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View selected pages from Mindful’s December 2013 issue. Subscribe at mindful.org


contents

Features 34 All in the Same Boat What do teenagers find when they leave behind the comforts of home (and their digital devices) to live together for five days and nights on a tiny sailboat? Themselves. Carsten Knox reports Sidebar: A teenage sailor shares her diary p 40

42 She Wears It Well Entering her 30th year of business, designer Eileen Fisher wears the mantle of leadership with the ease and flowing style of her clothing. Her company is not only doing well, Barry Boyce writes, it’s doing good—for employees, young women, and the planet

“I have a deep sense that I didn’t create this business alone. I listened, I heard, and we worked together. Working in a collaborative way made it so much better.”

42

Eileen Fisher

52 Focus! Choosing what to focus on and what to leave in the background is one of our greatest gifts. And yet, says bestselling author Daniel Goleman, we squander this power by getting lost in a sea of distractions. Why not learn to train it instead? Sidebar: Try this practice to sharpen your focus p 56

60 Luke, I’m Your Dad Jeremy Adam Smith and his son find common ground in the land of light sabres and Jedi knights. The Force, it turns out, may be mindfulness

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Sidebar: Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Qui-Gon Jinn share their words of wisdom p 62

PHOTOGRAPHS BY AARON MCKENZIE FRASER (BOTTOM), MARK MAHANEY (TOP), BÉATRICE PELTRE (OPPOSITE PAGE). ILLUSTRATIONS BY NOMOCO.

Sidebar: Three things that matter to Eileen Fisher p 45


Departments 4 Your Thoughts

24 One Taste

6 Our Thoughts

A Taste of Home Angela Mears finds joy in butternut squash. Recipes by Béatrice Peltre

8 Contributors

28 Body/Mind

11 Now A top scientist talks mindfulness • Teenagers learn to pause online • Panera Bread gets ahead in business by giving • Make work a place you love to go • Neuroscience gets graphic • Educators put mindfulness to good use • Inject some joy back into the holiday season • Research Roundup

20 Bookmark This The writings, recordings, and apps that are capturing our attention now

22 Mindful/Mindless Our take on who’s paying attention and who’s not

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Always New Rock climber Steph Davis likes to go back again and again to the same mountains. Every time, they’re subtly different

30 Mind/Body My Brain Made Me Do It As scientists learn more about how the structure of our brains affects our behavior, Sharon Begley asks: are we responsible for our actions, or can we just blame our brains?

80 MindSpace

24

Maira Kalman tries a meditation retreat and gets inspired. Or is that annoyed?

65 In Practice 66 Techniques Three steps to a better relationship with money 67 At Work Set the Tone How to negotiate a raise with more skill and grace, and the best ways to defuse office politics 68 Ask Ms. Mindful Exploring marriage momentum, helping others without hurting yourself, and reconsidering old friends

70 Insight

Raising the Mindful Family Family members are disconnected from each other as never before. Psychologists Stefanie and Elisha Goldstein show us ways to strengthen relationships, increase everyone’s well-being, and bring the family back together.

On our cover Eileen Fisher clothing is just one part of this businesswoman’s story. From recycling materials to mentoring young women, there’s more to Fisher design than meets the eye page 42 Photograph by Mark Mahaney

December 2013 mindful 3


your thoughts

Shouldn’t I be somewhere else?

I love the idea of mindful photography (“Stop, Look…See,” October 2013). From the winter solstice 2011 to the winter solstice 2012, I set out to take at least one picture of my pond and surrounding area every day. I did this as a mindfulness practice. I let go as much as possible of preconceptions and experienced the pond, the seasons, the weather (and myself) anew in each session, moment by moment. Sarah Johnson Killingworth, Connecticut

Q: How do I handle boredom while meditating? COLIN YAMAUCHI

I picked up a copy of your magazine and read it cover to cover. I especially liked the article about mindfulness and firefighters (“In the Face of Fire,” August 2013). I think this is a great magazine. It fills a legitimate need and delivers. I find it really important to bring my attention to the present moment as much as possible, and your magazine helps me get there! Anthony Aird Kingston, Ontario

Anchorage, Alaska

A: Don’t handle it. Boredom is a natural outgrowth of resting mindfully. But it can have another quality beyond the usual restless kind of boredom. It becomes less annoying as you begin to see through its facade. What is boredom, anyway? It’s just the thought that something else ought to be happening, that we ought to be somewhere else other than where we are. If you can let go a little bit, not fight the boredom, and just let yourself be where you are, you might find that a natural inquisitiveness lies beneath the surface of boredom. And it can be satisfied with the simplest of experiences.

One of the first sentences in your article on depression (October 2013) astounded me and I needed to write immediately. According to the author interviewed, depression is a nonfatal illness. Has he ever heard of suicide? Depression is a killer and it doesn’t discriminate. My mother had a six-year-old in her class who struggled with chronic depression and committed suicide. My aunt lost her sister. And I lost one of my favorite childhood friends to this disease. I don’t think any of us believes depression is a journey. Your article trivializes a very real and traumatic illness and might prevent someone else who is suffering from seeking help. Amy M. Piermont, New York

connect To learn about future issues, sign up for our email newsletters at mindful.org. To share your feedback on this and other issues, email us with your full name, city, and state or province at mindful@mindful.org. You can also visit facebook.com/mindfulorg or tweet us @MindfulOnline. For subscription questions, email subscriptions@mindful.org. Letters chosen for publication may be edited for length and clarity. All submissions and manuscripts become the property of The Foundation for a Mindful Society.

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From the Editor-in-Chief: Thank you for writing. The Mindful team— and Dr. James Gordon—agree wholeheartedly: depression must be taken seriously, and help from qualified medical practitioners should be sought. Gordon suggests there is a journey through depression, but none of us believes it should be navigated alone. To say that it is “nonfatal” indicates that it doesn’t necessarily result in death, but it could, and sadly it has, many times. Barry Boyce

you answered How does mindfulness affect the way you communicate with your friends, family, and colleagues? Mindful communication has taught me a lot about myself. Once I became more aware and open, others were, too. It’s easier to practice some days than others, but either way, it’s a conscious effort on my part to be in the moment. I’m more comfortable communicating in social gatherings, thanks to this awareness. Samantha Phan Houston, Texas

For me it’s about presence and attunement. Instead of rehearsing a response, I can be fully engaged with the speaker in the moment, which makes the experience more vital and real, for myself and others. Robert Oleskevich Santa Monica, California

Tell Us Who You Are! We want to learn more about our community of readers. If you haven’t already, complete our reader survey at survey monkey.com/s/mreader and receive a Mindful gift. You could also enter a draw for great prizes.

VOLUME ONE, NUMBER 5, Mindful (ISSN 2169-5733, USPS 010-500) is published bimonthly for $29.95 per year USA, $39.95 Canada & 49.95(US) international, by The Foundation for a Mindful Society, 1776 I St, NW, #90046, Washington, DC 20006 USA. Periodicals postage paid at Washington, DC, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mindful, PO Box 469018, Escondido, CA 92046. CANADIAN POSTMASTER: Send undeliverable copies to Mindful, 1660 Hollis St, Suite 701, Halifax, NS B3J 1V7 CANADA. Printed in U.S.A. © 2013 Foundation for a Mindful Society. All rights reserved.

ILLUSTRATION BY JASON LEE

you wrote in

you asked


our thoughts

Learning As I Go I stow my meditation cushion under my bed. Otherwise, my six-year-old daughter drags it around, like a little buddy. The cushion was a gift from my husband, who found just the right thing. It’s now worn and a little discolored. But it still supports me—most days for 15 or 30 minutes. This well-worn cushion makes me recall questions I had when I started. How do I learn more about this? Who else is doing it? What’s the benefit? Am I doing it right? While a cushion is not required for practicing mindfulness, mine is a symbol for all those questions. I needed to figure out what kind was best for me, how to put it to use, and how to integrate meditation into my life. Making mindfulness a part of your life is not a one-time thing. It’s a journey: you learn as you go. Like every journey, it involves practicalities, like cushions and schedules and when your children are allowed to interrupt your meditation. It also involves larger questions, like what books and teachers could be helpful, where to meet others interested in this way of viewing the world, and how mindfulness can help us face life’s big challenges. Many of you have heard that in addition to publishing

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Mindful, we’re launching another vehicle to share practical tips, news, research, advice, and mindfulness teachings. The next step on our journey is MindfulTV, an online HD video channel, with the goal of helping you on your journey. We’ve heard from many of you. For some, Mindful and Mindful.org support long-held views about how to live and work. For others, it’s a new journey. You’re looking for pathways to explore mindfulness and make it part of your life. MindfulTV will be a big help, whether you’re getting acquainted with mindfulness or been involved for a long time. We’ll listen to your suggestions, produce compelling video, and introduce you to leaders in the mindfulness movement—like neuroscientist Richard Davidson, MBSR founder Jon Kabat-Zinn, business advisor Janice Marturano, and others. I’m excited about what’s on the horizon here at Mindful. Mindfulness has been so much more than a cushion for me. It’s changed my life. I’m thrilled and honored to be on this journey with all of you. —Beth Wallace Associate Publisher beth@mindful.org

Barry Boyce Editor-in-Chief

Tracy Picha Editor

Jessica von Handorf Art Director

Megumi Yoshida Associate Art Director

Carsten Knox Associate Editor

Line Goguen-Hughes Assistant Editor

Stephany Tlalka Assistant Editor, Digital

Jane Doucet Copy Editor

James Gimian Publisher

Beth Wallace Associate Publisher, Advertising & Partnerships

Alan Brush Associate Publisher, Circulation

Andrew Karr Finance Director

Melvin McLeod Editorial Director

Daniel Scott Publishing Office Associate

Board of Advisors Susan Bauer-Wu, Ph.D., R.N., University of Virginia Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., Duke Integrative Medicine Mirabai Bush, Center for Contemplative Mind in Society Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison Rich Fernandez, Ph.D., Founder, Wisdom Labs Soren Gordhamer, Wisdom 2.0 Patricia Jennings, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society Tim Ryan, United States Congress, Ohio, 13th District Diana Winston, Mindful Awareness Research Center, UCLA Organizations included for identification purposes only.

Advertising Inquiries Mary Beth Gaik, Peace Media 312-656-9260 mbgaik@peacemedia.biz Customer Service Subscriptions: Toll free: 1-855-492-1675 subscriptions@mindful.org Retail inquiries: 732-946-0112 Moving? Notify us six weeks in advance. We cannot be responsible for issues the post office does not forward. On occasion, we make our subscriber names and addresses available to select organizations we feel will be of interest to our readers. If you would prefer that your name and mailing address not be used in this way, contact us at our addresses listed right.

The Foundation for a Mindful Society An independent, nonprofit corporation. Publishers of Mindful and mindful.org. 1776 I Street, NW, 9th Floor Washington, DC 20006 USA Editorial & Central Business Office 1660 Hollis Street, Suite 703 Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 1V7 Canada mindful@mindful.org

We wish to thank our partner, the Hemera Foundation, without whose strategic guidance, expertise, and generous support the Mindful initiative would not be possible.

www.mindful.org

December 2013 mindful 7


now “I want to look at the neural mechanisms of mindfulness and see how they can improve our well-being.” David Creswell, director of the Health & Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University

Contents News 12 Research Roundup 19 Bookmark This 20 Mindful–Mindless 22

Photograph by Ross Mantle

December 2013 mindful 11


now

Dissecting Mindfulness “Can I study meditation and have a future as a scientist?” In 2001, when David Creswell asked his graduate school advisor at UCLA that question, the answer was not obvious. Only 28 scientific papers on mindfulness had been published that year. Nonetheless, his advisor encouraged him, saying, “If you study meditation in a scientifically rigorous way, you could make quite an impact.” Creswell, an assistant professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, is also director of the university’s Health & Human Performance Laboratory. He has become one of the leading researchers in a field of study that has grown exponentially over the past decade, with more than 400 scientific papers published every year. Stress is a big reason for the increased interest. “If you look at the mindfulness meditation literature in medicine over

EAT LUNCH silently today. Look at what’s at the end of your fork or spoon. Appreciate it. It will taste better. Find more on Twitter @mindinterrupter

the past 10 years, you’ll see the studies are almost entirely focused on stress-related diseases,” Creswell says. “Irritable bowel syndrome, some cancers, depression, psoriasis—there’s a pattern here of disorders known to be either triggered by or exacerbated by stress.” Creswell’s strategy has been to identify significant populations where stress may be a key element in deteriorating health and see if a mindfulness intervention can help. For example, a small randomized control trial conducted in 2009 found that mindfulness could slow disease progression in HIVpositive adults who exhibited moderate to high stress. The HIV virus attacks specific components of the immune system, most notably CD4 +T lymphocytes that help block pathogens and infections. When the lymphocytes decline to a certain point, HIV becomes AIDS. Stress accelerates this process. According to the results published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, participants in the control sample showed the expected

decline in lymphocytes, but “counts among participants in the eight-week MBSR program were unchanged from baseline,” the level prior to taking the training. Creswell gave Mindful a preview of another study that is yet to be published. Researchers randomly assigned stressed, chronically unemployed adults to either a three-day MBSR program or a standard rest-and-relaxation retreat. Brain scans taken before and after the retreat showed that the brains of the people who had taken MBSR had been changed in ways that helped them manage their stress more effectively. Creswell’s own interest in studying mindfulness started in high school. “My fascination was to understand how meditation gets under the skin to influence health.” For a psychology project, he strapped a heart-rate monitor to a meditator, observing a drop of 10 to 15 heartbeats per minute. “I remember being so disappointed—I think I had some idea that their heart would stop or something,” he recalls. “But

all these years later, I’m still kind of doing the same thing, albeit in perhaps a more nuanced and scientific way: attaching physiological monitors to meditators and studying what happens as a result of meditative experience.” His interest in mindfulness led him to a monastery in France, then to meditation retreats in the U.S., where he deepened his experience of meditation and recognized its health benefits for himself and others. In 2001, he decided to pursue graduate studies in social psychology at UCLA. To date, Creswell and his colleagues have published 11 scientific papers about their mindfulness-based research. In future studies, Creswell says he intends to “barrel more deeply into the mechanisms of mindfulness. I want to really look at the various components or facets of mindfulness—the ability to be present-minded, the ability to accept and respond to information in a nonjudgmental way. I want to pull them apart, understand them, and see just how they can improve our well-being.” ●

Research Highlights

David Creswell, director of the Health & Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University, researches how mindfulness interventions can help with diseases that are exacerbated by stress.

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A 2013 study published in Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that mindful attention can reduce both self-reported cravings in smokers and neural activity in the craving-related region of their brains. A study in NeuroImage in 2013 concluded that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may be an effective treatment for reducing anxiety and mood symptoms in patients with generalized anxiety disorder.

In 2012, a study published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity found that an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program helped decrease loneliness in older adults. A study published in Psychological Inquiry in 2007 examined the theory and evidence of how mindfulness curtails distress and enhances mental health, physical health, and behavioral regulation.

For more about David Creswell’s research, go to mindful.org/creswell

PHOTOGRAPH BY SHILO REA

A sampling of David Creswell’s mindfulness-related studies.

Read the rest of this article in Mindful’s December 2013 issue. Subscribe at mindful.org


24 mindful December 2013

Recipes and photographs by BĂŠatrice Peltre. Find more of her work at latartinegourmande.com


one taste

A Taste of Home Craving a warm embrace from the kitchen? Butternut squash delivers. By Angela Mears Perhaps because of its versatility and ubiquity, almost everyone seems to have memories associated with butternut squash. Though it’s a cold-weather vegetable, I have found that the memories we keep about it are invariably about warmth. They’re about home, or an idea of it. For me, it’s the smell of squash roasting in the oven, years ago, and my father flavoring it with a large pat of butter and a generous drizzle of maple syrup. We ate the tangerine flesh with two forks straight out of its skin, a spontaneous meal that was always served at odd hours of the night. It was one of the few dishes I remember him making. I remember preparing it for myself, many years later, in a manner far more savory than sweet. Once it was roasted, I pureed the squash and coaxed it into a

quivering risotto speckled with pancetta and Parmesan cheese. I shared the meal with my neighbors, an older couple who had become my family away from home. We ate it with three spoons straight out of the pot, steam billowing off the rice as its heat collided with the November air in my drafty kitchen off the coast of Lake Michigan. Not many ingredients have this power—to taste like a feeling or to smell like a longed-for sight. But if you notice, every season there are one or two. Cut open a butternut squash and just try not to think of fall. If you’re lucky, other memories will be triggered, too: of shared meals, and loved ones, and a warm embrace from the kitchen. While the associations we have with the butternut squash are sweet, getting there can be tricky business. One popular method calls for a sharp blade to pierce the skin and a hammer or mallet to split it open, as one might a coconut. Alternately, you may elect to remove the skin with a peeler or paring knife. It may test your patience, but remember: compared to other winter squash, the butternut is

considered thin-skinned and downright delicate. I must admit that I’ve never craved butternut squash. I chalk this up to its long shelf life. (Think canned tomatoes— ever find yourself craving those?) But every fall, I rediscover it. I open one after weeks of staring it down on my kitchen counter, and the waxy beige skin gives way to a vibrant orange interior and the pulpy, off-sweet aroma of wet leaves and brown sugar and hay. At the supermarket or farmers’ market, select a squash that feels heavy for its size, with unblemished, matte-textured skin. (Glossy-skinned squash have not cured properly, and their shelf life will suffer for it.) Then make a soup. Or a stir-fry. Or a curry. Or eat it straight out of its skin like I did so many years ago, and see how fall’s signature flavor can become something deeply and abidingly personal. Make new memories of your own. Eat. Repeat. ● Angela Mears writes about food at thespinningplate.com

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Gorgonzola and Pecans (Serves 6) 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 2 5 1

1

tbsp olive oil tbsp unsalted butter shallot, chopped tsp ground coriander twig thyme celery branches, chopped leek, white part only, chopped finely garlic clove, finely minced butternut squash (2 ¾ pounds; 1,250 g), peeled and diced Red Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and diced cups chicken stock bay leaf Sea salt and pepper Crumbled Gorgonzola cheese Chopped pecans, to serve tbsp parsley, finely chopped Heavy cream, to serve

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the shallot, ground coriander, thyme, celery branches, and leek. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring, without browning. Add the garlic, butternut squash, and apple. Cook for 6 minutes. Add the stock, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Discard the thyme and bay leaf. Puree finely. Ladle in bowls and add Gorgonzola, pecans, and parsley. Drizzle with cream and serve.

Read the rest of this article in Mindful’s December 2013 mindful 25 December 2013 issue. Subscribe at mindful.org


body/mind

Name: Steph Davis Age: 40 Activity: Rock climbing Location: Moab, Utah


mind/body

My Brain Made Me Do It As scientists learn more about how the structure of our brains affects our behavior, Sharon Begley asks: Are we responsible for our actions, or can we just blame our brains?

Sharon Begley is the senior health and science correspondent at Reuters, author of Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, and coauthor with Richard Davidson of The Emotional Life of Your Brain.

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Which do we respect more, the brain or the mind? That may seem like a silly question, since by all expert accounts the mind is just what the brain does. The mind is the output—in thoughts, emotions, memories, and desires—of the electrical and chemical activity of the 100 trillion or so synapses in the human brain. So the question is akin to asking which you value more: the cool air that your air conditioner puts

out or the unit itself. (I am writing this on a 96-degree day; substitute “warmth” and “radiator” if you are reading this in winter.) The brain has been cleaning the mind’s clock when it comes to explaining human behavior. And the mind falls further behind with every advance that neuroscience makes in understanding mental phenomena. So as brain biology alone becomes a sufficient way to explain “mental” phenomena, we’ll increasingly face dilemmas that until now have been the province of philosophy more than science. For example, a few years ago, a middle-aged Virginia

man began to amass child pornography and went on to molest his eight-year-old stepdaughter. Arrested and jailed before trial, he began complaining of headaches and vertigo. A brain scan showed a large tumor in the frontal area invading the hypothalamus, a structure that regulates sexual behavior. The man knew what he was doing was wrong, so he had what the law calls “intact capacity and moral knowledge.” But because of the tumor, doctors said, he could not inhibit his deviant behavior. The tumor was removed, he was acquitted, and his sexual interests returned to normal. But within a few →

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education

All in the Same Boat By Carsten Knox Photographs by Aaron McKenzie Fraser

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Teenagers leave the comforts of home and phone, live together on a tiny boat, and discover how to be alone and how to pull together. It’s not easy, but it’s unforgettable.

Read the rest of this article in Mindful’s December 2013 mindful 35 December 2013 issue. Subscribe at mindful.org


business

She Wears It Well Entering her 30th year of business, designer Eileen Fisher wears the mantle of leadership with the ease and flowing style of her clothing. Her company is not only doing well, it’s doing good— for employees, young women, and the planet. By Barry Boyce Photographs by Mark Mahaney

In 1992 Eileen Fisher moved her company from trendy Tribeca in Manhattan to suburban Irvington in Westchester County. She wanted her son, Zack, to have a backyard to play in. “I could come home and start cooking while he was outside playing,” she tells me. Well, she didn’t exactly cook, she admits, but she was at home. Only recently has she had time to get into cooking. She’s been a little too busy creating the burgeoning clothing empire that bears her name—with more than 60 retail stores, distribution through department stores and boutiques in 90

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countries, a thousand employees, and over $350 million in annual revenues. But she’s overseen it all in the same spirit as getting that backyard for Zack. It’s domestic. It’s a family. It’s caring. Nobody lasts at Eileen Fisher, she says, if they aren’t kind. The fashion industry has a hard reputation, conjuring images of NYC’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, undernourished, underaged models, and heavily marked-up products manufactured in Third World sweatshops →


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business

“We’re fortunate to have a sophisticated customer who understands the value of our clothes,” says Fisher. “There’s a price for lasting quality and sustainability. It should be industry standard, but it isn’t by any means.”

Eileen Fisher has been recognized as one of the 25 best small-to-mediumsized companies to work for.

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(including the recent Bangladeshi factory that collapsed, killing more than a thousand people). Fashion is not always pretty. But Fisher is not in the fashion business. “We’re in the clothing business,” she says. “The word ‘fashion’ connotes fast-paced and planned obsolescence, the throwaway culture. That annoys me.” She winces at the thought. We’re sitting in the company’s design center, three floors on Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron district. With high ceilings, open spaces, and lots of natural light, each floor brims with fabrics and clothing in various states, patterns, mannequins, pictures of clothing throughout the ages (for inspiration), glowing screens, and lots of people, mostly women. It’s a hive of creative activity. Fisher settles her lanky, flowing frame into a comfy seat. She sits upright, statuesque, if statues could breathe and laugh. The conference room is glass-walled, and we look out on a spacious kitchen– dining area where employees mill about.

A small chime and striker sit on a side table; they’re for signaling the minute of silence that begins all meetings. Award plaques fill the wall outside the door. Eileen Fisher has been recognized as one of the top 500 women-owned businesses and, for nine years running, one of the 25 best small-to-medium-sized companies to work for. Before we talk business, Fisher talks values. For her, the two are inseparable. “That minute of silence may be a small thing, but it creates a little spaciousness. It gives people a little taste of something, and that effect starts to ripple,” she says. “People in all kinds of corporations have been doing it, and they credit us for giving them the idea, even if we never dealt with them directly. You don’t know who might be meditating in a corporate office somewhere as a result of taking that little break. “I don’t go around saying I meditate, but in my life and work, I try to live those values. Mindfulness means slowing


business

down enough to be thoughtful about what you’re doing. It helps you see the need to get other viewpoints in order to see the whole. It brings more self-awareness—of how you feel, how you speak, how you treat others. Over time, it starts to weave itself into everything you do.” Fisher didn’t set out to create a company. “I started designing clothes that I would want to wear myself,” she says. She grew up outside of Chicago in a Catholic family of modest means, the second oldest of six girls and one boy. Her mother needed to stretch a dollar, so she sewed her children’s clothes. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1972 with a degree in home economics—“what people in clothing or design or textiles did in those days”—Fisher moved to New York. After a stint in interior decorating, she ended up at a graphics design firm in SoHo. During that period she visited Japan and was taken with the kimonos and wide cropped pants. She loved the simple, earthy fabrics, and styles of dress that transcended fashion, that had been around for a millennium. Fisher also disliked shopping for clothes. She recalled the ease of her school uniform and was miffed that men could put on a suit in the morning and look turned out, while she had to spend an hour deciding what to wear. In 1984, her idea for simple, timeless clothes that offered beauty and ease led to a business, almost by happenstance. A sculptor friend had to give up a booth at a show, and he persuaded Fisher to use it for her yet-to-be-produced clothing. She was so new to business, she neglected to price the clothes. She had $350 in the bank. Her first retail store, which still exists today, was a tiny space on 9th Street in the East Village that she filled with damaged and sample fabrics. “I love fabrics, and I hate to see them go to waste. The cutting rooms at the big houses, where mountains of material are thrown away, just make me sad.” As her business grew, these environmental values endured. Eileen Fisher pays attention to the entire life cycle of a garment, from cradle to grave. It’s part of Fisher’s “business as a movement.” You can see that slogan displayed in her stores, which double as community gathering places to spread these values. She believes that “gross national happiness” is the responsibility of every person in business.

“We’re looking at any way we can change ourselves, influence this industry, and effect positive social change,” she says. “Operating with attention to all inputs and outputs at every stage makes the product a bit expensive, so we’re fortunate to have a sophisticated customer who understands the value of our clothes. There’s a price for lasting quality and sustainability. It should be industry standard, but it isn’t by any means. We have a lot more work to do; we are on it every day.” “Business as a movement” is also about how people work with each other. Fisher is shy, yet she exudes boundless energy. It’s a combination that makes her a perfect collaborator. She listens well and gives others room but will execute forcefully when the group has coalesced. That approach is built into the company’s culture, resulting in a creative tension between getting things done and talking about them. “It can be chaotic,” she acknowledges, “but just the right amount of chaos is what breeds creativity. We insist on hearing voices from lots of different people. They’re engaged, give their opinion, then move on. A small team hears it all and makes the decision. It’s a balancing act. We often leave meetings with decisions unclear and just sit with them. We definitely err on the feminine side—more intuitive, less linear. We consciously work on the collaborative process. I have a deep sense that I didn’t create this business alone. I listened, I heard, and we worked together. It would have been something different if I hadn’t worked in a collaborative way. That made it so much better.” Irvington is less than an hour from the design center in Manhattan, yet it’s a world away. You pass through the mad rush of Grand Central Station, and before too long, you’re released from New York’s high tension. Clickety-clacking along, you see the Hudson River out the window to the left. In 45 minutes you’re in the village of Irvington. Crossing under the tracks, you’re in the parking lot of the Eileen Fisher Lab Store, where retail ideas are played with and tested. Next door, at 2 Bridge Street, sits the headquarters. I meet Cheryl Campbell, managing director of the Eileen Fisher →

3 Things That Matter to Eileen Fisher

1

Timeless Design

“I do love clothes,” Eileen Fisher says. “I love the way clothes feel. I love fabric. I always have, since I was very young.” Fisher began in 1984 designing a small line—jacket, skirt, trousers, top—inspired by her love of simplicity and her appreciation of timeless garments like the kimono. She created pieces she would like to wear, thinking there might be others who would want the same. There were. Many. A business was born. Fisher didn’t start out with a blueprint for the Eileen Fisher brand and culture, but “in order to pass this on to a new generation” of employees and customers, the company arrived at a list of core values: simple, sensual, beautiful, timeless, functional. “And to that, we’ve added ‘ease,’” she recently said. “I always wanted things that took less time and hassle.” “Timeless” is probably the most significant and the trickiest of the core values. “We follow trends—color, fashion, texture—and we incorporate aspects of them into our way of doing things,” she says. “The result is something that feels of the moment. Yet the customer may be surprised to discover that five, ten years down the road, it’s still a good thing. Timeless doesn’t mean stuck in the past. Good design stays relevant. Classic doesn’t simply mean old.” →

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70 mindful December 2013


in practice

insight

Raising the Mindful Family Busy schedules, digital devices, long commutes—all of this leads to family members who are disconnected from each other as never before. Psychologists Stefanie and Elisha Goldstein show us ways to strengthen relationships, increase everyone’s well-being, and bring the family back together.

Illustrations by Nomoco

Read the rest of this article in Mindful’s December 2013 mindful 71 December 2013 issue. Subscribe at mindful.org


It’s who you are You want the best for your family and friends. You enjoy work that is meaningful and satisfying. You’re dedicated to a more caring and sustainable society. You know the simple practice of being in the moment brings out the best in who you are. You are mindful. And this is your magazine.

IS MINDFULNESS GOOD FOR BUSINESS?

How a Mother Stopped Teens From Hurting Themselves

Doctor Not Listening? 5 ways to change that

When you subscribe to Mindful, you will: • Discover practical, effective tools for everyday living • Learn about the latest brain science and the many ways mindfulness is changing our society

Healthy Mind Healthy Life

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How Working with Your Mind Is the Key to Well-Being

• Deepen the relationships in your life

The Science of Changing Your Brain

• Be inspired by stories of other mindful people like you Mindful is the groundbreaking new magazine dedicated to helping you live mindfully.

APRIL 2013 mindful.org

Welcome to Mindful Your Guide to Less Stress & More Joy

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Mindful Magazine December 2013 Issue Sampler