Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Freeform Friday :: Poetry

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak
Soul is one of those words that is used quite frequently in different ways without being clearly defined. We can mean it in the metaphysical sense of some quality of being that transcends the body after death and transmigrates to heaven or to another human life. Or we can mean it in the sense of a depth of character; a warmth of being — soulfulness. 
The Buddha didn’t think it was useful to speculate about the metaphysical status of concepts like the soul. He rejected the Vedantic notion of the atman — a transcendent self — in favor of seeing the self as an illusion arising out of the aggregation of our moment-to-moment experience.
One day while contemplating the notion of soul, I wrote this poem:
Soul
 
That sense of place arising
from the resurrection of a word,
from death to connection.
A word, this breath,
this glimpse of the possible and miraculous
that is now.
Unfurling towards this moment,
making everything real and everything worthwhile.
 
This word is my signature,
vouchsafed in my heart.
Never to be spoken aloud,
or in silent conversation.
Only to be lived. 


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This poem was recently published in est, a Burlington-based, hand sewn, literary and visual art magazine published by Heather Bischoff of Bish Productions. Check out a sample of the current issue and subscribe

Teachers and Talks Thursday: Susan Woods and Miv London

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a research demonstrated effective treatment for depression, especially for preventing future recurrences of depressive episodes. It is built upon the foundation of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and was founded by the cognitive psychologists, Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale. They wrote the now classic text, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression.

When these experts in cognitive therapy first heard about mindfulness they saw a natural fit between the two approaches. To paraphrase, they asked Jon Kabat-Zinn if they could integrate mindfulness to create MBCT. He said, “Sure, now sit down to meditate.” They said, “Oh no, we don’t want to meditate, we just want to use the techniques.” To which, Jon smiled and shook his head. Once they did meditate, they realized that one cannot teach any mindfulness-based intervention without having one’s own practice.

My dharma friends and colleagues Susan Woods and Miv London will be presenting an introductory MBCT training at Kripalu the weekend of 22-24 October. If you are a mental health professional or student interested in this potent approach you I recommend that you check it out and register here. In this workshop, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to begin or deepen your mindfulness practice and this is the core to practicing MBCT.

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Susan Woods, MSW, LICSW, is a mindfulness-based psychotherapist in private practice. She has worked in a variety of clinical settings since she began practicing in 1989. Susan provides supervision and consultation in mindfulness-based approaches to mental health professionals and businesses. She leads MBCT professional training programs for health professionals and mindfulness-based professional training retreats. Susan is a published author in the training of health professionals in mindfulness and has been involved in MBCT clinical research projects. She is a certified yoga instructor and has been practicing yoga and meditation since 1981. www.slwoods.com

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Miriam “Miv” London, PhD, received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Yale University in 1984 and has held a variety of clinical and academic positions. Since 1994, she has worked at the University of Vermont as assistant clinical professor of psychology and staff psychologist at the Counseling Center. She cofounded the UVM Mindfulness Practice Center in 1999 and currently serves as its coordinator. Miv has developed a comprehensive program of meditation programs and mindfulness-based interventions for the campus community. She has integrated yoga and meditation into her personal and professional life for more than 20 years.


Wisdom Wednesday :: FOGWINE: Fear of Getting What is Not Enjoyed

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

In a previous entry we explored FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Today we’ll explore its counterpart, FOGWINE: Fear of Getting What is not Enjoyed. 

FOGWINE explains much of the Second Noble Truth — the cause of suffering, anguish, and pervasive dissatisfaction. 

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Fear suggests that the emotional brain is being activated. It’s job is to protect us from danger. In the old days of humanity 50,000 years ago these dangers were limited to things like predators and starvation. Today, however, our emotional brain is protecting us from the “danger” of not getting what we want. 
This is, perhaps, not the best use for this system. Off-label use of the emotional brain can lead to the frequent flush of stress response system. We feel as though we are being threatened, but in the case of FOGWINE it’s hard to pinpoint what the fear is about because its about something that might occur in the future.
I might not get what I want; I might be uncomfortable; I might be disappointed, let down, or not get my needs meet; I might have to deal with an unpleasant emotion, a discomfort, a pain; I might have to deal with disapproval, criticism, or judgment from someone else. The list goes on. 
The underlying formula seems to be, “If I get what I don’t want, I can’t be OK.” Or put another way, “I can only be OK if I get what I want and don’t get what I don’t want.” Since we can’t control many of these outcomes, we set ourselves up for a lot of anguish, suffering, and dissatisfaction. At some basic level we may harbor a pervasive feeling that we are not “OK”
That’s a crazy way to live. Instead we can look within our experience to see if this contingency is active. Likely it is in some form. Mindfulness can help us to see how we construct this contingency and to deconstruct it. Perhaps we can issue some encouragement, “Hey, I’ll be OK no matter what happens.” Then we can turn our attention away from stories about how awful things are or might be to an open curiosity to what is occurring in the moment. 
This can lead us from insanity towards sanity and a sense of ease of being in the world.
(original photography by Arnie Kozak)

TED Tuesday: Rabbi Jackie Tabick: The balancing act of compassion

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

More on compassion from the Charter for Compassion. Today, Rabbi Jackie Tabick. From Snoopy to compassion fatigue, Rabbi Jacky reflects on compassion and the Golden Rule. 

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posted 8:37:57am Mar. 01, 2015 | read full post »

The Three C's of Self-Forgiveness
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posted 4:23:27pm Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Oliver Sacks Writes his Pre-Obituary
The neurologist and author Oliver Sacks recently wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times about his impending death and the light this news casts on his life. His reflections are the epitome of equanimity. What we hear from him is not anxiety, rancor, or regret but rather gratitude, love, and reso

posted 2:23:00pm Feb. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Getting Out of Our Own Way: Finding Liberation in the Moment
If you are like me, you spend more time than you would like caught up in imagined stories that don't feel good and keep you stuck. How can you get out of your own way and stop beating yourself up with regrets. My mind can sometimes get stuck and I'd be in big trouble if I didn't have a mindfulness p

posted 7:44:24pm Feb. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Living in the Present Moment of Clinical Work
There are a number of name brand mindfulness-based interventions for use in clinical work, starting with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in 1979. Since then, we’ve seen the emergence of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP), Acceptance an

posted 10:38:43am Feb. 18, 2015 | read full post »


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