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Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Stress Reduction Sunday :: Working Ourselves to Death :: Mindfulness May Save Your Life

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak
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It’s Stress Reduction Sunday. Read my weekly post in the Connecticut Watchdog, This week’s entry Working Ourselves to Death :: Mindfulness May Save Your Life

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ABC News did a recent feature on workplace stress and the increased mortality associated with chronic job stress and economic uncertainty. Here are seven work-related dangers and how we can use mindfulness to address them.

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1. Distracted Driving ::  Texting and talking on the phone is banned in many states and for good reason. Texting can be fatal. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told ABC News last month. “If you’re looking down at a cell phone for four seconds or a texting device for four seconds, you’re driving the length of a football field without looking at the road.”

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Read more …

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Meditate Now! (Free)

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

In the spirit of making mindfulness more accessible i am
posting CDs worth of my guided meditations to my website,
Exquisitemind.com

The tracks from the first CD are now available to listen to
and to download
as mp3 to your iPod. 

From the liner notes :: 

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This CD teaches the basic practices of mindfulness
meditation. The first track provides instructions for the breathing meditation.
These instructions last approximately 10 minutes and are followed by 30 minutes
of guided practice with reminders to come back to the breath. 

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The instructions
take you through all the basics for sitting meditation, including suggestions
for physical posture, and the attitude for approaching the practice. 

Collectively these comprise the seat for meditation and we come to our seat
whenever we do meditation. And this includes meditating in the four
orientations: sitting, walking, standing, and lying down. The formal breathing
meditation sets the foundation for informal awareness of breath throughout the
course of the day. Whenever we are tense or stressed, we can become mindful of
the breath and return to the present moment. 

The Body scan takes the mindful attention cultivated in the
breathing meditation and brings this to the entire body. Track 3 lasts 40
minutes and will take you on a guided tour of the body. By paying attention to
the physical sensations present in the body with a nonjudgmental and
nonreactive attention, we can become more intimate with what is happening to
us, and gain a greater sense of control of discomfort and pain.

These practices are basic but are by no means inferior.
Breathing and body scan meditations are what the Buddha did under the Bodhi
tree thousands of years ago. 

These practices can transform your life. Enjoy them by meditating now!

 

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Freeform Friday :: Talking to Yourself

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

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Welcome the new technological age! Today, I’d like to discuss some on our relationship to technology. 

Having spent many years working in mental hospitals, I am accustomed to people talking to themselves. Not long ago, if you overheard someone talking to themselves on the street, you might assume they had some issues. Now, this is a common occurrence as people, and I dare say I am sometimes among them, walk around talking on their mobile phones. I’ll come up behind someone and they are appear to be talking into the air — are they psychotic or oh so cool on a blue tooth?

Why is this so bothersome? We don’t modulate our voices. We are often shouting into our phones. Now we have noise pollution. Talking on the phone and walking around town we are disconnected from the reality around us — stumbling into people, buildings, and cars. Texting is worse. Recently, someone told me about a man texting on a bicycle on Burlington’s waterfront bike path. Really?!
We walk around, plugged into our technological devices, communicating with others in this multitasking way. Are we being more mindful or less? Is there a new form of mindfulness emerging on the technological horizon — a new social reality populated by status updates and text messages, smart phones and 24-hour and nearly global availability?
I don’t know about this. 
There are actually parts of Vermont that don’t get cell service. The initial response to this might be consternation, but for me it is followed by a sense of relief and even nostalgia. I’m inaccessible. I misplaced my cell phone a few years ago for a couple of days. After the panic subsided, I felt a great sense of quiet, as if a hush had come over the world. I was inaccessible and this felt like a delicious guilty pleasure.
As a culture we have developed a collective case of infomania. We obsessively check our phones for voicemails and text messages, glue ourselves to Facebook, wait for that life transforming email.
We are not all like this, of course. Not everyone is on Facebook. Not everyone has a cell phone or smart phone. Not everyone checks email every day. Those of us who do take it personally when someone does not respond immediately. 
Technology is changing our landscape of expectations and the way we relate to the world. I think its probably a good idea to unplug once and a while. At the very least, we can do this when we practice mindfulness meditation daily. 
See what it feels like to unplug. 

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Wisdom Wednesday :: Short Sleeves in Late October

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

BS25063.jpgYesterday was an unexpected pleasure here in Northern Vermont. At at time when there can be snow on the ground, it was 70 degrees and sunny. A gentle breeze came off Lake Champlain and the world seemed to slow down.

It’s easy to be mindful on such a beautiful day. Such pleasant weather is out of context. The mountains have already seen snow; frost has not been a stranger to our nights. This out-of-contextness captures our attention in a way that a 70 degree and sunny day would not in July.

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It’s easy to contact joy on such a day, especially if you get to spend some time on the beach overlooking the water. Downright blissful is not out of the question.

However, counting on sunny and 70 degree days in October to find joy is probably not the best strategy. This would make mindfulness only an occasional joy, unreliable, and out of reach most of the time.

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for the exceptional to connect to the beauty that is available at any moment. Mindfulness practice will help to make joy available now — even when it is cloudy and gray, raining and cold, bitter cold.

Any experience can inspire wonder if we pay close enough attention to it, regard it with interest, curiosity, and even fascination. This is especially the case for those experiences we regard as less than ideal, like rainy days.

After a driving rain this morning, the sun is smiling again here on 27 October 2010 in Northern Vermont and I’m enjoying the bliss again, if only in small sips. Tomorrow it will be different and I’ll need to look a little harder to find it, but it will be there. It is always here, right now.

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