Light Meditation

Become a Guru in Just Two Weekends?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 by

Every day we get sent emails proclaiming the latest discovery, teacher or workshop that we MUST do if we are to have lasting happiness and self-mastery. Each proclaims that if we follow their instructions then we will be free, transformed, changed for ever, joyful as never before, fulfilled, fully enlightened. We even received notice of a Guru Training program where we can become a guru in two weekends after which, the brochure assured us, we are guaranteed to receive endless adoration, wealth and fame, or our money back.

We were recently sent an invitation to a conference on Altered States of Consciousness: Enlightenment, Entheogens, Shamanism and Peak Experiences. There were forty-six headlined speakers, all of whom had endless credentials, books, teaching centers and followers. Subjects ranged from The Humpty Dumpty Trajectory: Cracking Open Consciousness, to How to Tell Your Friends From the Apes, Gender-Specific Altered States of Consciousness and, thankfully, The Miracle of Ordinary Awareness.

When we taught at the MindBodySpirit Festival in London England, speakers were offering topics as diverse as Attract Your Past-Life Soulmate NOW!, The Secret Tibetan Red Egg Cure, Discover Your Secret Chakras, and Learn What Planet You Are From. And that was just on the first day. Later on you could Teach Your DNA to Listen to Your Higher Mind or, if that didn’t work, at least you could Learn How to Bend Spoons.

It’s clear that we will try anything when we’re in need of emotional or spiritual support and guidance, making us susceptible and easily vulnerable to outside influences; that we’ll easily believe strongly persuasive people who say they can help save us.

There seem to be four main reasons for this:

1. Life does not easily satisfy our needs. We get something but always want more. From constantly wanting more materially and emotionally, we then apply the same need to spirituality: more teachers and techniques must be better than just one, surely this one will finally solve all those nagging difficulties in my life? Or maybe it's this one?

2. To a large extent religion has failed many of us. We crave more esoteric excitement that sitting in church allows us, more out-of-this-world explanations for why we’re dissatisfied or unhappy, more instant and lasting ways to find happiness than atoning for our sins. There must be more meaning to life than we have found, surely?

3. Like the musk deer in India that has a beautiful smell in its belly but searches throughout the forest for that smell, so we look for happiness outside ourselves. But we’ll always come up short as whatever we find always changes. This is the truth of impermanence: nothing lasts forever. Yet we continually search for that elusive promise of foreverness wherever we can.

4. We externalize our needs, projecting ‘the savior’ on whoever is the current teacher-of-the-month, believing others sooner than we believe ourselves due to not trusting our own judgement and wisdom. Even though, logically, we are the only ones who can save ourselves, we’d much rather someone else do it for us.

How do we find our way through such a maze? Many teachers may have something wonderful to offer us, but what can we really learn in an hour or two or even a weekend? When we dig for oil we have to dig deep to reach it; if we dig too many different holes we will never get to the source of the oil. In the same way, if we guru hop and workshop too much we will never get to the essence of the teachings.

This blog is a chance for you to do a reality check. Are you listening to your own wisdom or is someone else telling you the way it is? Can you stop and simply be still? Do you go guru-shopping or can you look within your own mind and heart for what you know to be true?

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Award-Winning Authors Ed and Deb of Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World, are mindfulness, meditation and yoga experts. Deb’s new novel: Merging: Women in Love  -- what happens when you fall in love with the least likely person of the least likely gender? – and she is the author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 19 languages. They have three meditation CDs. See more at EdandDebShapiro.com

5 Ways Meditation Makes You Kinder

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 by

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. The Dalai Lama

When we were on our honeymoon we had the joy to sit with the Dalai Lama at his residence in McLeod Ganj, India. He held our hands and spoke about how his religion is kindness. It made us wonder how the world would be a better place if we all were just a little bit kinder. Luckily, he shows us the way to such an ideal through his daily practice of meditation.     

Meditation connects us to our innate kindness, like that of a mother watching her new born and making sure all is well. This kindness is within us all, though we may be out of touch with it. Meditation is paying attention to what is happening within and around us, and it changes us because through it we widen our perspective from being me-centered to other-centered; we go from being only able to see ourselves and our own viewpoints to seeing a much bigger picture that contains everything through compassionate and kind eyes.

We open our heart to ourselves with tenderness, seeing ourselves just as we are, maybe for the first time, opening with a heart as big as the Universe. In the same way we open to all others, seeing them just as they are, without likes or dislikes prejudicing our view. Which immediately shows us that, fundamentally, there is no difference between us. Out of this arises a natural, impartial kindness.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. The Dalai Lama

1 Become a friend to yourself

It’s inevitable when we sit quietly with meditation as a companion that we will discover a new level of self-acknowledgment and self-friendship. We are kinder and more accepting of who we are, less concerned with superficial appearances or image.

2 Think of others equally

As we open to ourselves we become more aware that we are not alone here, that there is an intricate inter-dependence between all beings: we all want to be happy, and we are all doing our best to fulfill that. We see that no one is more important than another.

3 Be forgiving

As we see that all beings are striving to find happiness so we can be more tolerant, accepting, caring and forgiving of each other. We all make mistakes – if we didn’t then we would be like robots rather than humans. As we can forgive ourselves for mistakes, we can forgive others. Perfection is our ability to see our (or their) imperfections!

4 Do random acts

Kindness doesn’t need to be applauded. In fact, often the greatest act of kindness is that which goes unseen. A simple smile can sometimes be the greatest gift of all. Practice kindness wherever and however you can.

5 Pick yourself up every time you fall

Giving kindness includes giving it to ourselves. We are often hard on ourselves, finding fault, criticizing, or feeling embarrassed of perceived mistakes. Meditation creates an inner strength and confidence that enables us to get up over and over again. And if we get up just one time more than we fall then we can’t fail!

We have a photograph at home of Bishop Tutu with his hands held in prayer position. Underneath it are his words, Please make it fashionable to be compassionate. That photograph is many years old yet his words are even more relevant today. Is it not time to make compassion fashionable, to make kindness cool, to make consideration and care hot topics?

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them. The Dalai Lama

 

Anytime Kindness

Whenever we get stressed we tend to close our hearts toward others. We get a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude—nothing matters but our own issues. By developing a more loving and caring attitude, we find more joy and certainly less stress.

            Every time you feel rushed, irritated, annoyed or upset, sit quietly and silently repeat: May I be happy or May I be filled with loving kindness.

            If you can do this for one day then follow it the next day with: May you be well or May you be happy to each person you see or meet. It’s important not to tell them—just feel it in your heart. You can do this to people in an elevator, at work, in the street or at home.

            Silently repeat May you be filled with loving kindness when your partner or boss is upset or angry with you, or when someone is criticizing you. The more you do this, the more you’ll release the hook inside yourself so that anger cannot land.

            If a day feels easy, try a whole week. Let friendliness and kindness grow within you. Make it your goal to become a more loving and kinder person.                              

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Award-Winning Authors Ed and Deb of Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World, are mindfulness, meditation and yoga experts. Deb’s new novel: Merging: Women in Love  -- what happens when you fall in love with the least likely person of the least likely gender? – and she is the author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 19 languages. They have three meditation CDs. See more at EdandDebShapiro.com

The Way Of Mindfulness: Paul McCartney, Richard Gere, Deepak Chopra

Friday, February 28, 2014 by

Mindfulness is a hot buzzword at the moment, furthered by TIME Magazine having The Mindful Revolution on its front cover. But what does mindfulness look like in practice? What difference does it make on a day-to-day basis? How does it change our lives?

These questions, and others focused on what is needed for people to transit into more positive and aware times, inspired us to ask a number of leading luminaries, which resulted in our book, The Way Ahead: A Visionary Perspective For The New Millennium.

Initially our purpose was to ask how could we have a better world, but it soon became a treatise of how to live with awareness and spirituality, how to make our lives an expression of wholeness. It became an illustration of mindfulness in action.

Enjoy the voices of some of those luminaries:

Mindfulness is primarily being aware of ourselves, such as our thoughts and feelings. In the process we also become aware of our limitations. Deepak Chopra reminds us to go beyond ourselves in order to find ourselves when he says: “Remember, nothing you already know is going to free you. Getting beyond the mind’s boundaries is a more profound goal than the mind can grasp. If you begin this investigation into your deeper nature, you will find that real, lasting healing comes from just being yourself and watching what happens. If you have a sincere willingness, what will happen will be an inner unfolding; the tightly furled bud will open into a flower.”

Martin Luther King Jr. nominated the Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize, but the real prize came in a very simple and direct way to make mindfulness a part of even the smallest of our interactions. Thich Nhat Hanh says: “Every time the telephone rings we all stop and breathe in and out, saying, ‘Listen, listen. This wonderful sound brings me back to my true self.’ We call it telephone meditation! It is very easy to practice telephone meditation. When you hear the telephone, just stay where you are and breathe in and out consciously and smile. When you hear the second sound, you can breathe in and out again and enjoy the sound of the telephone. If the other person has something very important to tell you, he or she will wait for at least three rings. When you hear the third ring you continue breathing and are serene, so when you answer the phone you are calm and smiling. This is good for you and for the person who is calling!”

Mindfulness affects everything we do, not just answering the telephone, and this includes what we eat. Awareness of our world transforms our world and our behavior in it, as Paul McCartney makes us aware of: “One day we were eating roast lamb. It was the lambing season so there were all these beautiful young lambs gamboling around the fields surrounding our house, running and playing together. We looked at the lambs playing and we looked at the lamb on our plates and we realized we were eating leg of lamb. We looked at them running around outside again and saw a leg of lamb running and playing. And that was it, the great turning point: if it has a face, don’t eat it!”

Mindfulness also extends us beyond ourselves into a recognition that we are not separate, not alone, but a part of everything, as Zen teacher Roshi Joan Halifax explains: “When we plant a tree, we are planting ourselves. Releasing dolphins back to the wild, we are ourselves returning home. Composting leftovers, we are being reborn as irises and apples. We can ‘think like a mountain’ and discover ourselves to be everywhere and in everything and know the activity of the world as not separate from who we are but rather of what we are.”

That awareness enables us to make deep and profound changes. Actor Richard Gere emphasizes how the disquieting state of the world is actually the very grist we can use to transform ourselves and our world: “The breakdown of the established social and political order over the last few years presents, ironically, an extraordinary opportunity to actualize the radical changes we all know must take place. If the cycles of conditioned violence and counter-violence can be avoided—or transformed—we may enter an age of responsibility and love for all beings.”

An age of responsibility and love is the greatest gift mindfulness gives us. And, as Jean Houston says, we are already there: “I see a change. It is vested in the greatest rise in expectations the world has ever seen. It is so far-reaching in its implications that one might call it evolution consciously entering into time, the evolutionary potential asserting itself. It needed a certain critical mass, a certain merging of complexity, crisis, and consciousness to awaken. Now it is happening.”

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com, with Brian Jones. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. Deb is the author of Merging: Women in Love. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

How Inefficiency Hurts Your Business for Sustainability

Saturday, February 22, 2014 by

In today's technologically driven world, there are many ways a business can become more efficient. This efficiency translates to greater net income as well as promoting a stronger future for humanity. Let's face it, without focusing on the continuation of humankind, there will be no customers in the future. With all of the innovative developments at our disposal, there are still many people that prefer to perform archaic principles in business that are not conducive to growth. In what ways can this inefficiency hurt your business for sustainability?

1. Wasting Time - One of the most valued commodities of any business is time. By not investing in ways to increase efficiency in the workplace, your business is losing money through wasting the one thing that cannot be recuperated. Instead of the pencil and pen ledger, software exists to allow you to reduce the time spent on record keeping exponentially. This means less paper is used, less time is wasted and more money remains in your bank accounts instead of paying staff to do the work that only requires a few clicks of the mouse.

2. Wasting Electricity - By not examining the electronics that are turned on all the time that don't need to be, you are wasting electricity. Not all computers and monitors need to be left on day-in and day-out. The only real appliance that should be left on is the server. That staff member you may have that is only at his or her desk once per week doesn't need the computer left on. This waste of electricity is damaging to your energy bill as well as hurting the rest of the community by taking energy that could be used elsewhere.

3. Wasting Paper - Did you know that nearly every aspect of any given business can be done digitally? Even receipts for purchases can be emailed instead of printed. Since tablets and smartphones can open most office documents, there is no real reason to have hard copies. Digital documents can be stored and backed up far easier than the printed counterparts - and will take up less physical space. The only real forms that may be needed are those that require personal initials or signatures such as real estate documents or contracts. Memos, correspondences and many other forms of printed material are no longer needed if you have the right alternatives. The financial savings alone from ink and paper should be more than enough incentive to look into efficient alternatives. 

4. Wasting Water - Faucets and toilets within the facility may be wasting water, but what about outside the business? Everyone likes to see greenery surrounding the headquarters or business establishment. However, is the water being put into keeping it green used wisely? There are still organizations out there that have sprinkler systems that operate when it's raining outside. There are products available now that can reduce the amount of time you spend watering the grass and flowers by up to 50-percent. This means you are wasting less water on the ambiance of your business while keeping more money in your bank.

As a business owner, you should be setting an example of professionalism. In a world where so many resources are dwindling rapidly, you need to realize that the business establishment greatly contributes to the loss of these resources. Look around your location and develop a strategy to become more sustainable for the environment and your profitability.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

10 Great Ways Mindfulness Turns Fear Into An Ally

Thursday, February 20, 2014 by

At first glance you might not put mindfulness and fear together, or think that one can counterbalance the other. But while mindfulness invites us to be present with fear rather than run from it, it also frees us from being stuck in fearful thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness allows fear to be, just as it, without diving in. It turns fear into an ally we can use to become courageous and fearless.

We all know what fear feels like, how it can appear as the enemy attacking when you are least aware or entering without being invited. It can arise as a natural response to physical danger but more often is self-created, like the fear of failure, not being good enough, being lonely, or of the future. We fear loving for fear of being rejected, being generous for fear of going without, or sharing our feelings for fear of appearing weak, and we’re easily dominated by insecurity and self-doubt.

The immediate effect of fear is to turn off our heartfelt feelings. Just for a moment, let your body take the stance of feeling fearful. What is your posture? Most people hunch their shoulders forward, fold their arms across their chests, or assume a similarly defensive position. In this self-protected place the heart goes out of reach and we can’t feel love or even friendliness. Try saying "I love you" with real meaning while your arms are folded firmly across your heart. Hard to do!

But where fear contracts and closes the heart, love expands and opens. In other words, love is letting go of fear. So now take the posture of love. Watch how your body responds, your arms reaching outward, accepting and inviting. Fear may still be there but love can embrace it; where fear blocks out love, love holds fear tenderly. With your arms stretched wide try saying, "I'm frightened" and really mean it. Hard to do!

Here are ten ways mindfulness both influences and transforms fear:

1.     Through mindfulness you make friends with yourself and your world – just as it is

2.     Friendship naturally extends greater kindness, compassion and love, which are the antidotes to fear

3.     Friendship is also the gateway to greater clarity, ease and tolerance

4.     Mindfulness turns off the stress response of your nervous system by activating the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system; this enables you to stay focused and relaxed, no matter what is going on

5.     In a focused and present state you are better able to deal with whatever is happening than if you are preoccupied or distracted

6.     Fear takes you out of your body, limits your reactions, and brings your feelings to a standstill, while mindfulness keeps you centered and in touch with yourself

7.     Fear can make your breathing short and shallow, while mindfulness of breathing keeps the diaphragm open and breathing deep

8.     Mindfulness enables you to see that fear, or any other negative feeling, is a passing experience that comes and goes

9.      Fearless doesn’t mean denying fear; it’s not a state of being without fear but one of being with awareness

10.     Fearlessness is getting to know fear, name it, and take it by the hand so that it becomes your friend

Can you remember times you met fear and moved through it, times when fear arose but you kept going? Those are moments of fearlessness. Fear may close the heart, but courage comes out of heartfulness, out of releasing resistance. Fear may stop you from participating fully in life, but fearlessness gives you the courage to dive into the unknown.

Fear comes—breathe and let go; fear arises—replace it with love; fear knocks at the door—invite it in to share a cup of tea. In this way you become a fearless warrior of the heart, unshakable, confident, and joyful, with fear as your ally.

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. Deb is also the author of Merging: Women in Love. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

The Next Economy

Monday, February 10, 2014 by

Those who follow my blog might have noticed substantial inactivity. Yes, I stopped posting articles, mainly out of despair. So much to say, what first, and how? Even if I wrote every day, we would not cover all the complexities of the self-destructive system that humans have created out of greed.

As the speed of natural devastation picks up and the response to the natural rampage becomes short,  obsolete, and mostly non-systemic many, who strive to keep this precious Earth alive with all its beauties, become speechless. But as a famous quote whose author I do not recall states "there is no time to be a pessimist", we must now, more than ever, reflect on our actions and their consequences. We must now rethink our way forward.

If the way forward is based on understanding our need for biological sustainability, since without biological sustainability there is no other sustainability, I let you ponder on this way forward for the outbursting population of 7 billion. 

Video by Tompkins Conservation, The Next Economy

Words of a long time environmentalist and conservationist, Doug Tompkins who, together with his wife Kris and a large team of people dedicated to preserving our nature, have embarked on a challenging path. They have been able to succeed, so why can't we all?

 

Described as “a tireless advocate of an ecological lifestyle and an absolute defender of nature”, Hana takes any opportunity to engage in sustainable living as a sustainability strategist, citizen as well as a consumer. Her ambitions go beyond motivating others through Hana's green living blog. Professionally her aim is to look at today’s environmental issues in a holistic way, through a systemic lens and to strive for long-term improvements rather than short-term fixes. She established Earth Matters, a collaborative consultancy to help others advance on issues of sustainability. Tweet @earthmatters2me

 

 

4 Ways Mindfulness Transforms Your Life (As It Did For the Seahawks!)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 by

There’s an amazing epidemic sweeping America and it’s a healthy, vital and enriching one. In every walk of life people are hearing about the value and importance of mindfulness and meditation. For instance, the Seahawks include yoga and meditation in their training and they just won the Super Bowl!

Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, author of A Mindful Nation, calls mindfulness a “meditative practice that focuses on the present moment instead of worrying about the past or future.” He has helped land a $1 million grant in 2009 for Youngstown and Warren schools to teach mindfulness to elementary students. We interviewed Congressman Ryan in our E-conference and on our radio show, and his commitment to mindfulness and meditation is awe-inspiring.

Mindfulness – which is being present and aware – enables stress to be released, difficulties become workable, and true happiness become possible. Meditation is the training ground for mindfulness, as it teaches us how to focus our attention. But how does mindfulness shift our priorities and enable us to make friends with ourselves?

Here are some of the ways mindfulness and meditation can make your life more meaningful and enjoyable!

1. Stress Out, Relaxation In

It only takes a few minutes to chill out. As soon as we start paying attention, being aware and mindful of what is going on, then our whole physiology responds by calming the stress response and increasing the relaxation response, says our partner at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com, Brian Jones.

Meditation and medication are derived from the Latin word medicus: to care or to cure. Which means both meditation and mindfulness are, therefore, the most effective remedy for a busy and overworked mind.

Anytime you feel stress rising, heart closing, mind going into overwhelm, just bring your focus to your breathing and quietly repeat with each in- and out-breath: Breathing in, I calm the body and mind; breathing out, I smile. Becoming aware of the breath makes it easy to then be awareness to your body, thoughts, feelings, and your world.

2. Appreciating the Details

Mindfulness brings us into an awareness of all the small things – those that get missed when we are stressed, and which give life real meaning. Take a moment right now to appreciate the chair you are sitting on. Consider how the chair was made: the wood, cotton, wool, or other fibers, the trees and plants that were used, the earth that grew the trees, the sun and rain, the animals that maybe gave their lives, the people who prepared the materials, the place where the chair was made, the designer and carpenter and seamstress, the shop that sold it—all this just so you could be sitting here, now. Then extend that appreciation to everything and everyone, so you take nothing for granted.

3. From Self-centeredness to Other-centeredness

Mindfulness increases awareness of ourselves, which means we become aware of any self-centeredness, selfishness, and neurosis. We don’t often accept negative feelings too easily, we’re more likely to repress or disown them. But when denied they cause shame, depression, anger, and anxiety. Mindfulness invites us to openly meet these places, to see how selfishness, aversion and ignorance create endless dramas and fears.

Mindfulness also connects us to the stillness that is always there between our thoughts, behind the story, beneath the noise. And it enables us to be less focused on ourselves, more aware of others, and more aware of the interconnection between us.

4. Kindness Rocks

In a stressed state, we lose touch with inner peace, compassion and kindness; in a relaxed state, our mind is clear and we can connect with a deeper sense of purpose and altruism. Mindfulness awakens us to caring and kindness: how can we cause harm when we are aware that in the process we are also causing ourselves harm? Simply through the intent to cause less pain you can bring greater dignity to your world so that harm is replaced with kindness.

Every time you see or feel suffering, every time you make a mistake or say something stupid and are just about to put yourself down, every time you think of someone you are having a hard time with, every time you encounter the confusion and difficulty of being human, every time you see someone else struggling, upset or irritated, you can bring kindness and compassion. Breathing gently, silently repeat: May I be well, may I be happy, may I be filled with loving kindness; May they be well, may they be happy, may they be filled with loving kindness.

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Super Bowl and TIME Magazine Both Focus on Mindfulness

Monday, January 27, 2014 by

Guess what, we all meditate! We may be unaware of this because we believe meditation means sitting still and closing our eyes. However, the moment we focus attention on one thing and bring the mind into a quiet place then we are meditating, which means it can be as much active as it is being still.

The most well-known forms of meditation are watching the flow of the breath or repeating a mantra, as these focus the mind. But it could just as easily be mindfully throwing a football or the stroke of a brush as you paint; most meditation traditions do walking meditation as well as sitting practice. This is meditation in action, which is mindfulness: awareness of the present moment.

“The Seahawks believe their kinder, gentler philosophy is the future of football,” says Alyssa Roenigk in ESPN The Magazine. So could mindfulness and meditation be a way to win the Super Bowl? The Seahawks obviously believe that it can. They are taught yoga and sitting meditation as a part of their training, as it’s difficult to be focused if they are distracted by a monkey mind jumping from thought to thought.

“Meditation is as important as lifting weights and being out here on the field for practice,” says Russell Okung of the Seahawks. “It’s about quieting your mind and getting into certain states where everything outside of you doesn’t matter in that moment. There are so many things telling you that you can’t do something, but you take those thoughts captive, take power over them and change them.”

Meditation focuses the mind in one place and this equally applies to the Denver Broncos, even if they may not knowingly meditate. In football, mindfulness is needed for the accuracy of a touch-down pass down the field, or the presence to know when to throw or when to run with the football: Payton Manning’s great passes are made mindfully, Knowshaun Moreno runs with awareness, Eric Decker receives in the moment!

We taught meditation to the Torquay United Football team in England, sitting in the men’s locker room. They were at the bottom of their league but won their next game, which meant they advanced to the next division. Filmed by the BBC on the 6:00pm evening news, the coach was convinced that the mindfulness training had enabled the players to stay positive, despite being in such a losing position.

As our partner, Brian Jones says: “Meditation is as much something that happens to us as, as something we do, like the “ah-ha” moment when we first learn to ride a bike. All of a sudden it just makes sense, becomes familiar, and comfortable. Meditation and mindfulness, like riding a bike, are about embodiment, self-mastery, and self-fulfillment.”

TIME Magazine agrees. The Feb 3rd issue focuses on mindfulness, the far-reaching effect it is having in all walks of life, and on Jon Kabat-Zinn, who brought mindfulness to hospitals and clinics, through his Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

“People come with a huge amount of pain and suffering, both physical and emotional,” says Kabat-Zinn in our Award Winning book, Be The Change. “Through the cultivation of mindfulness, they develop a more functional relationship with that suffering, they turn towards it, open to it, and actually befriend it to a degree rather than insisting that it stop, and in the process, the pain often transforms or even falls away… For the most part, they will tell you that they are more in touch with their own beauty than they may have been since they were children.”

Whether we sit in formal meditation with our eyes closed, go for a walk or throw a football, if we do it with awareness we are meditating. We can sit with our eyes closed but if our mind is scattered then there’s no stillness, while we can be running everywhere playing competitive sport but if our mind is focused and aware then we are being mindful. A clear and comprehensive training in mindfulness is vital, so it can become integral to every part of our life. Play to win: practice mindfulness! 

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Meditation Awakens Your Inner Joy

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 by

Within you is a fountain of joy, within you is an ocean of bliss!  Swami Sivananda

While in Greece we were invited to a local village dance. It was to be held in a nearby field, and we were fascinated to discover it started very late, about 11pm, lasting until the early hours of the morning. It was a beautiful moonlit night. The entire village was present: small children, lanky teenagers, grannies and old men clinging to walking sticks. What a wonderful sight! The violins played and the villagers danced. Joining together in circles or winding lines they danced, their voices merging together as they sang in response to the music. We were mesmerized, most especially when one of the teenagers, dressed in tight jeans with slicked back hair who had appeared completely disinterested, suddenly stepped into the middle and led one of the snake like dances around the field, his eyes alight with great joy and laughter.

Joy is a beautiful word! It describes it exactly: delight, smiles, radiance, happiness! We feel joy when a baby smiles, when the sun shines after a rain, when we fulfill a passion such as playing music or, as Deb’s mother remembers, hear a wild bird sing.

But there’s another, more profound and deeper joy, that arises when we meditate. This joy isn’t something that comes through ideal circumstances, but occurs at a time of quiet and stillness. It arises from within us, which means it’s always there, albeit untapped. Beneath layers of uncertainty, insecurity, doubt, guilt, shame or fear, there is a natural reservoir of unconditional happiness; we discover that who we truly are inside is pure joy.

I do this thing with the children where I say, ‘Breathing in, I calm my body; breathing out, I smile. Breathing in, I know this supreme moment; breathing out, I know it is a wonderful moment.’ When I do that with the children, they all jump for joy. It is very cool. Wavy Gravy from our Award Winning book: Be The Change

It is awesome, even mind blowing, to realize that our authentic self is joyful, compassionate, loving, forgiving; that this is who we really are, and that these qualities arise naturally when we are in deep stillness. Meditation has been researched extensively to show that it stimulates the part of our brain that responds compassionately to others, increasing kindness, generosity, and forgiveness, and that states are the outward expressions of our inner joy.

Yet how often are we aware that we meditate in order to be happier and more joyful? Who would have believed this connection and yet there it is! Do you ever soften, surrender, get gentle and tender with yourself? Or do you grit your teeth with impatience and only sit as long as you can without moving, despite shoulders aching or feet going to sleep? Do you take time to be gentle and kind to yourself so that joy can show its smiling face?

Joy is here, in every moment when we relax and breathe, available from the early morning to the middle of the night, no restrictions, no closing time, no sell-by date. Joy comes the moment you let go of resistance and open wide.

 

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Mindfulness Meditation Is The Direct Way To Happiness

Thursday, January 16, 2014 by

We often wonder what our lives would be like without meditation or mindfulness. We were talking with our partner, neuroscientist and yogi Brian Jones, about this recently who said, “With all the mass overstimulation and continuously heightened levels of stress it's easy to see why we’re all going crazy. The modern world demands so much of our attention that we forget who we truly are in our deepest sense.”

We’re sure you know what we mean: the demands and busyness of life can have a toll on anyone. So what to do? How to live in this world with sanity and ease? The wise yogis said that happiness is our birthright but where is this happiness found?

What, out of all the things we can get in this whole world, will give us the most happiness, joy, peace of mind, self-friendship, clarity, insight, presence, is totally free but invariably ignored? Yes, you got it, it’s meditation -- the most invaluable gift you could ever give yourself! We look everywhere for peace and spend a fortune thinking something will give us happiness while it is, and always will be, inside us. Not only that, but whatever we get we can lose, but what’s inside of us we have always! How outrageous!

Actor Ed Begley, Jr., from our award-winning book Be The Change, points out that: If stuff made you happy, there would be nothing but happy people living in Bel Air and unhappy people living in Fiji where they have nothing, but I have been to Fiji and there are plenty of happy people there. I have never seen a hearse with a luggage rack on top. We have got to get away from stuff and appreciate what is here.

Meditation is in the news. Any self-respecting business uses meditation and mindfulness to combat stress, major newspapers and magazines carry stories on the benefits of meditation with tips from famous film stars, and cross-legged yogis and Buddhist monks can be seen in adverts for everything from computers and credit cards to insurance.  

Respected Buddhist meditation teacher Mingyur Rinpoche asks: Who makes problems? We humans. And who is the controller of the human? The mind. And how to control the human mind? Through meditation. If you can control the pilot, then the pilot can control the plane.

Mindfulness is being aware of whatever arises in your mind and body, sensations, feelings and thoughts. It’s not about trying to change anything but non-judgmentally and gently accepting it as it is. However, anyone first coming to meditation can be met with a plethora of advice and techniques that may baffle or confuse: Where to go? What to do? Which is best? How to start? How to chose between TM, mantra recitation, kundalini, vipassana, insight, witness, breath awareness, shamata, visualization, MBSR, metta, and more?

The best way is to try them and see what works for you – we’re all different! It’s important to remember that a technique is only a way to something, it’s not the something itself. True meditation is spontaneous, natural, arising from within, while the technique is simply the learnt method that helps us have that experience. All techniques are designed to help calm the mind, bring our attention inward, and focus in just this present moment so that the experience of meditation occurs naturally.

Author and meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein emphasizes that: The point of meditation is to keep the mind free of confusion. Meditation, past calming our nerves, past being good for our blood pressure, past allowing us to work out our own internal psychological dramas, which it does, past helping us to get along with our kin and our community, is a way of really deeply seeing the truth that the only way to ameliorate our own suffering and the suffering of the world is to keep our minds clear.

The equation, therefore, is simple: The more meditation becomes a part of your life, the more you change and evolve; the more you change and evolve, the more society is transformed and the world moves into a wiser and more loving place to be. And all you have to do for this chain of events to occur is to sit still!

 

Practice:

Start right now, where you are sitting as you read this. Do this for just 3-5 minutes.

Become aware of your body. Scan your body from head to toes, acknowledging how it feels, and where there is tension or ease.

Become aware of your feelings, thoughts, and any sensations.

Become aware of your breathing, and just watch your breath as it enters and leaves for a few moments.

Now take a deep breath and let it go.

 

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Getting the Top One Percent to Chip In

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 by

Greed. What is the purpose of collecting all the money you can if you can't take it with you when you pass away? I can understand wanting to live comfortably without having to stress over bills and debts. When you have so much money in the bank accounts that you could never realistically spend it in your lifetime, doesn't that make you a hoarder? It is said that the top 1-percent of the population now controls 39-percent of the world's wealth. All I can do is wonder, "Why?" Can't these people separate themselves from even a small portion of this money?

The "trickle-down effect" really didn't trickle down at all. Since most of these 1-percent have no interest in spending it, there is nothing to trickle down. Why not implement a few ideas to merely help those who have spent their money raising some of you 1-percent people to where you are? In fact, you might even make more money if you did. Investing in the future of humanity is probably the best investment you'll ever make.

1. Small Businesses - By investing $1.5 million in a small business and sticking the money into a savings account at 0.05-percent, the small business could pay its bills plus a single person making $25,000 per year while sustaining itself for 36.6 years. This is also considering that the small business doesn't make a single dime in revenue. If the small business makes money, then all the better. In fact, adding another person to the business making the same amount as the first would only decrease the business sustainability to 22.7 years. If the business manages to succeed and make money on it is own, then there is more money in your pocket as the investor.

2. Donations - Some don't like to give donations because they don't really know where the money is going and would rather not trust a stranger's word that it will get to those who are in need. If that's the case, then why not donate tangible goods? Aside from the fact that donations are tax-deductible, you can help others survive in order to keep your business running. No matter how you slice it up, it's the other 99-percent of the population that is keeping you rich. If they are unable to sustain themselves, they won't be able to sustain you.

3. Education - If you'd rather invest in something that will be beneficial to those who are in need, why not put it towards education? Although our school-system is sub-par in the United States, you could still put money towards teaching others how to sustain themselves. Grant it, there are many people in the world who are simply looking for a free ride and won't do anything to improve their situation. These people are a drain on society, but that isn't everyone that lives below the poverty line. Many of us are at this level through bad decisions and have been unable to climb out of the hole. Could you put your expertise and knowledge to help these people figure out a way to rise above that level? That is, without charging the $49.99 that you see on "get-rich-quick" websites?

It doesn't take a lot of money to change lives. When you control as much money as the 1-percent does, $25,000 can be nothing more than pocket change. Is it really that difficult to feed some of the money back into the populace? After all, most of these people are probably paying your way through life. It doesn't take much, just compassion for humanity.

Author Bio

Nancy Parker is a regular contributor to www.enannysource.com and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, nanny background check tips etc. You can reach her @ nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com

Giving not Getting in 2014! A New Approach to your New Years Resolutions.

Friday, January 10, 2014 by

whatcanIgive_pptx With the onset of the New Year we are constantly being bombarded with requests (emails, newsletters, articles, etc.,) to make our New Year’s Resolutions and set our intentions to receive what we wish for in 2014.

New Year’s Resolutions have been part of society since pre-Christian times beginning with the Babylonians who made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. Later on this ritual was modified by the Romans who made promises to the god Janus, to be good to others. In the Medieval era, knights took the “Peacock Vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry (Slate Magazines article: ‘Bring back the Peacock Vow”). The idea was a call for self-improvement.

According to a recent study by The University of Scranton, 49% of Americans make New Years Resolutions. Here are the most common ones:

New Years Resolutions:
47% – Self Improvement or education related resolutions
38% – Weight related resolutions
34% – Money related resolutions
31% – Relationship related resolutions

I support new years resolutions, but I would like to challenge the status quo that focuses on personal fulfillment and benefit.

Could we not change the question from: “What do I Want in 2014?” to “What am I able to Give in 2014?”. Why don’t we take a different approach this year, decide what we can give to others and ourselves, and come from a mindset of surplus rather than focusing on deficit. Some might argue that they can’t give what they don’t have. My response would be, “What comes first, the ckicken or the egg?”. By doing that we put ourselves in a more powerful postion of richness. Since most of my readers are in leadership positions this exercise becomes more effective as we share our intentions with our team and others around us.

Make a list of what you can give and contribute to. With giving, I don’t necessarily mean what we can give monetarily or materially. I mean what can we give from ourselves like attention, advice, time, support, and energy.

Here are some questions that will help:

What do you want to give to yourself ? (Yes, don’t forget that giving starts with giving to oneself.)

What do you want to give to your family and friends?

What do you want to contribute to your business?

What do you want to give to your clients?

What do you want to give to your employees or team members?

What do you want to give to the society or greater good?

We can use this opportunity to become better leaders by focusing on how we can benefit and improve the lives of others rather than just fulfilling our own needs. When applied diligently, it will be a recipe for happiness and fulfillment!

Happy New Year!

Sascha Bosio

Sascha Bosio is an expert for innovation and leadership, Sascha is also an entrepreneur and meditation/awareness trainer. As Founder of The Brilliant Leadership Company a firm for strategic innovation for the lifestyle industry, Sascha has made it his vision to help business owners to create a flow of sustainable innovation and business growth. http://www.brilliantleadership.net

 

Creativity ≠ Innovation: Building Your System for Reliable Innovation

Friday, January 3, 2014 by

Buyers beware: Creativity alone does not ensure innovation. 

The World Database of Innovation initiative shows that more than half of the world’s 7,000+ innovation consultancies provide a creative process or “Invention Methodology”.  Because of this and some very good PR for processes like Design Thinking, the world has begun to equate the creative process with Innovation Management.  And while the creative process is very important, the initiative has found that it is only one piece of the puzzle; only one part of what it takes for a company to innovate.   

To make innovation or “future top-line growth” repeatable and reliable large companies must build a complete Innovation Management System that supports bringing new things through their organization and to the world. 

Before we get into this, let’s make sure we are on the same page with our preferred definitions:

  • Innovation: a thing that has already changed human behavior on a wide scale.  Usually, an innovation has added to a company’s top line, or has changed a societies belief.  It is distinct from and “Invention”.
  • Innovation Management: a complete system that builds a path through a human organization so that it can repeatedly create innovations and do so more reliably.
  • Why we care about innovation:  Companies care about innovation management for two reasons:  1) Survival – it should allow you to simply keep up with competition 2) The more inspiring goal: it creates an ability to create one’s future and reliably grow.

The World Database of Innovation (the "initiative") began 7 years ago with the mission to uncover an evidence base (statistics) to support or disprove the world’s many innovation practices.  The initiative studied thousands of the highest performing companies and found that they share a handful of processes, structures, people management approaches, belief systems, and cultures.  For companies that are facing growth/innovation problems, or for public organizations that want to more reliably create societal change, below is a overview of five pieces of the Innovation Management puzzle you will need to address to achieve repeatable market successes.  

Structure

The initiative found the highest correlations in this category: companies that had good innovation management structures had some of the highest top line growth.

First, the innovation function reported to the CEO directly and the CEO was found to truly own innovation, not just simply to be on board or bought in. 

Second, the innovation had dedicated (untouchable) funding.  Just as one invests money in funds and typically waits for the investments to mature, a company must invest in longer-term things and wait for maturity or pay the penalty (in several ways).  This is a hard one for public companies who give and rip away budgets sometimes on a quarterly basis.  The vast majority of an average company’s overhead goes into supporting old products, so the most important thing here is to choose what portion of revenue you’re going to invest to create your company’s future.    

Third, the most reliable innovators also treat innovation as a risk management exercise.  These firms tend to build regimented portfolio and pipeline structures than spanned from the birth to the death of market offerings.  The pipeline usually included some sort of stage gate approach with distinct on and off ramps for new and expiring products.  Fourth, we observed that when high performers consider new market opportunities, the first asked whether acquiring or building the solution was the best approach.

Fifth, few firms have a system to at indirect competition but 84% of history’s market upsets came from industry outsiders.  This related closely to arrogance that we talk about below but can be taken care of with a team or service that has a smart way of combing the world for indirect competitors.

Belief Systems

Belief Systems are perhaps the most interesting part of the puzzle and the correlations found were quite strong. 

Amongst fast growing companies, a high percentage shared the believe that the future is not something set in stone; that is something that can be shaped.  Society primarily things the opposite is true.  Companies like General Electric, and Google who actively work on describing the future scenario they want to exist, and then set in place a plan and structure to create it are actually the most successful.      

There is also a surprising commonality amongst growth leaders in their definition of innovation.  Their definitions all shared three things:  1) something about changing human behavior on a wide scale,  2) innovation was defined as transformative,  and 3)  it was stated that innovation does not include incremental improvement.  The study also found that many companies had a higher purpose stated in their innovation definition as well as their mission.

In relation to this last point, there is also strong data to show that companies with a noble mission and those that know themselves very well are the highest performers.  See our piece on Patagonia and look at Medtronic’s performance through the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

And finally, Arrogance: we found loose but very interesting correlations between arrogance of leadership and company failure.  This is hard to identify objectively but there are many many documented cases of publicly displayed arrogance of leadership leading to blindness leading to partial or complete failure of companies.

Process

As we stated at the beginning:  the creative process is an important part of the puzzle.  It is not everything and with out the support structures mentioned throughout, runs the risk of being a pointless investment.  But the things that have been invented have come to be by some surprising common steps and “Invention Methods” as the initiative calls the 152 distinct processes discovered to date.  There are also countless brands of each of these 152 processes that help create market successes more often that unstructured brainstorming. 

Talent and People

There are many aspects of recruiting, managing, resourcing, training, and enabling people that we found at high growth companies but they all seemed to boil down to one thing:  get out of people’s way.  And the opposite side of this same coin: enable people.  Study upon study has shown that people are inherently innovative.  Sometimes we just need a teachable skill, money, time, or the right reward/recognition to express it.

Culture

The initiative found that culture is an important enabler or deterrent for innovation.  But, there was no common culture amongst high growth companies.  This piece of the puzzle is truly a menu ranging from tough cut throat cultures that force innovators towards excellence, to kind, accepting, well resourced innovation teams that cultivate and help inventors throughout the company.   The most interesting commonality is the level of connectedness of employees and division, and knowledge management or we could say “connectedness to the past”.

In conclusion, reliable innovation takes an entire system.  Companies must select and adapt the pieces above to create an Innovation Management System that helps them discover opportunities, invest in a set of potential solutions, test and improve and filter these solutions, socialize the chosen solution, bring it to market, and kill the old solution. 

And to repeatedly control the market you're already in, to invent new markets, and to change human behavior on a wide scale also requires choosing how to tie theses pieces together into an aligned system:  an innovation engine that hums.  

The best of innovation engines do a few things for companies: mitigate risk on of a company’s investments in new things, greatly decrease the cost of innovation, increase the speed, and increase the success rate.  But most importantly for all of the LOHAS brands, they secure and help you shape your future so that you can continue to be there to improve our world.  

Revolutionary Mindfulness for a Stress-less Mind

Saturday, December 28, 2013 by

We were listening to a radio interview we did recently, talking about the profound benefits of meditation. Deb had said, “Mindfulness is revolutionary because it changes us simply by being fully present, completely aware of just this moment.”

Which is absolutely true, but being in the present moment can be slippery, elusive, we want to be in Hawaii, start planning a Christmas shopping list, relive a disagreement with our partner, get distracted by the sound of the mail man outside or an aching knee. The possibilities are endless – all the many ways the mind can do something, anything, other than being present.

On average we spend our time either living in what-could-have-been, what-might-have-been, or if-only, or in the expectation of what-could-be or what-might-be. But the truth is no matter how much we try, plan, plot, arrange, have things to do, leave the house at the same time each day, arrive at the office at the same time, pick up the kids on time, we can still never know what will happen in the next moment.

We used to live next to a glorious river in Devon, England and walked beside it each day. It was beautiful, but as much as it looked like the same river, even the same water, it was constantly changing—the water was never the same as even a second ago. Likewise, we may look the same but the cells in our body are forever forming, growing and dying; we are continually changing and renewing in every minute, we just aren’t aware of it.

Realizing the past is already gone and can never be relived, while the future is always ahead of us and consistently unknown, the only logical way to deal with this awareness is to be present with what is, whatever it is, as it is.

Contrary to common belief, it can be immensely liberating to actually have nothing going on, to discover that the entire universe is contained in this very moment, to realize that nothing more is required than to just be aware and present. Imagine, what a relief! Finally, we can live without expectation, prejudice or longing, or the desire for things to be different than they are.

Being present invites a deep sense of completion, that there really is nowhere else we need to be or go. It’s impossible to think of somewhere else as being better, for the grass is vividly green exactly where we are. At a seminar someone once asked Ed if he had ever experienced another dimension. Ed replied, "Have you experienced this one?"

Right now, pause for a moment and take a deep breath. As you breath out, notice how your body feels, the chair you are sitting on, and the room you are in. That's all. It only takes an instant to be present. Or, as a way of reminding yourself, put post-its in strategic places around your home (on your bathroom mirror, the fridge, the inside of the front door, etc) that say things like: NOW is the greatest moment, Be Here Now; Stop, smile and Breathe; Only this Moment Exists; There Is Just This, NOW!

It’s also essential that, as our partner neuroscientist Brian Jones teaches, you tune down your sympathetic nervous system (the flight and fight response) and tune into your parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and relaxation response). You can do this through breathing and mindfulness techniques; learn more at revolutionarymindfulness.com

 

Mindfully Meditating In the Moment

Mindfully meditating on the flow of the breath naturally brings us into the present while bringing our awareness inward, rather than being focused outward. The breath is just breathing, and yet it is never the same, each breath is completely different to the last one. You can simultaneously silently repeat, "I am here, I am now, I am present! I am here, I am now, I am present!"

 

Practice: Being and Breathing Meditation

Sit comfortably with your back straight, hands are in your lap, eyes are closed. Spend a few minutes settling your body, being aware of the room around you and the chair you are sitting on.

            Now bring your focus to your breathing, just watch the natural movement of air as you breathe in and out. Silently repeat, "Breathing in, breathing out."

            Stay with watching your breath. If your mind starts to drift just see your thoughts as birds in the sky and watch them fly away. Then come back to the breath.

            Anytime you get distracted, bored, or lost in thinking, just come back to the breath, to this moment now. Silently repeat, "I am here, I am now, I am present! I am here, I am now, I am present!"

You can do this for a few minutes or as long as you like. When you are ready, take a deep breath and let it go, open your eyes, and move gently.

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

The True Santa Is Within Every One Of Us

Monday, December 23, 2013 by

With all the fuss over what color Santa is, we thought it was good to remind ourselves that Santa is neither black nor white, or pink or yellow for that matter, as he is way more than skin tone. Nor is the true Santa just a jolly guy in a red outfit; he is giving, sharing, caring and kindness, and these qualities are not limited to color. Rather, he’s a remarkable example of great wisdom and compassion that we can all learn from:

1.     He makes us do good and feel good. Now that's a big one, as many of us often act selfishly and greedily.

2.     He gives, endlessly, to everyone, all over the world, all at pretty much the same time. This indicates a truly generous heart, one that takes great joy in giving, without needing to receive.

3.     Yet he does not give blindly. Rather he judges what is the most appropriate gift for each. This shows great discernment, as giving needs wisdom in order to be of most benefit.

4.     He encourages rituals and invokes magic in every child's life: letter writing, stocking filling, decorations, parades, milk and cookies. Ritual is an essential part of honoring that which is greater than us, and magic is the beauty of the unknown.

5.     He listens to our pleas and requests and reads our letters. Meaning that he takes the time to hear us and pays attention, which we could all do a lot more of.

6.     He has great psychic powers: he flies in the sky with reindeer, descends chimneys without getting covered in soot, goes by many names and forms, and is extraordinarily elusive. Has anyone actually ever seen him? The lesson here is that we can all do more than we think we can: we can practice random acts of kindness quietly, simply, without bringing attention to ourselves.

7.     He knows where we live. In other words, he is inside every one of us.

8.     Most importantly, he lifts our spirits at the darkest time, bringing us laughter and joy, which is undoubtedly the greatest gift of all. No need to spread doom and gloom, no need to focus on what is wrong with ourselves or the world. By focusing on what is good we not only bring a lightness of spirit to others, but we also get to feel a lot better too.

Through giving to others, a la Santa, we get away from selfishness and neediness, and in the process see our own self-centeredness in greater perspective. It connects us to the basic goodness within, a quality of kindness that is easy to lose touch with. Giving—whether a smile, our time, a listening ear, food or material gifts—is profoundly joyful, both to the one who is receiving and the one who is giving. The essence of this is an open heart, a free mind, and a blissful spirit.

If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. Bob Hope

True generosity is giving without any thought of getting or receiving; it is unconditional, unattached, free to land wherever it will. Through giving and sharing in this way, we soon find that we do not lose anything; we do not have any less. Rather, we gain so much.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill

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Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Sharpen Your Focus - Meditation for your Office and Desk

Thursday, December 19, 2013 by
 
Lately, I have been hearing from more and more of my people and clients how difficult it is for them to stay focused, be calm, and make good decisions in the midst of all the  interruptions and information overload they are constantly experiencing.
 
I have been praciticing meditation for over 16 years,  and today I want to share a very simple meditation with you that you can apply in your office, at your desk, or before a meeting. It will quickly help you to regain focus, clear your head, and calm your mind so you can be prepared for any coming task, be it a meeting, an important phone call or a serious decision you need to make.
 
You can do this meditation for 1 minute, 3 minutes or even 5 minutes.
Do it for however long it feels good. You will feel the effect quickly.
 
Now let's get started:
 
Move to the front of your chair.
Sit upright, with a straight back, and keep your chin tucked in a little .
 
Take a deep breath and fill up your lungs. 
Exhale long and deep. Repeat this 3 times. Then, breathe in and out through your nose and allow  your breathe to slow down to a natural state. Let the breathe come and go without forcing or holding anything.
 
Focus your attention and awareness on the air entering and exiting through your nostrils. Simply follow your breath as it comes and goes in and out at the tip of your nose. Let all thoughts come and go without following any particular one.
 
Now imagine a clear light appearing between your eyebrows. 
The light clears fills your head and shines out into the world.
Every confusing or cluttering thought and emotion you have is now disappering and you become very clear and focused.
 
Hold this light for as long as you wish and as long as the experience remains fresh.
 
When you can nolong hold the light any longer return your focus to your breath that comes in and out through your nose and finish the meditation.
 
Enjoy.
Stay strong. Stay focused.
 
Sascha Bosio
 

 

About Sascha Bosio
Sascha Bosio is an international expert for innovation and leadership, Sascha is also an entrepreneur and meditation/awareness trainer. As Founder of The Brilliant Leadership Company a firm for strategic innovation for the lifestyle industry in San Francisco, Sascha has made it his vision to help business owners to create a flow of sustainable innovation and business growth. Sascha has worked with many lifestyle companies and leaders such as adidas, Montblanc, frontlineshop.com, Bryan Kest's Power Yoga.

 
 
 

Transforming the Financial System: Perspectives and Ideas

Monday, December 16, 2013 by

By Don Shaffer, RSF Social Finance

When you are looking for the new or emergent, you usually have to look off-the-grid. In many ways as RSF Social Finance has grown, we too have had to go off-the-grid to develop our unique approach to finance.

In 1984, a school burned down in New Hampshire. RSF organized a group of investors to rebuild it. Since then, we have made over $275 million in direct loans to social enterprises. Our track record has been excellent, with just 2 percent in cumulative loan losses over 29 years, and a 100 percent repayment rate to investors.

The key: bringing investors and borrowers closer together. We have found that if the individual investors who are providing capital and the social entrepreneurs who are borrowing capital can be more visible to each other – if they can understand each others’ needs and intentions, and sustain a personal connection whenever possible – then risk decreases and fulfillment increases.

Participants in a transaction become participants in a relationship. We believe this is nothing less than the antidote to modern finance, and can be applied on a substantial scale. It is the opposite of high frequency trading.

Specifically, four years ago RSF adopted a new approach to loan pricing for our $100 million flagship senior-debt fund. Each quarter, we convene representatives from our staff, our investors, and our borrowers to decide what annualized return rate investors will receive the following quarter, and what interest rate borrowers will pay – a radical form of transparency.

We call it community-based pricing. The response from participants has been overwhelmingly positive – and our interest rate, referred to as RSF Prime, has been very stable. We are now off-the-grid of the global financial interest rate system and no longer directly affected by the vagaries of Wall Street.

But of course the vast majority of all 401(k) programs, pension funds, and endowments are tethered to Wall Street, so it is naïve to believe we are fully off-the-grid.

This circumstance leads to questions many of us in the social finance field think about:

•  What is it going to take for the number of socially and environmentally-focused investors to grow substantially?

•  Can it happen fast enough for those of us who acknowledge the urgency of climate change and natural resource depletion?

•  Are there enough sound investment opportunities for investors who want to go off-the-grid?

•  How will we address the perennial issues of risk, return, and liquidity when there are so few established intermediaries in which to place funds?

•  What are the long-term implications for those of us who anticipate needing funds for retirement and who want to embrace off-the-grid investing?

A Generational Voice

I believe the very definition of wealth will change in my lifetime (I’m 44), where measures like GDP evolve to measures of well-being. These indicators will put spiritual, community, and ecological health at the center of the human experience and pull us toward an economy and supporting financial system that are direct, transparent, and personal, based on long-term relationships.

This article continues on Green Money Journal.

Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends for 2014

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by

With so much interest in wellness travel, I'm pleased to share the “Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends of 2014”. The forecast is based on year-long research and data collection in which I've consolidated trends across several industries to bring practical knowledge to both individuals and businesses.  

I'd like to encourage consumers and businesses to think of vacation in new ways. Our data shows that consumers view vacations as an important way to improve health, happiness and productivity.  Vacation trips are often a catalyst for transformation and consumers view wellness travel as a personal investment.  Vacations are no longer a luxury, they are a necessity for well-being.

Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends for 2014
Mind Matters: 
Consumers have caught on to mindful vacations that offer mental restoration.  Practices learned on a trip such as meditation, yoga, qi going and journaling can be incorporated at home to help manage stress, improve cognitive capacity and maintain emotional equilibrium. 

The Rise of Wellness Travel Agents
With the growing interest in trips to enhance mind, body and spirit, wellness tourism has created a new niche for travel agents to grow or expand their business while offering a personally and professionally rewarding career specialty. 

La Local Vita: 
Consumers have developed a deeper appreciation for locally relevant and authentic experiences with an emphasis on living  “la local vita” (the local life).  Mindsets have shifted away from tourist behavior to a keen interest in community-based exploration where getting to know the locals in a meaningful way sweetens the experience. 

Breaking Bread With Wellness 
Food tourism is a big trend intersecting with wellness travel. In addition to the physical aspect of sustenance; food tours, cooking classes, agriculture and farm-to-table experiences speak to the emotional, social, intellectual and sustainable aspects of well-being. 

Vacation RX: 
“Take 2 weeks and call me in the morning.” Physicians are now prescribing vacations as an antidote from stress.  Doctor’s orders for physical activity in parks are also being written to help combat obesity and diabetes in children. 

Looking for Personal Enrichment
With the understanding that wellness is more than fitness and nutrition, consumers are choosing trips that either focus solely on personal enrichment or as a part of their travel plans.  In search of fulfillment and meaning, many consumers are viewing vacations, weekend getaways and retreats viewed as a catalyst for change. 

Slow Travel: 
Have you ever felt pressured to run through your vacation checking off sites to see and things to do? Slow travel advocates changing the pace in order to sip, savor and revel in the vacation experience. 

Affluent & Altruistic:
Spurned by personal growth and discovery, affluent travelers value experiences connecting them to charitable causes and local communities. Volunteering on vacation has become increasingly popular and research shows altruism can improve well-being. 

Burgeoning Secondary Wellness Market: There is a large segment of travelers who may not opt for wellness retreats or tours but are committed to maintaining their healthy lifestyle on the road. Air transit and hotels are investing resources to attract these guests that are both business and leisure travelers.

Spas on a Mission:
The spa industry is staking a claim on wellness tourism and on wellness in general. Eager to shake the image of pampering for the affluent, spas are repacking and rebranding as wellness providers to attract a larger market.

To request a free download of the Infographic “Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends for 2014” or for more information on wellness travel, please visit www.wellnesstourismworldwide.com.  

Time Out for Peace is a Great Sentiment

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by

Can you imagine how advanced we would be as a species if everyone on the planet respected each other? Beliefs, life-styles, skin color, and more are always driving a wedge between neighbors to the point of conflicts. Countries are constantly in conflict because there is a lack of respect on a global scale. Resources are exhausted during these conflicts that could have been spent towards a remedy to the situation prior to violence. But that's not how we do things on this planet. Although a Time Out for Peace has potential, it has an uphill battle for a variety of reasons.

1. Personal Beliefs - The views of a single individual in power will always play a role in the outcome of politics. We see it every day when we turn on the news. The belief one person has doesn't conform to the masses. People will try very hard to force a specific life-style on others for they believe it's in the best interest of the whole. Whether it is from a political standpoint, religious zealots, or health concerns for the common man, there will always be underlying personal opinions that take over the reins of rational thought.

2. Inner Focus - Instead of worrying about what our neighbors are doing, why not focus effort on what we're doing? This isn't a stab at the United States government, but more of a judgment of most so-called super powers in general. Grant it, we don't want to be "nuked" by the other guy. But if everyone conformed to focusing inward for sociological improvement, there would be no need for worry anyway. In the U.S., people are freezing and starving in the streets while we invade countries on the other side of the globe under the pretense that we're "fighting for our freedoms." If freedom includes starving to death on the streets, then the mission has been accomplished. North Korea regularly threatens war on South Korea while the people of this country are turning to cannibalism in order to survive.

3. Corruption of Power - As the saying goes, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Although we should focus more on the internal workings of our own respective countries, there should be a line as to how one attains power in others. Should we sit back and allow countrymen of other areas to eat each other in order to stave off starvation? If a leader is determined to ignore advice from others while mistreating his or her subjects, should we stand back and allow the carnage to continue? Although these questions seem more towards pro-war, it gives you something to think about. Are we humane to allow the citizens of another country to suffer if we can prevent it? If the leader is unwilling to improve the situation within his or her borders, then what else do we do other than let those people suffer? All leaders should be conscientious of those within the borders and do what needs to be done to create a livable situation. Ruling through terror and fear is not earning respect and admiration.

Instead of focusing on the negatives, we should be praising the positives. There is so much hate in the world, it may be next to impossible to benefit from the fruits of peace. All we can really do is change the things we have control over. If we set a positive example, others could follow which could eventually lead to an understanding. Understanding a culture goes a long way to understanding the people. And understanding each other could help us realize that we are humans on this planet and can benefit from the wisdom of each other.

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Reed is a freelance writer and a resident blogger at Liveinnanny.org. She particularly enjoys writing about parenting, childcare, health and wellness. In addition, she is an expert consultant on issues related to household management and kids.

Six Reasons Why I Love the Green Festival

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 by

Green FestivalWhen the organizers of the Washington, DC Green Festival approached me this past spring about becoming their regional director,  I wondered if an event like this still resonated with consumers. Even though the event is widely recognized as the nation’s premier sustainability event, I asked myself if there was enough demand for an actual event in today’s age of virtual this, "there’s an app for that” and hash tags becoming part of our ever day lexicon.  Especially in a sector where green events have come and gone. Well, I found out that the resounding answer is YES! If my experience in September is any indication, while technology may have taken on a prominent place in our daily lives, there is absolutely a place in consumers’ lives for good, old fashioned face-to-face events.  We crave community and in-person interaction now more than ever. Technology hasn’t lessened the demand for this type of interaction. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  It has increased.  People want to talk with others, gather information and look someone in the eye while doing it.  They want to touch and try out products, taste samples and see for themselves what resources are available to them.  Most importantly they want to be part of a like-minded community and participate in that community.

As my colleagues working on the San Francisco Green Festival gear up for the last event of the year November 9 & 10 at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center, it seems like a good time to  reflect on some of my favorite elements of the Green Festival.

1.       At its core the Green Festival message is about celebrating what is working in the community and providing consumers easy-to-use, actionable solutions they can take home with them and implement right away. Whether it be delicious vegetarian recipes from  Washington Post Food Editor Joe Yonan’s new book ‘Eat Your Vegetables’  to DIY ways to repurpose furniture courtesy of Habitat for Humanity, to tips on bike commuting, composting, gardening, energy efficiency and so much more, there truly is something for everyone.  Kids too.

2.       The opportunity to connect with and learn from inspirational businesses, organizations, nonprofits and other like-minded individuals who believe in making a difference, leaving our planet in better shape then we inherited and finding ways to live an eco-friendly life.  The Festival routinely features well-known, national change agents like Ralph Nader or Amy Goodman, as well as locally-based leaders like Bernadine Prince, co-founder and co-executive director of FRESHFARM Markets, yoga teacher Faith Hunter of Embrace DC, who lead free yoga classes all weekend long in the Yoga Pavilion  and Fashion Fights Poverty, which curated a green fashion show .

3.       The event talks the talk and walks the walk.  Organizers actively encourage attendees to bike or take alternative transportation to reach the Green Festival. Anyone who bikes to the Festival receives free admittance.  Over 90% of waste generated by the Festival is diverted from landfills. There is even have a dedicated team of volunteers who sort through the trash making sure nothing is missed.

4.       As consumers are increasingly interested in where their food comes from, who prepared it and how it was made, that evolution has been reflected in the programming at the Festival. Food as a topic was addressed from every angle imaginable from the control of food production by a handful of large companies, to vegan baking tips from ‘Cupcake Wars’ veteran Doron Petersan, to growing gardens and food in small spaces, to leading area farmers markets and nonprofits showcasing how they are making it easier for consumers to have access to fresh, healthy and local foods.  Exhibitors offered healthful options for mom’s and mom’s to be, fair trade chocolates, juicing and smoothies, raw foods, and organic products just to name a few.  There were panels on how food creates opportunities for conversation about the environment and more.  Food is such an integral part in allowing us to live full lives, and there is so much going on behind the scenes that the average consumer has no idea about, so it’s important to provide opportunities to entertain, educate and inspire change all under one roof.

5.       The creativity and diversity of the exhibitors and sponsors.  They ranged from larger companies like Ford Motor Company test driving their fuel efficient vehicles and Equal Exchange Fair Trade Chocolates sampling and selling their tasty chocolates to small mom and pops like Karmlades selling environmental friendly cleaning products that smell wonderful and clean naturally without chemicals. I fell in love with one-of-kind scarves from a local clothing designer that were designed in the DC area and made with bamboo, an eco-friendly and super soft material.  Other exhibitors whose creativity caught my eye included a woman who used old scarves, jackets and other materials to make home goods, including a pillow made out of a World War II Army uniform, as well as the exhibitor who made bags, wallets and iPad covers out of old football and basketballs. Talk about reusing and recycling!

6.       Organizers are committed to reaching out to the community and making the event accessible to everyone. Complimentary tickets to the event are handed out at events throughout the area, can often be found online and through special social media promotions.

I think the most powerful take away for me was that there continues to be a thriving community, whether they be consumers, speakers, businesses or nonprofit organizations, who are devoted and committed to creating change.  To steal an oft quoted phrase from Ghandi, the Green Festival gives me hope that we will be the change we want to see in the world.

Hope to see you at the San Francisco Green Festival!