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Mindful : April 2019
Barry Boyce Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org Our must-read story this issue: In “Wake Up to the Wild,” on page 40, renowned mindfulness teacher and wilderness exper t Mark Coleman reveals why our relationship with nature is more important than ever in the age of climate change. An older man and woman carrying packages and two small children make their way onto a subway car— by all appearances grandparents with their grandchildren, who also are carrying bags. No one gets up to offer a seat, not even the young athletic man wearing earbuds. The elevator door opens and you’re about to get out, but several people, eager to enter, are blocking your exit. You have to jostle through. On the way into a mindfulness event, I encounter a man who nearly knocks me over as he leaves the event, intent on whatever is on his phone. Excuse me is not in his vocabulary. Is the speed of our lives and the many distractions in a universe flooded with information making us ruder? It may be. Even at mindful- ness conferences, I’ve noticed people roughly jostling to get to someone famous or had people stop listening to a conversation as they drift off into the world of their phones. I cannot say I’m a paragon of manners at all times, and there are definitely times when someone should interrupt me in mid-sentence or even before I open my mouth. Nevertheless, like others, I find an increased ignorance of the effect we’re having on those around us. Just the other day, I got a text from a close friend I was waiting to hear from. I stopped dead in my tracks to read it, blocking traffic at a museum and disengaging from the people I was with. My wife gave me a look. Wow. I need to up my game here, I thought. It’s just way too easy to lose track of those around me and Please Excuse Me get caught up in my little world. It always was, but our devices and the speed of life are making it worse. Being attentive to what’s going on around us and where we fit in is indeed an element of our basic mindfulness, an outgrowth of the sensory system called proprioception (See Jon Kabat-Zinn on this topic on page 62). And yet mindfulness is not about walking on eggshells and con- stantly minding our P’s & Q’s. There’s a certain natural flow we can tune in to—in a conversation, in a crowd walking down the street, in a group of people sharing a meal. When we click, it feels good; when we don’t, it’s awkward, and even allowing it to be awkward is part of being mindful. No need to fix everything. Not only is it unwise to misinter- pret mindfulness as hypervigiliance, there is also a common trap that can lead us down an unhelpful path when we take up practices intended to sharpen our mindfulness and awareness: the trap of self-absorption. Because mindfulness asks us to pay attention to ourselves, we can gradu- ally turn it into an utterly self-involved project: the transformation of me. If we’re not careful, before we know it, our own intense focus on how the big-project-of-me is going causes us to forget to see others and where they are and what they need and what they’re saying. Fortunately, just like coming back to the breath, it’s easy to come back to the people around us, grateful for the opportunity to emerge from our self-inflicted dreamworld, and say “ Excuse me, after you.” ● VOLUME SEVEN, NUMBER 1, 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 . © 2019 Foundation for a Mindful Society. All rights reserved. 4 mindful April 2019 PHOTOGRAPHBYMARVINMOORE point of view