08 Jan

Lasting Change, Not Temporary Relief

“The human heart cries out for help; the human soul implores us for deliverance; but we do not heed their cries, for we neither hear nor understand “ – Khalil Gibran

People talk about changing themselves, whether just some minor aspect, perhaps a habit, annoying trait, or particular behaviour, or even revamping their entire personality and approach to living.

But most people who care enough to actually make the effort to change, do so without a proper appreciation of how to actually go about properly doing this.

Wanting to change is a good thing, it’s just not at all easy.

One of the complications that arises is that we have become grossly confused with the proper understanding of what change is about.

At one level, change seems rather easy.

When people want change in their life because it doesn’t feel right, they often take vacations, drink alcohol or take drugs, seek new relationships, or try any one of a number of different avenues in an effort to create differences with the ultimate goal of  making themselves feel better.

This is not surprising, and factually speaking, creates changes.  Each of these activities, or combinations of them, not only change how I think and feel about myself, they also usually create differences in how I feel about the people I am with, and how I perceive the world I live in.

Occasionally, these (self-coping) actions provide periodic relief from pain and distress. But often they only prolong the problem or the pain,  and occasionally, make the situation worse.

Furthermore, these are the easy ways, the superficial ways.  They are made available to us through the society in which we live should we choose them.  Furthermore,  whether we realize it or not, we choose these options because one way or another,  we are actually encouraged to use them, by the society in which we live.  Most people at one point or another have tried them.

The type of change process I am referring to involves much more than a mood alteration, or finding momentary relief.

I am not talking about change by putting something into my body, or looking to the outside world or someone else to solve my problem.

My primary interest and therapeutic approach is with changing the fundamental nature of our “self”.  It is directed towards and concerned with the process  of our emotional and  psychological development, maturation, and evolution.

More than this, it is also an approach designed to effect change so as to potentially become a positive and constructive force for others and for the world around us.

Problematically for many, there is nothing easy about this process. Every person I see has their own unique challenges and tasks.  But there certainly is a path, and this level of change is absolutely possible.

Contact me if you are interested in finding out more.

18 Dec

Mindfulness

Over the last 25 years there has been a surprisingly rapid acceptance of “Mindfulness” practices into mainstream culture, including utilization as a therapeutic practice in the arena of psychology.

Mindfulness is now offered to help reduce depression, anxiety, stress, physical pain, relationship conflict, eating disorders, and a wide array of other distressing experiences.

As helpful as this may be, even passing familiarity with the Buddhist teachings identifies that such practices were actually intended for a much larger purpose which can generally be described as helping individuals evolve, emotionally and psychologically.

And perhaps, because mindfulness practices are amazingly easy to misunderstand and immensely difficult to properly implement, it is not surprising that much of what we see today being offered and practiced as “Mindfulness” seems to miss the developmental point of it all.

Mindfulness as a practice is not simply about finding a way to suffer less or to be happy. The natural consequence of proper Mindfulness practice are profound alterations in how we both experience our life, and how we live it.

It is also my contention, that as psychological growth and development occurs, then the quality of our relationships must also transform. Here I am referring to the relationship with my “self”, with the “other”, and with the “world” in which I live. And as this changes, so too does the fundamental basis for my actions and behaviours.

From my perspective, far too many modern Mindfulness orientations seem to be promising peace and happiness as though it were a pill we could take, without clear appreciation of the fact that this practice requires considerable discipline and proper instruction.

My next post, On Mindfulness, will provide greater clarity on the above thoughts and more. I encourage anyone interested to continue reading, and comment if you wish.

20 Nov

On Mindfulness

This article examines what I consider to be one of the primary limits to a richer understanding and utilization of Mindfulness.

Historically rooted in the enlightenment teachings of Buddhism and Taoism, I see the proper practice of Mindfulness as offering a genuine pathway to psychological and spiritual growth.

In terms of its current level of cultural acceptance, Mindfulness has come a long way in the last 25 years. It is also my view however, that today’s mainstream practice of Mindfulness does not yet properly serve as a vehicle for accelerating or encouraging such growth and development.

Let me be clear that after 25 years of clinical practice as a psychologist, I understand that for most people there are much more important and pressing issues than trying to grasp the nature of consciousness,  or to truly appreciate  what it means when we talk about “our self”, or “others”.

Most people do not genuinely seek answers to questions such as “Who am I”? “How do I live my life so it feels meaningful to me”? “Why do I keep doing things that hurt me and don’t stop”? , “Why do I hurt the people I love”? And so on.

So this is precisely why, when individuals do arrive at a place in their life where they are willing to allow someone to help with their concerns, or to find answers to such questions, it seems so unfortunate that the value of Mindfulness in term of teaching them how to nurture their psychological growth is seldom being offered.

There are of course, many issues involved here.  But one of the central challenges I see relates to how  we over-identify our thought processes as being the central quality of our “mind”, and subsequently, our “self”.

This is a widely held attitude most easily exemplified in Descartes dictum “I think, therefore I am”.  Indeed it seems to be a socially accepted assumption that we experience our world through our thoughts ; that we define our self  in terms of such thoughts and those thoughts are the primary drivers of our experiences, and ultimately our actions.

This idea, this working connection between who “I” am and what I do because of what and how I think, seems so ingrained into our culture that it now has the status of an unquestionable truth. The result is that interest in “self” and “mind” is all too often restricted to consideration of thought process,  primarily in terms of how to change them.

Consider this explanation for example,

The core skill of mindfulness is teaching you to recognize your thought patterns. Doing this enables you to break away from the false constructs of your mind; those words which are most troublesome to you. These false constructs are what I call Big Lies that you have come to accept as true in spite of all evidence to the contrary. It is your response to the Big Lies stored in your mind that creates hurtful and painful reactions. When practicing mindfulness you become able to redefine the false constructs present in your mind. To reinterpret how you experience certain psychological events.”

I agree with this notion of “Big Lies”; those false constructs we create in our mind. And I also agree with the description of the manner in which harmful reactions and behaviours effects flow from them.

We certainly do seem to create meaning of our self, our world, and our relationships from our thoughts. And our behaviours certainly do seem to flow from such constructions.  Who would question this?

Indeed, I would support the position that if am depressed and am encouraged to pay attention to the type and quality of thoughts I am having, then my experiences of being depressed will shift. There is enough research evidence to validate this approach that it would seem to be pointless to dispute the evidence. And I am not disputing that evidence.

Part of what I am arguing however, is that strictly speaking, these changes are not occurring because I have changed my negative thoughts.  Rather, it is because through awareness I have altered my relationship with my thoughts such that the fundamental basis and dynamic for the experience of depression in the first place has changed.

Another way to describe this relationship change is to say that in the very act of becoming aware of my negative thoughts, I am now identifying with them, or relating to them, in a fundamentally different manner because  I am no longer struggling with them. Descriptively, I am now interested in them, essentially orienting myself towards rather than away from them.

Likewise, if  I was instructed to pay attention to my breathing rather than paying attention to my depressing thought,  then I would also be altering my relationship to my thinking.

Accordingly, it is  therefore accurate to say that  if  I am absorbed in my thoughts (by definition meaning I have  little awareness) and I am  telling myself how bad things,  then this will affect my experiences.

So in the process of activating my awareness, (regardless of what I am becoming aware of) I am actually shifting my relationship to those experiences.  And in so doing, the fundamental quality of those experience changes. It has to.

Within this  framework of understanding the human process, it is not surprising that cognitive therapy should be effective in helping people  with depression, or anxiety, or almost any other form of human suffering.

Likewise, there would seem to be a real value in a Mindfulness practice in which people are encouraged to identify with their thought processes as a means of effecting changes in their behaviour.

But believing that our thoughts are the primary determinant of my experience, or my behaviour, misses this vital relational connection.

Moreover,  I would argue that over-identification with our thought processes actually creates a form of relationship which disconnects us from our wider experiential self.  The very act of doing so  supports the illusion of an isolated and separate ego,  and potentially reignites and reinforces the very fears and reactive behaviours that cause so much pain and suffering in the first place.

It also creates a relational disconnect between myself and others, as well as a disconnect to the world in which I live.  Since my behaviour towards myself, others, and this world is informed by my experiences,  then my behaviour cannot help but reflect this fundamental disconnect.

With proper mindfulness and awareness practices however, we can do something about this.  With proper instruction in awareness, we can directly see why we need to care about all of these relationships.

When we achieve such understanding through our own direct experiences, we no longer need to be convinced by anyone or anything.  And as this happen, the very basis for our moral code and the actions which flow from it begins to reformulate itself.

It is this theme I intend to explain more fully in the upcoming series of articles. And in so doing, it is my wish that a more useful mode of working with Mindfulness can be achieved.  I also hope that these articles might open a dialogue between others on this notion such that between all of us, we can help bring that horizon of understanding, wisdom and compassion, even closer.

02 Nov

Mindfulness: How am I going to change?

Most people tell themselves (or they are told), that they need to change, somehow control their behaviour, to just get a hold of themselves and simply stop being something (angry, jealous, anxious, depressed etc…).  But the simple truth is we cannot successfully “force” our self into changing.  That is simply misguided thinking and it will only lead, at best, to frustration and disappointment.

It is amazing how many people are trying to become better, and are only making matters worse.  Perhaps 95% of the people I see in individual and couples therapy are suffering from this difficulty one way or another.

We have to want to change.   Of that there is no doubt. But it is not enough to want to change.  If we don’t understand what works and what doesn’t we may be spending an inordinate amount of time, energy, and resources  trying to do things that either take us nowhere, or only make things worse.

It is a powerful and compelling notion that if only I look at my life differently, if only I change how I think about myself and others, then perhaps I can be happy. But it is no simple task to truly alter one’s ways of thinking, feeling and acting. There are so many impediments to change, so many sources of confusion and illusion.

If we do decide to change, where do we start?   What is really going to make a difference, and exactly what kind of difference will it make?  What does it even mean to be a better person?

It is my contention that our common ways of understanding how to change ourselves, what we are trying to change into, and why we are even trying to do this, are misguided.

Most people who feel unhappy with some aspect of their self would like to believe that there is some short and easy way to change themselves if only they knew the secret.  Primarily, the form this takes goes something like this – “If I just think long enough and hard enough about what I am doing wrong, I can find a solution and then act on it”.  It is not surprising people think like this. We are fed this illusion in many ways.

Watch some of the popular  “getting help” shows or read most mainstream advice columns and that is how it is presented.  All you need to do is listen to what someone tells you is wrong with you, how to fix it,  and there you go.

Thus it is that most people I see in my practice think, or hope, that if they come to see me for a short chat they will learn this secret and then poof, they will be able to apply it and the transformation will be complete. Believe it or not, this simply does not and cannot work.  In the article entitled “Mindfulness – Freedom From the Known,”  I will try to explain why.

27 May

Is Change Possible?

As I was walking through the park the other day I began a conversation with a man who eventually told me he was dying of cancer.  He had this cancer, he explained, because he was too stressed, too worried, too agitated.

He described being troubled by almost everything he saw around him and even though he knew it wasn’t good for him,  even though he believed there was nothing he could do to correct these concerns,  he said could not stop worrying and fretting.

I wondered about this for a long while after I left him.  Could it be true that there was nothing he could do to help himself?

This gentleman expressed many concerns to me as he complained non-stop about how our government was misspending taxpayer’s money, how misinformed our medical system was in providing proper treatments for people, and a seemingly endless list of other issues and complaints.

I don’t know if it was true as he believed, that he had cancer because of his agitated mind. But I  know he thought so.

So it was most interesting for me when I heard him say he felt he was powerless to stop complaining about these things even though he felt it was killing him.

Oddly, he didn’t seem particularly interested in his thought process as he joined one bothersome issue to another, each seeming to serve as fuel for the next. He reminded me in some ways of an alcoholic continuing to drink, knowing full well it was destroying him, and calmly saying there was nothing he could do about it.  And perhaps he was right.

I think for some people change is not possible, or at best it is a remote possibility.  It seems that there actually is nothing they can do to alter how they think, feel and act in the world, even though their life may be heading downhill.

But if they are powerless, why?  How can this be explained?

Some people can’t change because they are not interested. There are those who do nothing about stress in their life simply because they don’t seem to think about doing anything about it until it is too late.

Often these people seem to have a very limited awareness of themselves and others. Their life is hectic and non-stop almost as though they need to get to the next moment before they have arrived at this one.   They don’t seem to properly identify with, or appreciate, their problems, and even though others might be concerned about them, nothing will come of their efforts to help other than frustration for all concerned

Some people can’t change  because they don’t see the problems in their life as having anything to do with them. Instead, it is other people, the world “out there” causing their suffering and if only ‘it” or “they” would change, their problems would be over.  Not surprisingly such people often tend to be disruptive in the lives of others.

Some people can’t change because they have given up.  They have tried many, many, times with little success and much disappointment. They have lost hope trying to feel better when nothing they have done has made a difference.  Such people can often be deeply cynical about almost everything and everyone.  As long as they still care enough to look after and protect their existing reality as miserable as it may be,  they can survive.  But if they are then faced with an unexpected and significant life challenge they can crumble.  When they finally reach the stage that nothing matters this is often life-threatening.

Others are still willing to try but have no clear direction of how to actually do this and are going in circles.  The will is there, but the energy is wasted.

So in these examples, I think change for such individuals in not possible; at least not under the existing conditions. But that is not the same as saying nothing can help.

But if it is possible, how can this be accomplished? And for those who are willingly seeking to change how can this be accomplished?

There are many, many questions which need to be asked and answered when we talk about change, about who can change and how to to do it. What do we even mean by change? Is change actually possible or is it an illusion?

For me the answer to the question of whether or not change is possible is, “It depends”.

I don’t mean to sound elusive in this response but I think it is correct to state it this way.  There are many conditions which have to be met before change can occur and it is helpful at the outset to consider what some of those conditions might be.  In the next series of articles on Mindfulness I will look more closely at this.

29 Sep

Mindfulness: Freedom From the Known

The answer to the question as to “who, or what am I?”  is a complicated one.  But it is primarily complicated by a confused, though perfectly normal way of perceiving reality that is almost  impossible to see for oneself . This article aims to clarify one source of this confusion.

I think it is easy enough to accept that what we are today, how we experience our self, others, and the world we live in, is very much the product of an amazing and vast number of experiences we could generally refer to as “our life so far”.

Given this inextricable bond to our past, then everything we do “now”, every thought we have, every belief we hold and action we take, is rooted in and flows from our history.  This connection to where we have been before has both advantages and disadvantages.

The advantage is we don’t have to continually relearn how to live in this world. It is absolutely critical to our survival that we possess the ability to learn from and utilize past experiences and apply those lessons to daily living.   Without such learning the world would appear as a chaotic buzz of confusion to which we would have no idea how to respond.  Within a matter of days or at best weeks, without outside support and care, we would die.

But here is the disadvantage.

Most people seem to want to change, get rid of bad habits, improve their relationships.

For many, the search for these answer seems to point in the direction of  thinking long and hard about our life, perhaps making those tough choices we could never follow through on, not allowing ourselves to act like we have before, and so on.

Yet if our intention is to become healthier and create a better life for our self then by definition we have to learn to act differently than we have up to this point.   But how can we make new and different choices to move in healthy directions if we are using the same “mind” that got us into difficulty in the first place?

Think about this for a moment.  If our previous way of being in the world wasn’t working for us before, how can we rely on that to guide us now?

As motivated as we may be to live our life differently, or to end or minimize our suffering, the inescapable truth seems to be that we have to find a way that offers more than our existing methods of looking at our self and our world.

If we are going to find a way that actually promotes our psychological growth and development, we have to find a fundamentally new means of  understanding our self, our relationships, and our world.

To do this we have to free our self from the normal approaches we take to finding answers to our life: we have to “free ourselves from the known”.

The article entitled “What Is Mindfulness (Part I)”  begins the exploration of the approach I have developed and utilized over the last 25 years utilize in my practice.

19 Jan

Being Here: Depression, Anxiety, Stress and All (Part I)

The only reality we have is this living moment. The only possibility we ever have to make a different choice, to alter a course of action, or to change our mind, resides in “this” moment. Yes, we can plan on doing something tomorrow, but both that decision to wait and the action itself when it occurs will be choices made in present tense, “now” moments.

Oddly, it seems to me for most people the significance of “this” moment, pales in comparison to how important we consider our past and future to be, and our absorption in the “world out there”.  This certainly seems to be true given how much time we spend in reviewing yesterday, planning for tomorrow, and looking at screens in front of us. Indeed for most people, the very notion of “being aware of this” moment seems to have almost no meaning, and subsequently  almost no value.  This is a shame.

In order to grasp the profound implications of this, it is important to first understand an interesting quality of the human mind.

Let me begin by noting that most people are only nominally tuned into the thoughts they are having at any given point in time, their current emotional and body level feeling states, running memories, decision making processes, and most of the impulses which drive the actions in which they are engaged.  As such, they are not conscious of  most of the essential  experiences one could describe as being “me”. 

The fact of the matter is that almost everything we do is done with very little awareness. A very large percentage of our day is spent on automatic pilot, and only in very particular circumstances do we actually “wake up”  and pay attention to what we’re doing.

And yet, for the most part, none of this is a problem.

Our essentially non-conscious self system functions like this because we have already practiced and learned how to behave and respond to our life during our many years of growing up.  As one example, having learned to talk a long time ago I don’t have to start relearning every day. The same goes for driving my car, shopping, interacting with others, and on and on.

But what happens if I have to do something different than what I’ve learned to do? What if my ways of being in the world aren’t working for me and I have to utilize more adaptive and productive behaviours? Somehow I have to be able to override the purely habitual and automatic quality of those learned responses which are not working for me, and modify or adapt them to become proper and effective responses.

But here’s the rub; I cannot change something if I am not aware of what I am doing. If I have any hope of being able to change or over-ride my cognitive and emotional responses and reaction patterns,  I have to be  aware of them in the moment of their activation.

But if I am am right in my previous assertion that most people spend too much time not being present to “this” moment, then herein lies the problem.

If my previous life lessons were inadequate in some way, it will be the automatic behaviours that flow from those lessons that will lead to my  constant bumping and scraping up against this life, and inevitably creating varying levels of distress for myself, and for others. Given that my choices and actions didn’t work the first time, it’s unlikely they will succeed the second.

When my normal ways of solving my life problems don’t work despite repeated attempts, it creates a very interesting scenario, almost always accompanied by some anxiety. Eventually, if enough efforts fail and my situation worsens I can even get depressed.

The series of articles on Mindfulness look at this position I am expressing in more detail. I invite you to read them and see if they help  answer any doubts or or questions you have about what I am saying. and  my approach with such issues.

19 Feb

Being Here: Depression, Anxiety, Stress and All (Part II)

In my previous article (Being Here: Depression, Anxiety Stress and All (Part I))  I was arguing that we cannot truly make choices and therefore changes in our life, if we are not aware of, or conscious to, our own experiences. Since most people seem to think they are already quite aware, then either I am making a weak argument, or we are talking about very different things. This article focuses on my definition of this notion of being aware of our experiences, and also looks at some of the implications which flow from it.

To begin,  let me ask a simple question; “Do you know what rain feels like on your face”?

I am betting you would probably say, “Of course I know what rain on my face feels like”.  So let me push the question a little further; “When was the last time you chose to stand in the rain and let it fall on your face, so you could intentionally experience it”?  Now I would  guess that you may never have done that, or if you have, you haven’t done it very often.

I would guess, if you are like most people, what you were talking about when you said you “know” about the experience of rain on your face, was  perhaps your  experience of what happened when you unexpectedly got caught in the rain, and then reacted in some way so as not to have rain in your face.

My point is that there are many experiences which we say we “know”, or which we say we are familiar with, which should more appropriately be called, “experiences we tried not to have”.

Take sadness for example. Who doesn’t know what it feels like to be sad? But have you ever taken the time to really feel sad; intentionally, purposefully? Really sit with it and listen to it, hear how it speaks, where it lives in your body, what kind of memories come up and whatever else is connected to it?

I am trying to clarify that the quality of “sadness” one experiences when “Trying not to feel”,  and the experiences of sadness which arises should one choose to “feel” it,  are not the same experiences. “Trying not to feel” sad is an active attempt to suppress and alter that experience.  “Feeling” sad opens up a whole range of experiences that simply do not and cannot exist otherwise.  

My next guess is that reading about this, the idea of letting yourself feel your sadness, anger, your frustration, or any “negative” reaction, actually seems strange,  if not questionable to you. After all, these experiences hurt, they are painful. And if there is anything our evolutionarily programmed survival system does well, it is too move us away from pain, usually before we even have to think about it.

But  most likely, when you think of the painful experiences what you are thinking of  are those “Trying not to feel” experiences, which I am suggesting actually have different qualities to them than when we allow ourself to be aware of our experiences.   Expressed another way, moving away from, or trying not to have,  an experience has more painful and complicated effects than when we move towards it. 

I would think most people do this suppression/avoiding thing most of the time. There is nothing odd in doing this. But I believe there are many unfortunate consequence which arise from doing so.

It is my opinion that “trying not feel” over an extended period of time, especially when our experiences are powerful and highly charged, leads to depression, anxiety,  and stress, just to name a few.  Further, as I have discussed in other articles,  “trying not to feel”,  also characterized as avoiding our experiences, can also lead to other complications such as gambling, drinking and other addictions.

Finding our way back once we have gone down one of those roads is remarkably difficult.  So I really only see one of two options.  Either we begin to learn how to actually have our experiences, to begin the practice of Mindfulness,  or we cross our fingers that we are going to find something else that is going to work that we haven’t been able to accomplish for our self.

31 Mar

Being Here: Depression, Stress, Anxiety and All (Part III)

In previous articles on Mindfulness,  I have suggested that most people  have only a limited awareness of their own experiences.  Rather than utilizing our capacity to be aware of and learn from those experiences we are effectively blind to most of them, and don’t even know we are doing this.  This article examines one of the implications of how this limited approach to our own experiences effects our lives.

My “world” as I know it and respond to it comes from my experiences of  that world.   Similarly, who “I  am for you”  is the sum total of  the many complex and varied experiences you are having of me when we are together and how you act towards (or against me) flows inexorably out of those experiences.    While those momentary experiences and actions arise as a result of a vast number of  historical, social, biological  and intrapersonal factors, I am concerned here with the degree to which we are more or less conscious of  those experiences.

If I am not conscious of who you are for me, then what do I really know about you?  What can I say about you? If I am not conscious of my experiences of you in the moment of our being together and of my reactions to being in your presence, then what  sense can I make of those reactions and how could I possibly explain them to you if you asked.

From a larger perspective, if I am out of touch with how I am experiencing you and how I am experiencing my world,  then who am I?  And if my life is not working for me, or I want to improve it, how can I even begin to start making informed and wise choices about this.

Generally, when our world or relationships are not progressing smoothly we try to “think” our way through this.  We sit down with our self and try to rationally assess what is going on, how we have behaved or reacted to a situation, what others have done to us and so on.  While this effort is better than simply blaming someone or something else, or not even worrying about what has happened, it is unlikely to be of  much help in actually addressing the situation.

Trying to recollect and think about such complex and complicated processes after they have happened is a notoriously problematic way of making sense of events . If you have not been paying close and careful attention to your experiences as they were occurring, you will have to reconstruct them from memory.  Trying to recall what happened some time ago and then converting that limited and selective information into a certain form of rational-logic we call thinking has to result in a distorted if not inappropriate assessment of the situation.

There is a very high probability that the choices and actions flowing from this process will lead to further complications and/or conflict and then it becomes even more difficult if not impossible to resolve. Such is the situation most of us face on a daily basis.

If  I am confused about who I am, who you are and what I am doing, and you are equally confused then what kind of relationship can we have?   How can I possibly relax with myself  in a world that fundamentally doesn’t make sense.  No wonder people feel anxious and can eventually get depressed about their life and their relationships.

Surely there has to be a better way.

I think there is a better way, a more useful and productive path to follow and hope that the articles on Mindfulness will begin to present that way.  I encourage feedback and responses to what I am writing and  look forward to some dialogue on this issue.

01 Apr

Mindfulness In Our Relationships

Imagine someone picking up a book, perhaps one of the great classics, but they cannot read. All they see is black squiggly lines on white pages. This book is meaningless for this person. Because it is meaningless it has no value and can easily be discarded.

Now imagine a highly skilled reader picking up that book. That same book now has a wide range of qualities that it didn’t have for the first person.

There are characters and events that generate a complex and fascinating world of images and meaning and will probably generate a wide range of emotional responses that did not and could not exist for the first person.

In this way it has become something much more, something very different, and something of much greater value. If we think of our experiences of our self, of others, and of the world we live in as a book, people generally seem to be very poor readers.

The information they are able to access is very limited, and therefore has little meaning and value. Let me be clear about what I am saying. Most people, if asked, would of course be able to identify what they are thinking about, how they are feeling, what they are looking at, etc.

But oddly enough, it is only when someone actually asks us what is going on in our mind that we tend to really notice.

Herein lies the problem.

Only rarely do we actually become aware of where our mind is at. So this otherwise reasonably accessible level of understanding is typically restricted from our awareness.

And it is restricted primarily only because we generally don’t pay attention to it. As a result, a great deal of potential learning opportunities go unrecognized by us.

This potentially valuable information, as a source of knowing about our self, is generally not accessed and thus not utilized by the average person.

As I have discussed in previous articles relationships, there are two fundamental and critical relationships we need to pay attention to: The relationship we have with our self, and the relationship we have with others and the outside world.

Most people don’t pay attention to either, and, I would argue, don’t even know how to pay attention. In many ways, we have as much understanding of our self and the world out there, as does someone who has a book in their hands but doesn’t know how to read.

If we really want to know about either of these relationships, we have to learn to be mindful. Learning how to pay attention properly is crucial to understanding our self and others.

This idea will be discussed and expanded in other articles released around the subject of mindfulness.