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Mindful : October 2019
on things staying the same really amounts to no more than making excuses, in my mind, for our deep clinging to the familiar, our allegiance to permanence, our fear of change. Somewhere along the way, though, the why part of this quest started to recede into the back- ground. It seemed a waste of time to keep trying to resolve a conundrum that eluded me for as long as some middle-aged people have lived. A better approach might be to take it for granted and see what could be done to undercut and confound it. Some people call this allowing practice, just letting things be, and in my experience, there can be a number of allowing practices. The trick, though, is for the allowing practices to not be about a begrudging allowance, à la “OK, things change. I get it. So, can we get on with the famil- iar, already?” Calling these “practices” makes it a bit fancy, I admit. They are simply reflections in the midst of life: taking the opportunities presented to us to acclimate to the big, beautiful, changing scene that life serves up. Since these nine reflections focus on the minutiae of life, things that might even normally be beneath notice, one could argue that they’re not that relevant to the kinds of change that deeply bother us: losing or not getting a job, hav- ing our hopes dashed, the death of friends and family, the fact that we will die. Fair point. These big life events are the emotional touch points where our difficulty with change—our feeling of time passing, that everything moves on and slips through our fingers—makes itself most acutely felt. For that very reason, though, these are hard to tackle head-on. Interrupting the momentum of our discomfort with change in the small things can, over time, subtly alter our perception of the big things. In some ways, this is indeed at the heart of mindfulness: When we rest patiently, with no goal, aim, or destination for a while, we turn a microscope on the shifting landscape that emerges anew with each passing moment. → Allowing does not mean negating what is painful. It is allowing what is there to simply be there. October 2019 mindful 57