Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Conversationally-Induced Comas

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

3b06654rA recent cartoon in The New Yorker portrays a couple having coffee on a sidewalk cafe. The female member of the couple is lying prostrate in her chair, being attended to by EMTs. One EMT says to the other, “She’s in a conversationally induced coma.” Can you relate?

This cartoon is similar to the 1878 Currier & Ives illustration of a man who was “talked to death.”

I remember a good friend of mine, a strong extrovert from Texas, loved to talk. We used to play hockey early in the morning and they guys would tease him for his chattiness. Unabashed, he replied, “I was born talking!”


The type of talk matters. A few minutes of superficial banter can lay me flat more than an hour of purposeful conversation. This is typical for introverts.

Talking on the phone seems to amplify the energy-strain. I don’t know why this is, but talking on the phone can be stressful. I can feel that strain in my voice and sometimes it is hard to recover until after the call is made. Other times, I am relaxed. The energy says more about me and where I am at rather than who the caller is.

The Buddha went out of his way to make speech its own item on the Noble Eightfold Path. He could have subsumed it under action, since speech is a form of action but he didn’t. He cautioned against obviously harmful speech actions such as lying and he also included gossip and idle chatter (the Buddha revealing his true introverted preferences).


I am fortunate that I have days where I don’t have to talk, at least to human beings. Do you have enough silence-of-speech respites in your day? It’s important to give the voice proper rest as well as the emotional energy reserves that fuel the voice. It’s also important to take care of the instrument of the voice itself.

Quiet-based self-care strategies for energy and voice are available in my workbook: The Awakened Introvert. Get your copy now!AwakenedIntrovertCF.indd






Be Mindful and Be Lovely

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

camas_lilies2It is always a joy to discover a new poem that captures the spirt of mindful living.

The late poet Galway Kinnell said, “To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.”

I was recently introduced to the poem, “Callas Lillies” by poet Lynn Ungar. You can also find her on Facebook. Here is an excerpt:


And you—what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down—
papers, plans, appointments, everything—
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming.”

This poem captures the tension between doing and being. Our lives are busy and useful and rushed. There is little solitude in the demand to get it all done.

We have a choice, however. Like Neruda’s admonition in “Too Many Names” when he says,

Let’s not fill our mouths … with so much singing of papers

Ungar encourages us to to set aside the incessant doing to experience life directly–out in the field where we have the chance to bloom.


Our bloom requires the blessing of self-permission.

It’s one thing to be productive, useful, even ambitious. It’s another thing to be consumed by what David Whyte calls the “strategic” aspects of living. There is more than that to life and an enriched and enlivened and enlightened life requires setting aside the strategies sufficient so we can breathe our way into being.

Solitude and a mindful intention invites us into a space where we can enjoy the presence of life as it is without the busyness of doing. We will get it all done, just not in this moment. This moment is ours to enjoy and to flower with grace. It is ours to become lovely.



The Awakened Introvert on the Radio

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

AwakenedIntrovertCF.inddI had the pleasure, again, of being Mark Johnson’s guest on WDEV for his morning call-in radio program. Mark and I connect as fellow introverts. Click here to listen to the show.

We talked about the differences between introverts and extroverts, what it means to be an awakened introvert, and how to practice meditation.

There were four callers into the program with good comments and questions.

I am looking forward to being his guest again later this summer after the release of my next book: The Everything Essential Guide to Buddhism.



Louis CK Teaches Buddhadharma

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

I was recently turned on to Louis CK’s epistle on cell phones during an appearance with Conan O’Brian.

YouTube Preview Image

Louis CK is very funny and he captures the sense of infomania that afflicts so many of us. We turn to our devices to avert the raw feelings of life.

His insights are very consistent with the Buddha’s teachings on aversion, one of the three fires.

I’m getting sad; I’ve got to get the phone and write “hi” to fifty people … I started reaching for the phone and then I said, “don’t, just be sad. Just let the sadness, stand in the way of it and let it hit you like a truck and I let it come and I started to feel OMG and I pulled over and I just cried like a bitch, and I cried so much and it was beautiful, it was this beautiful, sadness is poetic, you’re lucky to live sad moments and then I had happy feelings because when you let yourself feel sad your body has antibodies, it has happiness that comes, rushing in to meet the sadness.


There are two important insights touched on here. One is that we have lost our solitude through the ubiquity of the phone. We have lost that introspective, reflective, and thoughtful space that comes with an ability to just sit with our experience without distracting them away. The second is that we are allergic to the uncomfortable, painful, and darker aspects of our lives. We “medicate” feelings away by distracting ourselves with superficial contact and information on the phone.

This gives us a false sense of protection, as if death couldn’t find us if we are texting with someone (and as he points out the irony, death may be closer if you are texting while driving). His advice resonates with the timeless advice of the 17th century philosopher Pascal, who said, “All the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their chamber.”


If this sentiment was true 400 years ago, it is true with a vengeance today. The opportunities for distraction today are unprecedented. Can we put them aside and just be for a moment?

This self-medicating is motivated by aversion. We are pushing away something that we don’t want. Mindfulness can help us to hold a space for all the feelings of our life and experience them fully. This is what Louis CK stumbled upon in his car.

We are ill-equipped for just sitting in an introverted way–being quiet without distractions. My book, The Awakened Introvert is full of tools, contemplations, and exercises that can help you to build on this capacity to just be with yourself.

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Conversationally-Induced Comas
A recent cartoon in The New Yorker portrays a couple having coffee on a sidewalk cafe. The female member of the couple is lying prostrate in her chair, being attended to by EMTs. One EMT says to the other, "She's in a conversationally induced ...

posted 11:20:58am May. 12, 2015 | read full post »


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