Practice in Life

Seeking Discomfort

Seeking Discomfort

“I’m slowly learning how to bring anthropology and mindfulness together. I think they complement each other beautifully, but how to talk about it is a whole other thing. I think it comes down to excavation – what you do physically to understand where people come from. That’s a process of discovery and insight.”

Dr. Michael J. Kimball

Without a Sight of the Shore

Without a Sight of the Shore

“There usually isn’t a quick fix to what makes our lives so challenging, and that’s okay. A meditation practice, even as brief as a couple of minutes a day, can teach us how to accept the discomfort instead of trying to calm it down.”

~ Jinger Moore

Really Know Yourself

Really Know Yourself

“The enemies of liberal democracy, they have a method: They hack our feelings. Not our emails, not our bank accounts—they hack our feelings of fear and hate and vanity, and then use these feelings to polarize and destroy democracy from within.” 

~ Yuval Noah Harari

Short Circuit Your Reflexive Tendency to React

Short Circuit Your Reflexive Tendency to React

“If we don't become aware of our own reactions so that we can short-circuit precisely the kind of addictive and reflexive response that we have to these things, and if we're unwilling to turn them off, we will participate in the continuing debasement of our democracy.”

~ Brooke Gladstone

Feeling Better

Feeling Better

It wasn’t until I stumbled clumsily toward a daily mindfulness practice in my mid-thirties that I discovered that there were ways I could get better at feeling my feelings.

Before intentionally working on my attentional skills, I had no idea how often I escalated my unpleasant feelings and zipped past the pleasant and subtler ones.

The kind of self-awareness that mindfulness exercise develops has helped me become more objective about my subjective experiences.

Left to Our Own Devices

Left to Our Own Devices

While I’m waiting impatiently for the rest of the world to calibrate to my ideal technology habits, I’ve started to watch myself watch other people peer into their devices as they walk down the street, sit in coffee shops, and stand at urinals.

This impulse has grown into a challenging, but fascinating attention exercise that has lead to some liberating insights that have shifted my reactions to other people’s observable tech habits.  

How to Be Perfect

How to Be Perfect

"Take a deep breath.

Do not smart off to a policeman.

Do not step off the curb until you can walk all the way across the
street. From the curb you can study the pedestrians who are trapped
in the middle of the crazed and roaring traffic.

Be good.

Walk down different streets.

Backwards."

~ Ron Padgett

Inhabited Simplicity

Inhabited Simplicity

"Holiness is reached not through effort or will, but by stopping; by an inward coming to rest; a place from which we can embody the spirit of all our holy days, a radical, inhabited simplicity, where we live in a kind of ongoing surprise and with some wonder and appreciation."

~ David Whyte

Airport Insecurity

Airport Insecurity

Flying provides a steady stream of frustrations: the crowded isolation of DIY check-in, the sock-footed walk on eggshells through TSA, the hypervigilant tracking of an elusive ETA.

All the inevitable discomforts of air travel make it a fertile attentional fitness opportunity. I’ve been developing a strategy that transforms the situation from hell into heaven. Okay, maybe more like a really productive purgatory.

If These Clouds Could Talk

If These Clouds Could Talk

What does it mean to let our thoughts drift by like clouds?

Shifting our awareness from what our thoughts mean to how they fluctuate is an attentional exercise that develops liberating abilities over time. 

Observing the movement of clouds can provide a glimpse into how we can relate to mental activity more objectively, but it oversimplifies things when the analogy is taken too literally.

Total Eclipse of Internal Interference

Total Eclipse of Internal Interference

The real magic happens when we become intimately familiar with the moment-by-moment experience of being alive. Instead of trying to force complete experiences to happen. I focus on setting the stage for them to happen by exercising my attention. 

When remembering to notice that we're alive becomes a habit, we begin to erode the internal friction that obscures our view of the richness we're swimming in every day.

Naked and Aware: Bare Attention in the Shower

Naked and Aware: Bare Attention in the Shower

There are many obstacles to establishing a consistent mindfulness routine. Three big ones are finding time to practice, being distracted by thoughts, and feeling bored.

I discovered an exercise that obliterates all three simultaneously, but I’m pretty sure you’re going to hate the idea of it.

As with any good attention exercise, it leverages an ordinary activity as an opportunity to build capacities that for responding more effectively to the challenges of ordinary life.