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Photo: Micaela Parente (Unsplash)

We are in the office of Mr. Attila, the well-known CEO of The Huns, an organization whose aggressive approach to growth is now legendary. Everything here at The Huns’ headquarters oozes power. A pile of skulls in a corner is a tasteful reminder of the organization’s famous “take no prisoners” style.

Wasting no time, we dive into the heart of the matter: Which time management apps does Mr. Attila use on his smartphone?

We do not have time to complete this sentence. Attila’s withering look says it all. …


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“I do weekly To-Do lists,” says Steve, “but I’m not good at the follow-through. It’s as if the person writing the list is a different person from the one who has to do the work.”

If you’ve ever felt this way, I suggest a little exercise. We’re going to pretend, for a moment, that there are actually two people involved — one called Management, and another called Labor. And we’re going to let them have a dialogue.

How to stage a lively inner dialogue

Here’s how we’re going to do this. Get 2 chairs. Have them face each other. One chair will be the chair you sit in when you speak as Management, and the other chair will be the one you sit in when you speak as Labor. …


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Sometimes, mindfulness is defined as ‘mind’ observing ‘body’. It is good to remember that this is just a way of speaking. There is no such thing as a disembodied ‘mind.’

We are a ‘whole person’ process, whether we are aware of it. Mindfulness refers to our embodied experience of this ‘whole person’ process.

The words’ body’, ‘mind’ and ‘spirit’ come to us from a long tradition of seeing a fundamental discontinuity: According to it, thoughts, feelings, and spirit are intangible, whereas the body is tangible. But the ‘body’ is not just a bunch of bones, muscles, and organs. A living body is very different from a corpse: It is in a constant process. Think about the visual of a hospital room with monitors showing all kinds of continuously flowing curves. …


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Political conversations tend to bring out activation and polarization. This is not a reason to avoid them. The following provides some suggestions to make them a more satisfying experience.

These suggestions stem from a simple premise. In political discussions, we tend to become focused on arguing and making a point. As a result, we talk at each other instead of having a meaningful conversation. We need to counter this vicious cycle by broadening our focus and engaging our curiosity. To do so, we need to shift our sense of what the goal is.

Instead of defending a position, make it your goal to know more about each other through the discussion.

Here is a simple format for such a discussion. …


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Photo: Alex Guillaume / Unsplash

There’s nothing inherently wrong about being “reactive” (for one thing, when you react, it means you’re not asleep or dead). Yet, when we contrast “proactive” with “reactive,” we imply that one is right and the other wrong.

In this context, the word “reactive” takes on a different meaning. It implies that you don’t have the initiative. You let the events set the agenda. You’re tossed and turned, so to speak, by the tides of life. Each new wave catches you by surprise. Huffing and puffing, you scramble to react to it to stay afloat.

In contrast, the image we associate with “proactive” is one of grace under stress. To stay with the previous analogy, let’s say you’re in choppy waters. Now, you look more at ease. It’s not just that you anticipate the waves. You’re in tune with them. You’re not desperately trying to escape them; you’re dancing with them. …


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Photo by Proactive Mind

I like to refer to my contemplative practices as Active Pause, as opposed to meditation. There is so much baggage, so many expectations about what meditation is or is not. I find it very liberating to think of it differently. Putting a different name on it helps free me from the baggage and inspires me to have more of an experimental attitude.

One Minute

Today, I’m going to describe to you a one-minute practice. Now, when I say one minute, it could be 50 seconds or five minutes. We’re not timing it. So, it’s just something that’s going to be pretty quick.

The word “quick” is funny when applied to something contemplative. It implies fast action. So it’s quick, only seen from the outside — people would say this activity doesn’t last very long. But the inside time is stretched and expands during that one minute into something where you pay more attention to what’s happening. …


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Photo: Joel Mbuga / Unsplash

In traditional Western thinking, we have an idealized image of ourselves and the importance of our intellect and willpower. Evolutionary psychology and neuroscience have been shattering this myth. Our mind is inherently reactive and prone to oversimplifying.

Does it mean that our biology is our destiny? We are not doomed to living shallow lives governed by prejudice. As we understand the limitations of our brain, we can mindfully work around them.

Understanding

What does it take to understand something? We “analyze” the situation, which is very similar to opening up a machine to see how it works. We start by deconstructing the device into its parts. …


It’s not as though I had never grappled with “the problem of suffering before” — the longing to make sense of it, the search for a framing that I can live with. And yet a few months ago the whole thing washed over me again as if for the first time.

Two friends and I were together. One friend was in the middle of a personal tragedy so complex, involving so many things going so terribly wrong all at once, we spoke of Job. The other friend was telling us about a Congolese refugee she knows, a woman who had been through a story of horror so far beyond anything I could imagine that it was paralyzing my brain. …


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Illustration: Dova / 123rf

We all know that, if we keep focusing all our attention on what is urgent, we may very well end up missing what is truly important. But it’s easier said than done. Trying to do it on willpower alone often doesn’t work. Why is that?

We are wired to pay attention to what is urgent. On the whole, considering how it came to be that way, it makes sense. Evolutionarily, those creatures that were not able to shift gear quickly to attend to clear and present danger didn’t make it. …


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Photo: Zulmaury Saavedra / Unsplash

In times of crisis, we usually find comfort in the connection we have with others. Unfortunately, in this crisis, we must maintain the discipline to practice social distancing. That is, avoid any unnecessary gathering. In all likelihood, most of our connections over the next few weeks will be happening electronically. We must do all that we can to heighten the quality of communication.

Active Listening

For close relationships, we need to use the phone, Skype, Zoom. …

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Relational Mindfulness

How To Be Proactive In Our Interactions

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