Mindfulness – A Path from US Marine to Zen Monk

2 Comments by / March 18, 2015 / Posted in Meditation, Mindfulness

From US Marine to Zen Monk from Krzysztof Gonciarz on Vimeo.

A gift from Krzysztof Gonciarz & Kasia Mecinski and their Tofu Media Productions. They recently spent some time with an American former Marine, Scott Mangis, who became a Zen monk in Japan. The response to there video echoes a common theme of listening to the heart. You may reflect on your own path as you listen to the narrative and insights on one man’s journey.

If a picture is worth a thousand words. An emotion is worth 10,000 pictures. This occurs when we listen with our hearts.

Dr. Mimi Guarneri MD, in her book: The Heart Speaks reminds us that “Each heart has its own biography, language, and method of revealing its truth, if we know how to listen.”

The Little Prince reminds us: It is with the heart that one sees rightly. For what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Enjoy. You may want to watch some of their other work at Tofu Media

Mindfulness: What Values & Beliefs are needed to live a good life.

Leave the first response by / February 8, 2015 / Posted in Mindful Business, Mindful Leadership, Mindfulness

How does one touch the heart?

How does one experience a change of heart?

What does it take to realize that?

Albert Einstein reminded us: Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

I found it interesting that this ad was by a life insurance company. What really does insure a life well lived? A good life? How does one change the values and beliefs that one has grown up with. Values and beliefs being like the water a fish lives in? Or the ocean of air we live in?

People are not born with any values or beliefs. Our values and beliefs infiltrate the most basic parts of our being from those around us. They are like contagious diseases, spread by those whoa re had by them to newcomers to the group.

There is no necessary correlation between what people say and what they do. There is a close correlation between what people value and believe and what they accomplish.

Values and beliefs are the software that energies, guides, channels, filters, an screens all of our attention and all of our actions. What we value and what we believe not only defines who we are, but how things will turn out for us in the end.

Some provocations along those lines:

If you don’t value accomplishment over activity, your life will be more or less a random sequence of activities.

If you don’t get the software right, the hardware isn’t going to make much difference one way or the other.

What you don’t understand of your owns values and beliefs will make you more a victim of them. The ones you haven’t consciously chosen will penetrate you from outside sources.

What you don’t understand of the values and beliefs of others–whether enemies, competitors, friends, or partners–will leave you naked and vulnerable on the playing field.

Values and beliefs are not what make the world go round. They are the world around which everything else revolves

Lee Thayer: Leadership: Thinking, Being, Doing p.303-304

This is where I find myself returning to the Kalama Sutra

• Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it,
• Nor traditions because they are old and have been handed down from generation to generation and in many locations,
• Nor in rumor because it has been spoken by many,
• Nor in writings by sages because sages wrote them,
• Nor in one’s own fancies, thinking that it is such an extraordinary thought, it must have been inspired by a god or higher power,
• Nor in inferences drawn from some haphazard assumption made by us,
• Nor in what seems to be of necessity by analogy,
• Nor in anything merely because it is based on the authority of our teachers, masters, and elders,.

However, after thorough observation, investigation, analysis and reflection, when you find that anything agrees with reason and your experience, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, and of the world at large; accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it; and live up to it.

These words, the Buddha went on to say, must be applied to his own teachings.

Mindfulness: Empathy Can Be Truly Inspirational.

Leave the first response by / January 12, 2015 / Posted in Mindful Business, Mindful Leadership, Mindfulness

Check out: RSA – The Royal Society for the the encouragement of the Arts. See how you can make a difference.

When I observe, listen and feel another’s experience
My heart is opened and I am connected to the world
In this moment

Tim Brown, The CEO of IDEO shared A Lesson In Empathy in his LinkedIn blog on this Cleveland Clinic video on Empathy.

My friend Delos “Toby” Cosgrove is a fellow blogger for LinkedIn. He and his wonderful organization, the Cleveland Clinic, deserve a massive shout-out for their recent video entitled “Empathy.” I challenge you to watch it without a few tears forming.

Empathy is at the heart of design. Without the understanding of what others see, feel, and experience, design is a pointless task. When communicated as it is in this video, empathy can be truly inspirational. What the Cleveland Clinic movie reveals is the true scale and complexity of the challenge of understanding a complex social situation in order to design a system that supports many and various needs.

Think of this movie as a design brief. How would you design a hospital or health care system that helps and supports each of the people and their circumstances that you see here? How would you change the space, the roles that staff play, the type and manner in which patients receive information, the support systems around patients and staff?

How do you go about being inspired by empathy?

Why mindfulness matters, now more than ever

3 Comments by / September 27, 2014 / Posted in Meditation, Mindfulness
Camaldolese Hermitage-Big Sur

Camaldolese Hermitage-Big Sur

The following blog was written by a dear friend, Tom Stacey of TheWordsmith.com. I worked for a number of years with Tom for 4 years at Vistage. A man of many talents attested to by wide and varied background:

– Web content strategy and execution– Messaging via social channels: blogs, Facebook, G+, Twitter, LinkedIn, drip email campaigns, landing pages, sales letters, SEO, landing-pages– Brand presentation, evangelism, customer retention — Online client experience, building social networks, marketing strategy, publishing — Internal and external communications: concept and production of branded print, Web, video, and audio content — Copywriting: e-mails, letters, Web pages, collateral, articles, blog posts, books, ebooks — Collaborate to create remarkable stories that resonate with targeted audiences

by Tom Stacey
No wonder you’re distracted:

In the last second, 6,000 new tweets went up.
In the last minute, 100 hours of new video were posted on YouTube.
In the last year, 292,000 new books were published, just in the U.S.

That’s the tip of the iceberg. The crazy thing? Almost none of this content matters to you or me. Yet the rivers of distraction are always raging, beckoning us to wade into our Facebook or LinkedIn news stream, into the depths of Netflix or Amazon Prime, into every targeted, branded long-tail torrent of data and blather that’s now at our fingertips.

In this ocean of noise, what does matter? How do you avoid wasting minutes, hours, your time — the coin of your life — on so much stuff that’s in your face, yet has no value to you? You already know: The answer is not out there, it’s within.

Recently I decided to try an iPhone app called Headspace, through which an Englishman named Andy guides you through a daily meditation designed to increase your mindfulness.

Can ‘mindfulness’ really help you maintain your focus?

I had a time-efficient way to test Headspace. Since starting a new job I’ve been riding the San Diego Coaster, which zooms above the spectacular beaches of Encinitas and Del Mar, and along Interstate 5. Now that I’m not white-knuckling my way up and down the freeway every day, I’ve been taking advantage of that 40-minute commute. I read, listen to podcasts, and lately, instead of falling straight into the always-on global data stream, I’ve been turning on Headspace and letting Andy guide my breathing and thoughts.

So, what happens when you close your eyes and focus your attention inward while you’re hurtling down the coastline in a train at 90 miles an hour? First, you notice every creak, squeak, screech and groan. Every jiggle, jostle and rumble registers. You realize what a noisy, bumpy ride this is. But when you keep returning your focus to your breath, those noises and sensations gradually recede, to an outer layer of your awareness.

There’s value in just this — realizing that you can control your focus. You discover that you can live with the annoying squeak, you can actually put it completely out of your mind. As you can with every other thought or sensation. Once you experience this, it’s not a big leap to grasp how easily we allow ourselves to become distracted. Hooked. Preoccupied. Triggered. Obsessed. Addicted.

Yes, the entire spectrum of Things That Keep You From What Really Matters. Which begs the question: What does really matter? That’s up to you of course, but you can’t decide that until you allow yourself to be in the moment, untethered from the past, unbound by the future.

None of this is new if you’re into mindful meditation. You know that being in the moment might mean feeling scared or anxious or nervous or pissed. But when you’re mindful, you recognize those as passing states.

You don’t have to bury the anxious thought in a place where it will eventually come back as a monster that ties you in knots. Nor do you have to gloom on to outrage, judgment or any of the other unwanted states you might have found yourself inhabiting in the past. You can decide that those places are not where you want to live.

As for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and all the other places where we compulsively hunt for the latest: Now you see the hooks. People have gotten very good at baiting those hooks. As Pema Chodron says, you don’t have to bite.

Easier said than done, right? The start is being more aware of your awareness. It’s working for me — how about you?

Mindfulness: Catching the small things

1 Comment by / September 11, 2014 / Posted in Mindfulness

Age is a Matter

Today is the feast of St. Nicholas of Tolentine. Fifty-five years ago on this day I along with 43 other novices of the Fratrum Ordinis Eremitarum Sancti Augustini (Augustinians). As Brothers of the Order of Hermits of St Augustine we professed our vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. I realize that it is all the small things in my life that bring me to this present moment. Those memories of a yesterday in a yesteryear seem so far away. Yet so close in my mind’s eye. The beginning of 9 years of spiritual training and development so long at the time and from the perspective of time just a moment, an eighth or 12.5% of my life.


The Preface of the Rule of St. Augustine written in 400 A.D. read every Friday during a silent lunch helped remind me: Before all else, beloved, love God and then your neighbor, for these are the chief commandments given to us.

It is with gratitude and appreciation for the lessons learned that I received by living in community.

It was in all the small things along the way. In the early years the schedule of monastic life was taken as a chore. Only years later did I recognize the schedule was about a practice not imposed as was the feeling during formation but a practice chosen. A practice that frees one and allows for doing what needs to be done in order to accomplish what needs to be accomplished.

In Lee Thayer’s newest book Mental Hygiene he touches on be addicted to habits that lead to good mental hygiene and habits that lead to bad mental hygiene. That hygiene starts in how I think influences who I am and who I am impacts what I do and what I do creates my habits and then my habits create me. How I know if my habits of mental hygiene are good or bad is seen in their efficacy. I will know if the habits I’m addicted to are good or bad by the consequences of my practice. I go back to the Kalama Sutra

“After thorough observation, investigation, analysis and reflection, when you find that anything agrees with reason and your experience, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, and of the world at large; accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it; and live up to it.”


Daily, I walk up the back stairs to enter my home. The habit is to get out my keys as I close the door to the back house and walk up the steps. Unlock the door and go in making sure the cats don’t sneak out. A few months ago I saw a piece of one of our potted plans had grown and a small flower had budded on the edge of the door mat. I noticed it because I saw I would step on it. I realized I had been walking past that plant for a year or more and never really noticed the small flowers the plant had put out. It was a moment for reflection of how many little things go unnoticed through out my day, oh yea of mindfulness.

Flower on Mat

Looking behind a pot the partially hid other pieces of the plant growth, I found one of the plants other flowers in full bloom.

Now as I walk up the steps I am reminded to be mindful of the small things. A please. A thank you. A smile. A word of appreciation or gratitude. Blinking my lights to allow another car to enter in front of me. Listening to what is being said with care.

Closer Look 2013-01-12

Flight From The Shadow: The Beginning of Mindful Running

Leave the first response by / August 18, 2014 / Posted in Mindful Running, Running Form & Style, The Running Mind, Uncategorized







The Way of Chuang Tzuu
Thomas Merton
© 1965 Abbey of Gethsemani
New Directions Publishing Corp

There was a man who was so disturbed by the sight of his own shadow and so displeased with his own footsteps that he determined to get rid of both. The method he hit upon was to run away from them.

So he got up and ran. But every time he put his foot down there was another step, which his shadow kept up with him without the slightest difficulty.

He attributed his failure to the fact that he was not running fast enough. So he ran faster and faster, without stopping, until he finally dropped dead.

He failed to realize that if he merely stepped into the shade, his shadow would vanish, and if he sat down and stayed still, there would be no more footsteps. [xxxi.]

It is so easy to get caught or caught up in our doing. It helps me to remember there is always a place in the shade where my shadow disappears. There is also a spot where I can sit and my foot steps are silenced.

It’s only a matter of observing my breath and putting a smile on my face and I am back in the gift of life, the present.

The practice of mindful running begins with being a good animal and a mindful athlete. The good animal runs playfully. The mindful athlete observes what is humanly possible and participates fully in life: balance, flexibility, agility, awareness, clarity, stamina and fortitude.

Be a non-anxious presence in an anxious world.



Mindful When It Seemed There Was No Mind

Leave the first response by / August 16, 2014 / Posted in Mindfulness, Uncategorized

Crystal Buddha1

Last Monday I went to the Ken Theater to see the movie: Alive Inside. In communication, the seemingly inert brain comes alive. To me it is an example of where the mind is not synonymous with the brain. The brain is a secondary organ like heart, liver, lungs. Often mind and brain are seen as the same.

Lee Thayer in his most recent book: Mental Health shares:

The healthy mind cannot be reduced to a healthy brain. The brain is a biological phenomenon. The mind is a social phenomenon. The brain is initially created by our genes. The mind is created by those who surround us from birth. The mind is born and evolves as a matter of social necessity. We function in the human world as we do not – because we have a brain, but because we have a mind.

In simple and complex ways, our mind is a social creation. it is something that is created in us by how others talk to us– verbally and nonverbally. it is in the meaning of what they say to us that our our mind is born, and originally nurtured.

Lee talks about our minds are created, maintained, or altered through communication. Our communities are created by people talking to each other. Those before us created our culture…and then our culture creates us.

So we see Henry how he comes alive once he is touched with what communicated with him from his past. What have we done by believing that our elders are lost in dementia, Alzheimer’s and DSM-V diagnosis. Have we forgotten that DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. My mother, father, brother, sister, best friend, grandfather and grandmother are not abstractions. What have we done by the misunderstanding of statistical when applied to an individual?

Bruce West in his book Where Medicine Went Wrong talks about medicine choosing to use the Standard Error of The Mean rather than the Inverse Power-Curve. That choice and the Gaussian or bell-shaped curve is about about averages where individuality is replaced by the idea of “average value.”

Where Medicine Went Wrong explores how the idea of an average value has been misapplied to medical phenomena, distorted understanding and lead to flawed medical decisions. Through new insights into the science of complexity, traditional physiology is replaced with fractal physiology, in which variability is more indicative of health than is an average. The capricious nature of physiological systems is made conceptually manageable by smoothing over fluctuations and thinking in terms of averages. But these variations in such aspects as heart rate, breathing and walking are much more susceptible to the early influence of disease than are averages. It may be useful to quote from the late Stephen Jay Gould s book Full House on the errant nature of averages: … our culture encodes a strong bias either to neglect or ignore variation. We tend to focus instead on measures of central tendency, and as a result we make some terrible mistakes, often with considerable practical import. Dr West has quantified this observation and make it useful for the diagnosis of disease.

What are we learning about community? While we call ourselves social animals may forget that we are also herd and pack animals? We are one in our uniqueness. How do we honor the unique contribution each of us brings?

The Fifth Agreement says: Be skeptical but listen. It resonates with the skepticism of philosopher Schopenhauer who influenced many modern thinkers:
In his essay: “The Wisdom of Life” he reminds us:

“With health, every;thing is a source of pleasure;
without it, nothing else, whatever it mat be, is enjoyable. . .
Health is by far the most important element in human happiness

Buddha says it another way in the Kalama Sutra. Basically he reminded the people of Kalama to be skeptical, even of his own teachings saying:

However, after thorough observation, investigation, analysis and reflection, when you find that anything agrees with reason and your experience, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, and of the world at large; accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it; and live up to it.

When you get the opportunity watch Inside Alive. You may be able to affect changes in the way you communicate with your own loved ones. You may want to become part of founder Dan Cohen’s iPod Project Read More »

Mindfulness and The Holistic Expanded Present

Leave the first response by / July 11, 2014 / Posted in Meditation, Mindfulness

Now Watch

“Yesterday is already a dream
and tomorrow only a vision,
but today, well lived, makes
every yesterday a dream of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”
Sanskrit Observation

Gustavo Grodnitzky is in the final days of releasing his book on “Culture Trumps Everything:The Unexpected Truth About the Ways Environment Changes Biology, Psychology, and Behavior.” When speaking about how we view time he brings into perspective why the Buddhist practice of meditation is fundamental to the Mindfulness Revolution that is being experienced by so many in all venues of our lives.

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old;
Rather seek what they sought

Below is a video of Philip Zimbardo’s thoughts on Time Perspective from his book The Time Paradox. A look at aspects of past, present and future.

Added to these aspects of time has been added the term “Holistic Expanded Present.” It is what Buddhist meditation has taught for 2600 years. The path is the practice of meditation.

The July edition of Shambhala Sun has a wonderful Guide to numerous types of meditation.

• The View: Why We Meditate, by Chögyam Trungpa

• Insight Meditation: Present, Open & Aware, by Emily Horn

• Walking: Meditation in Motion, by Brother Phap Hai

• Loving-Kindness: It Starts with You, by Josh Korda

• Zazen: Just Ordinary Mind, by Susan Murphy

• Koans: One with the Question, by Melissa Myozen Blacker

• Tonglen: In with the Bad, Out with the Good, by Ethan Nichtern

• The Middle Way: Investigating Reality, by Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel

• Mahamudra: Look Directly at the Knower, by Andy Karr

• Visualization: Developing Pure Perception, by Anyen Rinpoche & Allison Choying Zangmo

• Dzogchen: The Sky of Wisdom, by Tsoknyi Rinpoche

To better understand your own Time Perspective you can take a free Time Perspective Assessment you can go to The Time Paradox Survey.

Mindfulness and Who Do I Believe

Leave the first response by / May 3, 2014 / Posted in Mindful Leadership, Mindfulness


The paths to enlightenment are as numerous as there are people. Some gain it in an instant. Others struggle for years. Some never attain it.

Carl Sagan in this interview with Charlie Rose touches on this topic of learning what we need to learn. He speaks to our need to be educated (life-long learners) and to practice our education and skepticism.

I remember learning many years ago: If I think and believe that I am right in what I think about something and I am incorrect; then I will not change my thinking.

If you ask anyone in the United States what color is a Yield sign; more often than not you’ll get the answer: Yellow. Yet Yield signs in the US have not been yellow since we adopted the National Signage Code back in the late 1980′s. If you just thought that they are Yellow, you’ll realize how righteousness can get in the way of seeing what is.

We often hear: We learn from our experience. While the reality is that we learn from our interpretation of the experience. Two people can have the same experience. One has a transforming experience that changes the course of their life for the positive. For the other it becomes the trauma they live and suffer with for the rest of their lives.

One of my early posts was titled: Seeking Personal Experience and Personal Authority. In it I shared the Kalama Sutra.

James Hollis in his book, Finding Meaning In The Second Half of Life, touches on this issue under what he calls “personal authority” or more appropriately the recovery of personal authority. He shared what Buddha said in the Kalama Sutra in these words: “Personal Authority means to find what is true for oneself and to live it in the world.”

Some quotes from Buddha to bring home the point

It is wrong to think that misfortunes come from the east or from the west; they originate within one’s own mind. Therefore, it is foolish to guard against misfortunes from the external world and leave the inner mind uncontrolled.~ Buddha

As the Fletcher whittles and makes straight his arrows, so the master directs his straying thoughts. All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.~ Buddha

We are what we think. All that we are arises With our thoughts. With our thoughts, We make our world.~ Buddha

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.~ Buddha

Here is an animated version of the story of the Kalama people.

A Moment of Mindfulness on World Down Syndrome Day

Leave the first response by / March 21, 2014 / Posted in Mindfulness


Bob Anderson of Leading Challenges talking about EQ shared with Jim Wyner’s and my Vistage KEY 777 yesterday a definition of the word: Empathy. Empathy is defined as: Recognizing, understanding, and appreciating how other people feel. Empathy involves being able to articulate my understanding of another perspective and behaving in a way that respects others’ feelings.

Bring in the perspective of non-judgmental and we see how difficult empathy can be for many of us depending on our prejudgments, our prejudices.

I am reminded by Jon Kabat-Zinn’s observation: You sitting there, breathing is enough.

We learn the depth of love in so many ways. For many of us it is learning to love ourselves, and realize that me sitting here, breathing is enough. Again the unique contribution that we each bring to the world. For my family love was caring for my younger sister who had PKU that went undetected. From a vibrant baby she was basically brain dead at 6 months of age. We cared for her until she was institutionalized at 9.

On this day we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. Truly love conquers all as this video shows as it answers a question from a mother who knows she is having a Down Syndrome baby.

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