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Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Give the Gift of Mindfulness This Holiday Season

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

WCPT_frontcover.jpgThere’s still time for last minute Christmas and Holiday gifts. Give your loved ones, or yourself, Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness, the gift of mindfulness. This book has been well-received by the mindfulness community and is a fun, accessible, and useful way to bring mindfulness into your life. 

I am happy to play my small role in the mindfulness revolution that is beginning in the West. Mindfulness with the help of many bloggers like myself and many authors, researchers, and practitioners are making mindfulness a household name.
Robert Frost warned, Unless you are at home in the metaphor, unless you have had your proper poetical education in the metaphor, you are not safe anywhere.” 
And metaphors are not just colorful devices to spice up language, they are a fundamental part of how we speak and think. Whether we realize it or not, we are using metaphors all the time. 
In one compelling example, the late psychologist Julian Jaynes discussed how the verb ?To be comes from the Sanskrit bhu that mean to grow or to make grow. “Am” and “is” evolved from the same root as the Sanskrit asmi that mean to breathe. He concludes, “It is something of a lovely surprise that the irregular conjugation of our most nondescript verb is thus a record of a time when man had no independent word for ‘existence’ and could only say that something ‘grows’ or that it ‘breathes.'”


Wild Chickens was selected as one of the top 50 Spiritual Books of 2009 by Spirituality and Practice. 


Here is some of the praise for the book:
“This collection of very useful reflections provide us
with 108 sparkling insights into mindfulness, the energy of seeing–so vital
for all of us engaged in meditative living.”

-Larry Rosenberg, Founder Cambridge Insight Meditation
Center, Author of Breathe by Breath

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“If you want to receive mindfulness teachings in a way
that is playful, wise and memorable, read this book.  Arnie uses the most
ancient of teaching devices–metaphorical stories and images–to convey the
possibility and blessings of living a life of presence.” — Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance

“Open this book anywhere and read three pages. Live in
accord with the advice and your life will change.” — Rev. Taihaku
Gretchen Priest, Founder, Shao Shan Spiritual Practice Cen
ter

“According to Aristotle, skillful use of metaphor is
the sign of true intelligence. Arnie’s book of mindfulness metaphors will
contribute to your spiritual IQ.” – Shinzen Young, author of Break
Through Pain: A Step-by-Step Mindfulness Meditation Program for Transforming
Chronic and Acute Pain

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“Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants offers both student
and teacher a vivid vocabulary for those, all too frequent moments, when
preconceptions can substitute for the essentials of mindfulness practice.
Written with a light touch and drawing on sources as diverse as rock lyrics and
past episodes of Star Trek, this book is highly recommended.” 
Zindel V. Segal, Ph.D., C.Psych. Morgan Firestone Chair in Psychotherapy,
Professor of Psychiatry, Co-Author of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for
Depression and The Mindful Way Through Depression

“Metaphor is our mental root of imagination and language.
Arnold Kozak offers fertile metaphors for growing your knowledge of the
Buddhadharma. If you contemplate these brief stories, your emotional
intelligence and mindfulness will develop effortlessly from the insights they
provide.” – Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D., author of The Resilient
Spirit and The Self-Esteem Trap, Co-editor of Awakening and Insight: Zen
Buddhism and Psychotherapy, The Psychology of Mature Spirituality: Integrity,
Wisdom, and Transcendence.

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“What I loved most about this book was that the language was
current and the values were traditional.  It was useful wherever you
dipped in to refresh yourself. A delightful book that brings your life and
practice together whether you are an old timer or new practitioner.  —
Grace Schireson author of Zen Women


Read More praise here:

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EB.jpgMy second book, Everything Buddhism will be shipping in January and is now available for pre-order through Amazon

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
–Dalai Lama

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That’s easy for the Dalai Lama to say–but for the rest of us, understanding this mysterious, multilayered faith can be very difficult. With this updated and revised edition of the classic Buddhist primer, you can delve into the profound principles of nonviolence, mindfulness, and self-awareness. From Tibetan Buddhism to Zen, you’ll explore the traditions of all branches of Buddhism, including:

  • The life of Buddha and his continuing influence throughout the world
  • A revealing survey of the definitive Buddhist texts
  • What the Sutras say about education, marriage, sex, and death
  • Buddhist art, poetry, architecture, calligraphy, and landscaping
  • The proven physiological effects of meditation and other Buddhist practices
  • The growing impact of Buddhism on modern American culture

In this guide, you’ll discover the deceptively simple truths of this enigmatic religion. Most important, you learn how to apply the tenets of Buddhism to your daily life–and achieve clarity and inner peace in the process.

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Stress Reduction Sunday :: Keep Calm and Carry On” :: Timeless Wisdom from Wartime Propaganda

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak
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It’s Stress Reduction Sunday. Read my weekly post in the Connecticut Watchdog. Here is my CT Watchdog posts from last week:

I’I was walking down Church Street in Burlington, Vermont (Church Street is a pedestrian marketplace in the center of our small city), and noticed a poster in the window of the new Lotus Shop. It read, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” I was intrigued by this message. It sounded like the Buddha talking but it’s actually a British propaganda poster slogan from 1939. It was set to be deployed if Germany invaded Britain, and since this never happened the poster did not see wide distribution.

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This is a message of equanimity and is a valuable tool to have in your stress reduction tool kit. Whatever the situation, “remain calm.” In other words, don’t freak out. What is served by that? Nothing. It’s energy wasted. It’s time wasted. And it does nothing to forward the solution of the problem.

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MBCT versus Medication

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

We’ve known for some time that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is an effective treatment for preventing further episodes of depression for people who have mad multiple episodes of depression. 

The pioneering work of Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale has integrated the best of cognitive behavioral therapy with insights and formats of Jon Kabat -Zinn’s mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) to create mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).
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Their work is detailed in readerly fashion in the treatment manual, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression and in the general audience The Mindful Way Through Depression, co-authored with Jon Kabat-Zinn. 
A recent study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry adds more data to support the efficacy of MBCT. Patients with depression were treated with medication. About half of these patients went into remission. Of these, some were considered to have “unstable” remission, in that they had residual symptoms. For these patients, those maintained on medication had similar rates of remission as those maintained on MBCT. 
This finding is important because not everyone can or is willing to continue medication after their depression improves. MBCT provides important skills with no side effects. 
How does MBCT work? Patients develop the skills to monitor their feelings and thinking and to understand their interrelationship. They learn that normal variations in mood, such as sadness, can activate thought patterns consistent with depression. If those thought are pursued, or identified with, a spiral into depression can occur. So, patients learn to “disidentify” from these thoughts while they also learn mindfulness skills of paying attention to sensations in the body.
Whenever we are paying attention to sensations in the body we aren’t pursuing stories that can get us into trouble. That’s the key for averting all sorts of anguish, including depression. 

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Teachers and Talks: Ram Dass

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak
Thumbnail image for Be Love Now.jpg

Ram Dass, aka, Richard Alpert, a nice Jewish boy from Brookline Massacusetts becomes the voice of a generation. There are few who have done more to introduce the East to the West. Author of the million copy selling, Be Here Now and many other books, including the recently published Be Love Now. Ram Dass teaches us how to love with gentleness. 

As Richard Alpert, he is infamous for being fired from the Harvard psychology, along with Timothy Leary, for liberal experimentation with LSD in the early 1960s. His mind opened by experimentation with psychedelic drugs, he eventually wound up in India studying with the guru Neem Karoli Baba and then returning to America to become a guru himself, donning white robes, beads, and a scraggly grey beard. 
Ram Dass has always been fresh and honest in his talking and writing. I remember one talk where he confessed to being just as neurotic now thirty years after he started meditating. However, he’d changed his relationship to that neurosis. He invoked the visitation metaphor that now when his demons come to visit he invites them in for tea instead of being overwhelmed by them and pushed around. 
Some years ago he “suffered” a stroke that left him paralyzed and speech impaired. It described the experience as being “stroked” by god, finding grace in the experience. 
In this brief video he says, “I”m living in my perception, you’re living in your perception, and we’re both living in god’s perception” pointing to the interconnectedness of everything. 
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