If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know how my life has transformed through the practice of mindfulness. You were an executive and an entrepreneur who left your career to train and serve in monasteries around the world. After completing my education, I followed the ways of the world and committed myself to finding success in the corporate world.
In my entrepreneurial role, I tasted both success and failure, which helped me see the transitory nature of material wealth better. What eventually prompted me to change my path were several instances of seeing this potential of inner freedom as something that’s available in any moment of our lives. At that time in my life, the intensity of seeing this freedom was so strong that I lost all interest in pursuing any kind of worldly life. At a social and cultural level, we’re all subject to influences within the environment we live in. At an internal level, our mind and consciousness harbor impulses and patterns that we don’t seem to have conscious control over. But you asked, ‘how does it play a part in freeing the mind?’ My frank answer is that, although mindfulness has outward benefits and can be a great training ground for many to begin with, it does not lead to the unconditional freedom of mind. I would even go further to say that for many practitioners of mindfulness, and certain forms of meditation, it has become another mechanism for “wanting” to be in control of their lives and their minds.
I can see how mindfulness has become a mechanism for me to attempt to control my mind, and I do believe this has served me—up until now… But, perhaps the “brick wall” I’m finding myself up against is part of the duality trap you mentioned.
Part of the challenge exists because most mindfulness practices are about training to anchor ourselves in the present moment or working with body sensations until getting better and better at it.
While such a sense of superiority and progress is satisfying to the ego, it leaves an underlying sense of feeling stuck, similar to what you describe.
Now, regarding your current conundrum – let’s suppose you grew up in a small town, and the time has come for you to leave for college or a job, and you experience pain, conflict and uncertainty. In general, tapping into the inquiring nature of our mind is the safe ground on which anyone can build their practice and discover their path to freedom. That said, if your readers are interested in exploring inquiry, my book provides model questions to show its practical application for addressing everyday complexities. Who is Discover Your Free Mind written for, and what can readers expect to receive from it? I feel like the book appeals mostly to the intelligent general audience with some background in meditation, mindfulness, or spiritual practices.
However, I do caution potential readers that despite its promising title, Discover Your Free Mind is about the process, rather than the promise of freedom.
Although certainly daunting, I’m committed to the process of finding out what’s on the other side of the wall I’m facing right now.
A serious dose of tough self-love goes a long way with me… And, as soon as I was able to shift into acceptance, my aversion started to melt away. Knowing I only had so much time left to enjoy the house, I found myself feeling much more grateful for it.
This new way of looking at the situation alleviated the sense of loss—replacing it with hope and possibility. Kate and I discussed the option… The thought of downsizing appealed to us—dedicating ourselves to more conscious minimalism as a family. Moving ahead, we slowed down the pace of our search, only visited homes that fit our vision of what we wanted—and within less than a week—we found another (slightly larger) tiny house—with an even bigger separate workspace, in an even more convenient location. This indulgent daydreaming phase now dominating, my initial fantasies had the flavor of excitement. Every hour of every day for the world’s longest week, I battled with accepting the unknown.
Then, finally, a week and one day after we submitted our application, Kate’s cell rang.
I grew up an only child with emotionally distant parents, in a relatively remote area of New Hampshire. I can no longer muscle through my days, pretending I’m some sort of robot who can function autonomously without a broader network of connection and support.
There seems to be a rising number of secular mindfulness practitioners—but a clear lack of facilitated physical spaces for us to commune with one another outside of classes, sits, and workshops.
You need community; you need a brother or sister, or friend to remind you what you already know. Mindfulness is within you, but it needs to be watered in order to manifest and become a reality. A mindful community is a community of resistance, resisting the speed, violence, and unskillful ways of living that are prevalent in our society. I went to a baby shower this past weekend and, literally, salivated at the sea of homemade pupusas waving around in front of me.
I wanted to shove ten of these puppies into my mouth and then make a beeline for the layer cake.
All this got me thinking… Kate and I made the commitment to eat healthier for ourselves. Beyond the benefits of sticking to our personal resolutions to eat healthier for ourselves—and based on the feedback from those around us at the shower—I started wondering if we also had a social responsibility to follow-through with our personal resolutions. And, as they looked across this data set, as well as others they conducted—they found that 80% of our behavior is basically imitation of our peers, of the people who are around us. You don’t have to go to the extreme of joining a commune—although plenty of people are doing that.
1) Stop hanging out with the people who are displaying the behaviors we don’t want, and seek out friendships with those who are displaying the behaviors we do want to adopt. 2) Once we have the strength to stand tall in our new behaviors, we must personally resolve to stay committed to our intention to continue these new behaviors.
So, I say, YES, we have a social responsibility to follow through with our personal resolutions! During my month at CML, I woke up at 4:10am almost every day, ate only two meals per day (the last of which ended around 2pm), logged approximately 150 hours of meditation, and upped my meditation practice to a whole new level. Invigorated and inspired by my time at CML, I’m also excited to kick-up my efforts to help facilitate more mindfulness in our communities.

When an obese individual loses weight, there is a good chance that maintaining weight loss will be a lifelong battle. Another possible tool for dieters is mindfulness-based approaches to increase awareness in the moment and promote adaptive self-regulation. This randomized controlled trial involved two comparative arms that ran parallel for an initial 5.5-month diet-exercise intervention with or without mindfulness components and a subsequent 1-year follow-up.
The difference between the 2 intervention groups came from what was done during the remaining 1.5 hours of each session. The study began with 194 middle-aged men and women (82%) with obesity who were recruited from the local area. At no time was there a statistical difference between the mindfulness group and the control group in terms of weight loss. This was a largely thoughtful and well-conducted weight loss trial with a large sample size, an active control group, and assessment of a variety of cardiometabolic markers. Most long-term weight loss interventions show maximal weight loss around 6-months, with a steady regain thereafter.
However, any differences in weight loss did not appear to have a clinically meaningful impact on other risk factors, as most were not significantly different between groups, even at 6-months when the difference in weight was greatest. Interestingly, the authors suggest that lower ratings for one of the mindfulness instructors may have reduced the impact of the mindfulness intervention.
Overall it appears that mindfulness has potential to be a beneficial adjunct to standard dietary and exercise counseling, although more research is needed to find out how the type of mindfulness, duration of training, duration of practice by the participants, and baseline stress or emotional status affect its impact.
Alex Leaf graduated from Washington State University with a focus in accounting, but a passion in nutrition and exercise physiology. I was exposed to different cultures and traditions growing up, and I was also fortunate to be introduced to meditation early on in my life. Yet, in each of the environments where I lived—particularly in the East—questioning tradition, philosophies and religion was not well tolerated. For a period of 7+ years, I worked in Singapore, Australia, and the United States and was involved in a couple of start-ups. Despite pursuing a path that held lucrative financial rewards, there was always a sense of inadequacy in the back of my mind. And, in my early 20s, I lost my mother rather suddenly, which added to my growing insecurity on the nature of life itself.
I realized later, it was not necessary to live in monasteries to see the nature of this transformative inner freedom. We chase after experiences and states of mind that lead to “bliss” and “avoidance of pain.” Once we experience a certain exciting state of mind, whether through a glass of vodka or while kneeling in prayer, we then condition our mind to cling to it—chase after it—again and again. Along with certain secular practices, the quality of having an inquiring mind helps to shift our perspective and releases us from our mental conditioning. In my role as a mindfulness coach, I acknowledge that mindfulness in its current secular model in the west is perhaps the best form of training in freeing the mind. The benefit of this is a greater ability to be anchored non-judgmentally into the present moment experience rather than into the narrative of the mind—which for many of us is self-critical. This is the duality trap of mindfulness practices, which reinforces our sense of self and egoism. There’s a part of me that’s looking to release my egoism and sense of self through meditation and mindfulness practices, yet that egoism and sense of self continues to be reinforced through those very practices. They get frustrated when the practices that once worked for them don’t work anymore, and so they try to “muscle” their way through it. They’re the same patterns that organized religion has relied on throughout human history to give people a sense of faith (and identity).
This is because you may be intuitively aware that the natural and freeing quality of your awareness has been compromised. You only make it worse if you ignore this or try to control your mind to suppress conundrums. But you’re also looking forward to the greater opportunity and the adventure that lies ahead of you. Would building an inquiry practice be beneficial for me at this stage – and would it be beneficial for readers of this blog who resonate with my present situation? But here, again, you need some kind of framework to start with — otherwise you can remain deluded within the limiting structures of your own thought patterns. Within the range of challenges — anxiety, stress, depression, conflicts, and addictions — one can find common patterns of “dis-eased” conditions that most of us are subject to and begin to work with them.
I don’t expect people who hold strong religious beliefs or those who believe ONLY in the potential of science to be receptive to its message and arguments.
Whether or not I’ll be able to move through it to ultimately discover inner freedom is yet to be revealed… My guess is that myriad more “brick walls” will appear once I’ve moved through this one. Please join me and a growing number of like-hearted souls in celebrating mindfulness as a way of life. And, watching all of this happening was the most frustrating part… Intellectually, I knew I was causing all the angst by not accepting the situation. But then our landlady changed her mind and decided she didn’t want to rent the tiny house longterm, after all.
I see the importance of this communal component to my mindfulness practice. But, is there a space for sangha—for community—outside the Buddhist context, within the secular mindfulness movement? Online mindfulness spaces abound, and I’ve found a sense of community within these spaces to a degree. We cannot go to the ocean as a drop of water—we would evaporate before reaching our destination. When we can look at ourselves and at others as beautiful, unique flowers and trees we can truly grow to understand and love one another. When we can appreciate each member’s contribution and see our weaknesses as potential for growth, we can learn to live together harmoniously. So, this is a shout out to all you dedicated mindfulness practitioners out there—I think it’s time for us to find one another and make time for BEing together.
I had to physically block my mouth with my hand to keep myself from eating one of these things. One way to help ourselves do this is by undertaking a dedicated deep, internal, practice—such as meditation and mindfulness.
Because science is now proving that our personal resolutions aren’t just about us, personally, anymore.

You’ll also hear about the pioneering work that CML founder and guiding teacher, Soryu Forrall is doing to merge mindfulness with responsibility in our society.
Sound appealing?… If so, keep an eye out for announcements about how to get involved with mindful community-building activities and opportunities (both virtually—and locally in the Los Angeles area).
There is support for its use in improving maladaptive eating behaviors, such as binge eating and emotional eating, that can no doubt impede weight loss or cause weight gain.
Outcome measurements were made at baseline and 3, 6, 12, and 18-months after beginning the study. The diet component included the typical recommendations to reduce caloric intake through substituting whole grains for simple carbohydrates and increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy oils, and proteins. The mindfulness-enhanced program added mindfulness training for stress management, eating, and exercise.
Adherence was similar between groups at all time points, being 81% in the mindfulness group after 18-months and 71% in the control group. Blood pressure, C-reactive protein, other blood lipids, HbA1c, and HOMA-IR were not significantly different between groups.
Although no differences in weight loss were observed, the study does make a useful contribution to the literature.
It is therefore notable in the current study that the mindfulness group regained an average of only 0.3 kg from 6 to 18 months, compared to a 1 kg regain in the control group. Of those that did become significant later on (at 12- and 18-months), there is a possibility this was a chance finding, as corrections for the multiple comparisons being made were not performed.
Based on feedback from the participants, instructor C was rated as less helpful than instructors A and B. He is currently attending Bastyr University for their masters of nutrition and didactic program in dietetics with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian.
And during this period of trying to cope with the external stress of a busy life, I went back to seeking meditation for mental balance. The game changer was a momentary seeing through into the overwhelming sense of inadequacy and dichotomy that was making me miserable.
The necessary change is, instead, one of reversing our perspective and of training ourselves in appreciating the nature of this inner freedom. Of course, many philosophers and spiritual teachers have spoken about this danger, from Socrates to Buddha.
Such a shift away from our egoic impulses is liberating, and each of us has experienced it to some degree.
Mindfulness can thus be a therapeutic practice, and thanks to researchers, it’s getting widely embraced within scientific circles as well. Ultimately, we must go beyond these concepts and practices of mindfulness to discover the true nature of inner freedom. And, prior to the mindfulness revolution, these patterns were also what many psychologists were nurturing through self-acceptance therapies.
So, in that sense, what is beneficial for you at this particular stage in your practice may be different from what is beneficial for another individual. To really gain benefits from this book, I encourage readers to come back after the first reading and try out the inquiries and exercises. But in reality, stepping into inner freedom is the simplest practice once you discover its potential. I also knew the only way to put a halt to this maniacal mindset meant rigorously redirecting my focus. I mention this, not to play victim to my neurological differences from the norm—but to bring to light that my using it as an excuse to not partake in community needs to change. Our practice is to see that we are a flower or a tree, and we are the whole garden as well, all interconnected. For instance, drinking diet soda has been shown to be more effective than drinking water at not only promoting weight loss, but at keeping the weight off over one year.
However, whether mindfulness can aid weight loss and weight loss maintenance was only recently investigated by Daubenmier et al from the University of California, San Francisco. The exercise component included recommendations to increase daily activity and moderate intensity exercise, primarily through walking, and discussed the importance of strength training. This included sitting meditation, yoga postures, and mindful walking, all of which was recommended to be performed for 30 minutes each day, six days per week, as well as becoming more aware of physical sensations of hunger, stomach fullness, taste satisfaction, food cravings, and the identification of emotional and other eating triggers. Nonetheless, 10 of the 11 assessed risk factors favored the mindfulness group at 12-months and 9 of 11 at 18-months.
Intuitively, I can tell there’s something on the other side of that wall for me to explore. But, how do I get there? And, because of this, I learned to conform and restrain myself to not allow my inner doubts and inquiries to take shape outwardly. In recent times, Richard Dawkins and Susan Blackmoore have written about this “meme” effect and how replication of ideas spread like viruses. Using such momentary seeing as our path to freedom is an independent journey into Free Mind. Just by participating with other practitioners in life’s daily activities, we can experience a tangible feeling of love and acceptance.
And what they found was that people were more likely to stop smoking if the people around them stopped smoking. By contrast, the speed at which one loses weight does not appear to influence weight loss maintenance.
By contrast, the control group received further additional diet-exercise content and cognitive-behavioral stress management techniques.
Clearly the type of mindfulness instruction plays a role in its success, although future research will be needed to figure out the nitty-gritty of its impact. Recognizing the fundamental unit is not the individual, but the social group—the best way to act out your intentions, is to change who you associate with […].

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Comments to «Mindfulness eating exercise script»

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