Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Yoga Sanga

posted by exquisitemind

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Rocio Morales the founder and director of Yoga Sanga: The Yoga Online Magazine for Texas.

Hot Buddha Sweats; Cold Buddha Shivers

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

It’s been record-breaking temperatures in New York and
elsewhere on the East Coast this week. Oppressive heat and humidity. Record
demands on electricity as everyone seeks to cool off. It’s a real challenge in
acceptance and one not easily met. There is important information in this
severe heat and we must take precautions against heat exhaustion. But beyond
staying safe, the heat is just uncomfortable. There is a saying,
“Hot Buddha Sweats; Cold Buddha Shivers.” This wisdom is timely. We
can examine the heat from four different perspectives, or levels like the
stories in a building. On the ground floor are the sensations that arise from
being hot. These include sweating, a sense of warmth, increased body temperate,
and so forth. Here there are just sensations. No judgments. No complaints. It’s
objective. The brain’s job is to make sense of these sensations and this occurs
on the second and third floors of the building. On the second floor the brain
recognize the pattern of sensation as “hot.” For most of us, this kind of heat
and humidity is unpleasant. So the brain continues to do its job on the third
floor by registering a feeling tone to the experience. Is this pleasant,
unpleasant, or neutral (in other words, should I approach this, avoid this, or
ignore this)? On the fourth floor we begin to have conscious thoughts. Because
the heat may contain important safety information we need to keep our brain
online to evaluate if we are getting enough water and not exerting ourselves to
the point of heat exhaustion. These thoughts are adaptive and necessary.
Meanwhile, we are likely to have other thoughts and these thoughts are neither
adaptive nor necessary. This is where the mind complains, “I can’t stand this
heat!” “When is this going to end?” And it is here that distress arises. What would happen, however, if we came
down from the fourth floor and its complaints about the heat and paid attention
to the sensations on the ground floor? Hot Buddha sweats. We’d just be hot Buddhas,
that’s all. No distress; just perspiration.



In Northern Vermont it’s also helpful to remember that
such heat is very impermanent and that it was snowing on Mother’s Day not too
long ago. We longed for warmth then. So we can embrace the heat, once we make
sure we are safe and enjoy the summer as it is. And if climate change science
is correct, there are a lot more hot days ahead.

*Image courtesy of NASA 

FOMO: The Cost of Being Permeated by Desire

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

I recently heard a new acronym: FOMO
(fear of missing out). This is a panic that runs through our culture. It
permeates, if we are not mindful, every bit of our psyche. FOMO account for one
large portion of the variance of our suffering. Another portion can be
attributed to a new acronym I just coined: FOGWINE (fear of getting what is not
expected). Together these comprise the vast majority of what the Buddha called
dukkha. Dukkha, often translated as suffering, is more aptly translated in on a
broader canvas as “pervasive dissatisfaction.” What are we
dissatisfied over? FOMO and FOGWINE. If you watch television, you are inundated
with messages about what you might be missing out on. If you don’t join the
Army, you’ll be missing out on glory, pride, and advancement of your career. If
you don’t drive this car, you’ll be missing out on excitement, status, and the
best bargain of your life. If you don’t get this drug from your doctor, you’ll
be missing out on strengthening your marriage, great sex, and fun. The
opportunities to miss out are endless. We keep watching television programs for
fear of missing out on something big that everyone else will have seen and will
be talking about. We stay at the party later for fear of missing out on that
something special that might happen, that Kodak moment that will define this
instant in time.

FOMO is the representation of what I call the “deprivation
mind” in my book, Wild Chickens and Petty
Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness
.” Are we really missing out? And
what is it exactly that we are missing out on? This is a problem that besets us
when we look outside of ourselves for fulfillment. The desire that underlies
FOMO is endless, a bottomless pit that can have us chasing our tails in
pointless pursuit. FOMO keeps us on the wheel like a hamster never reaching
that place of satisfaction (at least the hamster is getting exercise). Like
everything that arises in our minds, FOMO can be examined as a mental object.
We can see it as a production of our brain and not a reflection of ultimate
truth. We can challenge it too. What would be so terrible if we did miss out on
something? Why is it so important to have EVERYTHING? There is an episode of
South Park that features Cartman pacing in front of a game store awaiting the
release of the new Wii. Unfortunately for him (and everyone around him) the Wii
won’t be released for another three weeks. Cartman grunts, “Come on … Come on …
How much longer …” He bemoans his fate, “Time is slowing down, It’s like
waiting for Christmas, times a 1000″ Certainly we don’t want to resemble
Cartman in any way, shape, or form. So we can look at FOMO as it arises
throughout our day and try to touch it with mindful attention. We can breathe
into this fear and see what happens. 

Welcome to Mindfulness Matters: Tools for Living Now with Dr. Arnie Kozak

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

AKwbuddhaatmet.jpg

I am very happy to be here writing my blog on Mindfulness Matters: Tools for Living Now with Dr. Arnie Kozak. This blog will cover a range of mindfulness-related topics. It will present and comment on mindfulness, meditation, and Buddhist news, research, teachers, centers, books, and events. I will also comment on mindfulness and Buddhism in sport, especially golf with a particular emphasis of golf as a spiritual path. I will present metaphors for mindfulness from my book Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness and new metaphors that will be featured in forthcoming book projects.

I am a mindfulness-based psychotherapist, meditation teacher, and author in beautiful Burlington Vermont. I founded the Exquisite Mind Psychotherapy and Meditation Studio in 2002 and this is a place where people come to learn mindfulness and benefit from its healing power. In 1985 I took the Bodhisattva vows from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya India, the holy pilgrimage place where the historical reached his awakening under the pipal tree some 2500 years ago. I was not alone. Also in attendance where 250,000 Tibetans from the exile community and others who had received permission to come to this special Kalachakra Tantra Ceremony. And then there were ten thousand or so monks and about a thousand Westerners from Australia, Europe, Great Britain, and the States. Since that time 25 years ago I have endeavored to fulfill that Bodhisattva obligation of attaining enlightenment for the benefit of others, sometimes better than others. This blog is part of that Bodhisattva path of helping others and to do so through sharing the wisdom of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the central practice that I use to work towards my own enlightenment. Vipassana meditation has been my practice of choice since 1989 when I sat my first ten-day silent meditation retreat with the formidable S. N. Goenka. I also approach my Bodhisattva nature by helping people in psychotherapy, teaching them how to use mindfulness and teaching people in an array of situations: workers in corporations, undergraduate students in psychology, medical students, medical residents, fellow mental health clinicians, and anyone in the community who is interested in bringing more mindfulness into their lives. In 2009, Wisdom Publications, a small and important dharma publisher, published my first book, Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness. My second book, Swing Like You Don’t Care: 54 Golf Axioms, Maxims, and Metaphorsis currently with an agent seeking a publisher. My third book will be the second edition of Everything Buddhism, part of the Everything Series.

Welcome to this journey into mindfulness. The information, commentary, and links that you will find on this blog serve as Tools for Living Now! For more information about my work, please visit my Exquisite Mind website.

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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