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Mindful : August 2019
m PEOPLE TO WATCH What do you suggest when you feel like you’ve done your utmost to live by love and compassion, but then jerks out there take the wind out of your sail and just kind of crush you? Q mindful FAQ Sharon Salzberg is a meditation teacher, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society, and New York Times best-selling author of Real Love and Real Happiness. I think it’s always helpful if we look at our motivation, and if we feel confident we’re acting from a place of love and compassion, as much as we can. The intention behind an action is a very powerful part of the action. It behooves all of us to use mindfulness to truly pay attention to where we’re coming from. And then, there’s a level of skill in action if you are trying to communicate something. Beyond that is a level over which you don’t have any control. You really don’t. People will respond, but we don’t have to define ourselves and our actions completely by their reac- tion, because it’s hopeless. If someone is not responding in an appropriate way, or even in a kind way, usually we’re heartbroken. I’m such an idiot. Why do I always give the wrong thing? Or: They’re hopeless. They’re just jerks. That’s the place for equanimity. We do care, but how much do we care? Are we com- pletely defined by something we actually can’t even affect, which is the reaction of somebody else? Or can we have a sense of integrity about our actions based on knowing our motive and that we acted as skillfully as we could? A Charles Hargobind leads the Mindfulness Ambassador Program, put on by Mind- fulness Without Borders, in which he guides high school seniors through a 12-week mindfulness training that includes basic meditation instruction, techniques for navigating challenging emotions, and helping teens recognize and understand their internal narratives. Hargobind is a g raduate of the program, and he found mindfulness at a particu- larly painful point in his life. Hargobind knew he was gay but was struggling to come to terms with his iden- tity. Finally, he came out to his best friend. “I’m gay,” he told her. “She’s like, ‘ What? NO. You can’t be, Charles. Do you know how many times people have asked me and I defended you?’” His parents also were not immediately accepting of his news. Isolated and afraid, his best friend’s words rang in his ears. No, you can’t be. “I was in such a dark place, and I kept looking for something to liberate me in some way. When this program came into my life, it gave me the freedom to stop looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and find it within.” Hargobind sees mindful- ness working for the teens he leads. “ Week one they’re hunched over, hoodie on, arms crossed. By week five, they’re open and willing to share their vulnerabilities, willing to share what is chal- lenging them in a moment of anger or happiness, how they’re relating to that emo- tion, what their narrative around that emotion is.” Hargobind believes mindfulness can be a life- line for all youth he works with, but there’s a special place in his heart, and in his work, for at-risk LGBTQ teens. He says mindfulness offers something vital. “ You see your mask, you see your vulnerabilities, and you get to be with them, whether that’s happiness, sadness, anger, joy—you get to honor those emotions.” Charles Hargobind MINDFULNESS WITHOUT BORDERS How Mindfulness Helps You Shed Your Masks: mindful.org/hargobind m Practice compassion with Sharon Salzberg at mindful.org/compassion-salzberg PHOTOGRAPHBYMINDFULNESSWITHOUTBORDERS,ILLUSTRATIONBYDENISENESTOR August 2019 mindful 15