When you’re focused on any activity, whether it’s your email, listening to a friend or sitting in a formal meditation practice, your mind is bound to wander. In The Now Effect I introduce the phrase “See, Touch, Go” as a way to remember how to work with the wandering mind. When it wanders we “See” that it wandered, then we “Touch” or spend a moment with the thought, and “Gently Go” back to the initial intention. Recently a friend opened my eyes to how this phrase can be adapted to be a simple and practical way to strengthen a more compassionate brain.
I can’t wait to share it with you.
“Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote a wonderful book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, but perhaps it’s more accurate to say, ‘Wherever you go, here you are.’
At any given moment, whether you’re waiting at a stop light, waiting for a plane to take off, in line for a movie ticket, or getting ready to present at a meeting, here you are.
The truth is you’re never anywhere but here.
When we learn to embrace the hereness, all things come into place.”
~ Excerpt from Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler
All modes of suffering including anxiety, depression, trauma reactions and addictive behaviors arise from the brain’s very simple strategy of trying to get away from here.
If we can learn how to be okay with being here, a lot of the cycling of suffering will cease to exist.
We all have habits that we want to break and that is why I’m thrilled to bring to you today Daniel Goleman and Tara Bennett-Goleman. Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist who lectures around the world and has many classic books including Emotional Intelligence which has over 5,000,000 copies in print. Tara is author of The New York Times bestseller Emotional Alchemy and her new book Mind Whispering: A New Map to Freedom from Self-Defeating Emotional Habits that can help us transform our emotions, improve our relationships and connect us to the inner wisdom that has always been there.
Note: On Saturday June 1st, come spend a day with Dan and Tara as they speak to us live in Los Angeles, California at UCLA about how to break free from the self-defeating habits that don’t serve us.
In this interview Dan and Tara will take us through some neuroscience of habit formation, how Mind Whispering can help us break free from our self-defeating habits, the importance of entering positive mind states, and some final words to help us along the way.
You may have seen the video and maybe it touched you in a way that brought you to tears. A forensic artist sat down and asked the woman sitting on the couch next to him to tell him about her face. He opens with the question, “Tell me about your hair?” and then, “Tell me about your chin. After one woman thinks about it she says, “It protrudes a bit especially when I smile.” He continues, “What about your jaw?” Another woman answers, “My mom always told me I had a big jaw.” He then asks, “What’s your most prominent feature?” Taking a moment, she answers “Kind of a fat rounder face” or “I would say I have a pretty big forehead.” After he got his sketch he said thank you very much and left.
He didn’t see them again. But what happened next reveals a truth we each need to hear.
A research study just came out in the Journal of Neuroscience where scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston used sea snail nerve cells to reverse memory loss. The scientists were able to help the cells compensate for memory loss by retraining them when the nerve cells were primed for optimal learning. Of course they’re hoping this has implications for working with Alzheimer’s, but the implications don’t stop there, it could also support a neuroscience for learning to trust ourselves in times of difficulty.
Here’s another Daily Now Moment that if spread around can have tremendous ripple effects in your relationships, communities and beyond.
The ancient Greek writer Aesop left us with these words:
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Be on the lookout for kindness in others today. You may find more of it in the world than you think is there.
Then, try bringing more intentionality to your own acts of kindness.
We may not always get it back, but in the long run this simple practice primes your mind for good and can be life changing.
Try it out today.
Elisha Goldstein, PhD
Little brothers embracing photo available from Shutterstock
A study out of the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) recently came out that showed how a two week mindfulness training improved students GRE reading-comprehension scores and working memory, while reducing mind wandering among students prone to distraction. Of course this story went viral because of the value our culture places on test scores over almost anything else, including mental health. But underneath the better tests scores, this study reveals something far more important, it suggests that with practice teens can rewire the ability to regulate attention and stress. In today’s academic race to nowhere that might mean the difference between just surviving and thriving.
In my mind, it all comes down to stress.
Here is a mindful practice from the “Daily Now Moments” to play with today:
Take your shoes off and spend one minute feeling the sensation of the floor or earth beneath your feet.
Wherever we are provides us with a “choice point” to bring awareness to what surrounds us in the moment.
Elisha Goldstein, PhD
Bare feet photo available from Shutterstock
You have a big business meeting in the morning and you ask your partner to get home at a decent hour so you can both get to bed early. Your partner sneaks in a bit later and disrupts your sleep. You wake up in the morning a bit more tired than you wish you would be, make your coffee and while bringing it to the table your fingers fumble the cup. When it falls to the ground it breaks into a million pieces and the coffee shoots up ruining your outfit. The first words that come out of your mouth are, “Dammit Jim! Why did you have to get home so late?”
This is a story adapted from Brene Brown’s new audio program The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage. This was her story, but in her version she was wearing white pants making it that much worse.
The fact is there’s always someone to blame. In Brene’s research on shame and vulnerability she says that blame is “A way to discharge pain and discomfort.” I loved hearing that
We don’t have to look further than B.F. Skinner to see that most of us have developed a habit of being overly obsessed with our Smartphones. We all get incoming messages that hint at a potential reward, most of the time it’s not a reward, but sometimes it is and this is what gets us. It’s called intermittent reinforcement and it’s how Skinner made his rats keep pressing the lever hoping for more pellets of food. When it comes to our Smartphone most of us wake up with it and go to sleep with it. When it calls for us during the day we come running. If you’re interested in getting a bit of freedom from it, read this quick story of how philosopher and teacher Krishnamurti helped a student become free of irritation. You’ll see the connection.
One day, Krishnamurti was eating lunch with his students when one student got up to close the window. Krishnamurti asked why he did that and the student replied, “the sound