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Self-Compassion through Mindfulness

  • Posted on December 2, 2016 at 12:11 am

By Szymon

Do you consider yourself your own worst critic? Even the toughest condemnation from a stranger seldom surpasses the judgment people put on themselves. It takes considerable effort, mindfulness, and endurance to stop judging yourself.

You begin to lead a more fulfilling life, once you stop judging yourself. Accepting who you are, meditation, and loving yourself the same way you love your family are ways to stop the negative practice of self-judgment.

Don’t Have Time for Sitting Meditation? Try Mindfulness Driving Meditation

  • Posted on November 29, 2016 at 5:22 pm

By Solan McCLean

I have always been attracted to meditation. I have had some success with practice when I was single, and before having children. Sitting meditation takes time. I also explored mindfulness meditation with a Vipassana teacher and found that it was the type of meditation that made the most sense to me.

Then life got lifey—a business, marriage, kids. I remember never having meaningful time to sit down in a quiet place for any amount of time to meditate, and guess what happened. I couldn’t put together a meaningful practice. So, it didn’t come to fruition for me. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. In fact, at one time I did make the time and it worked quite well.

What Is Mindfulness for Children?

  • Posted on September 30, 2016 at 5:04 pm

By Donna K. Freeman

Mindfulness means “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experiences moment by moment.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn) It is an active process involving staying aware of the external environment and the internal bodily sensations in the present moment without judgment, positive or negative.

Children live in a world of being told what to do: what time to wake up, what to eat, where and when they have various activities, such as school, sports, music lessons, etc. This can lead to going through the motions of living without conscious awareness.

Enrich Your Life with a Beginner’s Mind

  • Posted on May 15, 2016 at 2:24 pm

By Amira Posner

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” Shunryu Suzuki

The other day I went to get gelato. The café was jam packed, and the woman working the counter was running around like a chicken with her head cut off. I felt so impatient. There was such a long line and the café was clearly understaffed.

I noticed another person behind the counter, sitting and doing absolutely nothing. Finally, it was my turn and I couldn’t help but mention that the other employee should help out. The woman looked at me and gently said, “Oh, that’s my boyfriend. He shouldn’t even really be here.”

5 Tips for Starting a Mindfulness Meditation Practice, and Staying Motivated

  • Posted on January 2, 2016 at 12:43 am

“Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ~ Buddha

Many people these days are starting a mindfulness meditation practice with great intentions and lots of enthusiasm. They’ve heard of the stress-reducing and other health benefits of the practice, and are eager to start meditating. However, few of them stay committed long-term. And those who don’t stick with it, will have a hard time dealing with stress in their lives.

There are several reasons why many people quit after a short period of time:

  • They don’t understand what mindfulness meditation is.
  • They’re not sure how to get started.
  • They don’t have a plan for following through.
  • They don’t have a support group.

How to Beat Holiday Stress with Mindfulness

  • Posted on December 5, 2015 at 1:02 am


“Life is available only in the present moment.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

The holiday season is upon us and most of us are looking forward to enjoying the festivities, and spending quality time with loved ones. This is a time for sharing peace, love, and happiness. However, for many people the holidays have become a great source of stress.

We all have an idea of how events should unfold. So, in our desire to have everything go as planned, we create more stress for ourselves, and lose sight of what the holidays really mean. And as we become more stressed out, we pass that stress on to our loved ones, and end up needing a vacation after our vacation.

10 Misconceptions about Mindfulness Meditation

  • Posted on August 31, 2015 at 9:51 pm

By Charles A. Francis

The rising popularity of mindfulness meditation in recent years has sparked a great deal of interest by the general population. As with any innovation, there are bound to be some misconceptions. Though mindfulness meditation is an ancient practice, it is relatively new to Westerners.

Whenever I invite someone to our weekly meditation meeting, I am often met with some skepticism. I often hear things like “meditation is not for me,” or “I’m the type of person who can’t sit still.” While these are valid concerns, they are usually based on secondhand information, which is often inaccurate. And if you’re not meditating, you could be missing out on some of the benefits, such as better health, relationships, and personal fulfillment.

How to Deal with Difficult People Mindfully, Part 2

  • Posted on May 2, 2012 at 12:21 pm

By Charles Francis

Most of us find it challenging dealing with difficult people in a healthy manner. Our most common reactions are to either become defensive, or go on the offensive. However, these reactions seldom make the situations any better. In fact, the usually make things worse.

In last week’s post, we learned that we have some valuable tools that can diffuse many of these volatile interactions and help cultivate some understanding and healing. We talked about how deep listening can send the clear message to another person that we have no intentions of harming them. In this post, I’ll share with you how I learned to practice mindful speech, and how we can use it to promote peace and harmony with everyone we engage.

For most of my life, I never paid much attention to the effect my words had on other people in my interactions with them. I usually spoke as a reaction to someone addressing me. I never thought about how my words would be received. Very often, what I said and what the other person heard were two entirely different things. Part of it was because of their preconceived ideas about me and the situation. But the difference was also due to my choice of words. They didn’t always communicate the meaning I intended.

My first big lesson in mindful speech came at a retreat. At the orientation, we were told that we would be practicing noble silence for the next 4 days. My immediate reaction was one of panic. I was surprised at this, because my intellect told me that it wouldn’t harm me to go a few days without speaking, but emotionally I felt very vulnerable.

During those 4 days, I could communicate by writing on a notepad. Since it wasn’t feasible to write out a long conversation, I had to choose my words carefully. This is when I began to think about how best to communicate my message. In other words, I wanted to make sure the other person understood exactly what I meant.

It soon became clear that I used my speech for things other than communication. I used it to get what I wanted, and all the superfluous conversation was intended to manipulate people to that end. And since I was primarily interested in satisfying my own needs, I was not so concerned about the other person’s well-being. I may have told myself that I was, but the truth of the matter was that my own wants and desires always came first. I viewed situations in terms of what I was going to get out of them.

What I learned about myself was that my intentions were not as noble as I thought. If I truly wanted to be the enlightened person I thought I was, then I needed to be more mindful of my speech. That is, I needed to choose words that nurtured healing and understanding.

From that point, I began to think before I spoke. I paid particular attention to how my words might be interpreted. One thing I noticed that I did in the past was poke fun at other people. It may have seemed like harmless fun, but it kept people on the defensive when they were around me. That is, they were always on guard and never at ease.

Now, when I’m around other people I try to use words of encouragement to help uplift their spirits. I try to show sincere interest in the things going on in their lives. Not only does it help the other person, but it also helps me because they become more open and provide me with the spiritual nourishment that helps me grow.

Tips for Practicing Mindful Speech

Mindful speech is a tool that takes some effort to develop. However, the rewards to everyone involved are immeasurable. Here are some tips I recommend for practicing mindful speech:

  • Think before you speak. Try to avoid reacting to someone else’s words. Think about how your words will be received.
  • Resist the temptation to engage in a power struggle. It’s not necessary to always be right. If their words are abrasive, then we can easily be drawn into a power struggle.
  • Try to be forgiving, understanding, and compassionate. If we continue to see the wounded person, then it’s easier to be compassionate and understanding of their shortcomings.
  • Choose words that promote trust. These can convey concern for the other person’s well-being.
  • Use words of encouragement. These can promote sincerity, harmony, and healing. Express some enthusiasm for others’ accomplishments, no matter how small they may be.

Though I still consider myself to be learning how to practice mindful speech, my interactions with people are much more enjoyable—whether they are with loved ones or with strangers. You too can enjoy these rewards if you stay committed to your meditation practice, and learn to observe you actions with a mindful eye.

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How to Deal with Difficult People Mindfully, Part 1

  • Posted on April 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm

By Charles Francis

We all have difficult people in our lives—some almost impossible to get along with. It seems like almost every time we engage them, we end up getting caught in a power struggle, which can often escalate into volatile situations. Though it is indeed a challenge to turn these relationships around, we can at least make the situations significantly better.

They Are Wounded People

The first thing we need to remember is that difficult people are that way for a reason. They are often angry at the world because they feel hurt and victimized by the general population, so they take out their anger on everyone they encounter.

Sometimes, they are angry with people from whom they can no longer get justice, such as a parent or sibling who may have victimized them when they were a child. For them, it takes a great deal of work to heal these wounds. We sometimes make things worse by touching those wounds that have not yet healed. When we do this, we usually get a negative reaction.

How Can We Make Things Better?

Though we may not be able to cure difficult people of their emotional afflictions, we can certainly not aggravate the situation. The first thing we need is a great deal of compassion. We need to look behind their wall of defense and see the wounded child looking for respite from the pain and suffering. Once we can see the wounded child in them, it is much easier for us to behave in a more kind and gentle manner. One powerful tool at our disposal is deep listening.

Deep Listening

The power of deep listening never ceases to amaze me. Oftentimes, people who are deeply wounded feel like nobody listens to them. The message they get is that others don’t think they are worthwhile. We can turn that around. By listening to them, we send them the clear message that someone thinks what they have to say is important, and therefore, they too are important. We can sometimes turn an adversary into a friend.

Practicing deep listening takes a great deal of patience. At first, the other person will try everything they can to engage us in a power struggle. We must be mindful of this and resist the temptation to strike back as a response to their harsh words.

The next thing to do is listen to their concerns with genuine interest. They will often be surprised that someone is truly interested in their concerns. When they realize that, their demeanor will usually change. They often become less abrasive.

When we engage difficult people, we sometimes become drawn into a power struggle or volatile situation. We can diffuse these situations by remaining calm and listening deeply to their concerns. When we do this, they will sometimes realize that we are not out to inflict more pain and suffering on them, and are genuinely concerned for their well-being.

Deep listening is one of the tools at our disposal for dealing with difficult people. In Part 2 of this series of articles, we will talk about another useful tool—mindful speech.

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