Mindfulness practices ask us to be open to perspectives beyond our own. Mindful editor-in-chief Heather Hurlock shares how we can honor the gaps between our outlooks and seek to bridge them with compassion.
I often find myself in moments where I fail to see someone else’s truth. Once, when I was younger, I got to paint houses for Habitat for Humanity on a reservation in South Dakota. There were 15 of us sharing potluck meals and exploring the Black Hills on day trips with our hosts from the reservation.
On one trip, a man named Elvis took us to see Mt. Rushmore. As we all stood there at the base of the mountain, in awe of this symbol of our country, Elvis, who was quick with an easy smile and a humorous anecdote, casually said: “Imagine there was a statue of the man who raped your mother in your living room. Imagine you were forced to carve it.” He looked at us, we looked at him. A heavy silent moment passed between us all before he lightened the mood with a joke I can’t remember.
Widen Your Lens
I’ve never forgotten that moment. That casual and brutal glimpse into a perspective so different from my experience of American culture has served as a reminder of the enormity of what I don’t know (and can never truly understand, regardless of what I read).
Practicing mindfulness gives us the opportunity to acknowledge our unique perspective in the world and then unhook from it a little. We get to widen our lens and honor the gaps that exist between our individual perspectives—and the challenges those gaps can evoke. We can investigate the stories we tell, about ourselves and others, and consider how we might compassionately bridge the distance those stories create between us.
Practicing mindfulness gives us the opportunity to acknowledge our unique perspective in the world and then unhook from it a little.
For the December issue of Mindful, we’re inviting you to explore the gift of mindfulness from many perspectives:
Welcome What’s Here
Mindfulness comes in as many shapes, sizes, colors, and intensities as there are people in the world. The challenge is to practice—to sit and let things be as they are for a little while, notice what arises, remember that every truth is partial, and breathe into whatever shows up with kindness and compassion.
With love and gratitude,
Our ability to pay attention is unreliable when we’re under stress. In her new book Peak Mind, neuroscientist Amishi Jha explores cutting-edge research on elite soldiers revealing how mindfulness training protects our attentional resources, even in the most high-stress scenarios imaginable.