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What to do When Your Mind Starts to Growl

An interview with Sylvia Boorstein

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Little Bear: Honey Eater by Michael McConnell

Sylvia Boorstein is a psychotherapist, a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and the author of many books, including Pay Attention, for Goodness’ Sake: The Buddhist Path of Kindness. We spoke with her recently about the relationship between mindfulness and compassion, dealing with difficult emotions driven by the news cycle, and the importance of not clinging too tightly to our political views. Sam Mowe: Early Buddhist texts indicate that the practice of paying attention—mindfulness—eventually leads to compassion and concern for others. Can you briefly describe how that process works? Sylvia Boorstein: As you practice meditation, you come to see that things are ephemeral. You see that we can’t count on things being comfortable because everything’s always changing, which leads to anguish and suffering because we think we can’t bear what’s happening. One mark of an awakened mind is that it notices that it shares this condition of being human with all other human beings on the planet. Because who knows what’s going to happen to them next? If I really look around, I can see that …

Sam Mowe is the editor at the Garrison Institute, a nonprofit in New York that supports those who practice contemplation to catalyze personal and social transformation.

About the Author

Sam Mowe is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. His interviews have also appeared in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and The...

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