by clicking the "Next" arrow.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Mindful : August 2018
When you recall your child- hood in Alabama, do you see sources for your even- tual embrace of mindfulness? During my formal study of mindful- ness, I was reading about and practic- ing attentive listening. I found myself reflecting on my grandma. One of her favorite things was to sit on the porch, looking out at the trees. My sister and I would sit with her. We’d listen to the crickets and the birds and the wind in the trees, and it was beautiful to just connect with myself, with nature, and with my sister and grandmother. We were practicing just being. Come to find out, years later—wow!—that ’s mindfulness. Another foundational piece, also from my grandma, was the practice of gratitude. Every morning, when she woke up, she would speak grati- tude: “Thank you, Jesus, for another beautiful day.” It didn’t matter if it was storming or raining outside, she would give gratitude for the gift of another day. From Alabama to Hawaii, from the Southern Baptist church to mindfulness meditation? What pushed you so far from home? [Laughs] Oh, my goodness! I learned some wonderful things from religion, but there were things that, oh, kept me in a place of fear and disempower- ment. I remember a big, big billboard on the side of the highway. It had a red devil holding a pitchfork: “Go to church or the devil’s going to get you.” When I started to make deci- sions for myself, to experiment with figuring out who I was, what I liked, and what I wanted to do, it was scary. There were times when I was walk- ing around just waiting to get struck by lightning, because I thought I had made God angry. Leaving home and then returning from college and graduate school must have been almost as hard as staying. When I came home for holidays, they’d start waving the Bible, telling me how much of a devil I was, but, oh, they loved me and they didn’t want me to burn in hell. My good- ness, this onslaught of being told that you’re not right, you’re not good enough, you’re not living your life right, was hard to bear. When did you start to be curious about other ways of living? When we were teenagers, my sister was diagnosed with cancer. Accompanying her to the hospital was an awakening for me. We would go to the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, for her treat- ment, and I found myself surrounded by children who were different. Catho- lic. Jewish. Other Christian denomina- tions. They were different, but it was so clear to me that we are all connected. That experience broke down a lot of barriers. It drove my curiosity about other beliefs. I wanted to understand other people and their experiences. That was life changing. Each time we returned to the hos- pital for my sister’s treatment—some- times after only a week—a child had ABOUT THE AUTHOR Victoria Dawson is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. She regularly contributes to Mindful. “When we were teenagers, my sister was diagnosed with cancer. Accompanying her to the hospital was an awakening for me.” died. I saw that they were doing their best to live in the moment, because many knew that their moments were so limited. So, I developed a deep sense of responsibility to live my life to the fullest—to appreciate and be grateful for the time given to me. Eventually, life led you to graduate school. You were heading toward a doctorate. What happened? Yeah, I was supposedly going to be at Notre Dame for many, many years, getting a PhD, then doing research, and probably becoming a professor. Along the way, I heard my authentic self calling, “ What do you really want to do?” I was interested in how we could harness this powerful technol- ogy that is changing the world and use it for good. My work resulted in a pioneering human–computer interac- tion application to allow physically disabled students greater access to higher education. But at the time, the mid-1990s, the focus was on how to make computers faster. And while there were many positive things about Notre Dame, it wasn’t diverse. As an undergraduate, I had attended Alabama A&M, a historically Black university where I was nurtured and with many people, like me, who had grown up poor and Black in the rural South. Stepping out of your comfort zone—being a trailblazer—is a great way to grow, but I felt isolated and experienced a lot of unconscious bias. Even later in life, hurtful unconscious bias was everywhere I went. → August 2018 mindful 41 the mindful interview