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Mindful : October 2019
It’s undeniable that the ability to walk upright has shaped our species. Not just what we can do and where we can go, but what our interactions look like, how we exercise our autonomy, what we need to develop and thrive in ever y aspect of our being. In A Walk- ing Life, Malchik looks at these factors and more, showing the significance of walking at various historical moments— and arguing that what it really means to “walk” also includes people with illness or disabili- ties who have devised count- less ways to move through the world. She’ll make you pause over many current lifestyles that, alarmingly, involve pre- cious little time on our feet. A WALKING LIFE Reclaiming Our Health and Our Freedom—One Step at a Time Antonia Malchik • Da Capo Press An author fascinated by the fundamental aspects of life, Jane Brox has written about family, farmland, and light—all to g reat acclaim. She is a micro-historian with a farmer’s feel for the value of getting dirt under your fingernails to get to the heart of the matter. Using the modern technique of alternating and intertwining stories, Brox reports on silence as a means of reform in early penitentiaries (thought to be more humane than corporal or capital punishment) and as a means of spiritual development in the monastery. Silence as means of redemption for criminals is largely a story of the dark side of silence. The prohibition against speaking revealed a deep need to give voice and to commune with others. It was being silenced rather than finding peace within silence: punishment, not reformation. The dark side is also explored in chapters on the silencing of women’s voices. English law, brought to the early American colonies, meted out punishment to women for “talking too much or too publicly, or in a tone of voice that seemed grat- ing or nagging,” Brox writes, sharing the English legal definition of a scold: “a troublesome angry woman who, by her brawling and wrangling among her neighbors, doth break the public peace and beget, cherish, and increase public discord.” When Brox turns her historical lens to spiritual silence, we find the key difference between silenc- ing and reveling in silence is community. Monas- tic orders live together in intimate communion. Only rarely are monastics cut off from others completely, and usually only for defined periods. Having juxtaposed silence in two very dif- ferent forms, Brox leaves us to contemplate the interplay between quiet and community, between a silence born of deep listening and one born of wanting others to shut up. SILENCE A Social History of One of the Least Understood Elements of Our Lives Jane Brox • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Social worker, family thera- pist, and Canada Research Chair in Child, Family, and Community Resilience, Michael Ungar knows whereof he speaks when it comes to how important environment is to health and well-being. How resilient will you be if you’re hungry, poorly educated, and have little access to good employment? And self-help drives him crazy: It makes people think there’s something wrong with their brain that they must fix. He makes a great point. What’s a little puzzling is why Ungar thinks mindfulness practice has nothing to do with seeing what needs to be changed in “your world.” In his view, mindfulness is an unproven way to trying to fix ourselves instead of our environment, and those of us who love it should give it up. Perhaps, though, if this is the impression we’re leaving, we need to up our game. CHANGE YOUR WORLD The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success Michael Ungar • Sutherland House October 2019 mindful 73 Bookmark This read...listen...stream