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Mindful : December 2018
Crossing Borders And this starts in your own classroom? My class meetings begin with a three-minute walk from the classroom— through a beautiful sculp- ture garden—to Windhover, the university’s contempla- tive center. Once we arrive, we meditate for 15 min- utes. Later in the quarter, we extend that time to 30 minutes. What happens when you get back to the classroom? When we return to the classroom we are working with mindful values. When you begin in a place of mindfulness, people bring themselves to an encoun- ter in such a different way. I’ve repeatedly seen the results: We are more able to see ourselves clearly and be open to what’s happen- ing, accepting ourselves as we are, bringing forth an authentic self, and being more open to accepting another’s authentic self. Mindfulness helps to lessen prejudice, encourage a By Victoria Dawson • Photograph by McNair Evans Trained in East Asian medicine in Japan and in psychology at Harvard, Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu teaches throughout Asia and at Stan- ford University. His Heartfulness pro- gram at Stanford combines traditional wisdom practices such as mindfulness with current science. Among his courses is “Transforming Self and In what sense does your hyphenated surname— Murphy-Shigematsu— speak to the integration that’s so present in your work? I found a sense of pur- pose in making meaning of an existence that was created by two people from different worlds—an Irish-American father and a Japanese mother. They were people from different sides of a great war who came together in peace and created children. Your career has shifted from providing individual psychotherapy to working exclusively with groups. What drew you in that direction? With the one-to-one pro- fessional relationship, there is a hierarchy and power structure: The patient, cli- ent, always has less power than the professional care- giver. I found that limiting. I wanted to return to what is practiced in much of the world—coming together in a healing community in which you engage as equals. In a group, when someone is open and vulnerable about the humanity and imper- fection and woundedness in themselves, then others in the group will sense that a safe space is being created. They’ll feel the desire—or even the need—to be open and vulnerable. It becomes a reciprocal process of heal- ing—of reconnecting with the hidden, fragmented, traumatized parts of self. So in a sense, your new book—and use of the word “heartfulness”—is an extension of that concern for integration. The book is an attempt to refocus us on the broader meaning of mindfulness. For me, “heartfulness” is a way of saying that mindfulness extends beyond the head— into the heart and into the hands. It’s a way of extend- ing mindfulness beyond the individual self and into the realization of our intercon- nectedness with others. Systems: Crossing Borders of Race, Nation, Gender, Sexuality, and Class.” His book, From Mindfulness to Heart- fulness: Transforming Self and Society with Compassion (published February 2018), focuses on how mindfulness practices can contribute to a mean- ingful way of living with gratitude, compassion, and social responsibility. 34 mindful December 2018 walk the talk