"We live in a world of distraction, and simply being human means our lives are complicated. If we do not clear a space for ourselves within, we could end up lost and wandering, looking for the elusive 'right answer' based wholly on external clues. The solution to this is not more action, but instead cultivating a space of internal stillness."
Brandi Lust, Myths of Being Human
Myths of Being Human: Four Paths to Connect with What Matters is based on Brandi Lust's eight-week training program on mindfulness, gratitude, growth, and connection. It can be used as a self-directed program, the core text for a facilitated group, or as a supplement to an existing mindfulness class.
Each section begins with a 'myth' (or common misunderstanding) contrasted with the reality:
Myth: "The default human state is happiness and contentment. If I'm not happy or content, something is probably wrong with me."
Reality There is no default human emotional ideal state. Uncomfortable emotions are part of being human, and they can be sources of meaning and transformation.This is followed by reflections on Ms. Lust's own personal experiences with mindfulness, gratitude, growth, and connection.
"[Practicing] gratitude has increased my well-being. I am more joyful and at peace, simply because it feels better to be alive each day. I have more patience for the mundane because I am no longer seeking to change the experience I am having. My life is richer and more fulfilling."She contrasts two weekend mornings when she had to get up early to watch her son compete in wrestling meets.
The first time, she felt cold, bored, and resentful.
The second time, she enjoyed herself because she consciously chose to focus on connecting with her son and with the extended family who gathered to support him.
What I most appreciate about Myths of Being Human is Ms. Lust's honesty about her own foibles and challenges. At one point she was so overscheduled that she was an hour late for a mindfulness workshop—which was particularly ironic since she was the facilitator!
Ms. Lust has generously provided two sample practices from the book to Mindful Teachers:
- 'Building Narratives of Inclusion' helps us choose to be more inclusive by connecting with people we perceive as different from us and not part of our usual group.
reviewed by Catharine Hannay
DIY Mini-Retreat for Counselors and Teachers
Mindfulness Increases Creativity, Spirituality, and Connection (interview with Brandi Lust)
Mindfulness in Schools: Research-Based Support for Teacher Training (guest post by Brandi Lust)