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Mindful : June 2019
When Hurricane Maria bore down on Puerto Rico in September 2017, destroy- ing the island’s infrastruc- ture and claiming more than 3,000 lives, the world watched in horror. For Jana Kiser, living thousands of miles away in San Francisco, not being able to get news about her loved ones or help her community was excruti- ating. “I felt so far away and powerless,” she says. In the aftermath, Kiser, who works in nonprofit aid and collective-impact orga- nization, was moved to act. Reaching out to friends and colleag ues, including fellow Puerto Rican Andres Gonza- les of the Holistic Life Foun- dation (HLF), she launched Bajacu’ Boricua (baja-coo boor-ee -qua), a pilot project to offer free training in med- itation, mindful movement, and music therapy, with the goal of supporting resiliency as Puerto Ricans “do the big work of recovery.” In January, she and members of HLF, move- ment teacher Leslie Booker, and María José Montijo, a California-based Puerto Rican sound therapist and harpist, embarked on a 10-day tour of the island. They were joined by guest mindfulness teachers Sharon Salzberg and Sylvia Boorstein, as well as a pro- fessional clown. Ever y where they went, Kiser says, “doz- ens and dozens” of people came out to participate. Importantly, Kiser explains, each workshop opened with participants naming someone they would share these new tools with, and closed with an acknowledgment that “people already have a full bank of resources to help them sur vive.” “ We didn’t want to be people from outside the community coming in with solutions for others, as if they were empty vessels,” she says. “ People are resil- ient and are surviving. They are making it, right now. Our intention was to just add to the bank, to make a deposit, to offer tools that are really doable and tangible to sup- port that. And taught in a way that it could be shared with other people.” MINDFULNESS IN THE WORLD Jana Kiser PUERTO RICO TRAUMA RECOVERY ORGANIZER Q mindful FAQ Many people find breath- counting useful when they are still developing a personal practice of mindfulness medita- tion, because it provides a kind of anchor or rudder to keep them on task. Think of it as scaffolding around a building. It can serve a useful, supportive purpose at the beginning, but you may want to let go of it when the structure (prac- tice) is more established and solid. The practice I have heard most often is a process of counting each breath at the completion of the outbreath and going until 10, and then star ting again at one. (Any time that you lose track of which number you were on, you go back to one and star t again.) Steve Hickman is a clinical psychologist and founder of the UCSD Center for Mindfulness and executive director of the nonprofit Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. IsitOKtocountmy breaths while I’m meditating? A June 2019 mindful 17 PHOTOGRAPHBYCRISSYJARVIS/UNSPLASH,JANAKISER