challenging emotions that may lie just beneath the surface of ever yday awareness. McCown points out that mind- fulness teachers need to be able to facilitate discussion and discovery, not simply serve as the person who answers all the questions. The ques- tions that hang awkwardly in the air can be as powerful as the questions that have pat answers. You can also find resolve when you meditate with other people. You get a little boost, when your energy flags, from seeing others out of the corner of your eye. The simple thought we’re in this together makes it a human, com- munal thing, rather than an abstract internal pursuit. As the mindfulness world grows, let’s hope we find more and more ways we can meditate together—including online—and create affordable spaces where people of all stripes will feel free to enter, stop, and have a few minutes of time alone together with others. ● VOLUME FIVE, NUMBER 1, Mindful (ISSN 2169-5733, USPS 010-500) is published bimonthly for $29.95 per year USA, $39.95 Canada & $49.95 (US) international, by The Foundation for a Mindful Society, 228 Park Ave S #91043, New York, NY 10003-1502 USA. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mindful, PO Box 469018, Escondido, CA 92046. Canada Post Publication Mail Agreement #42704514. CANADIAN POSTMASTER: Send undeliverable copies to Mindful, 1660 Hollis St, Suite 703, Halifax, NS B3J 1V7 CANADA. Printed in U.S.A . © 2017 Foundation for a Mindful Society. All rights reserved. PHOTOGRAPHBYMARVINMOORE point of view