Beliefs

1Bamboo Stone1

1982-1997 ~ I believed that I had an imbalance of chemicals in my brain. I believed I was mentally ill and would never be cured. I believed that I would have to take medications for the rest of my life. Professional people told me these things. People who had studied and been trained for many years in Universities.

1997-2009 ~ I had a spiritual awakening and believed in the power of Spirit. No more depression and no more meds. I believed the mind was like the moon. The moon has a light side as well as a dark side. For the first time in my life, everything made sense to me. All through history I could see the evidence of this spiritual game of chess. Love, joy and peace on one side versus hate, sadness and war on the other. Minds consumed by the light, dreaming, creating and full of life versus minds consumed by the darkside, nightmarish, destroying and suicidal.

2009-2013 ~ I started the study and practice of mindfulness. I felt driven and spent countless hours in front of the computer. 20-30 hours per week, it almost drove my wife insane. Mindfulness is all about awareness and being fully connected to spirit. It is the tool we all need to live a life of peace and happiness.

2013-End of Days ~ Osho said, “It’s not a question of learning much – on the contrary. It’s a question of unlearning much.” We all have beliefs based on what we have learned and what we have experienced. This in turn becomes our truth and we all have different truths.

The mind is like a computer and needs to be reset now and then. I decided to un-believe everything I had learned on my life’s journey. As thoughts came to mind, I used my silent observer (my heart) to test for truth. The results have been absolutely enlightening! This is your mindful action. Be warned; your mind is going to object strongly, just remember, you are not your mind!

Here are a few random thoughts:

  • What you believe has more power than what you dream or wish or hope for.
  • You become what you believe.
  • Don’t believe everything you think.
  • The reason you do the things you do is because you think the things you think.
  • The reason you think the things you think is because you believe the things you believe.
  • The root cause of your problems is not what you are doing – it is what you are thinking!
  • The worst thing you can do is believe that you don’t have a choice.
  • Life presents you with endless choices and opportunities if you care to step out and face your fears without limiting beliefs.
  • Only you can take the impossible and make it possible!

Be Mindful – and Open to All Possibilities! Love, Joy & Peace Always! – John

Grafton Mindfulness Group

Grafton Group

 

I have been practising and coaching mindfulness for six years now and have witnessed the massive impact that it has made on people’s work and life. They are more peaceful, happier, healthier, empathic, intuitive and excited about their lives.

This weekly group is starting on Saturday 21st February at 10am sharp at the Grafton Community & Function Centre, 59 Duke Street Grafton. All Welcome! If you can’t make it to the group, why not consider a one-on-one session with me? Another option is to purchase my book Mindful Actions. People are now buying multiple copies of my book to give away to friends. Friends who might be struggling, needing motivation or haven’t found their purpose yet.

Mindfully Yours with Love, Joy & Peace Always! – John Shearer bemindful@outlook.com.au

Mindfulness in Business

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh: is mindfulness being corrupted by business and finance?

Mindfulness has become an increasingly popular topic among business leaders, with several key executives speaking publicly in recent months about how it helps them improve the bottom line. Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of the Huffington Post, in a blog post last month, wrote that “there’s nothing touchy-feely about increased profits. This is a tough economy… Stress-reduction and mindfulness don’t just make us happier and healthier, they’re a proven competitive advantage for any business that wants one.” But by focusing on the bottom-line benefits of mindfulness, are business leaders corrupting the core Buddhist practice?

Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay), is the 87-year-old Zen master considered by many to be the father of mindfulness in the west, says as long as business leaders practice “true” mindfulness, it does not matter if the original intention is triggered by wanting to be more effective at work or to make bigger profits. That is because the practice will fundamentally change their perspective on life as it naturally opens hearts to greater compassion and develops the desire to end the suffering of others.

Sitting in a lotus position on the floor of his monastery at Plum Village near Bordeaux, France, Thay went on to say: “If you know how to practice mindfulness you can generate peace and joy right here, right now. And you’ll appreciate that and it will change you. In the beginning, you believe that if you cannot become number one, you cannot be happy, but if you practice mindfulness you will readily release that kind of idea. We need not fear that mindfulness might become only a means and not an end because in mindfulness the means and the end are the same thing. There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.”

But Thay, as the Zen master is known to his hundreds of thousands of followers around the world, points out that if executives are in the practice for selfish reasons, then they are experiencing a mere pale shadow of mindfulness.

“If you consider mindfulness as a means of having a lot of money, then you have not touched its true purpose,” he says. “It may look like the practise of mindfulness but inside there’s no peace, no joy, no happiness produced. It’s just an imitation. If you don’t feel the energy of brotherhood, of sisterhood, radiating from your work, that is not mindfulness.” As he puts it: “If you’re happy, you cannot be a victim of your happiness. But if you’re successful, you can be a victim of your success.”

Perhaps the most interesting intersection in the business world is between mindfulness and technology, as they appear to pull in opposite directions. The practice is all about slowing down and emptying the mind, while the digital revolution is speeding up our lives and filling our heads with vast quantities of information. Despite this, they have a long history together. One example was Apple CEO Steve Jobs fascination by Zen Buddhism. Other business leaders who practise mindfulness include Intermix CEO Khajak Keledjian, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh, to name just a few.

Mindfulness has been linked for decades to the Californian lifestyle, where many technology companies are based. So it is no great surprise that Thay, who has sold more than 2 million books in the US, was invited to Silicon Valley by Google and was also asked to lead a private day of mindfulness for CEOs of 15 of the world’s most powerful technology companies.

Thay’s core message to the tech leaders he met was to use their global influence to focus on how they can contribute to making the world a better place, rather than on making as much money as possible. He and a group of monastics spent a day at Google’s headquarters, spending time with the senior management as well as leading around 700 employees through mindfulness discussions and sitting and walking meditation. So many staff wanted to take part that the company had to open up two additional locations to live stream his lecture.

Thay speaks of the sharp contrast between the normal frenetic pace of work at the technology giant and the sense of peace that came from sitting in silence during his day of mindfulness on the Googleplex campus. “The atmosphere was totally different,” he says. “There’s a silence, there’s a peace that comes from doing nothing. And in that space, they can realise the preciousness of time.”

During his visit, which was themed “intention, innovation, insight”, Thay met a number of senior Google engineers to discuss how the company can use technology to be more compassionate and effective in bringing positive change to the world, rather than increasing people’s stress and isolation, both from each other and from nature.

When they create electronic devices, they can reflect on whether that new product will take people away from themselves, their family and nature,” he says. “Instead they can create the kind of devices and software that can help them to go back to themselves, to take care of their feelings. By doing that, they will feel good because they’re doing something good for society.

At the day-long retreat with the CEOs, Thay led a silent meditation and offered a Zen tea ceremony before talking to the group of largely billionaires about how important it is that they, as individuals, resist being consumed by work at the expense of time with their families: “Time is not money,” he told them. “Time is life, time is love.”

Back at his Plum Village monastery, near Bordeaux, Thay says of his trip: “In all the visits, I told them they have to conduct business in such a way that happiness should be possible for everyone in the company. What is the use of having more money if you suffer more? They also should understand that if they have a good aspiration, they become happier because helping society to change gives life a meaning.”

The trip was just the beginning, he adds. “I think we planted a number of seeds and it will take time for the seeds to mature,” he says. “If they begin to practise mindfulness, they’ll experience joy, happiness, transformation, and they can fix for themselves another kind of aspiration. Fame and power and money cannot really bring true happiness compared to when you have a way of life that can take care of your body and your feelings.”

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/thich-nhat-hanh-mindfulness-google-tech (c) Guardian News & Media Ltd

Phone 0418 864 162 for information about Mindfulness in Business. Talking to groups is what I do best. A mindful business is happier, safer and more productive! Mindfully Yours with Love & Respect ~ John

Birds Eye View

Birds Eye View

This blog written by Christine Fowle.

Imagine you were a bird. Perched in a tree, peering through your bird-eyes at the world. You have no cultural identification nor ever think of your past or entertain any inclinations to plan a future. The vast landscape requires no labels. Tall branches provide comfort and shelter. Nature provides nourishment. There is no good or bad, only varying sensations. Sunlight, wind, rain, snow — terrestrial elements unfolding naturally without judgment; only instinct guiding your way. Your bird-self maintains no sense of possession over the little-bitty birds that have long since fled the nest, nor ownership of the tree you’re perched in. Upon hearing a melodic trail of twitterings from the neighbouring branch, a bubbling up arises inside you. Unable to contain yourself for even a moment longer your wings open. Feeling the soft breeze upon them you slowly lean into it, diving into the warm current.

Have you ever touched the moment?

Would you like to try?

Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. Upon opening your eyes, slowly scan the room, taking in as many details as you can, noticing colours, textures, shapes and sounds. There is no need to label them. Simply notice. Now, when you are done, look at your hand, extend your index finger and touch the tip of your nose.

This is mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the process by which momentary engagement is developed. It’s not a technique to bestow rapture or bliss but it is a method of discovering peace. Our six sense doors (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch, and thought) are the means by which we experience the world. The first of the five senses are merely the methods by which the brain receives data. It is the mind that however, that evaluates and tosses the tinted cloth over the experience labelling it as something.

Mindfulness is the constant focus and re-focusing — moment to moment to moment, on the object of our awareness. If listening, we focus on listening; if putting on shoes, we focus on putting on our shoes. This means directing full awareness upon the object of attention: the feeling of the sock on the foot, the sound made sliding the foot into the shoe, the pliancy of the fabric, the sensation of the toe slipping along the bottom…

Momentary engagement is not a misnomer. As science has taught us, all objects in the universe are bundles of energy vibrating at varying frequencies. Nothing is static. From moment to moment to moment everything in our world is changing. Mindfulness swings opens the gate of focused awareness supporting our engagement. It helps us to be more detailed employees, better friends and attentive parents. Developing this skill weaves a translucent thread of lucidity throughout the fabric of our existence. But most importantly, it opens the doors to be the fullest expression of ourselves, inviting in authentic aspects of our being that we haven’t connected with in a very long time.

The steps for developing mindfulness are deceptively simple. Execution however, does not come without its complications. The challenge lies within the realm of our thoughts, the single most distracting element to our experience of the current moment. We are forever pulled into reflections of the past, dreams of the future and into the application of those colourful tags of judgment.

The process can be misleading, as it is not the silencing of our thoughts that opens the door to engagement. It is momentary engagement that is the key to silencing our thoughts. By focusing intently upon the task at hand there is no room for discursive thinking to populate the quiet space in our mind. Judgment ceases and for the moment, we can just be.

Mindfulness is not a permanent state of awareness. It is an ongoing process that develops the richness of our experience because of our ability to be within the frame of the current moment without our thoughts getting in the way. It is a skill that can be practiced every second of every day — and just like meditation, willnot be developed simply by reading about it.

Once we have touched the moment, even if only briefly, it is an experience worth savoring. Perhaps at first, it is only for fractions of a second, but with practice this grows into minutes, eventually enriching every aspect of our life-experience. Upon hearing a melodic trail of twitterings, a bubbling up arises inside you. Unable to contain yourself for even a moment longer your wings open. Feeling the soft breeze upon them you slowly lean into it, diving into the warm current.

This blog written by Christine Fowle. Additional essays may be found on her website, Searching For OM. Love & Laughter Always! – John

The Mindful (R)evolution

Search Inside

5 reasons why Mindfulness is our biggest hope for Organizational and Social Change.

“The quality of our attention determines the quality of our results”, argues Otto Scharmer, a renowned senior MIT lecturer, writer and organizational consultant (and I believe a future Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences). In a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) everyone is demanding more and better results, but what we normally see happening is the opposite. Our hyper-connected and high-speed living is making us, human beings, more and more stressed, superficial and struggling to deliver “those” better results. Moreover, we are collectively creating results that nobody wants, putting in jeopardy our health (there are 3 times more people dying in the world because of suicide than murderer, war and natural disasters combined), our society (there are 2.5 billion people living below the poverty line) and our planet (we are consuming on average 1.5 planet Earth while, of course, we only have one).

So, how can we then invert this tendency? How can we help people to rescue their awareness? How can we create a “new world”, one that is more healthy, more equitable, and more eco-friendly? How can we collectively create conditions for each human being to manifest their Self (with capital S) and their Work (with capital W), contributing, in that way, to a better world for all of us?

I really believe that the answer lies in a technique that is over 2.500 years old: mindfulness meditation.

“Wait a minute”, you may be thinking, “are you saying that the problems of the world can be solved by “doing nothing”?”. Before you think I’m crazy and stop reading, please bear with me for just a few more lines.

Mindfulness is now a mainstream movement reaching several spheres of our society.

As I’m writing this text (Feb 2014) Mindfulness is reaching a tipping point in western society, appearing exclusively on the cover of TIME magazine, with the title of “The Mindful Revolution”. From a practice that some years ago was only restricted to some religious, “new age” or esoteric groups, it is now being used in different “mainstream” arenas like:

–       science (e.g. neurosciences, interpersonal neurobiology, epigenetics);

–       health (e.g. Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital);

–       corporations (e.g. Google, General Mills and even the US Army);

–       leadership (e.g. Bill George – Medtronic’s CEO; Steve Jobs – Apple’s ex-CEO; Arianna Huffington – Huffington Post’s President and Editor-in-chief; Bill Ford – Ford Motor Company’s Executive Chairman, among many others that recently “came out of the closet”)

–       education (not only in hundreds of schools around the world but even in “cutting-edge” leadership training places like MIT Sloan Leadership Center, Weatherhead School of Management or Harvard Business School);

–       sports (US Olympics Gymnastic team; NFL Seahawks and even, Phil Jackson, the NBA trainer that guided Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant’s LA Lakers to several triumphs shared recently that one of the most important parts of their trainings was mindfulness);

–       politics (e.g. Mindfulness is now offered to U.K. parliament staff; U.S. congressman Tim Ryan’s proposal for a “mindful nation”);

–       high finance (e.g. Davos World Economic Forum 2014 had more than 25 sessions about mindfulness and wellbeing);

–       media (e.g. TIME Magazine, Huffington Post, Forbes, New York Times, The Economist, WIRED, Fast Company, etc.)

First things first: aligning ourselves

Before we talk about why this (r)evolution is happening, let us define what we mean by mindfulness.

A simple way to describe it, using the words of Richard Boyatzis, from Case Western Reserve University, is to “be awake, aware and attentive”. Basically being here, now, totally present in the moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society (University of Massachusetts Medical School) and one of the main responsible for the emergence of this movement in the West, describes mindfulness as ” the awareness that arises from paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”. It seems quite simple. And in fact it is. Not necessarily easy, but simple. And everyone can do it and use it to “strengthen” his/her ability to be present, in the moment, and not be caught in judgments about the past or the future.

So, why now? If these are practices that have been around for millennia, what is causing this emergence? Let me share five reasons why I believe Mindfulness is emerging now and is our biggest hope for organizational and social change.

1. Science proved that we can use the mind to change the brain

For many years there was a strong belief that the brain was static and didn’t change during the course of life. With the emergence of non-invasive technologies of brain imaging, we now know that this could not be so far from the truth. Using Richard Davidson’s words (a renowned scientist from the University of Madison-Wisconsin): “The brain we know is the organ that changes in response to experience, and in response to training, probably more than any other organ in our body. And as such, it really is the vehicle for change and transformation as much as it’s the vehicle for anything else.” This characteristic of the brain is called “neuroplasticity” and there are now several neuroscience studies that support this.

Science has shown that mindfulness allows the training and experience to change the brain, for instance, in areas that regulate attention, executive thinking and emotional regulation, but also can produce epigenetic changes! An impressive study from the lab of Richard Davidson recently published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology showed changes in the expression of several genes after only 8 hours of meditation practice. These were genes responsible for controlling the inflammatory response of the body, which might explain the reason why meditation practitioners tend to have stronger immune systems, fewer diseases and short recovery periods when they are sick.

These are just some examples of what is happening in the scientific arena, where we can currently find more than 3,000 scientific studies with peer-review, and they keep growing at an exponential rate. This support from science is probably the main reason why mindfulness went mainstream, since people now understand the benefits of it and are now feeling secure to start applying these simple practices into their lives.

2. We can use our attention to cultivate a healthy life

Helping people to “rescue” their health and wellbeing is another reason why mindfulness is growing in importance. Most of the studies mentioned previously are from the field of psychology, medicine and health in general. Since 1979, when Jon Kabat-Zinn decided to create a program to address chronic pain and stress related issues (MBSR – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), mindfulness based approaches are spreading at a fast pace throughout the whole world, with more than 12,000 certified MBSR teachers in more than 740 sites (academic medical centers, hospitals, clinics, etc.), that are using this technology to address clinical cases like:

–       anxiety disorders (e.g. panic attacks, phobias, PTST – post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.)

–       stress related diseases (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiac disease, cancer, etc.)

–       chronic pain

–       depression

–       substance addiction

–       insomnia

–       ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

–       and many, many more.

But the good news is that mindfulness is not only applied to address clinical cases but can also be applied to anyone that would like to simply nurture a general sense of wellbeing and happiness, since that is a positive “side effect” that emerges when using these types of practices.

3. With bigger awareness we can make bigger profits… and save the world

Mindfulness-based approaches started to be applied in organizations to help people in the workplace deal with stress and cultivate their health and wellbeing. However something interesting is happening in this arena, with Silicon Valley leading a new tendency in the use of mindfulness practices in the workplace. According to a 2013 article from WIRED magazine, “Meditation and mindfulness are the new rage in Silicon Valley. And it’s not just about inner peace – it’s about getting ahead”. Yes, you read it well, getting ahead.

One of the main people “responsible” for this movement is Chade-Meng Tan, an engineer at Google who created a program called “Search Inside Yourself” (SIY). SIY is a program that brings together the latest advancements in neuroscience with the contemplative practices like mindfulness meditation, and is designed to develop the emotional intelligence of its participants. Since its creation, more than 1,000 “googlers” (Google employees) have taken part in the course. There is increasing scientific evidence for the connection between emotional intelligence and performance and, according to Meng, whose job title is “Jolly Good Fellow”, this program can help people increase their results, feel happier and… save the world – Meng’s main goal is to create conditions for world peace during his lifetime. It seems a bold goal but the most interesting thing is that it has been resonating with thousands of people all over the world who have already bought his book and are applying his teachings. The success is so huge that for the first time in Google’s lifetime their attorneys allowed for an internal branded product to be made a spin-off without paying royalties to Google, creating the nonprofit and public benefit corporation SIYLI – Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, which is now delivering the program to people all over the world.

But Google is not the only business case. Several corporations around the world, like General Mills, Genentech, Apple, Sony and even the US Army, are using mindfulness based approaches to increase their overall performance as well as their employees’ wellbeing. According to Michael Chaskalson, a mindfulness consultant, after an 8 week mindfulness course in the workplace it is expected to see the following in participants:

–       a reduction of stress levels;

–       an increase in their levels of emotional intelligence;

–       increased interpersonal sensitivity;

–       higher levels of personal resilience;

–       lower rates of health-related absenteeism;

–       increased self-awareness and awareness of others;

–       enhanced communication skills;

–       increased concentration and attention span;

–       lower levels of impulsivity;

–       a greater capacity to hold and manipulate information;

–       improved sleeping patterns;

–       lower levels of psychological distress, including depression and anxiety;

–       and higher levels of well-being and overall work and life satisfaction.

It seems like “paradise”, doesn’t it? So feel free to send this to your boss since everyone gains with this mindfulness “deal”. You’ll feel happier, your team will work better and your company will be more productive.

4. Being aware of myself and my surroundings I can make better choices

Daniel J. Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founder of a new scientific area called Interpersonal Neurobiology. According to Siegel, health, creativity and wisdom comes from a well-integrated brain, especially in the medial prefrontal cortex. This is a very important brain structure, responsible for functions like body regulation, emotional balance, fear management, attunement with other people and empathy (both necessary for compassion), insights, intuition, impulse management and morality. This is a part of the brain that maturates after adolescence and one practice that contributes to its integrated development is… you guessed it, mindfulness.

Imagine people all over the world being more aware, feeling more secure, more connected with themselves and with others and making decisions not only thinking about their own personal benefit but also about the benefit of all beings. Imagine the impact of these “mature” brains in the skulls of decision makers like politicians, CEO’s and bankers all around the world. Let’s make better choices and have hope in the world!

5. Teaching people how to meditate and how to be present can change the world in just one generation

“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” This is a bold affirmation from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and some years ago most people would laugh at it. Now, fortunately, and based on everything described above, this can become a reality. Schools all over the world are already experiencing the impact that these practices have not only on children but on the entire system, from teachers to parents. Projects like “Mindful Schools” in the US or “.Be” in the UK have already taught mindfulness to hundreds of thousands of children and everybody is feeling more focused, less stressed, more productive and, especially, more at peace.

Think about it. Could there be something more important to teach to a human being than the very essence of what it is to be a human being? To feel at ease, feel present, in the moment, connected with him/herself and specially connected in a compassionate way with the world that surrounds us?

A brighter future ahead for all of us

I envision a near future where most organizations (corporations, hospitals, schools, etc.) will have meditation rooms, invest in mindfulness and compassion training for their people and where everyone can be at peace with themselves and with others. Moreover, a future where people will use mindfulness as a practice of mental and emotional hygiene, the same way we now take a bath and brush our teeth as practices of physical hygiene.

My dream is to be part of this future, by spreading the word and helping people to flourish into their highest human potential all over the world.

As I finish these words, I’m about to take a plane to San Francisco. Fortunately, I was one of 30 lucky people selected to be part of the first teacher training certification in Search Inside Yourself methodology. I can only feel grateful and excited at this opportunity that is a kick starting point to accomplish my dream. And I really want to dedicate my life to it! Why? Because I really believe that mindfulness is our biggest hope for organizational and social change, and it can really lead to create conditions for world peace.

Many Thanks to Vasco Gaspar for this post. Mindfulness is a new religion and the beauty of that is…it’s not a religion at all! Be Mindful! Love & Laughter Always! – John

Practise Mindfulness in 2014

Mindfulness

What exactly is mindfulness? The first aspect of mindfulness is to be aware of what your mind is focusing on and being able to consciously choose what thoughts you decide to dwell on and which should be allowed to pass through. The mind is constantly filled with a variety of thoughts. The question is whether you can choose to focus on those that are empowering and assist in your progress without dwelling on those that take you away from your goals by creating blocks and negative energy.

The second aspect of mindfulness is the practise of remaining in the present moment at all times. This is most people’s greatest challenge. Many people focus excessively in the past and experience guilt, regret or depression. The past cannot be changed and should consist of good memories and lessons learned. Those who live primarily in the future tend to be worriers which can lead to stress and/or anxiety. They constantly invent potential disasters in their mind that may or may not happen. However, the fear of those possibilities tends to paralyse them from taking the action and bold risks that are needed to achieve ultimate success.

There are positive ways to focus on the future, and a certain amount of it is necessary. Having dreams and setting goals are essential for having a clear understanding of where you are heading and how to get there. Visualization is another positive way of envisioning positive outcomes for the future, and it is an essential component for the success of life. The key to mindfulness is to know the general direction of your path but to have your mind and energy focused on acting only in the present. This will enable you to act and react to current conditions with appropriate action without being limited by either worry or guilt.

When your complete energy is focused on the present moment, guess what happens? You are no longer fighting against your mind but are engrossed in the creative process of utilising all of your skills to the maximum to achieve your dreams. You find that your emotions begin to work in your favour instead of holding you back out of fear and anxiety. The entire process becomes one filled with empowering, positive energy instead of fear and lethargy.

Part of everyday mindfulness is to resist the urge to multitask. When eating a meal concentrate on the food and chewing it properly, savouring each taste and texture. You will enjoy it more and tend to eat less than if you mindlessly wolf it down while trying to read the newspaper. The same goes with just about any activity you engage in. Giving one activity at a time your full, unwavering attention until it is finished is a trademark of successful people in all fields. Trying to do too many things at once tends to lead to scattered thinking and a sense of never really finalising any of the things you want to accomplish.

Being ‘in the flow’ is another great tool for developing mindfulness. In the flow means that the subconscious mind has taken over and is no longer being blocked and controlled by the conscious mind. This is the real goal of mindfulness, to allow your conscious mind to get out of the way and allow your subconscious to create the flowing, magical creativity for which it has trained all your life. The process of being in the flow is one of almost mystical confidence in your own abilities with no judgment or evaluation. It is almost like your true essence has moved outside of your body and you are simply watching this incredible performance taking place. Flow can actually put you in the realm of the mystics who connect with the greater power of the universe and allow that unlimited power to heighten all their capabilities. This is the ultimate in mindfulness, being aware that you have a direct connection to a source of higher power and trusting that you can access it and use it not just for selfish gains, but to enable you to perform at a level that will inspire others to also aspire to reach their full potential.

Make practising mindfulness one of your goals in 2014. Love & Laughter Always! – John

The Mindfulness Miracle

No Way Out

The evolution of the human species is possible right now, if, and this is the most important “if,” for the next century, we decide to use our brains on purpose. You can evolve faster, chart jump nature, if you learn to use your frontal lobes more effectively.

Your frontal lobes are the key to mindfulness, and mindfulness is all the rage these days. It should be. It is the art and science of living with intention and being where you are. It is the psychological reality of turning down unnecessary stress by only focusing on what matters in the moment. It is what every human can do if we spend a little more time paying attention to how we think.

The preachers of mindfulness are yoga instructors, therapists, and stress reduction psychologists and teachers. It has shown up at companies like Google and in hospitals across the country. It is based on a very specific act that every human is capable of practising: Be where you are.

Easier said than accomplished with all the stimuli surrounding a modern mind. But this is the miracle: In every human life the ability to be more focused and feel better each day is a gift waiting to be practiced and experienced. No matter how big a mess your life is, you can always begin the process of learning to be more mindful.

We’re not crazy for feeling like we can never just slow down and be present. Our brain is both old and new. We have an old brain that wants us to survive and will drive us to overreact, stay fat so we won’t die in the famine that will surely come, and take advantage of whatever pleasure is quickest, cheapest, and most exciting. Usually that means TV, social media, and video games. It often means doing less of what we know is best for us because our brains are literally driving us to take advantage of what feels best now.

We also have a new brain, however, which you can engage almost every minute. You, a human being, have frontal lobes that allow you to think, anticipate the future, and make decisions. If you use them well, you can love every moment of your life, even the painful times, because instead of doing what your old brain is driving you to do, you are the master of your universe. You choose how you want to experience each new moment.

Here’s how it works. If you get cut off in traffic, you honk your horn without thinking. That’s the old brain, and it is a good thing: It reacts to keep us safe. But the swearing that comes next is also the old brain, and too much “old brain” thinking is what’s causing wars around the world. It’s in that next moment, as you notice the stress, that you can choose to continue reacting or simply step back. Once the person has cut you off, you’re no longer in danger.

A person who continues to react will stay revved up, cut someone else off, eat too much at lunch because they are still pissed off, get sluggish from the extra calories, forget a conference call, and get chewed out by their boss.

A mindful person will simply let the stress of being cut off cascade. Yeah, a mindful person may swear too. But only for a few sentences. Then she will step back. She will realise that there is no danger.

We all eat too much, get into conflict, and soothe ourselves with dangerous behaviours because we aren’t mindful.

The evolution of the human species is about choosing how much our life we want to be a reaction to what’s outside us vs. a choice about the experience we want to have right now. When we practice being where we are, reacting only when we really need to, we widen the choices we have to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.

Imagine a world of mindful people. We’d still swear at each other when we need to; and then we’d go get a coffee, together, because why react your life away when there are so many amazing experiences to saviour.

Thanks to Jon Wortmann from the Huffington Post for this blog. Love & Laughter Always! – John

Are You Mindful? Tell the World!

Share your “declaration of mindfulness.”Im Mindful

This simple act has the power to change the world.

Something important is happening in our society today: people are being mindful. In more ways and in more places. Being mindful is an idea – actually a way of being – whose time has come. It’s an approach that recognizes and cultivates the best of who we are as human beings.

The simple act of being mindful has the power to change everything – how we approach ourselves, our challenges, our relationships, and our communities.

Mindfulness is available to us because we already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are. It takes many shapes and goes by many names: attention, awareness, empathy, compassion, being in the zone, situational awareness, presence, flow, contemplation, and many more.

We can cultivate these innate qualities with simple mindfulness practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit ourselves – and through our relationships – our loved ones, our friends and neighbours, our co-workers, and the world at large.

Being mindful is part of the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. It is likely to become a transformative social phenomenon for these key reasons:

Mindfulness is already having an impact in our schools, hospitals, offices, governments, and many other places. It’s helping us to become healthier, to lead more effectively, and to cooperate with each other in making a better world.

Now is the time. Let’s be mindful together.

  • Anyone can do it. Being mindful cultivates universal human qualities and does not require anyone to change their beliefs. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn.
  • It’s a way of living. Being mindful brings awareness and caring into everything we do- and it cuts down needless stress. Even a little makes our lives better.
  • It’s evidence-based. Both science and experience demonstrate how being mindful brings positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships.
  • It sparks innovation. As we deal with an increasing complex and uncertain world, being mindful can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems.

Thanks to Mindful.org for this blog. Check them out! Love & Laughter Always! – John

A Beautiful Mind

 Beautiful Life1

We all have ideas about what a healthy, happy body looks like but do we know what makes up the components of a healthy and happy mind? What does a “beautiful mind” really mean? What qualities of mind do we prize the most, and which ones best reflect this notion? And how does mindfulness support us to train our mind to be comfortable and able to take life in its stride? Here are five elements that make a beautiful mind.

A beautiful mind is… Calm. Imagine a mind perfectly at ease with itself, with everything and everyone around it. It’s a mind that is tranquil and serene, no matter how busy or quiet life may be. That’s what it means to have a calm mind. Mindfulness simply gives you the necessary tools to facilitate this process, in a natural and effortless way.

A beautiful mind is… Grateful. It’s so easy to spend life chasing after all the things we don’t have, the things that we want, the things we think will make us happy. Sometimes we’re so busy chasing that we forget to notice the things we already have, the people in our lives and the fortunate circumstances in which we live. There’s not much beautiful about a mind which is always craving more. So use mindfulness to develop a healthy sense of appreciation for what you have right now.

A beautiful mind is… Clear. Take a moment to picture a perfectly still pool of water, with not even a ripple on the surface. The water is so still, so clear, that you can see everything within it, even the things right at the bottom. This is the clarity of mindfulness. It’s having the ability to see the mind, to know the mind, exactly as it is. Free from judgement and self-criticism, a clear mind is one that simply knows.

A beautiful mind is… Spontaneous. Sometimes life seems repetitive: You feel stuck in a rut, like a hamster on a wheel. When you feel this way, life quickly loses it’s magic, creativity and excitement. It’s as if you are caught up in an internal dialogue, unable to get free. Mindfulness shows you how to step out of that dialogue, how to be present, living moment to moment with a natural spontaneity.

A beautiful mind is… Caring. It’s important to know how to make yourself happy. But just as important is the ability to bring happiness to the lives of others. How can you live with any sense of genuine happiness when those around you are unhappy? Mindfulness is a way of letting go of our own self-serving, self-interested desires, making way for a caring, compassionate and beautiful mind.

Love & Laughter Always! ~ John

Mindfulness Anger Management

The most important thing you can do to manage your anger is to slow down your life and get in touch with the feelings in your body and heart. Anger thrives when we stay busy; the speedy mind is fertile ground for anger to continually perpetuate, as we race along avoiding what’s going on with us on the inside. At a most basic level anger really has nothing to do with outer conditions, it’s all about our relationship with our own body and heart and mind.

By learning to slow down we start to contact our feelings. We feel the anxiety and restlessness in our chest, the fear of uncertainty in our stomach, and we begin to relate with those, and eventually to relax. These feelings are scary at first, especially when we have been avoiding them for so long. But once we open to these edgy feelings, we realize that they are not a threat; they are natural, and come and go in their own natural rhythm.

There are a lot of ways to slow down. It’s not easy, because our habitual speed has tremendous momentum, so to make a change we need to interrupt that speed very deliberately. We need to change the way we go about our life. We need to slow down and allow time and space to develop a relationship with ourself, plain and simple. The key formula for success is commitment to doing it, and then taking action.

When you suffer problems managing your anger, you will be tempted to avoid being with yourself, there is a tendency to keep your body and mind busy so that you can avoid your feelings. Everyone has this tendency to some degree, and with anger management it’s definitely a part of the picture.

One of the most powerful things you can do to better manage anger is to learn to be more present with your experience. This includes your breathing, feelings of your body, and the energy moving in your body. Emotions, including anger, are a form of energy and the more we can access our own energetic feelings, the more confidence we will have in working with them skilfully.

This is not necessarily easy to do, but it is something we can become better at. Over time we can learn how to be with ourself more and more fully. The first step is a desire to do, and from there we can discover ways into our experience. Mindfulness practice is one particular method that is time tested and widely used, and is something we can practice on a daily basis.

Mindfulness is a simple practice of being present with our experience. By sitting quietly in a relaxed and upright posture, we place our attention lightly on the breath. Then when we notice our mind thinking about other things, we gently return our attention back to the sensations and movement of our breath in our body.

It’s a simple practice, but by no means an easy one. However if we do it, it has the power, or rather, it gives us the power, to change our deep seated tendency of avoiding our own experience.

Thanks to Mindfulness Anger Management for this blog. ~ Love & Laughter ~ John