Keeping Your Head When All About You Are Losing Theirs and Blaming It On You

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
rudyard_kiplingIf you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
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Why Meditation Practice Isn’t Really Comparable to Physical Exercise

meditation_time_mindfulnessMany people start off with goals for meditating that just aren’t realistic. While a meditation practice might be similar to a physical exercise practice, the analogy is limited.

The reality for a lot of us is that getting out on a bicycle or making our way to a gym is the hard part, but once we start, we can usually last for 30, 40 minutes or more. That’s especially true when happy chemicals get released into our brain triggered by our physical efforts.

Not so for the practice of meditation. For many people, there is no immediate “runner’s high” type of payoff. The benefits of mindful breathing, for example, accumulate gradually and aren’t always felt in the moment, but rather hours or days later.

What’s required to get started with meditation is first: The suspension of disbelief. That doesn’t mean permanently turning off your faculties of discernment and skepticism. It’s OK and sometimes quite useful when you approach life with an analytical mindset. This can prevent all manner of mistakes, getting trapped by trickery and wasting your time.
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Three Minutes to Contentment: Let’s Keep This Simple

Mindfulness_meditation_faceSet your phone timer for 3 minutes.

As you breathe in, count “one, two.” As you breathe out – count “one, two, three.”

In other words, the exhalation should take about 50% longer than the inhalation.

It’s that simple – and that hard. Just keep practicing. Be patient and persistent and gentle with yourself. Turn any self criticism way down.

Of course hitting free throws in basketball is quite simple too. The trick is to hit them consistently, under pressure amid lots of distractions.

You lower stress, attain contentment and get to play first violin at Carnegie Hall in the same way: Practice, practice, practice.


The Tastiest Meditation Practice You’ll Ever Have


  • Get a small piece of your favorite chocolate or other candy (about half the size of your thumb)
  • Find somewhere cool and quiet to sit
  • Sit up nice and straight in a dignified manner, but not tense or stiff
  • Set your timer/stopwatch for 4 minutes
  • Pop the candy in your mouth
  • Focus on the flavor of the candy until it fades away
  • For the remainder of the 4 minutes, focus on your breathing

That’s it!


Jerry Seinfeld: Meditation and the Path to Perfect Sleep

Many have wondered about Jerry Seinfeld and his post-TV series life.

Why doesn’t he make new shows? Why didn’t he form a production company and crank out series for other people? He could be making a fortune…
The short answer is: Because he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t feel a need to. He’s happy with life the way it is. The longer answer is that he has a crystal-clear understanding of what makes him happy and what makes him miserable. Spending lots and lots of time on administration and on convincing other people to do what they are reluctant to do makes him miserable. That’s at least 50% of what film and TV production is about, he says. He likes doing stand-up comedy and currently performs about 75 shows per year.

Where does this clear sense of purpose come from? This ability to cut through noise and distraction and focus on what really matters? Meditation of course. He says it makes stress float away. In a superb podcast interview with the actor-producer Alec Baldwin, Jerry explains that he has been meditating regularly since he was 19 (he’s currently 61). Here’s an edited excerpt from the interview:
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Performing Under Pressure: How to be “Clutch”

Why do some people excel under pressure while others fail?

Paul Sullivan has written an excellent book exploring this question, called Clutch.

We talk about the numerous case studies he’s looked at including the likes of Tiger Woods in golf, as well as examples from basketball, baseball and football.
Paul is a columnist for the New York Times and a contributor to several other major publications. He’s also on a quest to become a better golfer while still being a decent husband and father.

Transferring what you can do in a relaxed atmosphere to a tenser one is not easy—or else everyone would be clutch.

Five Key Traits to be Clutch:
1. Focus
2. Discipline
3. Adaptability
4. The ability to be present
5. The push and pull of fear and desire

People cannot succeed under pressure if they are thinking of anything other than what they are doing right now.

This interview originated at our sister site:


Achieving Happiness Even During Tough Times

autumn_leavesFor some it’s already been a long winter and during these times, many people have to work harder at happiness. Here are nine practical and concise suggestions, as compiled by the Daily Express newspaper.

1- Help others: Humans are hard-wired for altruism, which is why it makes us happy. Our ancestors had to help each other to stay alive, and being kind strengthens our relationships and makes us feel good too.
Try it: Perform an act of kindness every day such as serving a loved one breakfast in bed, letting a stranger have your parking space or calling a sick friend.

2- Reach out: Those with strong relationships are happier, healthier and live longer.
Try it: Ask a friend, relative or colleague about the best part of their day and listen intently to their answer.
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How Mindfulness Can Improve Business Leadership

Business_mindfulness_Bill_GeorgeIt’s very reassuring when someone with serious experience as a senior business leader writes compellingly about the benefits of meditation. Bill George was a senior executive for about two decades, including six years as CEO of medical device company Medtronic. He is now a professor at the Harvard Business School.

Here are some excerpts from a recent article by Bill in the Huffington Post:

“…What is causing this shift to mindful leadership? In the stress-filled 24/7 world in which we live, leaders of all organizations need the opportunity for a “time out” period. It is their opportunity to relax, breathe deeply, de-stress and gain clarity about their work and the decisions they are facing. As I stressed at last week’s summit, mindfulness practices enable leaders to ensure the important issues are taking precedence over immediate pressures.”

“…This practice is the best thing I have done to calm my mind and my emotions, focus on what is most important while releasing trivial worries and think clearly about important decisions. Perhaps even more importantly, my most creative ideas have come from meditation.”

“…Of course, meditation is not for everyone. What is essential for all of us — as I share in my classes and lectures — is having a daily practice of taking twenty minutes to quiet your mind, reflect and be introspective. For you, it may come through prayer, journaling, reflecting in a beautiful place or taking a long walk or jog. The goal? To create more self-aware leaders who understand themselves, their motivations, their values and the purpose of their leadership.”

“…Becoming a mindful leaders requires daily practice. It is easy to say, as I did back in 1974, that you don’t have the time to fit this practice into your busy schedule. In fact, the opposite is true — you don’t have the time not to pursue it.
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Eight Practical Tips for Coping With Anxiety

breathe_cope_with_anxietyIn the U.S. and the U.K., about one in five people reporting that they feel anxious a lot of the time or all of the time.

The most popular ways to cope include speaking to a friend, exercise and taking a walk. AsapTHOUGHT, a Youtube channel, has compiled a useful list of additional ways to cope with anxiety:

Don’t google your symptoms
When you’re in the middle of a panic attack, it’s easy to feel like your symptoms are a signal for something bigger. Often panic attacks come with physical symptoms such as chest pains or nausea. While it’s tempting to search online to see what’s going on – don’t.

HALT ­- Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired?
These are all things that can contribute to a potential anxiety attack. If you can figure out what the trigger may be, you may help solve it.

It sounds obvious, but focusing on your breathing can help calm you down. Try a 4-4-8 method: Breathing in for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 4 seconds, and breathing out for 8 seconds. By focusing on your breathing, it’s easier to ignore any bad thoughts trying to creep their way into your subconscious.

Find a distraction
Perhaps you have a favorite podcast that you enjoy listening to, or a favorite Youtuber.
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Better Sleep: A How-To Checklist

Spend time outdoors every day; ideally around noon or the sunniest point of the day; at least five minutes

Exercise during daylight hours; 20 to 40 minutes, ideally outdoors

No caffeinated coffee after about 3pm, stop earlier if desired sleeping rhythm isn’t achieved

Drink 1 to 2 cups of green or white tea after 2pm but no later than 6pm

Before finishing work for the day, write down on a blank piece of A4 the important meetings/appointments for the next day

Only moderate amounts of alcohol during or after dinner, e.g. 2 glasses of wine maximum

A well-balanced meal for dinner, e.g. 30% fat, 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates

A short walk around the neighbourhood after dinner; 5-10 minutes

Minimise or eliminate in front of a screen 60 to 90 minutes before desired sleeping time; read a book or magazine made out of paper instead

Data-and-worry dump (15 to 30 minutes before bedtime); quickly write down everything currently on your mind onto an empty page of A4 paper

Mobile phone switched off at least 60 minutes before desired sleep time, put in a draw in a room that isn’t the bedroom

Bedroom as dark as possible; black-out blinds, no LED lights, no lights on alarm clocks

Accept the evolutionary reality that human beings aren’t capable of fully rational, logical thoughts between the hours of (approx.) 2300 and 0700; remind yourself that middle-of-the-night thinking is by definition anxiety-based and somewhat paranoid

Decide ahead of time that you will *not* try to use some of your sleep-time hours to catch up on thinking/planning not accomplished during the day

Practice slow, *shallow* breathing during nighttime waking periods
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Mindfulness: An Effective Mental Health Treatment But Not a Panacea

mindfulness-therapy-groupSome useful caveats in a recent article in The Guardian newspaper in the U.K.

“Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy isn’t suitable for patients who are in the grip of a drug or alcohol dependency, as they won’t be able to fully engage with the therapy. Also, patients who are recently bereaved may find MBCT too overwhelming.” – Dr. Christina Surawy, a clinical psychologist.

Mindfulness is not useful for patients during an episode of severe depression. These patients should wait until they recover to a mild or moderate state before engaging with MBCT.” – Florian Ruths, psychiatrist.

Ruths adds that unlike some drug treatments, side effects are very rare with MBCT, though “minor side effects, such as a temporary drop in mood before an improvement in mood, are more common but manageable”. He emphasises that it is important for MBCT therapists to be properly trained to deal with any side effects and support their patients appropriately.
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Is There Comfort In Knowing That Cruelty Is Nothing New?

A provocative view of how Stoical Philosophy might help us deal with current struggles, by John Sellars:

“Much has been written about the Stoic idea of premeditation on future evils: Pre-rehearse potential bad events so that if they come you are better prepared to deal with them and, if they don’t, be all the more grateful for your good fortune. But what about past evils? Is there anything to be gained from reflecting on evils that have already happened?

“…In the early 1600s, Justus Lipsius wrote that the public evils then afflicting people were, when put into an appropriate historical context, neither especially grievous nor unusual… He recounted the death tolls of ancient wars involving Jews: 20,000 died at Caesarea, 13,000 at Scythopolis, 2,500 at Ascalon, 2,000 at Ptolomais, 50,000 at Alexandria, 10,000 at Damascus…

“…Public evils are constant features of history and so we should not be surprised to find them in our own time. Indeed, it would be truly miraculous if our own time were exempt from such events.

Our natural sympathy is for those closest at hand but, according to David Hume, this is a distortion that we must overcome when making moral judgements.

“…Lipsius aimed to show that moral distance can distort our perception of public evils, making our own immediate troubles appear much more significant than they actually are. If we step back and consider those evils within a wider historical context we shall see that in fact they are neither especially grievous nor unusual.”

“…Among contemporary generations, “the Holocaust has come to be seen as the archetypal example of public evil, and for good reason. Reflecting on horrific events from the past such as the Holocaust is important for a number of obvious and well-known reasons: some things should never be forgotten. For Lipsius this sort of reflection on past evils can also be a chilling way to put our current troubles into stark perspective.

Link to John Sellars’ article:


Mindfulness Isn’t About Ignoring Your Thoughts


From “How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Mental Health” in The Huffington Post UK:

…Mindfulness meditation seems to have taken the business world by storm, with so many of us becoming more in tune with the notion of being “present”

It’s one of the oldest forms of meditation and is based on the idea of being consciously aware of yourself and the world around you.

Mindfulness isn’t about ignoring your thoughts but acknowledging and accepting them while focusing on what you are doing in that moment.

The ABCs of mindfulness:

A for awareness

B for “just being”

C for creating that gap between experience and reactions

Five key points about Mindfulness, from Dr. James Arkell:
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Multiple Simultaneous Partial Presence or Mostly Absent? Happiness at Work

Constant Multi-Tasking and Zombie Executives



I increasingly see this in my coaching practice working with highly successful but highly stressed senior business people.

They are trying to leverage technology so that they can operate simultaneously in several locations. For example, they try to spend time with their kids while checking e-mail or having “quick” business negotiations on the phone while driving… I find that from one day to the next they often forget the details of what they said and what they committed themselves to.

These people are living zombie-like lives in which they move forward, sometimes with devastatingly killer intentions, but they aren’t fully alive. They seem to be driven and controlled by an external force that often contradicts their heartfelt desires – to be loving and supportive with close relatives, to make a genuinely positive difference in the world, to enjoy themselves and to stretch and grow their abilities and talents.

Many of these themes are echoed in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review: Why Some Men Pretend to Work 80-Hour Weeks

A few excerpts:

…many professional jobs, expectations that one be an “ideal worker”—fully devoted to and available for the job, with no personal responsibilities or interests that interfere with this commitment to work—are widespread. We often think of problems with these expectations as women’s problems. But men too may struggle with them.

..They complained to me of children crying when they missed their soccer games, of poor health and substance addictions caused by how they worked, and of a general sense of feeling “overworked and underfamilied.”
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Maximizing Meditation by Using the Power of Three

Let’s try to keep it simple. And quick. And therefore achievable.

Here’s a way to get started on a meditation practice. Maximize the Rule of Three. It’s one of the most pervasive organizing principles throughout humanity.

A mother, a father, a child. The Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost. Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva. Let’s throw in the Three Stooges, the Three Blind Mice, and The Three Musketeers while we’re at it. The list could be endless.

But what does this have to do with meditation? Answer: It’s about setting up a pattern of behavior that is sustainable and self-reinforcing. Let the Power of Three fuel your Mindfulness practice. Set out on a journey, like a story that has a beginning, a middle and an end, and then cyclically starts over again the next day.

Morning, noon and night.

Three minutes of meditating – focusing on the breath moving in, and the breath moving out. Three times a day – morning, noon and night.

The simple, sustainable route to a meditation practice.


In Search of the “Original” Mindfulness

phil jackson nicks mindfulness meditation

Words evolve; they change meaning over time. Get over it!

Virginia Heffernan has written an eloquent but ultimately convoluted critique of the Mindfulness movement. Some of her more amusing and insightful comments are reprised below, but let’s get to the heart of what’s problematic about her article.

Had Ms. Heffernan been alive in Elizabethan times, one imagines she would have panned Shakespeare’s plays for their impure “Continental influenced” language. The Bard rather brazenly borrowed and invented words, and developed disruptive forms of theater that initially annoyed many in the establishment.

It was ever thus and ever shall it be. Meanings of words, of entire concepts change from decade to decade, from century to century and, of course, from widely different culture to another.

What exactly does the word “jazz” mean in 2015 – especially compared to 70 or 80 years ago? How about the word “gay” or “queer”? Another example of a word that has changed its meaning over time: “artificial” — it used to mean “full of artistic or technical skill.” In the realm of religion, just consider the Catholic Church’s concept of “indulgences” in 14th and 15th centuries and compare it to the way the word is used now.

Yes, we don’t use Mindfulness in the same way a related word might have been used in the Pali language 2,000 or more years ago any more than we use the word “angst” as Goethe used it in the original German in the late 1700s.

More to the point, wide-ranging concept like “self” and “mind” have always had meanings that are contentious and highly dependent on context, in time and in place. In fact most people would struggle to compose a succinct definition of the word “mind” right now, without confusing it with the word “brain.” And how does the concept of “mind” relate to the concept of “cognition”? All this is fodder to endless academic debate.
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A is for Awareness and Other Awesome Words

Structured Mindfulness

A is for Awareness because that’s the key to it all. Only by being aware of where we are, in this present moment, being Mindful, can we focus on what reality actually is and then what the full range of our options are. Skilful action starts with fully immersed awareness.

Coincidentally there are six other words starting with “A” that can guide us in working through a challenge. Let’s call them the Seven Skillful Samurai:

1. Allow

2. Aware

3. Acknowledge

4. Accept

5. Abide
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Five New Myths of Mindfulness

Buddhism_in_disguiseThere’s a nice, comprehensive overview from Mindful magazine. Here’s my summary:

Myth 1: Mindfulness fixes something that’s wrong with you

Your mind is naturally capable of mindfulness, awareness, kindness, and compassion. It’s not in need of fundamental repair.

By gently repeating a simple habit, returning to an anchor for the mind, such as our breath, bit by bit a steadiness emerges allowing a better view of what’s happening in our mind and more opportunities to make choices about how to respond.

Myth 2: The result of meditation is a boring, bland, cult-like calmness and complacency

It’s so easy to confuse the practice of meditation with what the results are presumed to be. Meditation doesn’t require you to manage or police your thoughts and sit passively at home. The point of slowing down during meditation practice is to allow one to see how one’s own mind operates.

Myth 3: Mindfulness is just Buddhism in disguise

Buddhist practitioners have extensively researched the subject and the many Buddhist traditions offer wide-ranging insights, but that doesn’t mean Buddhism owns mindfulness any more than Italians own pasta or Greeks own democracy.
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Mindfulness Without Action Risks Creating Inertia

action awareness yin yang circleMindfulness can be a great way to tackle stress and generate a sense of calm. But isn’t there a danger that if we only live in the moment, we don’t address the causes of the problems we were are trying to overcome, asks Thomas Webb.

Be careful that Mindfulness isn’t being used as a distraction technique or otherwise get in the way of concrete behavioral change. If we want to complete projects and launch positive follow-up initiatives, then we may need to look beyond the “now” and tackle the roots problems that underpin how we are currently feeling.

Fight inertia: Create plans that specify how to achieve your good intentions. Identify a good opportunity to act, a suitable response to that opportunity, and link these two things together in an “if X happens, then I do Y” format, which often helps people achieve their goals.

Planning ahead has the advantage that it is a problem-focused coping strategy that attempts to tackle the cause of something rather than purely focusing on alleviating its symptoms. While Mindfulness may help to foster the necessary mind-set required for change, problem-focused strategies like planning ahead must be put in place to determine what needs to be done to move something from where it currently is to where you’d like it to be in the future.



The Ability To Be In The Present Moment

abraham_maslowI can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be (fully) in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness. – Abraham Maslow


Mandela: Gratitude for an Unconquerable Soul

Nelson Mandela

Among the many things the world has to be grateful for the life of Nelson Mandela is, of course, his indomitable spirit. A spirit that inspires us to overcome huge resistance and endure many tortures along the way to fight for what is right.

The notion of an “unconquerable soul” comes from the poem Invictus by the English Victorian writer William Ernest Henley. We learned in Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom and in the film Invictus that he recited the poem to himself every day of the 27 years he spent imprisoned.

The poem begins:

Out of the night that covers me / Black as the pit from pole to pole / I thank whatever gods may be / For my unconquerable soul.

And concludes:

It matters not how strait the gate / How charged with punishments the scroll / I am the master of my fate. / I am the captain of my soul.

What a life. Well worthy of an epic opera – if one hasn’t been written already – to celebrate him. A journey toward ultimate human fulfillment in the archetypal sense that psychologist C.G. Jung described: From athlete, to warrior, to statesman to sage.



Rosa Park’s Ability to Just Sit is Mindfulness in Action

Jack Kornfield: Sitting Meditation

Rosa_ParksThis day in 1955, Rosa Parks refused to obey a Montgomery Alabama bus driver’s order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled.

Jack Kornfield has charmingly observed that Rosa Park’s power came from here ability to just sit, albeit amid tremendous pressure to  move.

By extension, Jack challenges us to “just sit” in quiet fortitude, regardless of the forces that line up against us – distractions, competing desires, request and demands from colleagues, friends, relatives for our time. It often seems we are up against pressures that make it impossible to “just sit,” even for five minutes. But of course we’re not up against the kinds of pressures felt by Rosa Parks.

Some thoughts from Rosa:

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.”

“Each person must live their life as a model for others.”


There Are Only Two Tragedies in Life

Living lightly
Talking this morning over the breakfast table about cell phones, their uses and abuses.

My 11 year-old daughter is under a lot of peer pressure to get a phone, but she needs to convince her parents. So far she has not succeeded. And she has to admit that one of her friends – who spectacularly received a top-of-the-line Apple iPhone a couple of months ago – often forgets to take her phone with her and generally seems not to be so excited about it anymore.

It reminded me of the quotation from Oscar Wilde, which nicely reflects some of the Buddhist notions of “non-grasping” and “non-attachment.”

There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.


Thanksgiving: It Works Around the Boardroom Table Too – Gratitude

Gratitude isn’t just for the dinner table anymore
Try it with your colleagues — whether you bring in pumpkin spice lattes and cranberry cupcakes for the meeting or not.

People get over the slight discomfort pretty quickly and soon realize that showing gratitude and appreciation isn’t specifically a religious act – it’s a human act that resonates with almost everyone.

As usual, the leader should go first, with a brief, bright and tight, well-though-out 60 seconds of key contributions from the team she or he is thankful for. Ideally someone else has been primed to go second – it doesn’t have to be the next in the chain of command; it can be a trusted assistant or a friendly colleague. And from there it’s pretty much automatic – everyone goes for 30 to 60 seconds.

Nothing grandiose is required – just sincerity and — ideally — some specificity. For example “I am so appreciative that Dana and Jason pitched in on that short-notice deadline we were given by Client XYZ” works very nicely. By contrast, “I just love all you guys – I’m so blessed” is rather too general and invites some cynicism.

But what’s the point of all this appreciative effort – is it worth it? In a word, yes. Here’s some more information.
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Just Be Cool: Equanimity Defined

equanimity_calm_woman_faceThe one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one’s work seriously and taking one’s self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. – Margot Fonteyn

Equanimity is a funny word. It seems at once mysterious and self-explanatory. It has the quality of a “where have you been all my life? I’ve needed this word.” And yet there is something pedestrian and obvious about it. “Oh, yes, of course – that’s a state of mind I often strive to be in.”

Let’s create an operational definition, cobbling together the best of what is already out there in dictionaries and Mindfulness tomes:

Equanimity is an even and composed frame of mind, neither elated nor depressed. Balanced, poised; calmly sure of oneself.

The adjective form is “equanimous” – as in “I find myself in a pleasantly equanimous state of mind.”

It is a clear-minded tranquil state of mind; not being overpowered by anxieties or agitation. In one’s interactions with others, one acts from a position of receptive curiosity in order to more fully understand what is happening right now.
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Busy Leader? How to be Left in Peace for a Week: Email Management

Email management, work-life balance

leadership-work-life-balance-email-managementWho is your key administrator and/or operations officer? Have a brief chat with him or her about three business days before you are due to go away on vacation. That gives them the time to get urgent issues and documentation that require your attention in front of you in the days before your break.

Explain to your key administrator that you want to be left in peace for a week. No further explanation required. Yes, it’s that simple! The vast majority of human beings understand the need for rest and relaxation.

Then send your own version of this email template (below) to the two or three key day-to-day administrator/operations people in your working life:

Hi Guys,

During my holiday from Monday the 11th to Friday the 15th inclusive, I’m aiming for as little disruption as possible.

Generally “Elena” (my lead administration/operations person), in consultation with Richard and Sophie (two senior leaders who aren’t on vacation that week), if necessary – should be able to handle any on-going issues during the week.

Please note that I will *not* be checking any e-mail addresses during the week.

There is an “out of office” message on my e-mail addresses telling senders that I will respond to their message on the 18th of August and if the matter is urgent, to contact Elena by e-mail.

Thanks and best regards,


What do you think? How would this work for you? Drop me a line at:

Key topics: Email management, stress reduction, workplace communications, work-life balance, vacation planning


A Glorious Injection of Testosterone

sunrise_runCombatting Complacency

The video linked at the bottom is a bit on the macho side, I know. Or as a good female friend responded when I sent the link to her: “What a glorious injection of testosterone!” I think she meant it (mostly) in a good way.

This is where Mindful Your Own Business is a little bit different than many other meditation-oriented sites. Sure we believe in non-judgment, in going with the flow, in letting things happen at their own pace. Yes, sometimes the best approach to a difficult day, month or year is simply to “chop wood, carry water.”

And sometimes action is needed. Right Action. The Right Way. And the Right Way is often the most difficult way, the way the requires the most discipline, the most focus, the most delaying of gratification and with no guarantee of reward.

Here’s the full text:

Rise and shine.

6am and your hand can’t make it to the alarm clock before the voices in your head start telling you that it’s too early, too dark, and too cold to get out of a bed.
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Listening Mindfully Even When it Feels Like it Might Kill You

Sometimes the most difficult, most generous act of Mindfulness you can carry out in a day is to listen fully to another human being. It’s especially difficult when that person doesn’t seem to have anything to say that is inherently interesting to you. And even more challenging when that person speaks in a halting, sometimes convoluted way.

The struggle is to turn down the distracting, diverting thoughts in your head. These thoughts are bubbling around because what you are hearing is so predictable or deadly dull that it seems like the experience of full-focus listening might actually kill you. Certainly it feels physically painful.

But, with practice, you build up your listening muscles. This listening strength includes the power to stay focused intensely on what that other person is actually saying and also why they might feel the need to say it to you at this particular moment. Listening strength is also the endurance to hang on, to listen patiently, even encouragingly for 10, or even 20 minutes at a time.

But your active engagement with this person is a gift and maybe one that might be reciprocated by your counter-party feeling understood, enabling them to clarify their own thinking, to open up further, to perhaps drop some inhibitions and become more trusting and closer to you.

Topics: Mindful listening, listening mindfully, listening skills


Top 10 Things Most People Don’t Know About Mindfulness

My favorites are:
question_manFull presence lasts on average 4 seconds. That means a mind that is absent of distraction and digression. It’s very rare. With practice, 4 seconds can become 5 seconds and instead of only one instance of full presence per 10-minute meditation session, two or three experiences of full presence. Be gentle with yourself and don’t demand high performance, just steady improvements on average, with occasional back-sliding.

Mindfulness is a part of all major religions: samadhi in Buddhism and Hinduism, recollection in Christianity, zikr in Islam and kavanah in Judaism.

Here’s the rest of the eight little-known things, from Ryan M. Niemiec at Psychology Today.


Have you been drinking Hate-orade?

hatoradeMy kids brought this home the other day. I love it. It’s a provocative but playful response to the casual and unnecessary cruelty that human beings inflict on each other, especially teenagers. Try it. It won’t work on everyone, but it might make an accidental bully become a bit more empathic – and we can all be accidental bullies sometimes.

What I particularly like is the question neutralizes the blame game and externalizes in a comical way the source of the problem. It’s not that this person is permanently horrible, nasty or despicable. It’s simply a case of him or her having ingested a toxic substance – Hate-orade!
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