Science points to the likelihood that by training people in mindful awareness we can develop kind and caring feelings and thoughts towards others. This may be a way to create a more compassionate society, especially in the current environment!

Jon Kabat-Zinn founder of Mindfulness-based stress-reduction program at the University of Massachusetts, has been using these ancient techniques along with mainstream medicine successfully for over 30 years, as a profound resource in reducing stress, assisting with healing and coping with chronic pain.

The practice of mindfulness and meditation has been around for thousands of years and now science is validating how these practices change the wiring and the makeup of our brains. It has been demonstrated to increase self-awareness, focus and concentration, improved body satisfaction, weight-loss and enhanced wellbeing. It decrease symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

The most refined form of mindfulness and how to cultivate it come from the Buddhist tradition, even though the Buddha himself was not a Buddhist. The term Buddhism was not established until the 18th century by European religious scholars, who had very little understanding of the traditions of the statues at the alters of temples or the meditating yogis they saw in India. These statues and such articles are actually about various states of mind. The Buddha represents a state of mind that is simply be called “Awake”. The Buddha had some profound insights into the nature of the human mind, such as the cause of suffering and the way to end suffering.

Mindfulness simply means awareness – awareness of what’s happening as its happening both in the inside world and the outside world. It is the awareness that emerges when you make a decision to train your mind to check-in to see how things are. It can also be a secular practice based on ancient spiritual practices that help us find peace in a frantic world.

Reflective suggestions for this week: mindful listening

1. During conversations this week, notice if you tend to listen or speak more? When you are listening, are you fully present? Notice if you are planning your response, interrupting, or searching for the next opportunity to speak?

2. Bring a portion of your attention into the body as you speak and as you listen. Feel your feet on the floor or your contact with the seat. Feel the breath in your body. Focusing on the body can cultivate a strong and patient presence in listening, and free you from reaction to the content of the story. Listen and let your attention register more than the words. Notice the tone of voice, body language, facial expressions, pauses etc. Register your dynamic involvement in the interaction.

The skill of mindful listening can profoundly affect the depth of your relationships as you allow the other in the relationship to fully blossom as themselves by recognizing their value as a human being. This compassion that you offer them will also help you to see yourself as a compassionate person, which will contribute to your own feeling of happiness.

Peace by Dorothy Hunt

Do you think peace requires an end to war
Or tigers eating only vegetables?

Does peace require an absence from your boss, your spouse, yourself?
Do you think peace will come some other place than here?
Some other time than now?
In some other heart than yours?
Peace is this moment without judgment.
That is all.

This moment in the heart-space where everything that is, is welcome.

Peace is this moment without thinking that it should be some other way
That you should feel some other thing
That your life should unfold according to your plans.

Peace is this moment without judgment.

This moment in the heart-space where everything that is, is welcome