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You're already training your attention 

A lot of books and articles describe how mindfulness practice changes the brain.

What they don't always mention is that any actions you repeatedly make will change your brain. 

This is why I say that everyone is already training their attention. It's just that most of us don't realize that we're reinforcing our capacity for internal friction. 

Mindful awareness practice changes the brain in ways that lead to better emotional regulation

By never exercising selective attention, we reinforce the impulse to move towards comfort and certainty and to steer away from discomfort and confusion.  

When we start to pay closer attention to our perceptions in real time, however, we begin to ask some potentially liberating questions. 

  • Is it possible to briefly observe some physical and emotional discomforts before I try to get rid of them?
  • How does my relationship to ambiguity and confusion show up in my habitual behaviors related to distraction, panic, and numbing out? 
  • Do I ever feel at home in my life as it is right now, or does it seem like I'm always waiting for better versions of whatever is happening? 
Repeatedly pausing to investigate discomforts can disrupt the automatic ways we relate to them without noticing. 

Residing entirely in autopilot mode strengthens the capacity for feeling perpetually homesick for better circumstances. 

Investigating your perceptions in real time trains your attention so that your baseline contentment becomes less dependent on comfort and certainty. 

So don't just try to change your brain.

Exercise your attention to develop the brain of a person who feels more at home in the messiness of real life.

Come back to your senses with Brightmind

There are tons of mindfulness meditation apps out there now, but the new Brightmind app is based on a multisensory mindfulness framework that supports investigating the full range of our sensory perceptions.

I feel lucky to have been invited to be a contributing teacher on this project.

You can find my exercises for cultivating emotional awareness for closer relationships in the "Authentic Connections" category. An approach for savoring rest that involves little to no effort will be added soon in the "Do Nothing" category. 

You can sign up to test the free beta version of the app now to learn more about developing the attentional skills of concentration, clarity, and equanimity.

The development team is very interested in hearing and incorporating your feedback. They are invested in making sure the program offers something unique and useful to support your attentional fitness practice. 

Saturday morning retreat: Mindfulness for feeling more friendly

Cultivating a capacity for authentic connections is also the theme of the morning workshop on Feb. 4, from 9:00 to noon, in the Amelita Mirolo Barn.

Neuroscience research shows that imagining the well-being of yourself and others changes the brain to support resilience – even more quickly than concentration exercises alone.

This mini-retreat will explore the habits we have for avoiding vulnerability which is a necessary ingredient for connecting with others.

Learn an attention exercise that gradually erodes the invisible walls we build around ourselves in an effort to feel safe.

Learn tips for navigating common challenges related to cultivating emotional warmth.

Mindful awareness practice sessions

Exercising together helps maintain consistency and motivation. This is as true for mindfulness as it is for distance running or yoga. 

Beginning in February, I will be offering practice sessions in my home on the first three Wednesday evenings of each month from 7:00 to 8:30. Email me or call me at 614-284-9618 for the address and parking details. 

Sessions will include practice in silence and guided exercises. We will discuss strategies for developing and maintaining a consistent mindful awareness practice that fits your needs, challenges, and interests.

All experience levels and meditation strategies are welcome. The core group of participants is warm and would love to help me convince you that you're not meditating wrong.  

These practice sessions are free. I will put any donations towards my web page, marketing phone classes, and to help me provide free or discounted talks and coaching services when financial resources are an obstacle.  

Recent attention grabbers

  • The Way of Rest by Jeff Foster

    I'm excited to add this one to the attentional fitness recommended reading list. It gently supports efforts to find and savor restful states – even in the midst of unrest – and to recognize ways to drop the habit of fighting with ourselves. 
  • Happiness the Mindful Way by Ken Verni

    A beautiful, breezy, but thorough introduction to mindfulness. It goes beyond breath awareness and offers a variety of exercises related to ordinary senses and perceptions.
  • Dropping the Struggle by Roger Housden 

    Uses poetry and commentary to explore easing up on our expectations about what our lives should look and feel like. What would our lives feel like if we were to stop struggling with ourselves so much? 

    The author's One You Feed conversation about this book is so good I listened to it twice. Other recent interviews from this podcast I strongly recommend are with my primary meditation teacher, Shinzen Young, and my newly discovered kindred spirit, Brian Tom O'Connor
  • Please make time to check out the recent 10% Happier podcast conversations with RuPaul, George Stephanopoulos, and Jeff Warren (this one might be the most Attentional Fitness Training compatible podcast conversation I've heard – probably because Jeff and I both study the same multisensory approach to mindfulness developed by Shinzen Young). 
  • The Note to Self episode, "Distracted is the New Drunk," looks at the challenge of getting people to keep their attention on the road while they're driving. So good – and so important. 

Keep in touch between newsletters: Take care, 


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