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Mindful : February 2018
Barry Boyce Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org Our must-read story this issue: “Is Your Life Designed for You?” explores how using design principles can lead to more creative life decisions; author Hugh Delehanty shares with us the fruits of his training with Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, authors of the bestseller Designing Your Life. On page 58. On days when things are going really badly, it feels as if nothing you’d looked forward to is panning out and new problems keep emerging from around the corner. You didn’t plan on missing the bus, and then the strap on your backpack broke, and just then your sister called to say she had some worrisome test results. And right about then, a friend tells you to “Just relax!” How annoying is that? Relaxation is distinctly not some- thing you can just command yourself to do. It needs to come over you and perhaps, ultimately, to overcome you. That’s one of the reasons so many of us grow to appreciate mindfulness practice. It sneaks up on stress from the side. It lulls us into letting go of obsessively grasping for a per- manent security blanket. But we’re not instructed to “just relax.” We’re instructed to pay attention to some- thing that can’t help but be in the present: the breath, the body, sensa- tions. Paradoxically, as our attention and focus increase, our excess stress decreases. We become, for a time at least, a well-tuned instrument. We all crave—and need—this relief so much that it’s tempting to stop there. Mindfulness practice relaxed us (maybe even better than sleep), end of story. This notion persists in the popular media: The point of medita- tion is to escape to your own private bliss-island, to get away from it all. But that would be a waste of all that relaxation. The point of the relaxation is not to get away from it all; it’s to get into it all. Mindfulness doesn’t end at relax- ation. It begins there. The relaxation Mental Health for All gives you just enough stability to see what’s happening in your mind and to gently inquire, investigate. What you see may start to upset you, but you have a chance to see patterns form in your mind and to detect firsthand the formation and continuation of habits that drive your actions. It can be tough stuff, so at that point, you just notice it and come back to the anchor in your practice, such as your breath. Encountering what’s lurking in your mind—the good, the bad, and the ugly—may inspire you to develop more relax- ation, so you can go diving and exploring again and see more. That’s why mindfulness is a prac- tice for mental health...for everyone’s mental health, which is the motiva- tion behind the work of the Centre for Mindfulness Studies, in Toronto (full disclosure: I serve on the board of directors). Among its many offer- ings, the Centre trains mental health professionals in mindfulness so they can first reduce their own stress, then help their clients with mindful- ness-based skills to resiliently work with the mental challenges of their daily lives. The Centre’s community work, carried out in partnership with social service agencies, has a peer-to- peer component, whereby the clients themselves draw on their own lived experience and personal mindfulness skills to help other clients develop resilience and self-care. This practice of sharing can lessen the need for one- on-one therapy. It’s a great example of how far mindfulness can go when we don’t stop at relief, but instead move on to real insight and habit change. ● VOLUME FIVE, NUMBER 6, 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 . © 2018 Foundation for a Mindful Society. All rights reserved. Editor-in-Chief Barry Boyce talks with Patricia Rockman, MD, of the Centre for Mindfulness Studies, about mindfulness and mental health at mindful.org/ povmentalhealth. 4 mindful February 2018 PHOTOGRAPHBYMARVINMOORE point of view