Few things in this world could pull me out of a six-month post-graduate-degree writing silence.
I shared the photo -- and some sort of sarcastic remark -- with my social media network and called it a day.
It's one thing to feature a young, fertile white girl on the cover of TIME and promote it as "mindfulness." It's another to do it twice over the course of a decade for, essentially, the same watered-down story you're trying to sell the West about what Buddhism means and what, and here's the kicker, it can do for you. And perhaps those who are Buddhist-born (as opposed to converted to Buddhists) laugh as they watch a millions-old religious tradition morph into something that can fit into your pocket.
Lastly, it is interesting -- and sad, for this writer -- to see that the face and narrative of mindfulness and Buddhism in America hasn't changed in the last decade. En el clima economico actual, se nos pide mejores resultados con menos recursos, trabajar mas horas para gestionar la creciente carga de trabajo.
Los beneficios neurologicos del mindfulness se asocian a un incremento de la inteligencia emocional, especialmente la empatia y la auto-regulacion emocional. Muchas empresas en el mundo ya estan ofreciendo a sus empleados entrenamientos en Mindfulness. Y abundan las comunidades internacionales que se reunen en conferencias como la aclamada Wisdom 2.0 en las que las grandes tecnologicas se reunen con los maestros de la Consciencia para explorar simbiosis beneficiosas y como hacer un uso consciente de la tecnologia. Las ultimas investigaciones en neuroplasticidad demuestran el modo en que el cerebro puede cambiar en respuesta a un entrenamiento sistematico en Mindfulness. La practica regular del Mindfulness incrementa la capacidad del cerebro de auto-repararse y desarrollar nuevas conexiones neuronales. 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. I am excited to announce that my next book, The Awakened Introvert: Practical Mindfulness Skills for Maximizing Your Strengths and Thriving in a Loud and Crazy World, is just about to be released!

1) It came out of my own awakening to the bias against introversion (some of this bias self-imposed).
2) I realized that my decades long mindfulness path was in some large measure facilitated by being an introvert. Meditation is a natural fit for introverts because it embodies quiet, stillness, and provides a technology that can actually change our brains likely increasing our capacity to withstand stimulation such that it is no longer experienced as aversive. The Awakened Introvert is unique from other books by and for introverts because it is a workbook.
Upcoming EventsSolitary But Not Lonely: Empowering Going Within in an Extroverted Culture at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, February 20-22, 2015.
Mindfulness A–Z: Liberating Regret, Stuckness, and Perfectionism at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, March 1-6, 2015.
The Awakened Introvert: Mindfulness Skills for Thriving in an Extroverted World at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, August 30-September 4 2015.
Long before mindfulness was fashionable, Arnie Kozak, was studying, practicing, and teaching mindfulness and Buddhist psychology.
Arnie Kozak is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Psychiatry, University of Vermont College of Medicine and a Lecturer in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences where he teaches mindfulness courses. Beginning with a journey to India in the 80a€™s where he took the Bodhisattva vows from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Arnie Dr. I huffed and puffed about the fact that a prominent Western-based magazine was portraying Buddhism in such a Cover Girl way.
Look, we aren't the most culturally diverse country in the world, but that doesn't mean we can't break away from the Disney-princess notion that beauty equates to porcelain skin and golden hair. I don't pretend to be an expert within the sticky world of race and media, so these comments will be quite brief.
In Western modernity, Buddhism has become something that you can fit into your life, not something you shape your life around. El desarrollo de estas areas del cerebro incrementa nuestra habilidad para manejar los conflictos y a comunicar con mayor efectividad. 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). I am happy that this workbook will soon be available to help my fellow introverts in the world to bring a greater measure of sanity to their lives. For years I knew about introversion as a psychological concept and I readily identified myself as one.
I share what I know about being an introvert in an extrovert-dominated world and then provide a series of contemplations, exercises, and practices that can actually make a difference in how you cope moment-by-moment, day-by-day in the world.
People often ask me how I got into meditation and I never have a clear answer for them other than the fact that meditation has also held an intuitive appeal for me. You can work through the issues in writing, which is often a helpful way to make sense of things, connect to material, and to hear yourself thinking.
Claim your place in the introvert revolution by embracing mindfulness and the Buddha’s wisdom. Beginning with a journey to India in the 80’s, Arnie began his lifelong practice in mindfulness meditation.

Arnie's ability to translate ancient healing traditions into pragmatic applications suitable for modern lifestyles through the use of metaphors have made him a contributing voice in the Mindfulness Revolution.
Arnie is on the guest faculty for the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and the Copper Beech Institute.
Its presence and imagery choice stirred up issues about gender, beauty, race, religious marketing, and how the "face" of mindfulness and Buddhism in America hasn't changed in over a decade.
Flawless make up, perfect bone structure, skin as supple as Snow White; this girl was getting a lot from the "Mindful Revolution." What's her secret?!
Does this continue our cultural ideology that thin, white, blonde women are the beauty elite? But it is important to mention this within the context of Buddhism, a religion that originated in Asia and whose majority adherents are Asian. Beliefnet has a great little summary on the divide of "ethnic" and "elite" [read: "immigrant" vs. Pero la gran tecnologica no es la unica: Toyota, Bank of America, Starbucks y Deutsche Bank son otros ejemplos. 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. However, it didn’t realize the prejudice that I and other applied to this introverted way of being.
But then I realized that, indeed, my reserved quiet was an introvert asset rather than a liability.
I like to be quiet, I value stillness (even though it can be challenging to realize), and I know how difficult it is to manage my ADD-like mind.
Intent on finding a way to bring the practical healing attributes of mindfulness he began incorporating these techniques in his private practice. Even the positioning of her head, tilting up as some sort of divine call-to-action, soaking up erethral rays, screamed Western Christianity. While I couldn't find any authenticated studies reporting that beautiful, white women sell more magazines in my online hunt (I'm sure they exist, write me if you find 'em and we can link), clearly this is information being shared internally 'cause white women keep popping up everywhere. True, putting an Asian on the cover meditating or being "mindful" would have created a stir as well -- "You can be Buddhist and white!" -- but my tip-toe into the racial issues of this cover involve the bougie-ness of modern Buddhism. This new definition of Buddhism is perfect for those who want to dabble around spiritually without fully committing to a set of moral or ethical rules.
I've heard too many people call Buddhism a "philosophy, not a religion" than I care to admit. El Mindfulness nos ayuda a re-conectar con las zonas mas evolucionadas de nuestro cerebro para devolvernos el control de nuestras emociones, permitiendonos elegir la respuesta mas apropiada al contexto y las circunstancias. Y ya en nuestro pais empresas innovadoras y abiertas al cambio transformador se han lanzado a esta aventura: Caser, Repsol, Meta4, Unidad Editorial, GSK y otras muchas PYMES como Azvase y Persei Consulting entre otras. 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. It was endemic to who I am as a human being and it is the starting point on my path to spiritual awakening. Instead, his enlightenment happened in the quiet solitude of meditation and this is what he advocated for his followers 2500 years ago.
Kozak's ability to translate ancient healing traditions into pragmatic applications suitable for modern lifestyles through the use of metaphors have made him a strong voice in healthcare and business.
These two covers, taken at surface-newstand-value, reveal that when it comes to mindfulness & Buddhism in America, you're not getting the whole story. 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 […]. The path of quiet is just as relevant and necessary today as the world becomes more and more self-preoccupied with attention-seeking. Kozak created Exquisite Mind in Burlington, Vermont as a vehicle that could expand his wisdom to larger audiences beyond individual psychotherapy to professionals and corporations, health care providers, public groups and, most recently with Exquisite Mind Golf, amateur and professional golfers. During a conversation on this topic, a friend brought up the fact that historically, women are the ones striving to "self-improve," or at least taking visible action to do so. Because only affluent white people would be crazy enough to leave their cushy life, shell out $10,000, temporarily take retreat in an "impoverished" country, and meditate on other people's "suffering." [Yes, many retreats are domestic, but these international retreats exist and are quite popular]. The "elite" are craving those mindfulness books, those meditation tapes, and those month-long retreats, perhaps because they feel like they need to catch up intellectually on a religion they converted to, or simply because they think it's a fun hobby.
His basic teachings, included in the book, are a roadmap for introverts (and those intrepid extroverts, too, willing to do the inner work). I’ve devoted my life to trying to understand and live these basic teachings, and it is my honor to share them with you. The men in my life -- and I am well aware most of them fit within a my social and racial demographic -- all follow this trend.

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