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Mindful : June 2018
Deborah Eden Tull grew up in a progressive commu- nity of artists and activ- ists, whose motivations contrasted starkly with her Los Angeles surroundings. Yet even in this change- oriented environment, she couldn’t help feeling that more was needed in order to effectively address our most pernicious human problems: from personal fear, pride, and stress to social inequality, bigotry, and profit-driven destruc- tion of nature. Tull’s drive to cultivate greater peace and happi- ness led her at age 26 to Zen Buddhism, where she found meditation to be “a direct means for softening our obsession with produc- tivity and returning us instead to a more vast presence of being.” Through years of monastic practice (which she later left to teach and practice in society), she learned that the social good is served by moving toward what she calls “we con- sciousness,” and that this shift is innately a mindful one. Gently, lovingly, she shows how bringing mindfulness to how we show up for ourselves, our dear ones, and our wider communities creates the clarity to live with wisdom and compassion in trying and isolating times. Relational mindfulness, Tull describes, is the antidote to our illusion of separateness—which “fuels a way of life that is unsus- tainable both personally and globally. Every seed of violence in our world—war, social injustice, planetary abuse, and any ism—stems from the seed of this illusion.” This book doesn’t pro- mote an intellectual grasp of what mindfulness is and does, nor is any kind of religious belief indis- pensible to its premise. What it accomplishes is a thoughtful, piece-by- piece consideration of the issues caused by our deeply limited conditioning, by our misperceptions about the world and ourselves— and how we’re capable of realizing our intercon- nectedness more deeply through relationships. It can be read in a group with shared intention, with a partner, or by oneself. What matters is that we take its compassionate message to heart. In the words of another spiritual teacher and activist, angel Kyodo williams, “Love and justice are not two. With- out inner change, there can be no outer change; without collective change, no change matters.” RELATIONAL MINDFULNESS A Handbook for Deepening our Connection with Ourselves, Each Other, and the Planet Deborah Eden Tull • Wisdom Publications “One of the worst things we can do to ourselves on the anxious journey is to get anxious about being anxious.” Sarah Wilson, also the creator of I Quit Sugar, hits a beautiful balance in this book between deep reflection and down- to-ear th advice for thriving with anxiety and related conditions. A far cry from the bedside manner-y tone common to self-help, Wil- son’s warmth and humor will quickly win you over (example: frank talk about her finding that meditation retreats can bring constipation relief). The only deficiency is in the neuroscience, which leans on debunked theories involving the “reptilian” or “old vs. new” brain regions. These inac- curacies are small, however, beside her sound recommen- dations: from anxiety-proof- ing your diet to making your bed every day to finding clues in mental illness that evolve the way you care for yourself. FIRST, WE MAKE THE BEAST BEAUTIFUL A New Journey Through Anxiety Sarah Wilson • Dey Street Books What could be simpler, what could be more elegant than making a list? And lists have a great pedigree: the to-do list, the shopping list, the laundry list, the top forty, the Bill of Rights. Lists persist because they work: A review of the effi- cacy of checklists in hospitals showed that the lists improved patient safety with no reported negative effects. We forget stuff. It’s good to have a list. This book offers ample fun (and insight), and it starts out with a great list: reasons to make a list. Just two reasons out of nineteen are to discover subtle layers of feeling and to connect the dots. Sold. ● MAKE A LIST How a Simple Practice Can Change Our Lives and Open Our Hearts Marilyn McEntyre • Wm. B . Eerdmans Publishing 76 mindful June 2018 reviews