Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Drive by Shooting: Mindfulness on NPR

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak
istockphoto

istockphoto

It’s not surprising when a feature on mindfulness appears in a major media outlet. Mindfulness is popular. This time it is a sub-four minute interview on NPR. Tamara Keith spoke with Sharon Salzberg, one of the co-founders of the Insight Meditation Society and recent author of Real Happiness at Work (a book I read, enjoyed and found useful). You can listen to the interview here.

While I applaud the exposure, I felt that the interview commodified mindfulness. Mindfulness is for stress relief. They felt a need to add beach sounds to the beginning of some meditation instructions. Really? Can’t we just sit with a little silence? Do we have to resort to cliche? Even the image used to adorn the story, reproduced here, perpetuates myths about mindfulness. Why can’t this gentlemen be working and mindful?

In her unassuming way, Salzberg said some profound things, bit of wisdom that could change your life in radical fashion. She describes mindfulness as getting beyond our biases for experience. That is, jettisoning rules, pre-conceived ideas, and so forth. This is nothing short of freedom. The usual way of perceiving, by implication, is bondage.

We are very attached to our rules. We each carry around a rule book, filled with implicit and explicit rules. It’s a code of conduct for ourselves and others. It contains a litany of hopes, and is dedicated to comfort, convenience, and consistency. Freedom lives beyond these rules.

The Xinxinming is an ancient Chinese poem written by Sengcan. The first few lines in this translation from Richard B. Clarke (presented in Mu Soeng’s, Trust in Mind: The Rebellion of Chinese Zen) boldly asserts:

The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

Sharon Salzberg alludes to the same sentiment. When you stop pushing and pulling against your experience, you can open to what is with clarity and peace. Heaven and earth are together. Persist in holding to opinions and buttressing your sense of self worth with these opinions than you are afflicted with what Sengcan calls “the disease of the mind.”

We don’t become tasteless, colorless, and inert when we give up these preferences. Instead, we become unencumbered. With all the space created by ending the ceaseless parade of likes and dislikes we can breathe, rest, and get perspective on life.

 

No More Fooling Around: Changing the World Through Mindfulness

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

AA030865Today I will start a series of posts about how we can change the world through mindfulness and the wisdom of the Buddha’s teachings. This transformation starts with individuals and progresses through groups, corporations, and then societies. Ultimately, a global movement is possible and will be accomplished through sustainable business practices and leaders who embody mindfulness.

Without transformation at an individual level nothing much can happen. When the three fires prevail people will continue to perpetuate violence. I don’t just mean aggression. I mean speaking with integrity as in Nonviolent Communication and being cognizant of how actions affect others and the world around us. We perpetrate all manner of violence and these violences can be traced to the Three Fires.

So, we’ll start with these fires. They are greed, hatred, and confusion. You may also see these referred to as the three poisons but the Buddha used the metaphor of fire. These fires burn and consume our lives and without the mental training that has mindfulness at its core, they are likely to continue burning. It is possible that the fire can go out.

Greed aka desire, blinding passion, and lust operates on gross and subtle levels. The obvious level is the obsessive dedication to the acquisition of material wealth. Having more and more things and the underlying but mistaken belief that such acquisitions will lead to happiness.

Greed also operates at a less obvious level. We want things in micro fashion too. We want to feel a certain way, to think a certain way, to be seen a certain way. In fact, every moment of existence is colored by some type of desire most of it out of awareness. Yet, despite being out of conscious reach, these desires shape our behavior. The more unaware of these desire-based commitments the more attached to them we are. The more attached we are, the more anguish we will feel and inflict through unskillful behavior.

Meditation practice can bring this hidden world of grasping into focus. We can see how the mind reaches out for things in every moment, whether these are material things or experiential things. We want confirmation, validation, and reassurance. These desires are ceaseless, endless, and bottomless. They can never be fully satisfied.

Hatred aka aversion is our tendency to push things away. It is overt hatred and hostility and it is the more subtle not wanting of experience. We don’t want to be uncomfortable, uncertain, or inconvenienced. We seek power over things rather than cooperation with them, including other people. We separate ourselves from others through linguistic distinctions all in the form of “us” versus “them.”  These comparisons are countless and each one accentuates a sense of separation that would cease to exist if examined closely enough.

That examination occurs during meditation. We discover that it is the mind that constructs and supports these labels, distinctions, and categories. They originate in the mind and are perpetuated by culture and we take them for granted.

The combination of greed and hatred results in a ceaseless pushing against and pulling towards every moment of existence. This pushing and pulling requires time and energy that could be spent making the world a better place but is wasted in the futile attempt to seek a secure foothold in an impermanent world.

Confusion aka ignorance and delusion is a misapprehension of the three marks of existence. We are confused about the how the mind works, how physics work (impermanence), and what the self is. These will be covered in their own entry next time.

These three fires drive behavior in the world that leads to harm. Simple as that. The comedian Jim Carey hitting a serious note in a graduation address said, “The effect we have on others is the most valuable currency there is.” Mindfulness can facilitate these effects to be beneficial, promoting the greater good.

Mindfulness for Introverts

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

Mindfulness is a natural fit for introverts. The act of meditation itself is an introverted activity and at the same time equips introverts to navigate their interior without getting stuck in rumination.

I recently wrote an essay for the Kripalu Thrive blog entitled Mindfulness for Introverts. I discuss how it is important for us introverts to befriend our introversion and at the same time not become too identified with this label. Ultimately, we move beyond the notions of introversion and extroversion to find a more enduring sense of place in the world that is fluid, peaceful, and mindful.

We’ll be exploring these themes in more depth and with the experiential practice of mindfulness at Kripalu from August 3-8.  23.5 continuing education credits available for psychologists and social workers.

The transformative power of mindfulness . . .

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

jackkornfieldAs I mentioned last week, there is a special learning opportunity upcoming with Jack Kornfield. I hope you got a chance to look at his videos. Registration is now open to take advantage of studying mindfulness with one of the most beloved American teachers.

When it comes to creating real, lasting change in your life, mindfulness practice is one of the most effective ways to do it (and it even takes less time than you might think).

But how can we wade through life’s challenges and obligations to make mindfulness a regular part of everyday life?

This is a unique opportunity to experience the power of mindfulness in a new and exciting way, and begin to open your heart to greater compassion, healing, and joy.

You’ll be part of the Mindful Learning Community, a group of people from all over the world who have come together to learn from one of the world’s most cherished mindfulness teachers.

So I hope you’ll take a moment to have a look and see what this extraordinary opportunity is all about.

Sincerely,

Arnie

PS If you’ve been looking for a way to create more balance and peace in your everyday life, this can help.

PPS Registration won’t be open for long, just a week, so just click here to take a look now.

Previous Posts

Drive by Shooting: Mindfulness on NPR
It's not surprising when a feature on mindfulness appears in a major media outlet. Mindfulness is popular. This time it is a sub-four minute interview on NPR. Tamara Keith spoke with Sharon Salzberg, one of the co-

posted 6:25:54pm Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

No More Fooling Around: Changing the World Through Mindfulness
Today I will start a series of posts about how we can change the world through mindfulness and the wisdom of the Buddha's teachings. This transformation starts with individuals and progresses through groups, corporations, and then societies. Ultimately, a global movement is possible and will be acco

posted 10:47:16am Jul. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Mindfulness for Introverts
Mindfulness is a natural fit for introverts. The act of meditation itself is an introverted activity and at the same time equips introverts to navigate their interior without getting stuck in rumination. I recently wrote an essay for the Kripalu Thrive blog entitled Mindfulness for Introverts.

posted 3:26:51pm Jul. 08, 2014 | read full post »

The transformative power of mindfulness . . .
As I mentioned last week, there is a special learning opportunity upcoming with Jack Kornfield. I hope you got a chance to look at his videos. Registration is now open to take advantage of studying mindfulness with one of the most beloved American teachers. When it comes to creating real, lasting

posted 11:28:48am Jun. 17, 2014 | read full post »

7 Contemplations for Realizing the Spiritual Introvert Edge (for introverts AND extroverts)
Spirituality Defined “Spiritual but not religious” is a popular designation. What does it mean to be spiritual? There may be as many definitions of spirituality as spiritual people. Everyone puts their unique imprint on what it is to be a spiritual person. These definitions range from religious

posted 1:58:09pm Jun. 15, 2014 | read full post »


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