What Mindfulness Is — And Isn’t

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
What Mindfulness Is — And Isn’t
Now that meditation has hit the cover of Time, the Wisdom 2.0 conference has brought meditating executives to the headlines, and figures from Arianna Huffington to 50 Cent do the practice, a bit of backlash was inevitable.

But I was surprised to see my friend Tony Schwartz dissenting (at least a bit) in a New York Times blog titled “More Mindfulness, Less Meditation.” Tony’s sense of the working world ranks first class, but this time I think he got the facts wrong, in two ways.

To be sure, he nods to the well-established benefits of meditation: It lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol, enhances the immune response, lifts mood, helps us recover more quickly from stress and sharpens focus.

But where he gets it wrong, in my reading of the data, is in expecting that practicing meditation should mean we experience fewer distractions. In fact the mind is wired to wander about 50 percent of the time, a Harvard study found (and FYI, it wanders most on your commute, while working, and when you’re looking at a digital screen).

The scientific data suggests it’s not that we have fewer distractions, but that we can handle them better. In fact, meditation takes advantage of the mind’s wiring to wander to create an opportunity for mental training.

Wendy Hasenkamp and Laurence Barsalou at Emory University used brain imaging while people meditated and found four basic moves: You focus on one thing (say, your breath), your mind wanders off, you notice it wandered, and you shift attention back to that one thing again. And you do this over and over again.

Turns out that this simple movement of mind strengthens connections among the brain’s circuits for concentrating. The more you practice, the stronger the connections.

This is the basic rep in our mental gym, quite akin to lifting free weights. The idea is not to stop our mind from wandering. The point is to be mindful of its wandering and shift to where you want it to be.

Some clarification here. “Mindfulness” refers to that move where you notice your mind wandered. With mindfulness you monitor whatever goes on within the mind. “Meditation” means the whole class of ways to train attention, mindfulness among them.

Some meditation methods just have you be mindful of whatever goes on within your mind — thoughts, feelings, fantasies, etc. — without judging or reacting; this self-awareness in itself tends to quiet the mind. But in contrast many meditation methods are concentrative — you continually bring your mind back to one point of focus like your breath or counting or a simple sound you repeat mentally. Concentrative methods use mindfulness to notice when your mind wanders so you can bring it back to that one focus.

The other place Tony gets it wrong is in the expectation that meditation will resolve our inner conflicts or fix dysfunctional relationship patterns. It was never designed for that — psychotherapy was. Mindfulness and psychotherapy are like hammers and saws — different tools for different jobs.

Except that it turns out the two in combination are particularly powerful — witness the rise of mindfulness integrated with cognitive therapy, which studies find to be one of the most powerful treatments for everything from depression to, just perhaps, dysfunctional relationship patterns. The first big discovery: John Teasdale at the University of Oxford found that mindfulness plus cognitive therapy reduced episodes of depression by 50 percent in chronically-depressed patients who were not helped by any other means, from drugs to electroconvulsive therapy.

Related articles:

What makes a good mindfulness coach?

Perfect practice makes perfect

Mindfulness: when focus means single-tasking

This article was first published on LinkedIn.

‘Careless Whisper’ Sounds Smoother As A Vintage 1930s Jazz Cover
Scott Bradlee and Postmodern Jukebox are back to wow us with yet another fantastic cover of a classic.

This time, George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” has been stylized into a cool vintage 1930s cover with the help of Grammy-nominated saxophonist Dave Koz.

If you loved this cover by Postmodern Jukebox, check out the doo wop version of Pitbull and Ke$ha’s “Timber” or the mariachi-style cover of Avicii and Aloe Blacc’s “Wake Me Up.”

10 Lessons For Lifetime Success From An Accidental Businessman
Georgia firefighter Jeff Lord always wanted to be a musician. When he was 12 years old, he attempted to learn to play the guitar without success — but his love of the blues never left him. Years later, his passion for music would help him turn a few cigar boxes and scraps of wood into a lasting business and a fulfilling career.

A lifelong fan of the blues, Lord made a unique discovery while researching his favorite musician, Muddy Waters, online: People were making simple 1-3 stringed guitars called “diddley bows” from household objects like cigar boxes.

Lord was inspired.”I thought to myself, I could make that.” But he didn’t pursue the idea at the time. “I sat on the idea for three years,” he recalled in an interview with the Telegraph.

Years later, when a colleague at his firehouse was ready to retire, Lord gave him the perfect gift — a cigar box guitar.

Party guests were fascinated by his hidden talent, and subsequently Old Man Vinegar Cigar Box Guitars was born. Since that first day, Lord has created nearly 100+ unique, simple-to-play guitars (with prices starting in the $100-$150 range), and he’s learned some useful lessons along the way:

1. Let What You Love Drive You

cigar guitar 1

Lord let his love of the blues drive him. Once he realized he could create playable, blues-ready instruments, he was hooked.

2. Never Stop Experimenting

cigar guitar 2

From experimenting with different types of wood to different types of pickups, Lord never stops mastering his craft. “I don’t feel like you should ever get to a place where you stop,” Lord told The Huffington Post. “I learn something new with each one. I always get a lesson out of it.”

3. Get Your Product Into The Right Hands

cigar guitar 3

While he claims no musical talent himself, Lord loves to see his creations in the hands of the pros. “The results have been amazing,” he says. Each time a professional musician tries one of his guitars, there’s magic. When Gregg Allman came to town, Lord knew that he had to get a cigar box guitar in his hands. A friend with backstage passes presented one of Lord’s creations to the famed ’70s musician, who reportedly played and loved it.

4. Be Inspired To Be Better

cigar guitar 4

Lord says that watching others play his guitars “sparks the creativity within [him].”

5. Break Out Of Your Shell

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“I used to be shy and introverted,” Lord admits. Creating his guitars helped him to break out of his shell, meet new people and even pursue music theory lessons.

6. Be Resourceful

cigar guitar 6

Lord’s best guitars came from an old dresser his friend found on the side of the road. Many of his other materials, including the cigar boxes themselves (which are either purchased from cigar shops or donated by neighbors), are common household objects like bottle caps and glue. With the help of professional materials including strings and pickups, Lord’s finished product is able to be plugged into an amplifier like a traditional guitar.

7. Always Dream For The Future

cigar guitar 7

Lord hopes to make the cigar box guitar business into a full time gig when he leaves the fire department. His post-retirement plans include employing his son, trying his hand at creating other types of instruments, and taking his family on vacation. But he’s not afraid to dream big. Lord’s biggest dreams are to institute a “build and play in a day” program at local schools and gain an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

8. Never See It As A Business

cigar guitar 9

Whenever asked about his business plans, Lord insists he’s never seen Old Man Vinegar as a business. People start businesses every day and fail, but he started doing what he loved, and it turned into a business from there: “I never really pursued it as a business — I was passionate about it and just kept going after that.”

9. Be Passionate Everyday

cigar guitar 8

According to Lord, once he made one cigar box guitar, he just couldn’t stop. “It’s really enjoyable to make. Taking something from nothing and turning it into an instrument — it’s hard to describe. It’s amazing to me,” he told HuffPost. Best of all, says Lord, it never feels like work. He claims stringing each instrument and hearing its unique sound is “like Christmas morning.” Lord finds himself unable to leave the house without taking a guitar or two with him to show others. “Any chance I got to talk about it, I would.”

10. Never Give Up.. Even If It Takes Time

cigar guitar 10

When Lord first expressed interest in instrument-making, he was working at a cabinet shop. He mentioned his intentions to his foreman, who insisted that the task was too difficult. Lord was discouraged, but never defeated.

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