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Mindful : August 2018
Barry Boyce Editor-in-Chief email@example.com Our must-read story this issue: “30 Days to the Same Old Me” follows Stephanie Domet through a month-long meditation challenge, from anxiety to epiphany, and everything in between. On page 44. Mindfulness—where does it come from? Naturally, we hear this question a lot. We’ve addressed it on several occasions, including in a piece now online called “5 Things People Get Wrong about Mindfulness,” but it’s helpful to address core questions like this again and again. There is no final answer, no last word on the matter. The many mindfulness teachers and advocates who encouraged us to start Mindful—and whom we rep- resent in everything we do—believe mindfulness is an inherent human capability that belongs to anyone irre- spective of race, creed, gender, you name it. It is our birthright. What is it exactly? Since it’s a quality of mind, it’s not easy (or even desirable) to have a single, agreed-upon-by-everybody, one-size-fits-all definition. Mindful’s definition says that mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or over- whelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness also refers to the cultiva- tion of this basic human ability through methods, including meditation, mind- ful movement, mindful eating, and oth- ers. We call this “mindfulness practice” to distinguish it from the basic ability. Like many meditation teachers, we share the understanding that as our mindfulness is enhanced, it also arouses our connection to others—our kindness and compassion. And we can engage in practices to enhance these qualities as well. Mindful also takes a public health perspective as opposed to a popular self-help approach— thinking in terms of the overall health and well-being of communities, not Defining Mindfulness simply helping a person here or there. Concerning the question raised at the top—Where does it come from?— we can say the inherent human ability is our evolutionary inheritance, and the practices are our social inheri- tance, and they come from a variety of sources. The Buddhist tradition is the place where the largest number of explicit mindfulness traditions were practiced, but it seems certain that these practices predated Buddhism and were not necessarily religious in nature. There are similar practices in other traditions throughout the world, and many great Buddhist teach- ers—East and West—including the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön, Sharon Salzberg, and others have affirmed that mindfulness and compassion can be cultivated outside of Buddhism or any religious context. If practices are helpful to people and increase their well-being, then by all means let’s practice them, from what- ever tradition, whatever name they go by. We pay great respect to Buddhism and to all traditions of wisdom, and we also know that to reduce the pain in the world, we need practices that work and that can be practiced in the public square—where no one’s beliefs are given privilege. We have seen the great benefit mindfulness can do when unleashed in public settings, in high schools in Oregon, in libraries in Los Angeles, in juvenile halls in Oakland, in grade schools in Baltimore, in hospitals in Boston, in hundreds of places. When someone’s life opens up for them, or is even saved, what we call it doesn’t matter much, but if you need a word, mindfulness is as good as any other. ● VOLUME SIX, NUMBER 3, 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 205, Halifax, NS B3J 1V7 CANADA. Printed in U.S.A . © 2018 Foundation for a Mindful Society. All rights reserved. 6 mindful August 2018 PHOTOGRAPHBYMARVINMOORE point of view