mindfulness in daily life

Why mindful individuals make better decisions

wildmind meditation newsNatalia Karelaia, INSEAD: Mindfulness is practiced in board rooms from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. But just how much does it improve the quality of your decision-making?

Five years ago when I introduced mindfulness to my MBA decision-making class it was perceived as something completely esoteric; there were maybe two or three students who could relate to the concept. Today, not only have most of them heard about it, many are practicing it. More and more corporations are offering mindfulness training to their employees. It’s being incorporated into negotiation techniques and leadership manuals, in fact every area of business where strong decisions are …

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Just a few moments of meditation a day found to have profound, near-instant benefits on stress reduction

wildmind meditation newsJ. D. Heyes, Epoch Times: So-called “mindfulness meditation” has become increasingly popular as a method of improving your mental and physical health, but most of the research that supports or substantiates its benefits has primarily focused on lengthy, weeks-long training programs.

However, new research from Carnegie Mellon University has become the first body of work to demonstrate that even brief mindfulness mediation practice – just 25 minutes a day for three consecutive days – can mitigate psychological stressors.

The research, which was published in the journal Psychoneuroenocrinology, examined how mindfulness medication can affect people’s ability to be resilient under stress.

“More and more people …

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Meditation can help special-needs parents

wildmind meditation newsDenise Dador, ABC7.com: A first-of-its kind study focuses on the parents of kids with special-needs. The thought of providing life-long care to a child brings on many stresses from financial to emotional.

Now researchers say having a stress relief tool at your disposal may give all parents the grounding they need.

Getting centered is one of Marianne Kehler’s strengths. At age two, her 18-year-old son Liam was diagnosed with a severe form of autism. For years, she needed to protect Liam from himself.

“Many households of individuals with autism can be like a warzone,” Marianne said. “He would self-injure. As a consequence, others …

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Attention: The most basic form of love

ants on a leaf

On my son Narayan’s sixth birthday, I gave him an ant farm. He spent hours watching with fascination as the little creatures magically created their network of tunnels. He even named several, and followed their struggles and progress closely.

After a few weeks, he pointed out the ants’ graveyard, and watched with wonder as several of them dragged the bodies of their dead comrades and deposited them there. The following day, when I picked Narayan up after school, he was visibly distressed: on the playground, the kids had made a game out of stepping on ants. My son couldn’t understand why his classmates were hurting these friends he so admired.

I tried to comfort him by explaining that when we really spend time with any living beings—as he had with the ants—we find out that they are real. They are changing, animated, hungry, social. Like us, their life is fragile and they want to stay alive. His playmates hadn’t had the chance to get to know ants in the way he did, I told him. If they had, they wouldn’t want to injure them either.

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Whenever we wholeheartedly attend to the person we’re with, to the tree in our front yard, or to a squirrel perched on a branch, this living energy becomes an intimate part of who we are.

Krishnamurti wrote that “to pay attention means we care, which means we really love.” Attention is the most basic form of love. By paying attention, we let ourselves be touched by life, and our hearts naturally become more open and engaged.

We care about this awakened heart because, like a flower in full bloom, it is the full realization of our nature. Feeling loved and loving matters to us beyond all else. We feel most “who we are” when we feel connected to each other and the world around us, when our hearts are open, generous, and filled with love. Even when our hearts feel tight or numb, we still care about caring.

In describing his own spiritual unfolding, Ghandi said, “I hold myself to be incapable of hating any being on earth. By a long course of prayerful discipline, I have ceased for over forty years to hate anybody. I know this is a big claim. Nevertheless, I make it in all humility.”

When we look at our own lives and at the history of humanity, we realize that hatred, anger, and all forms of dislike are a pervasive and natural part of being alive. Aversion arises because we are so deeply conditioned to feel separate and different from others. As Ghandi found, only by dedicating ourselves to some form of intentional training can we dissolve this tendency, and embrace all beings with acceptance and love.

For Mother Teresa, serving the poor and dying of Calcutta was a practice of viewing each person as “Christ in his distressing disguise.” By doing so, she was able to see beyond the differences that might have hardened her heart and to serve with unconditional compassion each person she touched.

Through meditation practice, as we train ourselves more and more to pay attention with an engaged and open heart to see past surface appearances, we too begin to recognize a perennial truth: we are all connected to one another; our true nature is timeless, radiant, loving awareness. With this realization we feel our belonging with ants and redwoods, hawks and rivers. By deepening our attention, we are naturally moved to take care of this living world–our inner life and all those we touch.

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Making mindfulness work at work

wildmind meditation newsAndrew May, The Sydney Morning Herald: Over the past few months I’ve constantly been asked by companies we consult to about mindfulness and specifically, how leaders and entire organisations can harness the benefits. Mindfulness has become the plat du jour in corporate performance.

Nearly every one of the above conversations, where we talk at length about creating sharper attention and more creative thinking, a calmer approach to work and life, reduced levels of stress and anxiety plus increased levels of wellbeing, is followed up with something like “yeah, yeah, that all sounds great – but surely there must be a quick-fix?”.

There is, and …

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Bringing mindfulness to the school curriculum

wildmind meditation newsKate Lunau, Maclean’s: Aliza Naqvi, a 14-year-old student at Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute in Toronto, carries a key chain strung with seven coloured beads. When she’s feeling stressed or anxious, she can pull it out as a reminder: The first bead, which is blue, stands for “breathe.” The second, red, cues her to reflect on her thoughts; yellow is to consider her emotions, and so on. “At any school, there’s a lot of stress involved,” Naqvi says. “The expectations are really high.” This small token, which fits in her pocket or handbag, reminds her to “take a mindful breath, and to be …

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Be amazed

clamberLast night, stressing about undone tasks, I glanced in a mirror and saw my t-shirt, with its picture of a galaxy and a little sign sticking up out of its outer swirls, saying “you are here.” A joke gift from my wife, I’ve worn this shirt many times – yet for once it stopped me in my tracks. In William Blake’s phrase, the doors of perception popped open and it really hit me: yes we are actually here, off to the edge of a vast floating whirlpool of stars, alive and conscious, walking and talking on a big rock circling a bigger burning ball of gas. Here, now, nearly fourteen billion years after the cosmos emerged out of nothing. What the?!

My mind stopped yapping and I felt the delight and awe of a little kid who for the first time sees a butterfly, or tastes ice cream, or realizes that the stars above are really far away. Gratitude and wow and something edging into dare I say it sacred washed through me.

In a word, I was amazed – which means “filled with wonder and surprise,” even “overwhelmed with wonder.” Besides the simple happiness in this experience, it lifted me above the tangled pressures and worries I was stuck to like a bug on flypaper. Amazement is instant stress relief. It also opens the heart: I couldn’t any longer be even a little exasperated with my wife. Perhaps most deeply, being amazed brings you into the truth of things, into relationship with the inherent mysteries and overwhelming gifts of existence, scaled from the molecular machinery of life to the love and forgiveness in human hearts to the dark matter that glues the universe together.

Wow. Really. Wow.

Opportunities for amazement are all around us. I think back to that look in the eyes of our son and daughter as they were born, blinking in the light of the room, surprised by all the shapes and colors, entering a whole new world. Seen with the eyes of a child, the simplest thing is amazing: a blade of grass, being licked by a puppy, the taste of cinnamon, riding piggyback on your daddy, or the fact that running your eyes over lines of black squiggles fills your mind with tales of dragons and heroes and fairy godmothers.

Look around you. This morning I sat down to my computer, clicked a mouse, and chanting recorded in a Russian cathedral filled the room. Crazy! Imagine being a Stone Age person transported 50,000 years forward into your chair. Glass windows, pencils, flat wood, the smell of coffee, woven cloth, a metal spoon . . . it would all be amazing.

Try to see more of your world in this way, as if you are seeing it for the first time, perhaps through the eyes of a child if not a caveman. Beginner’s mind, zen mind. If you’re not amazed, you’re not paying attention.

Explore “don’t know mind” – not “duh” mind, but an openness that doesn’t immediately slot things into boxes, that allows a freshness and curiosity. The mind categorizes and labels things to help us survive. Fine enough, but underneath this skim of meaning laid over the boiled milk of reality, we don’t truly know what anything is. We use words like “atoms” and “quarks” and “photons,” but no one knows what a quark or photon actually is.

We don’t know what love actually is, either, but it is all around us. It’s amazing to me that people love me, amazing that people forgive each other, that those once at war with each other can eventually live in peace. Consider people you know, how they keep going when they’re tired, breathe through pain, get up yet again to walk a crying baby, settle down in the middle of an argument and admit fault and move on. To me, that a mother can embrace the young man who murdered her son is more amazing than an exploding supernova. And just as others are amazing to you, you are also amazing to them.

If we were brave enough to be more often filled with wonder and surprise, we would treat ourselves and others and our fragile world more gently.

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Mindfulness: can a Buddhist monk offer peace of mind?

wildmind meditation newsAnna Maxted, The Telegraph: My mind often feels like a dusty cupboard, full of junk. I have so many thoughts in my head that my brain hurts. Work, social and familial obligations jostle for space. Modern life is fraught. How is it possible not to be stressed? If anyone has the answer, it’s Buddhist monk Bhante Kondanna, who, at 75, travels the world teaching its tenser inhabitants how to find inner peace. London is a frequent base, and on a recent visit I beg to be enlightened.
“Stress,” says Bhante, over tea at Kensington’s Mandarin Oriental, “is a new disease. When I was small, …

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6 steps to mindfully tune the instrument of self

wildmind meditation newsRonald Alexander, Ph.D., Huffington Post: Mindfulness is an idea from Buddhism that’s central to meditation, but it’s also a way of life and a crucial tool in living each moment to its fullest. You establish a practice of meditation in order to develop the habit of mindfulness so that your awareness remains engaged when you leave the meditation cushion and go out into the world. Mindfulness allows you to act consciously instead of unconsciously. You are able to quickly and naturally become aware of what’s really going on in any situation instead of being distracted by your thoughts, feelings and actions.

Too often …

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Marketing McMindfulness

wildmind meditation newsDouglas Todd, The Vancouver Sun: You suspect a trend has peaked when someone attaches to it the prefix, “Mc.” And it sticks. And that’s what has happened to the psycho-spiritual popularity of mindfulness, which has been a buzz word in liberal North American circles and psychology for at least a decade.

As the columns below attest, it’s not that mindfulness is a bad thing. It’s really just one technique for practising contemplation and meditation — of paying attention. And that’s been around forever — and not only in Buddhism, as many North American practitioners of mindfulness so often assertively suggest.

Contemplation has been …

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