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Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Wisdom Wednesday :: Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak
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Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation are distinct and overlapping experiences. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to our experience; it is a particular way of being engaged with our experience. Mindfulness meditation is a process that trains our brains to be more mindful and the aim of the meditation is for mindfulness to spill over the meditation hour into the rest of our lives.

For some of us, mindfulness comes naturally. We have seen this in studies that have surveyed people with mindfulness questionnaires. Some folks (and I am not one of them!) don’t tend to ruminate and are, by disposition, more engaged with the world around them. This is the case for many who have never practiced mindfulness meditation.
For most of us, however, we need to work at being mindful and therefore we meditate. The goal is not become expert meditators; the goal is to be more mindful and meditation will help to get us there. 
It can be helpful to make a distinction between formal and informal mindfulness meditation practice. Formal practice is devoting time out of your day to do nothing other than mindfulness practice. This is done in a formal posture — sitting, walking, standing, or lying down — with or without guidance, and alone or in a group. 
One major obstacle to a daily practice of mindfulness is finding the time to do formal sitting or walking practice. If this is the case for you, then informal practice is the ticket. There are many things we do throughout the day that can serve as informal practice. Whenever you give your full attention to whatever it is that you are doing, you are practicing informal mindfulness. So when taking a shower, be with the experience of taking a shower. The same for brushing your teeth, walking the dog, driving your car, walking to and from work, washing the dishes and so forth. Then the day becomes a minefield for mindfulness — you can’t get far without detonating awareness in the moment!
To facilitate formal practice I have created a series of eight guided meditation CDs. I used to sell these and now offer them for free listening or download as .mp3 files that you can put on your computer, iPod, or iPhone. The first four CDs are ready for download and you can access them on the Exquisite Mind website in the Learn section
Another important resource is eMindful. Each morning at 8 AM eastern standard time, there is a live online guided meditation practice session. I lead the meditation on Friday mornings and at other days throughout the month. Like my guided meditations, eMindful offers these meditations free of charge. It’s a great resource and a wonderful way to start your day. Follow the instructions for the Morning Meditation in the upper right hand of my blog or follow this link
I invite you to join this unique online community where people can connect from around the world for the common purpose of practicing mindfulness together. Below is a recording of a recent session that I did on a very cold morning in Vermont.

Morning Meditation 10 December 2010 from Arnold Kozak on Vimeo.

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TED Tuesday :: Chip Conley: Measuring what makes life worthwhile

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

What should we be focusing upon? Entrepreneur Chip Conley talks about customer service and the rationale for Gross National Happiness. Would we need a Universal Human Rights Month if we focused more on Gross National Happiness (GNH) than Gross National Product (GNP)?

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Metaphor Monday :: Proust, Thoreau, Pascal, James, and Sherlock Holmes on Mindfulness

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

BS07060.JPGProust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”


I enjoyed watching the recent movie version of “Sherlock Holmes” starring Robert Downy Jr. and Jude Law as Dr. Watson. Homes is intelligent, to be sure, yet his greatest asset is his keen sense of perception. His senses are presented as hyper-keen, he is inundated with the sounds, sights, and smells of others. He solves the case by paying attention to small details such as a smudge of chalk, a splash of ink, faint aromas. in other words, he is being mindful of his surroundings. And by doing so, he fulfills Proust’s admonition.

Proust also points to the futility of the “geographic cure.” New landscapes rarely work because we bring our old mind (and eyes) with us. After the sheen of newness wears off, we are back to old habit patterns of mind in the new place. 

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In Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness, metaphor 106,”The Clothes Don’t Make the Man,” turns to Thoreau’s quote, “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”

We can transform our experience right now without requiring anything from outside of ourselves. We just have to open our eyes and see what is right before us. We don’t need any tricks, gadgets, or conditions. Just pay attention! 

The French philosopher and mathematician, Pascal, suggested our greatest downfall was our inability to sit in a quiet room alone (doing mindfulness meditation, of course!)

Of course, to really pay attention we must be free of the encumbering influence of imagination. We must relinquish our preoccupation with anticipating the future and dragging around the past in memory. Then we can be open to what is happening to now without preconception, bias, and anxiety.

Finally, William James cautioned that our intellectual life is comprised almost wholly in substituting a conceptual order for the perceptual order in which our experience originally lives. The real action is not in thinking about our experience but in experiencing our experience. 

Thanks to these old dead philosophers (real and fictional) for their wisdom!


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Stress Reduction Sunday :: Mindful Eating Through the Holidays; Inviting Silence to Quiet Stress

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 the past few weeks:


Mindful Eating Through the Holidays: The Antidote to Gluttony:


I’m willing to be that we all over did it on Thanksgiving. The line between gratitude and gluttony can be as thin as a razor’s edge, and just as dangerous.

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Mindfulness offers us a set of skills and practices to combat gluttony and to move through the rest of the holiday season with enjoyment and restraint — without a sense of deprivation.

To be mindful we bring our full attention to whatever we are doing in the moment — the activity, and the sights, sounds, sensations, smells, and tastes of now. Eating provides a rich array of sensory perceptions for us to pay attention to. But we are often, almost always I would venture, multitasking when we eat. We eat and talk; we eat and watch TV, we eat and sit at the computer; we eat and drive. We rarely just eat — just give our full attention to eating.

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Read more …

Inviting Silence to Quiet Stress:


We live in a noisy world both inside our own minds and the world in which we move. Much of this noise is uninvited. We may seem to be immune to it, but the relentless pressure of sound generates stress. We live in a heightened state of arousal, as if on terrorism alert.

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Even when the world is quiet, our internal landscape may be anything but quiet. Relentless thoughts about the future, often in the form or worry; sticky thoughts about the past, often in the form of regret; and unabashed opinions about the present (often with a plaintiff feeling tone) preoccupy our minds.

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Read more …

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