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January 5, 2012 Elephant

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A Mindful New Year's To-Do List.

Do Nothing One Minute at a Time,
Several Times a Day.

A few things.

One of elephant's best articles, ever, is a talk by Reggie Ray. I reread it, out loud, with my friend Jeanne this morning. It's a reminder, an arrow to the heart of our speediness, of how to enjoy—to fully live our lives. I'd love to ask you to read it, and share it with a busy friend of yours. I'd love to ask you to join me in allowing space to enter our busy-ness, as Dr. Ray puts it—to just walk when we walk, instead of walking while texting. To just #2 when we go to the bathroom, instead of reading or what-have-you. To just sit on the subway, instead of feeling like we have to fill the space in order to be good, efficient Americans. And next time someone asks us how we are, don't shake your head and say, "I'm busy." Say, "I'm good." And notice that you are, in fact, fundamentally good. As Khandro Rinpoche, a great Buddhist teacher told me once, she and her Asian friends would laugh when they came to the West and everyone answered "How are you?" with "I'm busy," as if we were proud of our busy-ness. In her culture, "busy" is a monkey state of mind, and it is peace which can accomplish all things, and do so with the aid of "auspicous coincidence"—the sort of ordinary magic and human connections and fresh ideas that naturally occurs whenever we're present. As we all know, "mindlessness" slows us down, making us do things twice, go back home for our forgotten gloves, get in unnecessary arguments or miscommunications...none of which is truly efficient.

Two. I was in yoga with Jeanie Manchester two days ago, and she kept talking about the importance of honoring the past, or tradition, even as we stretch forward into the future. She reminded me of the struggles of my Buddhist community to innovate while respecting the old ways, lineage, the tried and true. We're very good at innovating, but we're also very good at messing with the past, losing our elders, and losing our way. It's a good reminder for all of us: take time to look at old photos of your family. Take time to read history, or biographies of those who fascinate us. Take time to remember one's own life. For, as the University of Colorado library reminds us with a bold inscription on its entrance, "He who forgets history remains forever a child." And while children are wonderful in many ways, there's something to learning from the mistakes and victories of the past, too.

Three. We're now paying the rest of Waylon's letter, here.


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Yours in the Vision of an Enlightened Society,

Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis
editor-in-chief, host
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