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Mindfulness in the Midst of Contention

Written by: Dani Clark with Katie Taylor

In a contentious world, the ability to slow down, pause and exhibit mindfulness in the face of disagreement is more valuable than ever. This may be most striking in the perilous terrain of social media where emotions run high and amount of usable characters runs low. To remain connected in our social networks, we are pressed for immediacy, and yet mindful perspective and empathy remain essential to ease some of the discomforts of difference we so often encounter in our daily lives.

After a polarizing week of presidential campaigns coming to a close and near-constant election coverage, writers and non-writers alike require a moment of pause, if not several. Pauses oblige us to temporarily suspend judgment and postpone analysis of external and internal stimuli. These mindful moments create the space to recognize the proverbial here and now-no instantaneous reaction required.

Social psychologist and Harvard professor, Ellen Langer, defines mindfulness during her interview with On Being. She says, “For me, [mindfulness] is the simple act of actively noticing new things.” In a time when we are on the receiving end of a constant influx of new information, finding pause to actively notice our responses is easier said than done. Everyone is familiar with that nearly instinctual urge to immediately respond to a social media post, from liking a photo on Instagram within three seconds of first seeing it, to reacting angrily in comment form to a controversial Facebook status. The challenge lies in taking pause from what is directly at our fingertips.

In contrast, when we take the time to notice something new, we are placed directly in the present. Here, we are simultaneously more receptive to and engaged with our immediate context. We can offer more attention to our relationships and environment.

By taking a pause when confronted with something new, you can:

  • fully recognize all that contributes to your current environment
  • clarify the needs of the moment
  • tangibly connect with others and your surroundings
  • foster a deeper sense of gratitude for alternative perspectives

As a parent, this may take form in presenting your child with a new toy and noticing them react with new words or sounds. As a spouse, this could mean searching for some untold, yet potentially shared, childhood experience. As a roommate, you might go home and learn the other person’s favorite way to find comfort there. This process, as Langer puts it, enables other people “to come alive for you again.”

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This can be a simple matter of noticing and appreciating the small nuances of communication within each entered conversation. It could be a friend squinting their eyes when offering an opinion, as if to ask, “Does that make sense?” or a sibling never failing to laugh before telling the punch line of a joke. It is through these acts of noticing that we remain engaged with each other.

This engagement is altogether too easily forgotten when we are presented with social media. Our relationships with the people we interact with on social platforms can seem far removed. The separation by screen creates a dangerous disconnect between people and the weight of their words. The next time you encounter a post that evokes negative emotion, take a pause. Recall your long standing history with that person or simply the existence of the relationship at hand. Consider how you would react differently if their humanness was more noticeable and not obstructed by a screen. Remember our connections with one another go beyond our most recent interactions.

Reaching a state of mindfulness is not always easy, particularly if you live with a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety that can prevent your mind from focusing on the present moment. However, some people find that using natural products containing cannabis can help them to achieve a sense of calm. A lot of the stigma surrounding medical marijuana has been diffused in areas where cannabis has been legalized, to the extent that if you are looking for a weed delivery montreal is home to a huge selection of online dispensaries where you can find products that people use as part of their mindfulness routines.

That being said, it is important to remember that if you are considering using natural products containing cannabis as part of your mindfulness journey you might first want to speak to a cannabis expert to ensure that you are making the right choices for your specific needs. To elaborate, it is no secret that there are several different strains of marijuana and therefore speaking to someone that works in a dispensary can help you to identify the best strain for you. To learn more about how a cannabis dispensary works, Click here.

Moreover, if you do decide that this is the best way to achieve that calm within yourself then you must think about how you can best go about consuming marijuana for your benefit. Most people choose to smoke marijuana and so they will often look for different types of accessories to do that with. They may also want to know how to do things themselves, like making homemade pipes. Ultimately, there are many different types of paraphernalia that can be used to get the best out of your marijuana.

As a practice that both facilitates relationships and enlivens experiences, mindfulness acts as a conduit to human connection. And when armed with the benefits of such a practice, we are better able to select from the steady stream of mental dialog–the thoughts and emotions which establish and support connection.

By choosing to be mindful and temporarily suspend reaction, we can build awareness of multiple perspectives as well as more peacefully navigate the tumultuous waters of adversity and find common ground. So whether it is through your online or in-person presence, mindfulness and the practice of noticing encourage individual connection to the world and universal connectedness to one another.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of the series, Mindfulness: An Act of Writing to see how mindfulness can translate into writing skill.

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