Archive for February, 2011

Beyond Happiness: An Interview with Ezra Bayda

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Happiness has been a perennial topic with waves of interest that have come and gone.  Ezra Bayda is author of Being Zen and his newest release Beyond Happiness which gives us some insight into what leads to a truly content life. He tells us that true happiness is really available to all of us and there are practical ways to get there.  Ezra teaches at the Zen Center in San Diego, Ca.

Elisha: Ok Ezra, I’m going get directly to the point. What is the key to true contentment in life?

Ezra: There is no one “key” to living a genuinely happy life, but the deepest happiness of equanimity grows with our ability to stay with present moment reality and flowers as we water the roots of the generosity of the heart,  including our inherent capacity for gratitude, loving-kindness and forgiveness – all of which need to be cultivated.  This is the overview; the “how to” is what my book, Beyond Happiness, is all about.

Elisha: What blocks us from happiness?

Ezra: There are many things that block happiness. We are often blocked by being caught in our thoughts and beliefs – beliefs like “Life is too hard.” How could we ever experience the equanimity of being at home with ourselves if caught in the busyness of the thinking mind?

We also get caught in the judgmental mind, with beliefs like “I’m not worthy.”  Until we can free ourselves from beliefs like these we will never experience the lightness of heart that is part of genuine happiness. We are also blocked from genuine happiness by our deeply conditioned emotional reactions, such as anger, anxiety and confusion; as well as by our deeply rooted patterns of behavior, such as trying harder so we can measure up, or seeking approval so we can cover over our anxiety. But as much as anything, what blocks happiness is a belief in the basic myth about happiness: that we deserve to be happy, as if it’s our birthright; that we will be happy if we get what we want; that we can’t be happy if we’re in discomfort.

Elisha: In your book you quote the Buddha saying, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” Can you say more about the intersection of gratitude, happiness and mental health?

Ezra: Gratitude is one of the essential aspects of being truly happy, because if we’re not grateful for what we have, we will always want life to be different from what it is—a demand that will surely guarantee our unhappiness. Interestingly, gratitude arises naturally when we’re truly happy; yet it also needs to be cultivated. The problem is, we can’t just wish to be grateful and expect it to happen. That is why gratitude is an actual practice, and why I included two specific and very effective gratitude practices in Beyond Happiness.

Elisha: If you were sitting across the table from someone who was struggling in life right now, what wisdom could you impart to them?

Ezra: Of course my response would depend entirely on who the person was and also on the nature of the struggle. It would also depend on whether or not the person had an understanding of spiritual practice.  The first question I would ask is: Can you see this difficulty as your path? I would emphasize the need to understand that our difficulties, although uncomfortable, are also our opportunity to work with exactly what keeps us stuck.

For example, if someone were caught in anxiety, to be able to welcome the anxiety as their opportunity to become free would give them a much bigger and healthier perspective. I would also ask the person what thoughts they were believing. Seeing though our believed thoughts is key, because our thoughts often dictate how we feel and act. And I would also encourage the person to try to bring attention to whatever their physical experience was in the present moment.  Staying physically present is crucial in working with our difficulties. It allows the seeming solidity of our distressing experiences to become more and more porous, and as a consequence we can begin to see daylight again. However, staying physically present, especially when we’re in distress, can be difficult. That is why there are many techniques to facilitate the process. As dark as the tunnel may seem, it’s good to know that it’s possible to find a way out.

Thank you Ezra!

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

Beyond Happiness: An Interview with Ezra Beyda

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Happiness has been a perennial topic with waves of interest that have come and gone.  Ezra Bayda is author of Being Zen and his newest release Beyond Happiness which gives us some insight into what leads to a truly content life. He tells us that true happiness is really available to all of us and there are practical ways to get there.  Ezra teaches at the Zen Center in San Diego, Ca.

Elisha: Ok Ezra, I’m going get directly to the point. What is the key to true contentment in life?

Ezra: There is no one “key” to living a genuinely happy life, but the deepest happiness of equanimity grows with our ability to stay with present moment reality and flowers as we water the roots of the generosity of the heart,  including our inherent capacity for gratitude, loving-kindness and forgiveness – all of which need to be cultivated.  This is the overview; the “how to” is what my book, Beyond Happiness, is all about.

Elisha: What blocks us from happiness?

Ezra: There are many things that block happiness. We are often blocked by being caught in our thoughts and beliefs – beliefs like “Life is too hard.” How could we ever experience the equanimity of being at home with ourselves if caught in the busyness of the thinking mind?

We also get caught in the judgmental mind, with beliefs like “I’m not worthy.”  Until we can free ourselves from beliefs like these we will never experience the lightness of heart that is part of genuine happiness. We are also blocked from genuine happiness by our deeply conditioned emotional reactions, such as anger, anxiety and confusion; as well as by our deeply rooted patterns of behavior, such as trying harder so we can measure up, or seeking approval so we can cover over our anxiety. But as much as anything, what blocks happiness is a belief in the basic myth about happiness: that we deserve to be happy, as if it’s our birthright; that we will be happy if we get what we want; that we can’t be happy if we’re in discomfort.

Elisha: In your book you quote the Buddha saying, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” Can you say more about the intersection of gratitude, happiness and mental health?

Ezra: Gratitude is one of the essential aspects of being truly happy, because if we’re not grateful for what we have, we will always want life to be different from what it is—a demand that will surely guarantee our unhappiness. Interestingly, gratitude arises naturally when we’re truly happy; yet it also needs to be cultivated. The problem is, we can’t just wish to be grateful and expect it to happen. That is why gratitude is an actual practice, and why I included two specific and very effective gratitude practices in Beyond Happiness.

Elisha: If you were sitting across the table from someone who was struggling in life right now, what wisdom could you impart to them?

Ezra: Of course my response would depend entirely on who the person was and also on the nature of the struggle. It would also depend on whether or not the person had an understanding of spiritual practice.  The first question I would ask is: Can you see this difficulty as your path? I would emphasize the need to understand that our difficulties, although uncomfortable, are also our opportunity to work with exactly what keeps us stuck.

For example, if someone were caught in anxiety, to be able to welcome the anxiety as their opportunity to become free would give them a much bigger and healthier perspective. I would also ask the person what thoughts they were believing. Seeing though our believed thoughts is key, because our thoughts often dictate how we feel and act. And I would also encourage the person to try to bring attention to whatever their physical experience was in the present moment.  Staying physically present is crucial in working with our difficulties. It allows the seeming solidity of our distressing experiences to become more and more porous, and as a consequence we can begin to see daylight again. However, staying physically present, especially when we’re in distress, can be difficult. That is why there are many techniques to facilitate the process. As dark as the tunnel may seem, it’s good to know that it’s possible to find a way out.

Thank you Ezra!

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

Can We Trust Neuroscience?

Monday, February 21st, 2011

As you may or may not have heard, a recent study lead by Britta Holzel, PhD, a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, showed significant benefits to our brains with a group of people engaging an 8-week program in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). More specifically, the group who took MBSR showed an increase in gray matter in key parts of the brain connected to learning, memory and a decrease in gray matter in the amygdala also known as the “fear circuit,” connected with anxiety and stress.

When a study like this comes out a flurry of activity hits the web through news articles and blogs, but what does it really mean?

Does an increase in gray matter mean that if we practice mindfulness meditation for 30-minutes a day for 8 weeks we’ll be smarter, be able to retain more information or have less fear?

The truth is, the field of neuroscience, while enjoying an explosion of new research is still in its infancy. We actually don’t know what this increase in gray matter means. It seems to suggest that if there is change in these areas that are associated with learn, memory, anxiety and stress that it is a positive effect.

But sometimes we can run too far with interpreting the research and then the skeptics come out and have their say debunking what was found.

A helpful question is what are the participants’ experiences? We don’t need to just look to numbers or gray matter density to find out whether this stuff is beneficial.

In all my sessions of leading MBSR or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) groups, there seems to always be an overwhelming amount of participants that parallel my experience, reporting new insights into how to relate to their difficult emotions, a greater awareness around getting stuck in auto-pilot, and renewed sense of purpose and hope in life.

I’m certainly not saying mindfulness is a panacea, but what I’m saying is that we can easily get lost in the science and numbers and overlook what people have been experiencing for millennia around the benefits of learning how to become more aware of how our minds work and become more present to life.

I also am not saying we need to dump the science. Science is critical as it backs up what so many people have already known and breaks down a barrier for the skeptics to come and experience it for themselves. This has given access to thousands of people to experience mindfulness.

However, there is a fundamental crutch in our culture to rely on experts to the detriment of trusting our own experience. It’s important to learn how to trust ourselves once again. So an increase in gray matter in areas of learning and memory and a decrease in gray matter density in areas of stress and anxiety is cool, but we don’t need to get lost in it.

At the end of the day, it’s our experience that is our most reliable teacher, trust in that more than any research or guru out there.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

What is Real Happiness? An Interview with Sharon Salzberg

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

For those of you who don’t know Sharon Salzberg, she one of America’s leading mindfulness teachers and authors and has played a significant role in bringing mindfulness and the practice of lovingkindness to all of us in the Western world.

She is co-founder of one of America’s premier meditation centers, Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre Massachusetts and is the author of many books and CDs, including her classic Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness,The Kindness Handbook: A Practical Companion, and her newest release Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program.

If you’re in Los Angeles, don’t miss Sharon at InsightLA on Saturday, February 26th from 10am – 1pm. Hope to see you there.

Today Sharon talks to us about what Real Happiness is, how she integrates compassion practices into her life, and how an everyday totally stressed out person can start moving to real happiness.

Elisha: The first question that I have is what is real happiness and how do we all get it?

Sharon: (Laughing) Well, actually I think what the word “real” stands for something like “durable” or “sustained” or “sustaining” happiness. I think, certainly we get real happiness out of pleasure, and I think that’s a pleasant meal, a pleasant bath with hot water (laughing), you know, and I think we should be quite grateful for opportunities we have to experience pleasure so I don’t want to denigrate those, but clearly they are so fleeting and based on conditions coming together just so, and so what I think we are basically looking for as human beings is a happiness that isn’t going to be so vulnerable to changing conditions. So that’s what I am calling real happiness. We get it, I think, from happy inner resources.

Elisha: Say more about that “happy inner resources.”

Sharon: Well, I describe meditation as one path toward that real happiness as being a kind of skills training, and I think each of those skills helps us access a capacity and nurture a capacity within to be more present and to shape our attention so that it has more clarity and presence and openness and that is a kind of happiness. I talk about it as being a course of skills training in concentration so that we can take what might be our very scattered, distracted, disbursed attention energy and bring it together so that it becomes steadier and more steadfast.

We can have skills training in mindfulness so that we are using our attention to perceive something in the present moment. This perception is not so latent by fears or projections into the future, or old habits, and then I can actually stir loving-kindness or compassion in skills training too, which can be sort of provocative, I found.

Elisha: Speaking of lovingkindness, you’re a pioneer in actually bringing loving-kindness practice to the West. Can you tell us about it and what are the benefits of doing it and perhaps how you weave it into your personal practice?

Sharon: Well, I think we get it through the mindfulness practice as we are experiencing much more connection and loving-kindness and compassion. But the loving-kindness meditation is like a series of methods, particularly dedicated to deepening loving-kindness and compassion, and it is done by, I sometimes call it “playing with our attention,” or being willing to take some risks and step out of some our habits.

So for example, if thinking about ourselves, we are pretty much only fixated on what’s wrong, and so much so that our whole sense of who we are or all that we will ever be collapses around some stupid comment said at lunch or in a meeting, and so the practice of loving-kindness would be not to deny that, because maybe it was a really stupid comment (laughing), but to remember that that’s not all that we are, and so to stretch beyond that tendency of that collapse, that over-identification with those negative thoughts and beliefs.

For example, there are so many people we tend to ignore because we don’t understand them. We can bring the practice of loving-kindness to the person at the super market, instead of looking right through them. The kinds of changes that come from loving-kindness meditation come from allowing our attention to be much more malleable in those ways.

Elisha: There has been a huge surge, at least in the world that I know, of interest in compassion practices, loving-kindness practices, with people individually, but also culturally right now. Just to list a few:

  • In 2008 Dr. Richie Davidson received a $2.5 million grant from the Fetzer Institute to look into the neuroscience of compassion. One study has already shown that experienced meditators show more activity in the Insula in response to stimuli that were meant to generate compassion. The Insula is part of the brain that is responsible for the awareness of our embodied emotions. This suggests that we can take advantage of the brain’s plasticity and by generating compassion, we can change our brain.
  • Tan Chade-Meng, one of the earliest engineers at Google, also known as “the Jolly Good Fellow” (which nobody can deny), has cofounded the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research (CCARE) at Stanford University. This group has a number of research projects under way.
  • The Compassionate Action Network (CAN) is a large site of self-organizing groups meant to spread compassion around the world.
  • Self-Compassion — Kristin Neff is coming out with a book on Self-Compassion in 2011 and Christopher Germer has already published “The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion.” Kristin and Christopher both lead workshops around the world spreading practical ways to cultivate compassion.
  • Karen Armstrong gives a talk on TED about compassion which inspired a Charter of Compassion.

What do you think is happening right now and where do you see this work going in Western culture?

Sharon: Well I think, of course, this is very exciting having watched so much research being based on mindfulness practice that I think in many ways that it opened the door, and you know in a time where we are experiencing so much division and anger and separation and you know that I think that the renewed interest in compassion as a path is very vital for our survival.

I don’t know if this is scientifically valid, but just anecdotally, I would draw a distinction between empathy and compassion. Whereas clearly there is a connection, but sometimes the way that I describe it is the faculty of empathy which is of course essential, and quite beautiful, allows us to feel into the situation of another, but if what we are feeling into is a state of suffering, we might have any number of responses to that, even once having that bond of empathy, we might feel into someone’s suffering and be frightened by that or feel overwhelmed by that or feel kind of mad, compulsion to fix it by tomorrow night, or one possible response to that felt sense of suffering is what we would call compassion.

Elisha: Here’s your final question: what do you tell a totally stressed-out everyday person today if they were asking you what they could do to help them start moving toward real happiness?

Sharon: I would say a few things. One, I think that it is really hard, but essential to think about taking some time for oneself. People often think it’s selfish and self-centered and a waste of time when there is so much to do, but as for me that time might be well spent exploring the power of meditation, and so sitting down doesn’t mean wasting time, and to understand that perhaps it is actually a kind of adventure with its challenges of highs and lows and that it can change our relationship, not only to ourselves, but to our work, our families and our communities, and so I think it’s starting, if one is interested, in some realistic ways.

If you are wildly stressed out, the practice of sitting down for an hour and being quiet is probably not that appealing. But it might be walking meditation, or it might be sitting for 10 minutes, something like that, and realize that you are not trying to do battle with your experience, and you are not trying to squeeze that stress out, or something like that, but being able to deal with it differently so that it is not so overpowering.

Elisha: Can you tell us a bit about this 28-day challenge that is happening right now.

Sharon: One thing that is really making me very happy (laughing) this month is that we are doing this 28-day challenge. There are a bunch of people blogging on my website about their experience in meditation, mostly beginners, although not completely. And everyone is welcome to join in and comment. And the bloggers are such a wide variety of people and it’s so amazing to me to read their accounts; a schoolteacher in the Bronx, a guidance counselor, two firefighters, two cops.

This one firefighter talks about doing his meditation sitting in a manhole because he is stuck there for three hours. It has been this amazing experience for me, it just started, it’s like two weeks old, to see this wide variety of application of meditation, it has been very inspiring.

Elisha: Thank you so much Sharon for your inspiration to us all.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

***

This interview was transcribed by Ann Porter. Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is co-author of “A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook”. You may also find him at www.elishagoldstein.com.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

When Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

One day after relocating his family to Boston, Massachusetts, Rabbi Harold Kushner was informed by a local pediatrician that his 3 year old son Aaron would never grow taller than 3 feet and would suffer the symptoms of progeria “rapid aging.” This news threw his entire belief about God out the window.

He would go on to wonder how a God that he had been so loyal to could do such a terrible thing to him. Rabbi Kushner went on to make it his life’s work to explore When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

This is an extreme example, but we all suffer blows in life that seem unfair. After being put in a time-out as a kid, I used to complain to my mom that “It’s just not fair.” She turned to me and said, “Elisha, life’s just not fair.” At the time I thought she was mocking me, but the fact is she was just giving me one of the elementary lessons of life.

It seems to be the case that nature doesn’t discriminate between good and bad, the faithful and the faithless, the criminals and the saints.  Otherwise, why do bad things happen to good people?

Why does an entire village get wiped out in a hurricane, were all those people bad? Why does a mother lose her son, why do innocent people die or get injured as they collide with a drunk driver?

When bad things happen to good people, sometimes we find religion, or bargain with God, or maybe just fall into a deep depression at the behest of the saying, “life isn’t fair, it’s never been fair to me and it never will be.”

This doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist, it just means that we don’t know why bad things happen to good people. There’s a lot of guesswork out there, but that’s mostly what it is. So, I think the question isn’t why do bad things happen to good people, the question is more aptly, what do we do when bad things happen to good people (or us)?

The bottom line is we need to learn how to be kinder and gentler with ourselves.

This may seem Pollyanna, but it’s actually very practical. When bad things happen sometimes we think we’re being punished in some way, or if trauma is lingering we think there’s something wrong with us leading to greater shame and disappointment.

For example, you may wonder and judge yourself as you still cry after all these years that a trauma has passed. The neural circuitry that got fused together during that trauma is still fused together, so there’s nothing wrong with the tears, it’s just automatic, what gets in the way is the judgments that follow. It’s natural to cry when a trauma button gets pushed, allowing ourselves to feel the emotion and even cradle it as you would a young child in pain can actually nurture self-compassion and self-acceptance.

These are two strengths that can be a git gift that comes out of this.

If bad things have happened to you or are right now, consider intentionally trying to be kinder or more compassionate with yourself. If you that is difficult for you, perhaps find a group or some friends who can be. This may make a world of difference.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

Meditation As an Act of Love

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Survival Tips for Couples (and Singles) During This Valentine Season

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

At this time of year there are many people who don’t have a significant other and so many articles come out around how to love yourself and the various things you can do to make Valentine’s Day special just on your own or with your friends. So what about if you do have a significant other, how can we bring more mindfulness to the relationship to make Valentine’s Day a reminder for reconnection?

There’s a lot of pressure that comes with the package of this day, restaurants are booked, a lot of money can be spent, and there can even be resentment for having to do something special on a particular day. Sometimes we lose sight on what this day is all about.

The bottom line: The purpose of Valentine’s Day is to share love and affection between two intimate companions.

What would it be like no matter what you do on this day to hold this intention?

We can take a lesson from mindfulness to see how this might work. Often times as a mindfulness exercise we’ll hold the intention to focus on the breath only to find that our minds wander off. It’s not our fault that the mind wanders off; it’s just what the mind does. It’s our job to notice that it wandered, where it wandered to, and gently guide it back to our intention.

We can do this very same thing with whatever we choose to do on Valentine’s Day or the time around this day.

I recommend communicating this love and affection if it’s there. What is it you love about this person? In what ways do you intend to foster and strengthen your connection throughout this next year? Is there a way to build little Valentine’s Days throughout the year?

Whatever you come up with, I guarantee you you’ll find your mind wandering through this time onto other things besides your affection for one another. When this happens, just take note where your mind wandered do, and gently and lovingly guide it back to being with the person your care about.

Just play with this as an experiment without any judgment, see what happens.

If you are alone on this Valentine’s Day or are spending time with friends, you can apply this same thing to yourself or the people you’re with.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

The Key to Happiness and Unhappiness: Shantideva and Einstein

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

If you’ve been following for a while you know there is a tradition on the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog where (almost) every Monday, I cite a quote or a poem that is related to mindfulness and psychotherapy in some way and then explore it a bit and how it is relevant to our lives.

For me, quotes and poetry can often sink me into a state of greater understanding. So for today, here is a quote by the 8th century Indian scholar Shantideva:

“All joy in this world comes from wanting others to be happy, and all suffering in this world comes from wanting only oneself to be happy.”

Somewhere along the way many of us develop this notion that the goal above all else in life is for us, individually, to be happy. We begin to focus on ourselves to the exclusion of others. One major problem in depression is this painful self-focus as the ruminations just go on and on. And if our goal is to be happy, but others get hurt or ignored in the process, I promise there will be no happiness.

The fact is, we are not islands.

Albert Einstein said it well in a letter published in the New York Post (1972):

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

I like the piece where he says, “a kind of optical delusion of consciousness.” We walk around as delusional people at times not recognizing the interconnectedness of things. The energy we give off at home, in public, or in the office absolutely has an effect on the people around us for better or worse.

So let’s get practical and start creating change today.

Here’s an informal practice from A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook:

“Human beings are social animals, and the sweetness of relationships with others and the larger world—indeed, the universe—can nourish our lives. As you deepen your connections, you’ll find increasing delight in this interplay of giving and receiving. It may even become mysterious as to who is actually giving and who is receiving.

There are many things you can do to foster connection. Try sincerely asking a family member, friend, or anyone at all how he or she is doing, and listen deeply to what the other person says. Everyone loves to be heard and understood—to “feel felt.” Or practice random acts of kindness toward anyone, including strangers. You might volunteer to help a child, an elderly person, or anyone in need. You can offer time and energy to an organization that’s helping make the world a better place, or simply enjoy a pet, grow a garden, or pick up litter. Feel the sweetness of connecting with the world and its beings without wanting or expecting anything from them.”

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. How do you relate to this topic, what do you do? Your interaction below provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

A Mindful Response to Egypt: Save the Children

Friday, February 4th, 2011

The first edition of A Mindful Dialogue launched January 24, 2010 right after the earthquake in Haiti and was created as a vehicle toward raising the necessary funds to inspire hope and to help rebuild a devastated Haiti. As you well know, the Haiti Earthquake created trauma for millions of people – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In the blink of an eye, millions of people lost friends, family, and community. Hospitals, factories and government agencies turned into rubble. The ability to send and receive communication, resources and food disappeared. That means every single thing that Haitians needed to survive was brought into them from the outside.

A Mindful Dialogue raised over $2,000 to Hope for Haiti Now.

Since this time there has been a major flood in Pakistan, a striking Cholera Outbreak in Haiti and now more than ever the children of Egypt are in the midst of violent clashes putting them at risk for death, injury or psychological trauma. The children still need our help!

One of the greatest gifts of mindfulness is that it inspires kindness and compassion in us. I’ve expanded A Mindful Dialogue into a 2nd edition to include some more interviews and writings with leaders in the field including Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield, Daniel Siegel, Sharon Salzberg, Tara Brach, Zindel Segal, Rick Hanson, Jeff Brantley and others who share their thoughts on how mindfulness can help us deal with stress, pain and difficult emotions. Interspersed throughout these interviews you’ll read inspiring quotes from more leaders like Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, Rumi, Hafiz and others with explorations on how their wisdom applies directly to our daily lives.

100% of the proceeds of A Mindful Dialogue will be going to Save the Children who is immediately responding with support for Health, Education, Youth Development and Shelter to the children of Egypt, the recent Cholera outbreak in Haiti, the flood victims in Pakistan, among many other places around the world. The money goes to sponsor children around the world who are victims of disastrous circumstances.

A Mindful Dialogue was a labor of love and I deeply thank you for considering purchasing this book and supporting the children all around the world.

May the words you read in A Mindful Dialogue continue to inspire hope, belief and practical ways to working with your own stress, pain and difficult emotions.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Get A Mindful Dialogue – 2nd Edition here

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

A Short One to Get You Thinking: Rumi

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Just a short one from The Essential Rumi to get you thinking.

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.”

In what ways do you go back to sleep day to day?

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com