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Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Be Mindful and Be Lovely

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

camas_lilies2It is always a joy to discover a new poem that captures the spirt of mindful living.

The late poet Galway Kinnell said, “To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.”

I was recently introduced to the poem, “Callas Lillies” by poet Lynn Ungar. You can also find her on Facebook. Here is an excerpt:

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And you—what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down—
papers, plans, appointments, everything—
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming.”

This poem captures the tension between doing and being. Our lives are busy and useful and rushed. There is little solitude in the demand to get it all done.

We have a choice, however. Like Neruda’s admonition in “Too Many Names” when he says,

Let’s not fill our mouths … with so much singing of papers

Ungar encourages us to to set aside the incessant doing to experience life directly–out in the field where we have the chance to bloom.

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Our bloom requires the blessing of self-permission.

It’s one thing to be productive, useful, even ambitious. It’s another thing to be consumed by what David Whyte calls the “strategic” aspects of living. There is more than that to life and an enriched and enlivened and enlightened life requires setting aside the strategies sufficient so we can breathe our way into being.

Solitude and a mindful intention invites us into a space where we can enjoy the presence of life as it is without the busyness of doing. We will get it all done, just not in this moment. This moment is ours to enjoy and to flower with grace. It is ours to become lovely.

 

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The Awakened Introvert on the Radio

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

AwakenedIntrovertCF.inddI had the pleasure, again, of being Mark Johnson’s guest on WDEV for his morning call-in radio program. Mark and I connect as fellow introverts. Click here to listen to the show.

We talked about the differences between introverts and extroverts, what it means to be an awakened introvert, and how to practice meditation.

There were four callers into the program with good comments and questions.

I am looking forward to being his guest again later this summer after the release of my next book: The Everything Essential Guide to Buddhism.

 

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Louis CK Teaches Buddhadharma

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

I was recently turned on to Louis CK’s epistle on cell phones during an appearance with Conan O’Brian.

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Louis CK is very funny and he captures the sense of infomania that afflicts so many of us. We turn to our devices to avert the raw feelings of life.

His insights are very consistent with the Buddha’s teachings on aversion, one of the three fires.

I’m getting sad; I’ve got to get the phone and write “hi” to fifty people … I started reaching for the phone and then I said, “don’t, just be sad. Just let the sadness, stand in the way of it and let it hit you like a truck and I let it come and I started to feel OMG and I pulled over and I just cried like a bitch, and I cried so much and it was beautiful, it was this beautiful, sadness is poetic, you’re lucky to live sad moments and then I had happy feelings because when you let yourself feel sad your body has antibodies, it has happiness that comes, rushing in to meet the sadness.

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There are two important insights touched on here. One is that we have lost our solitude through the ubiquity of the phone. We have lost that introspective, reflective, and thoughtful space that comes with an ability to just sit with our experience without distracting them away. The second is that we are allergic to the uncomfortable, painful, and darker aspects of our lives. We “medicate” feelings away by distracting ourselves with superficial contact and information on the phone.

This gives us a false sense of protection, as if death couldn’t find us if we are texting with someone (and as he points out the irony, death may be closer if you are texting while driving). His advice resonates with the timeless advice of the 17th century philosopher Pascal, who said, “All the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their chamber.”

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If this sentiment was true 400 years ago, it is true with a vengeance today. The opportunities for distraction today are unprecedented. Can we put them aside and just be for a moment?

This self-medicating is motivated by aversion. We are pushing away something that we don’t want. Mindfulness can help us to hold a space for all the feelings of our life and experience them fully. This is what Louis CK stumbled upon in his car.

We are ill-equipped for just sitting in an introverted way–being quiet without distractions. My book, The Awakened Introvert is full of tools, contemplations, and exercises that can help you to build on this capacity to just be with yourself.

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Love the Inside of Your Own Head and Be Free

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

81lp54gAdKL._SL1500_I recently read Abigail Thomas’s new book, What Comes Next and How to Like It. It’s a poetic reflection on a lifelong friendship and life itself. You can read it, as I did, on the span of an airplane ride.

After the death of her husband, Thomas has chosen to live a life without romantic companionship–a relative life of solitude. Her consideration of this decision can give introverts a real sense of permission for the choice to be alone.

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We often idealize what it’s like to have someone else in our space overlooking the mundane realities of what it’s actually like. The value of having someone doesn’t get questioned because the entire culture seems to be built on being coupled.

She does, of course, have her dogs and that contributes a lot. It’s not a life of isolation. I know this from my own experience. The long solitary hours and days of writing are accompanied by the dogs. Thomas reflects:

Sometimes I wonder if I might be missing something with only dogs for companionship, but then I think about mornings. First there would be the discovery that there is no milk for someone who takes it in his coffee. Then the likelihood of conversation. I want to listen to the mourning doves. I like to sit on the sofa with the dogs, stroking Carolina’s silky chest, and Rosie’s satin flank. Harry Sits on my feet, standing guard. Suppose another person were here? What if he had opinions. What if he used “deconstruction” with a straight face?

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Like Pascal, she knows the value of being able sit in her room quiet and alone. The key to being able to “simply enjoying being alive in this room” is to be at peace with what is going on between your ears. She goes on to say:

Lot’s of people in my somewhat leaky boat are on the lookout for a human companion. Not me. I have learned to love the inside of my own head. There isn’t much I’d rather say than think.

“I have learned to love the inside of my own head” could be the start to an introvert manifesto. Of course, the best way to come to love your inner headspace is to practice mindfulness and is the major theme of my book, The Awakened Introvert: Practical Mindfulness Skills for Maximizing Your Strengths and Thriving in a Loud and Crazy World.

Previous Posts

Be Mindful and Be Lovely
It is always a joy to discover a new poem that captures the spirt of mindful living. The late poet Galway Kinnell said, “To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for ...

posted 9:12:44am May. 04, 2015 | read full post »

The Awakened Introvert on the Radio
I had the pleasure, again, of being Mark Johnson's guest on WDEV for his morning call-in radio program. Mark and I connect as fellow introverts. Click here to listen to the show. We talked about the differences between introverts and ...

posted 1:34:58pm May. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Louis CK Teaches Buddhadharma
I was recently turned on to Louis CK's epistle on cell phones during an appearance with Conan O'Brian. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HbYScltf1c[/youtube] Louis CK is very funny and he captures the sense of infomania that ...

posted 8:23:15am Apr. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Love the Inside of Your Own Head and Be Free
I recently read Abigail Thomas's new book, What Comes Next and How to Like It. It's a poetic reflection on a lifelong friendship and life itself. You can read it, as I did, on the span of an airplane ride. After the death of her husband, ...

posted 3:07:12pm Apr. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Mindfulness Matures
A recent article in the Sunday Times is critical of the mindfulness movement. I read through some of the comments to the article and they ...

posted 9:22:21am Apr. 26, 2015 | read full post »

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