Your Own Human Nature

The Creating a Mindful Society Conference held in New York City this past weekend was an inspiring gathering of leaders in the field of mindfulness; people who are dedicating their time and energy to bringing mindfulness to inner-city schools, war veterans, corporate employees, lawyers, and people like you and me, looking for ways to bring mindfulness into daily life.

Accepting our human nature, using mindfulness to build better relationships, uncovering our natural mindfulness, letting go of our addiction to doing, and raising our culture’s compassion set-point. These were some of the main points discussed by lawyers, corporate leaders, financial advisors, and educators at last weekend’s Creating a Mindful Society conference.

Richard Davidson, John Kabat-Zin, Saki Santorelli, and Congressman Tim Ryan were all inspiring speakers. Most impressive where Ali and Atman Smith, two young men from Baltimore who talked about their program, the Holistic Life Foundation that is bringing hope to children in struggling Baltimore neighborhoods.

Even though these mindfulness professionals are working with a wide range of individuals in a variety of settings, there emerged some general agreement about the unique benefits of mindfulness – benefits that seem especially crucial in our era:

Bear witness to your human nature – If you have already begun a mindfulness practice you may have noticed a subtle change in your ability to accept the full package that comes with being human. You may have noticed tiny shifts in your ability to sit with uncomfortable situations, and uncomfortable emotions like sadness and anger. This acceptance of human nature gives us the ability to be less reactionary and make better choices. Noticing our own human nature also gives us more opportunities to cut through the assault of information that hits us every day and focus on what matters most.

In relationship – What we usually find is what matters most is being in relationship with others. Whether that relationship is warm and loving, or difficult and trying, we have a choice to respond in a way that fosters compassion. Take a look at our new worksheet on mindful relationships.

You know this stuff – This point deserves a full article (check back soon), but the main point is we were born mindful. Attention is gift that we were all given. This gift might now be burried under a lot of noise. Stop right now and think of a time when you felt fully present to your surroundings and felt at peace. How far back in time did you have to search? What if you could feel that way on a regular basis? What would you give to feel this way more often?

Let go of your edge – Would you give up your “edge” to feel more mindful? When Jenny Lykken, a Google executive talked about teaching mindfulness to employees, one of the concerns that came up was a fear “losing their edge.” Again I think this topic deserves more than a few sentences, so let’s unpack this in another conversation. But the main point is that there appears to be a fear that mindfulness will make us less productive and less successful. The neuroscience behind mindfulness actually contradicts this assumption.

Raising the world’s compassion set point – Congressman Tim ryan spoke with eloquence and bravery about the benefits of building a more attentive, compassionate culture, and how the realm of politics could use a dose of mindfulness. He was unapologetic about the need for Washington to up the skill sets that mindfulness provides. To this I say, Tim Ryan for president!

Accepting our human nature, using mindfulness to build better relationships, uncovering our natural mindfulness, letting go of our addiction to doing, and raising our culture’s compassion set-point. These were some of the main points discussed by lawyers, corporate leaders, financial advisors, and educators at last weekend’s Creating a Mindful Society conference.

Check back with us often as we continue to look at ways to implement these mindfulness skills in every day life.

Go to mindful.org to watch clips of last week’s conference.

We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!

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