Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Wisdom Wednesday: Waiting for a Train and the Beauty of Persistence

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

Over Labor Day Weekend, I found myself waiting for a train at Newark Airport. I arrived about 15 minutes late for the train I wanted to catch, the 9:30. I grumbled to myself with a complaint about having to wait. Before that thought could finish echoing through my tired mind another thought arose. “45 minutes? A perfect time to meditate” I sat down in the then empty train station and began to practice in the industrial quiet. 

Soon, the air was filled with the arising and fading away of sound. I heard Asian languages, Slavic languages, English with a Spanish accent and the baritone booming voice of the station master calling in trains and announcing delays.
Perhaps my train would be delayed too? No matter, I’m enjoying my practice. 
This is the beauty of mindfulness meditation practice. It is both portable and durable. We can do it wherever we are in whatever conditions we find ourselves. I felt refreshed and renewed after practice. My travel-weary body transitioning into the next moment (and challenge) with ease.

impatiens.jpg

Challenges always arise during family visits for reasons Buddhists and psychoanalysts alike can appreciate. Lot’s of old conditionings to confront.
But that’s not the point of this entry. Instead, I wanted to talk about the beauty of persistence. At my parents home in New Jersey, my mother has planted impatiens in planters around the front entry way. Impatiens are an annual variety, needing to be replanted each season. 
These precocious impatiens had reseeded themselves and were making an initial foray towards being an invasive species. Some had sprouted in a crack on the asphalt driveway, a testament to the will to life. In a sense these flowers, too, demonstrated portability and durability as they seeded themselves all around and in unlikely places.
These impatiens are a metaphor for the juxtaposition of the sacred and mundane, beauty and starkness, natural and artificial. 
I hope your labor day contained moments of mindfulness and surprising beauty. These are always available when we give ourselves permission to look!
With blessings and gratitude,
Arnie. 

TED Tuesday: Rev. James Forbes: Compassion at the dinner table

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

Continuing with the Charter for Compassion talks. Rev. Jams Forbes presents a refreshing and everyday perspective on compassion, including sympathetic joy — rejoicing in successes of others. He grew up in a family asking, “Are all the children in?”

Metaphor Monday: Change the Gravitational Constant of the Universe

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

This metaphor comes from the Star Trek Next Generation (STNG) episode, “Deja Q.” In this episode Q arrives freshly kicked out of the “Q Continuum” stripped of his omnipotent powers. He’s now merely human.

He’s reluctantly trying to help the Enterprise crew solve a problem. An asteroid is veering dangerously close to a planet and will cause devastating earthquakes and tsunami if they can’t divert its course. Q suggest petulantly that they simply change the “gravitational constant of the universe.” Of course, he could have done that if he still had his power, but the idea is heuristic and helps the crew to find a solution.
 
Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKANJJleIxU&feature=related 
 
There are situations in our lives, often at work, where we are confronted with the challenge of having to examine our fundamental assumptions about the situation at hand. The solution requires us to undergoe a paradigm shift, to examine our fundamental assumptions, values, beliefs about the situation and to see if they are necessary, true, and useful. Perhaps they are just conditioned by habit. Perhaps they served a useful function in the past but are now limiting, biasing, or even distorting our currrent perceptions.
 
These challenges provide an opportunity for us to examine how we related to ideas about ourselves, others, and the world. If we grip these ideas tightly we expend a lot of energy and may generate anguish for ourselves and others. If we can hold these ideas with a firm but not crushing hand, we may be in a better position.
 
An inflexible relationship to ideas is the antithesis of mindfulness.
 
Take TED for example. TED (Technology-Entertainment-Design) is an annual conference in Montery. Tickets cost $6000 and sell out rapidly. The TED.com website presents talks from the conference free and actually encourages their distribution. In fact, their tag line is “ideas worth spreading.
 
It would seem counterintuitive to do this. Who would want to buy the cow if you can get the milk for free, right? Wrong. Since offering this content online TED has raised the admission price to the conference by 50% and it sells out just as fast.
 
TED has changed the gravitional constant of the universe through this paradigm shift of giving away content. Had they clung to the old paradigm idea of selling content we’d all be worse off
 
Enjoy TED talks relevant to mindfulness every Tuesday here at Mindfulness Matters.
 
 
 

Stress Reduction Sunday: Mindfulness: An Ancient Remedy for a Modern Problem

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

watchdog-logo.jpg


It’s Stress Reduction Sunday. Read my weekly post in the Connecticut Watchdog, This week’s entry, Mindfulness: An Ancient Remedy for a Modern Problem:

Mindfulness is an ancient technology that has relevance to today’s problem of chronic stress overload.

Part of the reason we are chronically stressed is because there is a mismatch between the environments our stress systems evolved within and the challenges of contemporary life (see my previous entry on “Stress is Crucial, So Is Learning to Decrease It”).

Our capacity for vivid imagination can make things worse if our thoughts run towards worried concerns for the future or regretful ruminations over the past. When our mind is “unsupervised” it can get into a lot of trouble, creating stress overload. There was a cartoon in The New Yorker that showed a stressed looking man clutching the arms of a chair. His wife says to him, with a look of pity and concern, “You should never engage in unsupervised introspection.” This is a good definition of the target for mindfulness. Such unsupervised introspection can cause distressing emotions and automatic reactive behavior leading to stress. Mindfulness shows us how to supervise our minds.

Read More …

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 »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.