Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Eddie Justice: The One-Eyed Compassionate Pit Bull

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

fd348f7815d32bb4663e0f6b9aa31a53My friend Eddie Justice, the one-eyed pit bull has just published his first book: Eddie’s Tale’s: Stories of Animal Love and Rescue. Eddie is the spokesperson for Justice for Dogs (JFD), a dog rescue organization here in Vermont.

My beloved Sumi came from JFD and the tale of her rescue is one of the featured stories in Eddie’s Tales. You can read about how Sumi was found abandoned  and scared on the side of the road, hit by a car and then wound up at Eddie’s house where he greeted her with playfulness, non-judgment, and kindness. She then met Harley and fell in love and the rest, as they say, is history.

Eddie’s Tales is written for kids and adults alike. It’s for anyone was has ever adopted a canine friend or thought of doing so.

Eddie tells a good a good tale or “tail” as the case may be, especially for this first time trying to write.

Eddie is also selfless, generous, and commited to helping others. All proceeds from his book go to supporting animal rescue efforts in Vermont.

You can order your copy directly from Eddie Justice, or if you insist, on Amazon. You can help more animals by ordering directly through EddieJustice.com.

I was very touched by these tails of rescue and love, my own bias notwithstanding. The book is lovingly illustrated by the talented Katherine Washburn.

Join Eddie’s Love Pack today!

Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education and Research Conference

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

The program committee of the 3rd Annual Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education and Research conference in San Diego is pleased to announce that they have finalized the agenda for this year’s conference. The program includes breakout sessions, research symposia, panel discussions, professional networking and practical workshops February 7-9, 2014 at the Paradise Point Hotel in San Diego. As momentum builds around the globe in support of teaching mindfulness to our future generations, this year’s conference will highlight the progress already made, suggest future directions, facilitate enhanced collaboration and explore innovations, all within the beautiful surroundings and weather of San Diego in winter.

Pre-Conference “Unconference” Gathering of Leaders in the Field: Friday morning, February 7 will feature a half-day “unconference” intended to creates a time and place to discuss challenges and opportunities within the field in a peer-to-peer learning environment where relationships are made, communities are developed and problems can be solved. Key program developers, researchers, policy makers and community-builders have been invited to this first-ever gathering and conference attendees are invited to participate as well.

Keynote Speakers Include:

Congressman Tim Ryan Sharon Salzberg Dr. Mark Greenberg Dr. Amy Saltzman

Congressman Tim Ryan is the U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 13th congressional district and the author of A Mindful Nation, a book about the practice of mindfulness in both private and public life. He writes in his introduction: “If more citizens can reduce stress and increase performance – even if only by a little – they will be healthier and more resilient.” He has noted that: “There’s a whole body of literature in neuroscience today explaining why this works. We don’t have time to wait. It’s changing kids’ lives. It’s transforming teachers. It’s transforming schools. And we see it in our own community now.”

Sharon Salzberg is a meditation teacher and author of numerous books. She is the cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts, and has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. The ancient Buddhist practices of vipassana (mindfulness) and metta (loving kindness) are the foundations of her work, and more recently she has lent her voice and wisdom to the discussion of the importance of fostering mindfulness in our children.

Dr. Mark Greenberg is the Edna Peterson Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research and Director of the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development at Penn State University. Dr. Greenberg is a respected researcher and lecturer on the benefits of mindfulness in the educational setting. He noted recently, “In a world that provides so little silence and contemplation, mindfulness offers youth the opportunity to slow down, learn about their own nature, and develop caring and compassion towards self and others.” He went on to say, “Research has begun to document these benefits and this conference will be a watershed event in moving forward both the science and practice.” View video of Dr. Greenberg

Dr. Amy Saltzman is a holistic physician, mindfulness coach, scientist, wife, mother, devoted student of transformation, long-time athlete, and occasional poet. Her passion is supporting people of all ages in enhancing their well being, and discovering the Still Quiet Place within. Amy is recognized by her peers as a visionary and pioneer in the fields of holistic medicine and mindfulness for youth, and has offered mindfulness to young people from pre-K to college undergrads in socioeconomically diverse school, and community settings. Her book A Still Quiet Place: A Mindfulness Program for Teaching Children and Adolescents to Ease Stress and Difficult Emotions will be published in early 2014. View video of Dr Saltzman

Should is a Red Flag That a Lie is Being Told

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

18079659I heard the words in the title to this post uttered by Anne Lamott as she was interviewed for OnPoint. She has a new book: Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair.

She begins, “One rarely knows where to begin the search for meaning, though by necessity, we can only start where we are.” An invitation to mindfulness, to be sure.

What if you wake up at sixty and realize you that you forgot to wake up and now your hair is falling out?

The search for meaning is as old as humanity. It showed up on the cave paintings and it can be found in everything we do as humans. The Buddha pointed out that some of our constructions are good and some not so good. That it would behoove us to endeavor towards good construction in body, speech, and mind.

What caught my attention in listening to Lamott on the radio was her insistence to turn towards grief and not away from it. She noted that our culture is phobic around pain, grief, and loss. I agree. We are clueless.

I picked up this book knowing that there would be a fair share of god and religion. There was. Not offensively so, but enough to create a distance for me, mostly in the earlier part of the manuscript. She gave the caveat that she is not talking about any god in particular but of love, and I am alway suspect when authors do this (Julia Cameron does something very similar in The Artist’s Way; not surprisingly, both of these writers are in recovery). The caveat is usually preceded with a barrage of god this and god that. I could have done without the story of teaching Sunday school. To each her own, I will grant. After that, the god talk diminished.

Still there is much wisdom here. Principally the necessity to turn towards the pain in our lives instead of away. She tells stories. They are unassuming yet steer you in profound directions. At times, I found myself wondering where she was going and why I was reading this seemingly self-indulgent yarn. Admittedly, she tells a good story and her life is interesting enough. Yet, she was leading up to something. An “aha” at the end of the story.

The book is a reflection on finding grace and connection in the misfortunes of life. It teaches how “maturity is the ability to live with unresolved problems.” You can read it’s 96 pages in a sitting, if you are so inclined. .

 

 

Have We Lost the Art of Seeing?

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

chihuly_1Yesterday was the last day for the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Chihuly makes grand scale blown glass sculptures in illuminated colors that can blow your mind.

The museum was packed with people, like myself, who waited until the last day to see the exhibit.

The galleries had no ambient light. The installations provided all the light. The piece you see on the left is about fifteen feet wide.

The colors, forms, and textures were quite compelling. They could stop your mind, if you let them.

As soon as I entered the dark, crowded spaces and beheld the first flourishes of glass and color, I reached for my phone to take a picture. I was not alone. iPhones and iPads were clicking away.

What did this compulsion accomplish? What did it cost me? (and everyone else?)

I wanted to have a visual record of this experience. In part, so I could share it with you, my readers. But there was also something more insidious happening. I wanted to hold on to the experience by capturing it with a photographic representation. This “cost” me the experience in the moment. It removed me from the raw power of the art. chihuly_2

After a while, I was seeing the art through the camera instead of my eyes. My mind was not blown or stopped yesterday. I was impressed without doubt. I was moved intellectually by the scope of the work, but I was not stirred emotionally. I was somewhere else, hanging on to the past, leaning into the future, and the mumblings in my head insulated me from a more direct experience of the present.

It occurred to me that I could remove myself from the crowds and find a quiet spot to meditate and then re-engage. Time was running out, but I did this. The second viewing showed me more.

The situation of an art show is different than the photographer looking through the view finder in search of subject matter. I just listened to a 2010 interview with the now late Lou Reed on Q. Reed said that “the world looks better through the camera.” A high end camera can see things that the human eye cannot, but again this is a different context.

The moments of our lives vary in terms of how open we are. We can push that through practice but not every moment is going to provide mind-blowing openness. I think the way we approach the present with camera-in-hand makes it more remote. Had I walked through the first time without the camera and all the anxiety the camera brings (the desire to get the right image and to share it with everyone), I think I would have enjoyed it more.

 

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