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Lions Roar : September 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2010 30 day. Or before I walk into a room, I think about how I want to enter respectfully. I think about it when I’m gardening, too. I have a tendency to tear into the weeds and not notice the flowers. Mindfulness is stepping out of automatic. It’s saying, this is how you’re rushing through your life. Go to a different level and handle it with more awareness. I have times when I’m a space cadet or I’m totally not in the moment or con- scious of being compassionate. But what I’m seeking is a life that becomes more mindful and with that goal I can feel good. With mindfulness the barrier between self and other falls away a little bit. When you’re mindful of another person and you see them clearly, you feel a connection that takes away self-doubt and loneliness. do you have a Buddhist teacher? I don’t, but I’m starting to realize I need one. My own efforts to direct my educa- tion are probably going to be flawed—let’s just put it mildly. If I were in the Bay Area or Boston or Tucson, finding a teacher would be no big deal, but I can’t tell you how few teachers come through lin- coln, Nebraska. Teachers are hard to find. Maybe not if you live in certain parts of the country, but most people don’t live in certain parts of the country. They live in Kansas and Nebraska and Indianapolis. How are reading and writing related to Buddhism for you? Writing is a bit like meditation. You get up on a ledge above the drama and look at it and see that what you’re experiencing is very common. Reading opens people’s hearts and inspires them to act on behalf of the common good. It allows us to be connected with people all over the world and back in time. When I was growing up, my aunt Margaret said that if you live sev- enty years and aren’t a reader, you’ll know maybe three thousand people over your lifetime. You’ll hear their stories and you’ll see a certain part of the world. But if you read books, you’ll go all over the world and know all these wonderful people you could never have met in one lifetime. ♦ ordinary life I’d never say no to. I’m very much someone who likes to help people and I suffer a great deal when I can’t. So in terms of my personality, it was a perfect storm: the external situation, the number of requests, the number of no’s, and my distance from a good-looking bird. A bird? I like to be around birds—to be out- doors—and I missed that. My husband was really good about it. If there was a body of water around that was any big- ger than a swimming pool, he’d find it and we’d go look for waterfowl. That helped me more than anything else when I was on the road. How did Buddhism help you cope? Buddhism is a religion of kindness and compassion. I needed that kindness to myself. I’ve always been someone who never thought about my own needs. I was raised that way. Women weren’t supposed to think about their own needs in the world I was raised in, and children were supposed to do what they were told. It was late in life that I finally realized it was okay to be as flawed and have as many needs as anyone else on Earth. It was a tremendous relief to figure that out. How do you try to manifest mindfulness in your life? When I’m in the grocery store and there’s a person sacking my groceries, I want to give that person the sense that I care about them and that I hope their day is a good We’re all the worst Buddhists in the world. It’s common to think that all the rest of the meditators are good Buddhists, and that we alone aren’t doing things properly.