OMFG it’s 2023 (say that out loud, it may elicit a smile.) Hineni, here we are, in a new space of creation and contemplation. Perhaps today feels eerily similar to ayer, perhaps it feels completamente diferente. Where do intentionality and action intersect? The range of human experience, simultaneously subjective and objective, is fascinating to bear witness to and behold.

And, what and how am I beholding myself?

What is the quality of my attention towards my complex inner worlds?

How is my mindfulness (returning, paying attention, bringing awareness towards something, feeling) nourishing my existence?

How does my intentionality support justice in my body and in the world-at-large?

Over the past few years I have been working carefully to develop and pay attention to two key mindfulness practices within a justice-oriented framework:

1. Engaging in the felt intersection of self-awareness and a broader concept of the continuum of care: When I notice I am not being gentle with myself, turning towards that awareness with gentleness, i.e., being gentle in the noticing. The Buddha (yes, that dude) describes a practice of suffering/harming oneself as shooting a second arrow of pain into a space that has already received a first hit. How may I minimize the shooting of this second arrow?

2. Listening to understand: In contrast to listening to respond, listening to understand feels more spacious and open in my body. It is also a somatic practice as my mouth and body/ posture often wants to insert my perspective, opinion, feeling, etc. in dialogue and gesticulating form in conversation. And yet, when I consciously come into contact with another person to engage in the ancient art form of communication, I know if I am able to inhale, exhale, feel: PAUSE on my own desires to express and be heard, in the practice of patient, open, and attentive listening, a gem of connection may form in the space where my words may otherwise have occupied.

So, I invite you to consider engaging in two practices this year, summed up here as:

1. Gentleness with Self &

2. Listening to Understand

When life feels challenging, as it will, let’s purposefully take time to practice. To breathe, feel, twist and shout so we may intentionally open the spaces of responsiveness, rather than reactivity, in ourselves, and by extension, in the community.

If I am not for me, who will be for me? And when I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, then when?

-Rabbi Hillel, Pirkei Avot 1, 14

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