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Stock images of serenity 

To illustrate mindful awareness practice, it’s common to rely on a photo of someone striking a calm, meditative pose.

Eyes closed.

Hands resting on knees.

Fingers and thumbs forming spiritual-looking okay signs.

If not that one, then some other stock image of serenity.

A beach.

A sunset.

A stack of flat stones.

These images imply that mindfulness practice will feel peaceful. This reinforces the strong tendency people have to assume they’re meditating wrong even when they're doing it right. 

Relaxation is one of many states we can run into when we investigate real-time experience with curiosity.

Even when your mindfulness practice isn’t relaxing, you're still exercising the ability to shift out of automatic pilot in day-to-day life.

It prepares you to recognize options for responding when your buttons are being pushed. However, it doesn’t guarantee that any of those options will be comfortable or easy.

This kind of peace doesn't always feel peaceful. It can be so subtle that it's easily overlooked. It can be a quiet awareness that you're not making unpleasant matters worse.  

Mindfulness practice isn't only about stillness. 

When your attention becomes less anchored in your imagination, you're better able to tune into the constant flux of sensation happening in and around you.

Intimate familiarity with impermanence is difficult to illustrate in still photos, too.

The closest example I've come up with so far is a photo of someone pausing in public. She’s sitting at a table. Her eyes are open. Other people are going about their business in a blur around her.

I've been wondering if video could do a better job of illustrating the direct awareness of impermanence.

Would it be possible to convey the flow of ordinary life while forgoing the impulse to edit the footage into coherent stories?

I played around with this question using the 1 Second Everyday app to string together glimpses of what it's like to notice the world around me.

Check out the results on my homepage.

Let me know what you think.

Do you have any ideas for visually marketing attentional fitness without making it seem like the exercises should feel like the outcomes?

I hope you'll share them with me. 

Selections from my 1 Second Everyday project
now looping on the Attentional Fitness Training page. 

Recent attention grabbers

Eighth Grade

This brilliant film is a must-see. It feels like an instant classic and a time capsule of what it's like to grow up completely drenched in technology and social media. It would be super awkward to see this one with your middle schooler, but imagine the important, difficult conversations you could have. Maybe you could sit in different parts of the theater and plan to discuss it on the way home.

Not convinced? Listen to this Fresh Air conversation with first-time director Bo Burnham

"The Cognition Crisis" by Adam Gazzaley 
"Our constant engagement with technology interferes with the pursuit of other behaviors critical for maintaining a healthy mind, such as nature exposure, physical movement, face-to-face contact, and restorative sleep. Its negative influence on empathy, compassion, cooperation, and social bonding are just beginning to be understood."

See also: “Could Video Game Technology Solve the Global Cognition Crisis?”

"Uncivil Agreement"
Fascinating You Are Not So Smart podcast conversation with Lilliana Mason, author of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity. She says, "Our conflicts are over who we think we are, rather than reasoned differences of opinion.”

"Seeking Discomfort"
I really enjoyed listening to contemplative archeologist Michael Kimball discuss his work on Dov Baron's leadership podcast. I've been reading Michael's book Ethnowise and discovering several practical ways to apply mindfulness to our cultural discomfort zones. What could be more important right now? 

See also: "Negative Emotions Can Be Good For You"

Weekly fall practice sessions

If you live in the Columbus, Ohio area, please come check out the free practice sessions I host in my home. They're usually the first three Wednesdays of every month, but I'll be traveling in October and November so please make a note of the exceptions.

Halloween costumes not required on Oct. 31, but candy contributions won't be discouraged.

Summer session dates:

  • September 5, 12, 19
  • October 3, 17, 31
  • November 14, 28

Sessions include guided exercises, practice in silence, and discussion. All experience levels and meditation strategies are welcome.

Email or call 614-284-9618 for address and parking details. 

If you enjoyed Won't You Be My Neighbor? 
you'll enjoy this two-part webinar Feel More Neighborly.
Sep. 11 & 19, from 7–8:30 pm (EDT)

Fall classes

Check out my website for more details about these upcoming sessions. 
  • Free Group Practice Series 
    Every other Thursday, Sep. 6 to Nov. 15, 2018, 3:00 – 4:00 PM, Mount Carmel Healthy Living Center 

    These six practice sessions are a great opportunity to learn about the practice of mindfulness and gain confidence in your ability to do it.
  • Feel More Neighborly: Exercising Internal Friendliness
    Tuesdays, Sep. 11 & 19, 2018, 7:00 – 8:30 PM, online 

    In this two-part online workshop, you'll discover ways to gradually erode your resistance to internal friendliness without becoming passive or forcing yourself to feel something you don't feel.
  • Take a Break from Your Story with Mindfulness
    Friday, Sep. 14, 2018, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Mount Carmel St. Ann's 

    We know how to unplug, recharge, and reboot our devices. Learn how mindfulness exercises can give your brain a break from mentally working out the story problems of your life.
  • Breath Awareness for Concentration and Relaxation
    Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Mount Carmel Healthy Living Center

    Find out what makes breath awareness such a popular introductory mindfulness exercise, its potential drawbacks, and how to get around them. 
  • Mindfulness Strategies for Insomnia and Worry
    Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM, Amelita Mirolo Barn

    Explore attention exercises that can help you stop trying to think your way out of discomfort and confusion and get more rest.
  • Cultivating Internal Friendliness
    Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM, phone 

    Instead of trying to feel things we don’t feel, this Unified Mindfulness Home Practice Program session explores ways to remember our shared humanity while becoming more familiar with our real-time emotions and fighting with them less.
  • Come Back to Your Senses through the Holidays
    Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Amelita Mirolo Barn

    Find out how making a habit of paying attention differently makes it possible to feel more at home in your life, even in the midst of discomfort, confusion, and holiday-related stress.
  • Find Rest in the Unrest with Mindfulness
    Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, 6:30 – 8:00 PM, Amelita Mirolo Barn

    Discover how to find and generate restful states in order to reduce stress, change the way you relate to pain, and enjoy life more fully.

Brightmind meditation app

Improve your life. Improve the world. 
Brightmind teaches you the Unified Mindfulness meditation system developed by Shinzen Young. The app guides you through a structured curriculum that allows you to tailor each lesson based on your goals.

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Keep in touch between newsletters: Take care, 


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