- the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
“The sign outside the yoga class you passed on the way to Starbucks before you were late for work. The current buzz word on the cover of the Time Magazine dismissed on the newsstand you glimpsed in the supermarket line. Mindfulness is more than the latest trend. Mindfulness=Awareness. Not just the moments that you put away the smart phone and listen to the birds, or the Sunday you take the Headspace app for a spin, but letting those important personal moments connect you with your everyday: the ecological empowerment of minimalism over consumerism, knowing the agricultural methodology for your food, caring how your Senator got reelected, why your town square is designed that way, where your taxes go.”
That’s how Sisyphus pitched this issue. It turns out that the interesting thing about embodying a Mindfulness Operating System is that it is more of a challenge than it seems. Mindfulness requires complete engagement. Awareness is an extreme sport. The authors on the following pages didn’t just take the first steps out of their comfort zone, but giant leaps: shifting their focus, upending their methodology, walking their life paths in different shoes. For a chance to live their lives in a better way, they took personal risks, striking out against conventions, cultures, classes, and sometimes even family traditions. Of course, the philosophies of Buddha appear and reappear in articles because one can practice mindfulness without Buddhism, but you can’t practice Buddhism without mindfulness. And there is a distinct difference. As the Buddhist teacher Joseph Goldstein has written, mindfulness is about cultivating, “the quality and power of mind that is aware of what is happening, without judgement and without interference.” Buddhism is just the starting point. The artists and poets and writers on the following pages are personally engaged in interference, in shifting the paradigm to a more conscious world and bringing as many as they can along for the ride. A full half of the authors or their subjects travelled to other cultures to learn and teach, to share and trade their newfound awareness back home like explorers of a bygone age might bring exotic spices for a gumbo. Some confronted institutions to bear witness and be a voice to the voiceless. They marched on Washington D.C. People challenged political ideology and the very economy underlying it all. Several moved backwards to move forward, silencing cell phone chatter and social media “progress” to hear the water in the streams, the literal birds in the hand and in the bush, maybe even the food growing—those things that will disappear if we don’t pay attention. The one thing that the current administration has accomplished is to unify a nation against the homegrown terrorism in the Oval Office and remind us all that we are only the stewards of this world for future generations. What kind of ancestor do you want to be?