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Mindful : April 2017
Meditation teacher Will Kabat-Zinn explores how intensive meditation can shift, little by little, the way we experience the world. This shift, he says, causes us to stumble upon something we’ve always wanted: a settled, stable mind in the midst of the chaos of life. It reminds him of the story of the three little pigs and their houses. What kind of house does your mind usually live in? What kind of house would you like it to live in? Many people wonder, “ What exactly do you do on a meditation retreat?” It’s pretty simple. Let me give you a basic description: You decide to take a few days off to meditate with some other people. On day one, you sit and pay attention to your body and breath for 30 or 45 minutes. Then you walk back and forth, back and forth. When it’s time to eat, you eat in silence. Then, you sit and pay attention to your body and your breath and walk around some more, eat in silence, and so forth and so on. You do that day in, day out. It’s a great time. You really should try it. OK, I’ll admit: When I put it that way, it’s pretty hard to sell this stuff. It doesn’t exactly sound like a day at the spa, yet so many people who try it keep coming back. Why is that? If you talk to people at a retreat, they often say things like, “I just sit here struggling to be present. I feel one breath, then my mind is all over the place for I don’t know how long, and then I come back, occasionally. I have maybe a couple of moments of awareness in a 45-minute sitting. When we start walking, I ponder my life while still trying hard to be mindful. When we come back and sit, I continue racing around in my head. At lunch, I think about how little time I spent really meditating that whole morning. “But after lunch I go for a little walk, and all of a sudden the world looks really vivid. I notice the stones on the ground, and they really stand out. They’re distinctive. I see beads of moisture on their surface. What a beautiful place!” → Will Kabat-Zinn has taught mindfulness and meditation to diverse populations—including neuroscientists, incarcerated youth, and technology leaders. He leads retreats regularly at Spirit Rock and at meditation centers around the country. April 2017 mindful 69