We offer both private instruction and group classes and workshops, for students, educators, parents and professionals:

  • Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Mindful Interpersonal Dynamics: Inquiry and Resolving Conflict
  • The Mindful Educator

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SO WHAT IS “MINDFULNESS”?

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our power to choose our response; in our response lies our growth and freedom.  -- Viktor Frankl

You can observe a lot by watching. -- Yogi Berra


“Mindfulness” is something we practice; it’s not something we can achieve.   The more time we spend just watching and observing our own minds, the more tamed and manageable our monkey minds become.  The less they’ll just jump automatically from tree to tree – and the more mindful we become in our lives.  We’ll be less prone to react so robotically and mindlessly to life’s struggles and challenges.  We make room for some real possibility in our lives when we learn to observe ourselves without judging what we find so much.

In one way, it’s nothing more or less than learning to respond in a more poised way to anything and everything that crosses our screens. The more you just sit still and watch for the space between stimulus and response, the less often your mind jumps from one thing to the other, or freezes when it most needs to move.  Mindfulness is a way to keep the stimulus of the world from determining the quality of our minds..and our lives.

What do I mean by stimulus? Something happens in our world that affects us in some way. One of our co-workers does that thing he does again.  Or your wife asks you about paying that overdue bill at the same time you're worrying about your 9-year-old.  Or maybe something more topical for you if you're a high school student, you see something that looks like this:

Only tenth-, eleventh-, and twelfth-grade students attend Washington High School. The ratio of tenth graders to the school’s total student population is 86:255, and the ratio of eleventh graders to the school’s total student population is 18:51. If 1 student is chosen at random from the entire school, which grade is that student most likely to be in?

                  A. Tenth

                  B. Eleventh

                  C. Twelfth

                  D. All grades are equally likely.

                  E. Cannot be determined from the given information

So that’s the stimulus.  Every single one of us has a response to this.  What’s YOUR response?  Does your stomach cramp up a little at the sight of the word problem?  Do you tell yourself anything, like how hard this is?  Or how easy?  What exactly does your mind do, just like your leg jerks when the doctor hits just under the kneecap?  That’s your response.

 The aim of mindfulness is really about seeing and experiencing things more clearly.  It’s NOT about keeping yourself from thinking, or responding. We all respond.  But do we really know HOW?? How aware are we of what our bodies are doing, what we're feeling below the running commentary in our heads? 

Mindfulness is about taking just a moment to find your space and your poise – and, maybe, find that there’s just that little bit of space before the automatic response kicks in, when you can really make a choice about things.  Mindfulness is not much more, on one level, than learning to break a bad habit.  Reminding ourselves to remind ourselves.

 

A Formula for Now: This is the Mind on Mindfulness

The more we remind ourselves, the more we just don’t fall into the same holes, or respond in the same, sometimes harmful, ways.  Mindfulness isn’t a magic bullet – again, it’s a practice, and an especially useful one for those times when we need to be at our best, to pay attention to what’s right here, right now.

My first meditation teacher, Ron, said that good practice has a cumulative effect.  You don’t have to do it a lot, but every time you fully bring yourself to practice, it’s like adding another grain of sand.  Eventually we’ve got ourselves a mound of paying attention.  The more we practice, the more we’ll feel the effects.  The more we’ll start to clear out some of the fog and confusion we carry around with us like Pigpen. 

(Does anyone remember Pigpen?  Am I dating myself?)