Tag Archives: Jon Kabat-Zinn

Therapists & Business Trainers as Mindfulness Teachers – Implementing Kahneman’s S2

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Comments added by Tony Ayaz, Business Trainer, to a recent LinkedIn article* deserve a post in themselves, not only for the important points he raised, but also as reminder of the mindfulness skill he calls “read-listening.”

Rather than speed-reading, skimming through articles for key phrases and/or surfing in search of attack points, he advocates a thoughtful reading between-the-lines. What does the author, deeper than words, really mean?

On first reading of the original comment, out of all that was written, alas, I focused only a single part, overlooking the rest. Out of context, I answered only the final paragraph. He wrote:

I think we expect too much from our brain, we have a choice, we either slow down our pace or keep going till we drop off and no retirement, except to retire in a grave, I live to work.

I responded: If you live to work, I sincerely hope it’s because you love your work and find enjoyment/ fulfillment in what you do.

But that didn’t do his comment-as-a-whole justice. I’d failed to “read-listen” to his words. He corrected me:

Patricia, I have never worked in my life, it has always been an employment and/or running a business and now teaching at uni . . . I have always found what they call as work as learning, teaching is just imparting what I learnt myself and from others like you too. I just prioritise my listed routines so my brain is kept in check, while I observe what is around me from outside my body (have you tried that, it guides your heart and mind together in sync!).

In rethinking his read-listen attitude, I connected it with lessons learned from ethnology research interviews. Here’s the description of how it works from RS:

Simply put, the researcher goes into the “field” and gets to know the people. Either formally or informally, she gathers information about the system from different insiders’ points of view and puts it together to form an overview. From this, the researcher can draw conclusions and, when appropriate, make recommendations regarding change options.

At that time, I found that all the skills previously acquired along the way served me well as an ethnology researcher. It was a living example of a favorite maxim, “Nothing is ever wasted.”

From youthful musician years, I gained listening and technical keyboard skills. Playing the piano eventually translated into typing at computers. This in turn found other applications. For example, when I paid the rent by working as a legal secretary, plugged into a Dictaphone, I transcribed dictated words faster than a speeding bullet.

All this, in turn, came in useful as a researcher. With permission, before beginning an interview, I set up a tape recorder. That way, rather than scramble to take sketchy notes during an interview, I could give the subject my full attention. I was free to observe body language, maintain direct eye contact, give non-verbal as well as verbal cues and gently keep the conversation on track.

But what a shock, when I later transcribed, word-for-word, what had been spoken! Of all that was said, I remembered only a small part. I thought I was listening carefully. But much went over my head. And of what I did hear, I often remembered it inaccurately. Only re-listening and quoting directly from transcripts allowed me to accurately report the information collected.

From this experience, I learned that, when we’re able to slow down and listen really carefully, we find out how much is missed during the rapid-fire pace of everyday communications, be it conversation or reading.

When Tony read-listens, he’s slowing down the pace, much as I should have done in reading his comments.

Read-listening is a form of practicing mindfulness, which is exactly to the point of the article in question. It compared full-spectrum awareness (repackaged in contemporary language as mindfulness) to the empirical research findings of Nobel prize winner, Daniel Kahneman.

As Tony corrected me, in his own way, he practices what might be called “meditation-in-action.” I observe what is around me from outside my body (have you tried that, it guides your heart and mind together in sync!).

Other of his comments raise thoughtful concerns. I missed their full implications on the first go round, and definitely must slow down to read-listen better in the future: I do believe no one understands the brain, it is like finding the black hole or looking for GOD particle. And, I believe it is not only outside the research it is outside the human capability and will always remain a work in progress or humans will become the creator.

These are exquisitely important questions.

But now, an A-ah! Here’s another relevant Tony-clue: To fast and slow decision making of the mind S1 & 2 could simply be linked to time and stage of life and the environment one lives in.

Historically, changes have been observed to occur in repeating patterns on every scale of magnitude. That is to say, the seasons of one’s personal life are writ large on the pages of human history. Just as, on a personal scale, the applications of listening and keyboarding shifted from music to law firms and then to ethnology research, weaving a pattern of unforeseen but consistent adaptations, so also meditation sciences shift. They remain essentially the same, but at the same time are continuously renewed to suit immediate circumstances.

No matter how often things change, nothing of real value is lost. Not possible.

By repackaging ancient sciences as Mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn has adapted the timeless essence of meditative teachings, making them suitable to the pace and aptitude of today’s fractured and fracturing world.

Earlier I described therapists as agents of positive change. Now I would add, so also are thoughtful business trainers. By adopting the language of empirical research science, which has arguably reconstituted yin and yang in the contemporary terms of S1 and S2, they too are helping the next generation of decision-makers to slow down, become more self-aware and thus – one can only hope – improve the outcomes of the decision-making process.

 

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* See: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/re-search-look-again-patricia-west

Use the Wheel to Make Yourself Whole

AXIOM SEVEN of the Positive Paradigm states, “With a Correct Paradigm and Useful Tools, You Can Make Yourself Whole.”

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The Handbook’s preface starts with a caveat. Everyone is already intrinsically whole. Put another way, “God don’t make no junk.” This is the wisdom behind the biblical admonition, “Ye must be perfect like your father.”

However, just as Einstein already had the Unified Field Theory but didn’t know it, each and every one of us on the planet is perfect in potential: made in God’s image. But we’ve forgotten.

Worse, many have been deceived into believing they’re inherently not-okay. The Handbook confirms inherent wholeness. Its structure provides a practical, hands on method for waking up. The goal is to re-member (“get it together”) and actualize in-born potential. It initiates the on-going process of making and keeping ourselves FUNCTIONALLY whole, over and over again.

The subtitle Make Yourself Whole Using the Wheel of Change isn’t intended to suggest that this or any other book can magically or literally make anyone whole, or that once through the book, you’re done. It requires not only initial work, but on-going follow-through. It’s personal intention and consistent effort that produce results. This is just a really useful tool.

But it is tremendously important to start this life journey with a reality map that accords with the way things really are. As written in Rethinking Survival:

Chances of success in life are slim to none without an accurate reality map. It’s imperative to have a complete picture of your potentials along with a correct understanding of the world around you, and what’s required to survive in that world.

Basing decisions on a worldview that’s distorted, incomplete or otherwise out of synch with the way things really are seriously diminishes chances of survival. In times as dangerous as these, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re operating on complete and correct information.

Unfortunately, many have been led to believe, not only that they’re no-okay, but that they have to look outside themselves for permission to be okay, usually at a stiff price. There’s a method to this madness.

. . . tyrants want you to sleep on. They’ll do anything to prevent you from remembering that you’re inherently okay. Because once you do, as Einstein did, no one can intimidate, control or dominate you. You’re aware that nothing anyone has for sale can make you more perfect. Nor can anything that anyone threatens to take away alter your essential okayness.

It’s your inalienable birthright. A given.

The Positive Paradigm is the viable basis upon which to build valid self-esteem. It’s the key to personal freedom — freedom from ignorance, freedom from fear.

It’s the rock-solid foundation of functional democracy. It’s grounds for rethinking what the word really means and how to implement its promise.

One minor caveat: it all depends. While we all have the option to remember who we truly are, most of us are like Lambert, the sheepish lion. It takes a smack with a two-by-four upside the head before we’re finally ready to wake up.

Often it takes the form of life-threatening danger to those we care for. A personal health crisis will also do the trick. So will job loss or a run-in with natural disaster.

But, like Dorothy stranded in the land of Oz, when you want dearly enough to return “home,” you can click your heels whenever you chose — and come to find out, you’re already there.

Useful tools do make a difference, however. Part Four of The Handbook gives examples of putting the Wheel into motion. Part Five supplies instruction on how to modify the Wheel with virtually limitless applications to suit personal interest and needs. Forms supplied in the Appendices help complete the process.

For example, Rethinking Survival shows my personal, evolving uses of the Wheel:

Over time, I began sectoring the circles into quarters, giving it North-South, East-West compass directions. I cut out a single eye from a graphic tiger and pasted it into the center of my template Wheel to represent an all-seeing eye.

I plugged the aspects of my daily life into the model. I chose major categories: work, personal life, social life and public service. I used it to analyze where sectors had changed to take too much or too little space within the wheels, where the layers had grown too thick or thin, or how sectors or levels were coming into conflict.

I repeatedly worked with this information to bring the various demands on my life back into balance, to continuously reintegrate the aspects of daily life.

Later, I found it necessary to break the quarters down into smaller subcategories. The concentric wheels began to look oddly like the twelve-sectored zodiac used by astrologers to diagram the placements and interactions of planetary energies.

I used the model not only to organize the sectors of my life, but to plan for alternative futures. I used it to picture not only where I was, but where I intended to go and what changes were necessary to get from here to there.

Another time, I used the Wheel to record my life history. I used compass North to mark my beginnings. On the surface I noted the date and place of my birth. On the middle level, I plugged in the names of my parents and grandparents. I created new sectors (pie-slices of experience) for each move, from Peoria to Boston to Tucson to Buffalo and so forth.

Inside, I drew significant events and people associated with each time in my life. I used stick figures striding along the surface to represent me in the role I played at that time. I drew happy or sad faces to indicate my state of mind during that particular period.

Personal work with the Wheel over many years has evolved into the inclusive method presented in the Handbook.

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Corollary A: The Positive Paradigm of Change is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question, “What is that, knowing which, all else is known?” It’s proof that humans are made in the image of the Creator — the microcosm mirrors the macro. It’s the universal confirmation that everyone everywhere is inherently okay. The purpose of working with the Wheel of Change is to remember who you truly are, to repair the pattern and make yourself whole.

Corollary B: The Wheel can be used to discriminate between absolutes and ephemerals. The “small stuff” goes on the surface. Unrealized hopes, dreams and plans fit in the middle level. Basic commitments are placed close to the center, next to guidance and connection with Conscience.

The Wheel can be used to separate the signal from the noise. Used as a meditative practice, it is a discipline for quieting the mind, withdrawing from draining distractions, eliminating bad attitudes and healing negative emotions.

The Wheel serves to prioritize the levels. By placing first things first, you can see what’s irrelevant and weed it out of the picture. Once Conscience as your ultimate personal survival guide is placed at the center, then everything that gets between you and your conscience is recognized as antithetical to ultimate survival.

Corollary C: Those who’ve done the hard, honest work of mental house-cleaning not only understand themselves better, but also others as well. You can’t leave a place you’ve never been. But once you’re been there and prevailed, you’re in a much better position to empathize with and serve others humanely. Nor can you be easily fooled. Compassionate, skillful leaders/therapists have earned their in-depth worldview through experience.

Conversely, those who block out memories or reject some sectors and levels of experience find it difficult to relate to the needs and experiences of others which they’ve rendered invisible to themselves.

Corollary D: Especially in dangerous times, changing the world is an overwhelming, seemingly impossible prospect. But that’s not your job, nor do you need to be overwhelmed. It doesn’t matter how much is going wrong “out there.” As your primary responsibility, the one manageable unit is the one closest to home: yourself.

The premier self-management method for linking and balancing the levels of the Wheel is the Motive + Purpose + Intent formula given in Chapter Five. Using the Wheel, you can map out and balance the Why (motives) at the center with the How (strategies/actions) in the middle level and the What (results) on the surface.

With this process, there are always choices. Hence the motto, “Because I can’t change the world, I change myself.” The world is a great motivator. The time to remember and wake up is NOW, while there’s still precious time left!

In the face of daunting odds, there’s comfort in the wisdom of quantum realities. The beating of a single butterfly’s wings can change weather patterns continents away. The same is true of personal change. The long-term effects of personal improvements and good deeds may never be known to the doer. But as a simple law of nature, good karma returns over time, exponentially.

Corollary E: Unity is accomplished through personal effort, one person at a time. Attempts to enforce global unity through world organizations operating at the surface of the Wheel are unnatural, unrealistic and no matter how seductively presented, “scary bad.”

Corollary F: Numerous authors have written about to the necessity of changing from the inside out. They include, but are not limited to, Stephen Covey, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, Dr. Phil McGraw, and Julie Morgenstern. The Positive Paradigm Handbook is a useful compliment that gives a memorable picture of the dynamic process which they advocate.

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