Breaking news Sept 11, 2017....it is being reported that new emotions have been discovered. In recent reporting, scientists have discovered that there are 27 emotional states rather than 6. (http://www.countryliving.co.uk/wellbeing/news/a2454/27-human-emotions-new-study/) and (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/08/30/1702247114).
Buddhist psychology, which as been around for around 2500 years, first identified 51 states of mind. These have been talked about and many of them have been experienced directly by mediators for years. It is great that Western psychologists are talking to humans and gaining a deeper understanding. Perhaps some day, they will use the same techniques as passed down for generations to recognize their own emotions directly. This self research has been the norm for generations and is alive and well today in contemplative traditions throughout the world.
Recently, Western Psychologists, leaders and founders of the Positive Psychology movement have altered/updated a key foundation belief about the nature of helplessness. Apparently, rather than being a learned state, Helplessness is a default mode. This means, in the most simplistic of interpretations, that we do not learn "helplessness" but it is a natural "go to" for our way of being, when we encounter overwhelming feelings. (Read more here: https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/sites/ppc.sas.upenn.edu/files/learnedhelplessnessat50.pdf)
The great tradition of Myanmar, frequently referred to as the Mahasi Technique of mindfulness, and even the Buddha's words himself talk about the need for energy and effort as the foundation for progress in developing mindfulness. This dovetails perfectly, with the "recent" findings of positive psychologists. To over come this "helplessness" we don't need to do anything other than "make effort" to direct our mind to the object of meditation. This will help us break out of this default "helplessness" and develop positive states of mind.
The guidance we enjoy from great teachers who have first applied these techniques and practices in their own life and then gone on to instruct others, is that they are practical and effective.
Now, even modern scientists can infer the benefits of the ancient practices. So let's get on and put them to work!
We have all had times where we lose our Mindfulness. Sometimes these are small and seemingly insiginficant - a forgetful moment. Sometimes we lose our mindfulness to a medium extent, for longer periods of time, and this is where starting with a moment, memories or emotions blast through and take charge presenting themselves and dominating our mind stream. It could show as fits of anger, fits of sadness, screaming, yellling or even periods of pursuing pleasures to such an extent that it is to our own detriment. These medium periods of lapses in mindfulness usually don't lead to any horrible acts to others. In the most benign form these gaps might be recognized as "unaccounted periods of time" ("running on auto-pilot"), the mind ruminating- lost in fantasy, remembrance or preparation for the future and in a more serious form as bouts of anger, harsh speech and / or other destructive emotions and related activity.
All of us have experienced many times when our mind is devoid of its better discretion or discernment and habits or emotional patterns take over without mindful restraint and have free rain until mindfulness and better judgment return During the medium lapses in mindfulness, most of the harm is done to ourselves in the form of not being present to the present moment and all that this provides although many times, it also brings pain to those who are close to us. Those fits of rage, yelling and screaming have an impact on our spouse, on our parents and most significantly on our children. The times that we "model" losing our mindfulness in front of our children, often leads to our children mimicking our behavior, which is rooted in a lack of mindfulness. Not the foundation that we probably wish to provide for them.
Many people in the world live under the false belief that if they amass enough wealth they will be happy. In fact, research shows that the marginal increase in happiness beyond an income of 75,000 is minimal.
So the strength of people like you who have been successful, is that you have a drive and related skills that make you successful in a worldly sense, however, what brings you here is that you don't always have peace of mind or happiness.
This is not a new problem, it is an ancient one. And this is why the Buddha to be, a prince at the time, gave up his wealth, walked away from his newborn and wife and began a journey to find true and lasting peace and happiness. Siddartha Gautama, who came to be known as "Buddha" found what he was looking for, and shared it freely. Today, 2500 years later there has been a resurgence and a growth in the availability of these teachings and western science is verifying the claims that these methods can help end suffering.
Now, we don't expect you to walk away from your wealth or families. Instead, in the comfort of your homes and regular routines, we want to introduce you to mindfulness, a practice that is gaining traction because of the scientific studies that back up the self reported claims and benefits over millennium.
It turns out, there is a way to develop the qualities of mind and heart that make us and others happy and in this process of nurturing skillful mind states, reduce the mind's activity of those habits and patterns that undermine our success and cause difficulty for ourselves and others.
Simply put, mind qualities can be trained in a way similar to the way that body muscles can. And there are proven methods and techniques to do so.
As part of your life journey I encourage you to investigate and learn more, especially now, when times are good.
Would reducing stress benefit your team/organization or make employees less productive?
While most employees today* feel that overwhelming levels of stress are undermining their productivity and effectiveness, it is possible that too lax a work environment also could lead to boredom and disengagement.
Like an instrument that needs to be adjusted regularly and tune properly, stress has to be managed to enable optimal outcomes.
With Mindfulness training, you can empower your employees with the tools they need to self-regulate so they can thrive at work and at home. Mindfulness will also help you empathize with you employees and provide the leadership they need to help them prioritize and focus on business critical activities.
Mindfulness enables employees to recognize their stress levels and effectively self regulate for optimal performance. It also enables leaders to more effectively recognize and respond to what their team members need to succeed.
Bring a program to your team.
* Sixty-five percent of executives surveyed by Deloitte Consulting LLP for its 2014 Global Human Capital Trends report rated the “overwhelmed employee” an “urgent” or “important” issue. Yet the fact that only 9 percent of survey respondents say their companies are helping employees deal with overwhelming amounts of work speaks to the seemingly intractable nature of the phenomenon. (http://deloitte.wsj.com/cio/2014/07/15/overwhelmed-employees-3-mechanisms-for-reducing-their-stress/)
Today there are a proliferation of teachers and opportunities to learn mindfulness or meditation either in person or through apps. In people's eagerness to learn more, many make their decision about who to learn from in a haphazard manner. They may do a Google search or read about an app in the media and then download and try it. Or some take a friend's or person of respects referral.
Using this approach, some people have experiences where they feel like they gain benefit and therefore that they must really be practicing mindfulness, and some, of course, don't. Does it really matter where we learn meditation or mindfulness from?
I remember when I first started researching colleges and MBA programs. I read a lot about the location, the marketing materials and the statistics that differentiated one program from another, but I remember that when I went for visits, I really was able to get an impression that was far different than my initial research had yielded.
Furthermore, as more time in my life passes, I realize that the first an earliest impressions I had in various arenas of my life, laid a foundation (right or wrong, good and bad) that would make future association with those genres in my life positive or negative. Great early education experiences left a positive feeling in my heart and mind about that time in my life and learning in general. Toxic or bad experiences tainted my perception, to this day, in other areas of my life.
First impressions are hard to shake. When I was a Financial Advisor there was an increasing number of articles discussing what to look for in a great advisor, how to choose an advisor, and what warning signs to look out for.
At the moment, there is limited discussion on what makes a good mindfulness and meditation teacher and which teacher qualities should be avoided. For a long time, Mindfulness or meditation was shaded by the doubts of practical people, because so many people have sought out help from "false prophets". Today, with the growing body of scientific evidence and with the growing cultural acceptance, people begin to let their guard down and assume anyone teaching mindfulness or meditation must be teaching the same thing.
So, let me end this short post with a quick question. Does it matter who you marry or will any person do?
Although mindfulness in any given moment is a relatively simple affair, having the clarity to see the need to practice and making the effort to repeatedly practice is a very rare quality in this world.
For one who is able to make the effort and gain the benefits, the benefit this undertaking brings to one's relationships, one's community and the world is hard to measure. It is immense.
When we encounter people who have not made the effort, we get upset, disappointed and protest their "contributions" to the world.
The silent few who dedicated their lives exclusively to the practice usually live removed from the masses, living a meaningful life without recognition but making a contribution that has value in the role model it provides and as proof that these types of human endeavors are not only useful, but possible. For others of us, we combine intensive training with a more "normal" life. We help bridge these two worlds and serve as living examples of what is possible.
It has been said that we live in a decadent age. In the texts it describes periods like now as decadent times when clean food and water will be difficult to find, weather patterns will be disrupted and those worthy of respect and leadership, will not be in those positions, but instead those roles will be held by lesser beings .
In today's world, it has been estimated that only 25% of good people remain, and only a small portion of those will make the effort to achieve the pinnacle of human achievement only available through intensive mindfulness training.
Are you one of the few? Are you curious? Contact us to learn more....
While some CEOs believe that people who are interested in self-development will self-seek and therefore there is not a need to provide the training…here are 15 good reasons, as a senior leader, you should introduce a corporate mindfulness training program at your company:
Partner with us to empower your workforce and help you find and nurture your top 15%.
As we swing into high gear for the final few weeks of 2016, we frantically rush to do our day jobs and squeeze in our family and friend commitments.
Frequently, in the madness, we put aside our own quiet time in the hope of satisfying others with material gifts of one sort or another or our physical presence at parties and gatherings.
Our friends and family are foremost in our mind and hearts, and we rush to see them and to buy things for them, all in an effort to let them know that they are in our hearts and minds as well.
What our family and friends truly crave is genuine openheartedness, loving-kindness and connection. And for this, the best gift that we can give, is to practice mindfulness for ourselves and model the capacity by authentically being present, composed and compassionate with all those we encounter.
So, when you find yourself rushing to complete your tasks, remember to walk and act with mindfulness as your companion, and in this way you will be embodying the true holiday spirit, connecting with all beings, and doing your part to actually make the world a better place.
We create the world we want to live in by first creating it within our own hearts, and then extending it to our family relationships and ultimately the larger community.
So this holiday season, take a few minutes to practice Mindfulness and Loving-kindness meditation and you will be giving the greatest gift you can to your loved ones and the world at large.
Wishing health, prosperity and good cheer to all!
Every day after we wake up, we brush our teeth, floss and shower. This is not considered something extraordinary or special; it is something that we consider basic human hygiene.
We also take care throughout the day not to overexert ourselves, provided that we aren’t at the gym (where it’s safe to sweat). Similarly, we seek out pure water and clean food. We know that if we eat just anything that comes along, it will cause us problems, sooner or later.
Yet, while we spend all of this time and effort on our external conditions, what do we do for our mind? Nobody has ever taught us how to cleanse our mind! And our mind is much more important and complicated than our body. It is the ultimate driver of our happiness.
We all know that when we are angry, that feeling lasts for a while. It causes us to be irritable and more reactive. Sometimes we get upset because we misunderstand what someone else has said or done because of the mood we are in, not because of the actual situation. Then we feel regret.
Not only is a negative state of mind problematic in the moment -- even after it disappears -- it leaves a kind of soot behind in our mind. And most of us have not been taught us how to clean up this mess. So the accumulation of soot is thick!
The practice of mindfulness has been around for thousands of years, but over the past 30 years more than 1,800 scientific studies have analyzed the impact of training the mind. The results are amazing. Mindfulness, when practiced properly, can have a dramatic beneficial effect on our physical and mental wellbeing. It can actually change the way our brain functions. People who practice mindfulness can process information more quickly. They can better control their emotions and recover from setbacks more quickly and effectively. People with chronic pain have found relief in practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness also enhances mental focus that leads to higher performance.
Professional sports teams including the Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Seattle Seahawks consider mindfulness a contributing factor to their world class success. The U. S. Military is adopting mindfulness to improve decision making under fire, to reduce stress and to help veterans cope with PTSD.
Mindfulness is a quality of mind that we all possess. When it is developed through practice, this quality becomes stronger and more dominant. The benefits that this brings are nothing short of extraordinary. One of these benefits is that it cleanses the mind of the negative thoughts that cause stress and anxiety and that generally detract from our happiness and well-being.
So, purify your mind through mindfulness, and you will benefit in a multitude of ways.
When cultivated, mindfulness brings about positive transformation in both our mind and our body.
In the Pali texts, mindfulness is defined as follows: Mindfulness is a mental factor.
Mindfulness has the characteristic of not wobbling. It supports our attention in being firmly established, plunging into the object of observation and not being superficial.
The Function of mindfulness is the absence of confusion, or non – forgetfulness. It helps us to keep the object of our attention in “view”. Just as a soccer play never loses sight of the ball, and knows where it is, the mindful meditator, never loses sight of the object of mindfulness.
Once we are able to cultivate mindfulness, we will come to know its ability to 1) direct the mind, face-to-face with the object of attention, and 2) to protect the mind. Once our attention is focused and paying attention, there will be no room for negative states of mind, fears, worries, anxieties or any of the other qualities that agitate the mind and bring unhappiness.
The nearest cause for mindfulness to arise in our mind is strong perception and the four foundations of mindfulness.
For us to arouse mindfulness, first we need strong and clear perception. As much as we can perceive things clearly, our mindfulness will be strong and steadfast.
The two functions of perception are the recording and the recognition of formations ( in our mind) , irrespective of their positive or negative nature. That is just like a CD can record music, without judging it, perception can notice our experience without judgment.
So how do we develop this quality of perception? We make mental labels or notes of the objects that we are paying attention to. This way, we will be able to circumvent judgment, which we have a habit of engaging in, and just record and observe as things happen.
Another important support of Mindfulness is mindfulness itself. In fact, the development of Mindfulness is the result of the momentum of mindfulness…one moment of mindfulness can help causes the next to arise.
I have two clear memories that I want to share. The first was when I participated in my first 9 day Vipassana meditation retreat. I was a senior at the Johns Hopkins University and my brother had been attending a number of silent intensive meditation retreats. My whole family found his attending these retreats a bit disconcerting, not knowing much about it, and so I was sent as the family emissary to investigate what this "strange" practice was.
While my first impressions were that this was a Buddhist thing, as there was a big Buddha statue sitting at the front of the meditation hall, I later came to realize that actually, this was really just about awareness and our internal life mind-life.
Tears came to my eyes, when I realized that I was (finally) being taught the skills to pay attention to what I was feeling, and taught how to relate to these internal feelings, emotions, etc. with skill and care. This was an area that I had certainly never been taught before, despite a great Western education at The Johns Hopkins University and Scarsdale High School.
During most of my formal education, I had been expected to "perform", without anyone really teaching me how to manage my internal landscape. And, here, on this retreat, there were a group of people dedicated to developing this skills within themselves and serving as guides for others. It was quite an awakening for me.
Flash forward, 10 years later, after my first semester at Wharton Business School, I returned to Myanmar to continue my training with my meditation teacher, Sayadaw U Pandita, and for the few weeks of our break, I had decided to ordain as a temporary Buddhist monk. This allowed me to devote myself whole-heartedly to meditation and live a lifestyle that fully supported this mind training and mind development.
As I walked barefoot through a rural village on my daily alms round (worried that I might get some worm through my bare feet), tears again manifested in my eyes as I realized that for Business education, Wharton was best, but to really learn Mindfulness, it was in Burma (one of the poorest countries in the world) that I had to go to study with a true master in this area. Why would someone have to go from one of the richest countries in the world to one of the poorest countries, and why did someone have to travel this far to learn learn this essential skill from a qualified teacher?
Another ten years have passed, during which period I have worked in Wealth Management and lived in Singapore for the past 7 years to be closer to my teacher, who is 93 and still lives in Myanmar. I am now relocating back to the US.
With the increasing popularity of Mindfulness meditation in American culture today, many people are putting themselves out there as mindfulness teachers.
To teach others, it is essential that one has developed this quality to quite some extent within oneself, and then only, help others discover and develop the quality within themselves.
While the instructions are seemingly simple, it is a very difficult to teach effectively. It would be like guiding someone down a path a night with no lights. And, unfortunately, if the teacher does not possess the knowledge themselves, they will not be able to help others develop it, no matter how smooth a talker or orator they may be.
Organizations are being created, certifications are being developed and many are getting on the bandwagon, without having dedicated the time necessary to develop mindfulness within themselves.
I am delighted to see the increasing role and attention that mindfulness is getting in America. I do hope that people with interest seek out qualified teachers, ie. those who have developed mindfulness to a great extent within themselves.
Andrew has spent more than 3 years of his life in silent intensive meditation retreats with Sayadaw U Pandita, one of the greatest teachers in this area.
Andrew has dedicated nearly 30 years studying mindfulness with many of the world's greatest teachers. He has taken the most beneficial of the practices that he has studied and verified and integrated them into a life with children, and a career in wealth management at global corporations . He is now dedicating his time to sharing these methods with people in all walks of life who are interested to discover ancient wisdom that is applicable and beneficial to modern life.