Mindful Meddling

Book Review

Mindful Meddling.  Still Waters. Awareness Press. $17.00

Mindful Meddling“If you’re going to stick your nose in others’ business, you can at least do it mindfully” opines celebrity life coach Still Waters in her latest best seller, Mindful Meddling. The how-to guide takes nosiness to a new level, offering techniques for interfering in people’s lives—for their own good, of course—in a focused, contemplative way. “They won’t even realize what you’re doing,” she reassures readers, “because your ethereal demeanor will completely transfix them.”

Mindful meddling adds yet another practice to the fast-growing field of extreme mindfulness, which already boasts mindful couponing, mindful boxing, and mindful AC repair.  The key to success in all areas is concentration, whether you’re sorting coupons or gently suggesting someone should lose weight. The important thing is to free your mind of extraneous thoughts and give undivided attention to the task at hand.

In mindful meddling, nonverbal behavior is important. It helps, for example, if you follow admonitions about calorie intake with a solemn bowing of the head (placing hands together is optional). This softens the impact of your words and makes it more difficult for the receiver to tell you to fuck off. Eye contact should only be broken at the moment you deliver the most offensive part of the message: “Don’t you ever want to fit into your wedding dress again?”

Waters claims that, unlike ordinary meddlesomeness, mindful meddling is more effective in goading people to change. She offers step-by-step instructions on preparation, delivery and damage-control in the rare case of a botched intervention.

Testimonials from successful practitioners laud the method’s effectiveness as a wholesome outlet for nefarious urges. As long as something is mindful, it must be noble.

“I used to interfere crudely,” a grandfather confessed, “until I learned to do it with finesse, thanks to Water’s book.”

“My friends can’t believe the change in me,” boasted a coed. “Instead of nagging in a whiney voice, now I intone softly, remembering to breathe deeply between intrusive comments.”

The book’s specialized scripts offer detailed examples for mindfully meddling in common situations, such as getting one’s neighbor to give up the comb-over, convincing a coworker to wear more stylish outfits, and stopping your best friend from breast-feeding her fiancé. For shy people, there’s a whole chapter on The Seven Stones of Non-Contact Meddling, like leaving a copy of the alcoholism self-test, with great compassion, on your mother-in-law’s counter. The book has even spawned online chat rooms where people share stories of shockingly intrusive prying that went off without a hitch, thanks to the helpful advice in this petite volume.

If your desire is to insinuate yourself, with loving kindness, joy and equanimity, in the lives of those around you, this book is your blueprint.