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The freedom to switch modes

Mindfulness practice doesn’t eliminate my personal narrative. It changes my relationship to it.

I do try to suspend my story for a few minutes each day in order to experience my life more directly, but this doesn't mean that mindful awareness and personal narration are incompatible.

A more optimal version of the relationship between these two modes of attention comes from learning to tell them apart and relating to both of them with more curiosity.  

My personal narrative is not my enemy

The challenge is to get better acquainted with its composition over time through repeated, objective observation. This is difficult, but it's not impossible. It just takes a lot of practice. Our attention is anchored in our imagination by default, but our imagination is comprised entirely of thoughts and feelings.   

Thoughts are not my enemies

The challenge is to improve my ability to see and hear my thoughts as images and sounds as they play out in real-time. Shifting the focus — from making sense to sensing — responds to practice.     

Unpleasant emotions are not my enemies

The challenge is to become more intimately familiar with a broader range of pleasant and unpleasant emotions while taking them less personally. The paradoxical result of this effort is that it adds richness to ordinary experiences and strengthens empathy and resilience. 

As intimacy with the sensory elements of being alive grows over time, so does a sense of freedom that comes from being able to switch between modes with greater ease. 

Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment by Jay Michaelson

Recent attention grabbers

Five ways to make meditation a natural part of your day — even if you are super-busy and have a million things to do.

I dare you to try to find an excuse for not giving one of Matt Young's attentional-fitness-friendly mindfulness strategies a try. You can also find his playful guided exercises in the Insight Timer app and his approach to navigating insomnia on the Melbourne Meditation Centre website

Be More Resilient by Richard Friedman

"Studies have found that we can change the activity in the self-control network, and increase healthy behaviors, with simple behavioral interventions. For example, mindfulness training, which involves attention control, emotion regulation and increased self-awareness, can increase connectivity within this network and help people to quit smoking."

How to Meditate through Exercise, from The Mindful Day by Laurie Cameron

"One of the attitudes of mindfulness is acceptance—not wishing the present moment to be different than it is. Exercising is a brilliant time to practice this."

The Real Roots of American Rage by Charles Duhigg 

"The untold story of how anger became the dominant emotion in our politics and personal lives—and what we can do about it. "

Against Self-Righteousness from Anne Lamott

"Almost everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, scared, and yet designed for joy. Even (or especially) people who seem to have it more or less together are more like the rest of us than you would believe. I try not to compare my insides to their outsides, because this makes me much worse than I already am, and if I get to know them, they turn out to have plenty of irritability and shadow of their own. Besides, those few people who aren’t a mess are probably good for about twenty minutes of dinner conversation."

Winter workshops

  • Mindful New Year
    Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Mount Carmel St. Ann's

    It’s easy to set our expectations for new habits too high. Explore the potential of aiming low. This session provides an opportunity to come up with a personal strategy for sneaking small amounts of mindfulness practice into your daily routine.

  • Mindful Awareness Habits
    Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2019, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM, Amelita Mirolo Barn

    Explore definitions of mindfulness, its scientifically-supported benefits, and clever ways to incorporate it into your life.
  • Mindfulness Practice Group
    Every other Thursday, Jan. 17 to Mar. 14, 2019, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Mount Carmel Healthy Living Center 

    These free practice sessions are a great opportunity to learn about the practice of mindfulness and gain confidence in your ability to do it.
Check out my website for more details about these and other upcoming sessions. 
Thanks to 10TV's Scott Light for taking an interest in my approach to mindfulness and for conveying it so well in three-and-a-half minutes. Check out the segment he did earlier this year focused on Maryanna Klatt's work. 

Weekly practice sessions

If you live in the Columbus, Ohio area, I hope you'll check out the free practice sessions I host in my home. They're usually the first three Wednesdays of every month, but please check my website for exceptions.

Upcoming practice session dates:

  • January 2, 9, 16
  • February 6, 13, 20

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. 

Find me in the Brightmind app

Improve your life. Improve the world. 

The Brightmind meditation app is based on the Unified Mindfulness framework developed by Shinzen Young. It guides you through a structured core curriculum that allows you to customize each lesson. 

The app now includes sets of theme-based exercises recorded by UM teachers -- including two contributions from me. I'm working on packs for worry and insomnia that I hope will be added soon. 

Use the promo code SAVE40 to save 40% during their current holiday sale. This brings the annual subscription from $95 ($7.99/mo) to $57 ($4.75)/mo).
If you enjoy this newsletter and think your friends might, too, share it here.

Keep in touch between newsletters: Happy new year! 


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