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How Does One Engage in Personal Mindfulness Training — and Why?

We each will operate at our individual best, with optimal sustainability, when we each can

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•    take personal responsibility for HOW we invest in our own whole-minded personal peace of mind,

•    building upon PERSONAL DISCOVERY,

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•    and through RELIABLY REGULAR nurturing of such.

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Helpful is

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☞ a purpose or reason, such as a personal performance need or interest

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☞ clear personal values, with clear personal intent to behaviorally achieve

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☞ discipline, pointed, and sustained effort to effectively tackle, and

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☞ patience amidst various seemingly more or less productive experiences.

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The encouragement and support of likewise-engaged practicing others can be very helpful, especially in the early stages for proper instruction, modeling, and support.

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One personally local example example I appreciate can be found at Spiritual Life Society & Yoga Center of Hudson, with venues for beginners as well as advanced practitioners.

Examples of different forms of mindfulness training practice include:

Fortunately, the skills and resources required for Mindfulness Training need not be fancy or expensive.

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•    Skills and resources can be applied, as desired, in tailored fashions, by people of virtually all personality types and socioeconomic status.

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•    There are no inherent barriers due to language, race, creed, color, religion, gender, national origin or ancestry, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender variance, genetic information or veteran status.

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•    All people can be invited to voluntarily participate.

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•    Care-giver or medical supervision could be prudent for some people under some circumstances, especially for some particularly physical forms of mindfulness training practice.

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•    Some pretty fancy aides are available, delightfully helpful to interested folks.

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These skills and resources have been employed successfully by countless individuals and teams across many industries and locations, public and private, for profit and not-for-profit, formally and informally.

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Key models for peace of mind have been and continue to be translated into informative and empowering tools, products, and services by knowledgeable and enterprising others.

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Key models are continuously vetted at Business Culture Solutions through our own practice and by our continuously connecting with mindfulness training researchers and practitioners.

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An example we particularly appreciate can be found at Secrets to Meditation.

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How does one engage in mindfulness training?

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Key to the practice of “mindfulness” is learning to relax and engage in non-censored awareness and acceptance of all of one’s mental phenomena (thoughts, feelings, awareness of physically balanced acumen, and sensations), amidst alert detachment, as these mental phenomena arise into awareness.

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While perhaps “simple” in theory, this can be a little tricky for some people to fully stick with, to fully enjoy and benefit from the results.

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You regularly take personal time, each and every day — away from your normal “doing” and “thinking,” even if only briefly — to temporarily quiet your intellect while deeply relaxing.

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You combine this with observational “nonattachment” (while sitting, walking, breathing, stretching, etc.).

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Mindfulness training, to begin, often starts with some sort of “focused-attention training.”

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This is to develop a degree of “stability of attention regulation” amidst development of enhanced mindful awareness.

(I am indebted to Dr.s Davidson & Kaszniak for their mindfulness training research overview published in the October, 2015, American Psychologist, Conceptual and Methodological Issues in Research on Mindfulness and Meditation, pp. 581-592.)

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Your particular mindfulness training may involve your focused attention on a particular sensation (for example, on your breathing), or upon a particular sound or mental image.

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It might be the silent repetition of a particular word, phrase, or a visual mental image or object, typically while breathing in a slow and relaxing manner.

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You may be sitting, standing, or moving in a particular pattern.

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You direct and sustain your attention on your pre-selected object of focus.

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Simultaneously, you remain open to detecting mind-wandering mental phenomena (thoughts, feelings , or other self-generated distractions) that are different than your pre-selected focus.

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Whenever you detect a distraction, you disengage your attention from that distraction and firmly yet gently (without any self-judgement regarding the distraction) shift your attention back to your pre-selected object of focus.

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Your chosen “object of focus” might be

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  • a pre-selected internal mental image,

or could be comprised of

  • external sensations, perhaps generated by your pre-selected physical movement routine,

and/or

  • a pre-selected, self-generated, internal sound.

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By practicing mindfulness training, you learn to

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(1) behaviorally relax very deeply

while you

(2) alertly sustain a self-selected simple focus (internal or external) through all kinds of distractions,

and somewhat paradoxically

(3) you appreciate, yet remain “unattached” in awareness of, comfortable and uncomfortable self-generated distractions.

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This “stability of attention regulation” is a key factor to the development of mindfulness.

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Note there is a bit of a paradox within a paradox involved here.

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A first paradox is that, on the one hand, your goal is to sustain a pre-defined singular, simple mental focus.

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One’s chosen object of focus is typically initially experienced as neutral to pleasant.

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However, upon sustaining attention on one’s object of focus over time, this pre-selected focus can become experienced as meaningfully multifacted.

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One’s object of focus can also be experienced sometimes as quite meaningless.

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However the experience unfolds, one seeks to maintain one’s singular attention on one’s chosen object of focus.

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A second paradox is that

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You simultaneously maintain openness, without judgement, to other cognitive, emotional, proprioceptive, and sensory phenomena that will arise as “distractions” in your mind.

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Yet you do so “without attachment” to these other mental phenomena.

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That is, you develop the ability to reliably “let go” of further focus on these other self-generated mental phenomena, in order to calmly return to one’s pre-selected focus, while remaining alert and relaxed.

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Doing so

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1) enables us to become aware of a wider range of cognitive, emotional, proprioceptive, and sensory qualities as “data points” of potential interest to our CNS within our field of consciousness.

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We experience these widely ranging and different kinds of data points

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2) while in a relaxed yet alert state of mind.

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Our amygdala remains at rest while we mindfully observe then immediately let go of both personally pleasing and alarming mental phenomena.

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Our awareness of these various data points within our own psyche remains in our long-term memory, yet becomes more balanced, allowing responses rather than simply reactions.

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Other approaches to Mindfulness Training may attempt to broaden one’s attentional field, yet without a preference for the pre-selection of a particular focus.

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Mindfulness training can simply involve awareness of one’s field of consciousness in which one’s mental phenomena arise.  This is something contemporary psychologists have termed “meta-awareness.”

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This has been labeled “open-monitoring” meditation by some, as well.

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One maintains an alert “openness” to whatever arises in one’s consciousness while maintaining a calm, non-reactive, and alert awareness.

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To quote Davidson & Kaszniak, 2015, p. 584:

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This calm, non-reactive, awareness includes all sensations, images, thoughts, and feelings, as well as automatic cognitive-emotional interpretations and associations that arise in the stream of consciousness.

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However, the practitioner does not dwell upon or get lost in these experiences or associations.

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Rather, they are allowed to enter and pass out of mind while remaining alert and aware of the conscious field itself…

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In most traditions, …[such] open-monitoring meditation is typically practiced, after some stability of attention regulation has been achieved via focused-attention meditation.

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As we see from Davidson & Kaszniak’s analysis, the “open-monitoring” approaches to mindfulness training involve no explicit focus on a singular “object” while also emphasizing the development  of self-monitoring skills,

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to cultivate moment-to-moment, non-reactive meta-awareness

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in which openness to all cognitive-emotional experiences is sustained, yet again without attachment.

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By regularly taking time to practice “focused-attention” and/or “open-monitoring” mindfulness training that includes natural deep relaxation,

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you enable and ensure that you, personally

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— even if perhaps seemingly paradoxically at first —

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learn to tap, in a balanced manner, into your whole mind.

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You do this by taking “time out” each day (or “time in,” depending on how you look at this) to ensure this regular personal “whole mind” experience.

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This “whole-minded” relaxation includes, yet is more than, simply focusing on your intellectual understandings.

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By means of your “whole minded” relaxation and meditation, you can regularly visit and experience your own “internal space” or “place”

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where you personally experience peace of mind, as you also experience

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1) intellectual content CNS-4Levels

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2) emotional content

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3) your physical body (including, “proprioceptive”) experiences

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4) plus relevant data via your five senses

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each as a distinct source of information for you,

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that you can now more fully integrate,

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as you choose,

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non-reactively.

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When practicing mindfulness, your are comfortable, with minimal distractions.

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You are alert, very aware, and “still.”

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Your intellect remains fully available to you, but no longer as your “bulldog boss.”

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You have less risk of

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your intellect filling all of your attention to the detriment of other important awareness,

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and less risk of

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your intellect getting hijacked “out of the picture,” like it or not, by an automatic CNS panic reaction.

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Your intellect remains your assistant, as you need it, for your larger purposes.

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Your emotional responses remain available to you, as well, but no longer propelling you into immediate action.

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Your larger purpose is now defined by your “whole mind” that includes, and is supported by, your feelings and intellect.

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You have opportunity to become “non-attached” to even reactively held beliefs as you become less reactive in attitude.

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You do this intellectually, emotionally, and behaviorally, thereby becoming more discerning and adept.

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You can thereby exercise greater choice, with greater responsive agility with grace.

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Your mindfulness can begin to unfold and be expressed more like an improvisational symphony or song, if not also sometimes poignant silence.

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Your mindfulness-in-action can begin to capture the hearts and the intellects of those present, precisely because your own “whole-minded” actions can come to literally “dance with” by “including” by you the other party’s Central Nervous System at multiple levels also.

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You can lead, follow, and sustain with grace, personal integrity, and peace.

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This is in contrast to a largely prepared, one-way report by you, even if tailor delivered, to which others might not take interest.

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This is in contrast to becoming frustrated, reactive, or defensive when events go differently than you had planned or expected.

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Enhanced agility with constructive results can be among the powerful results of your personal mindfulness training and experiences.

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Over time, you strategically ensure that you regularly tap into your own “whole mind,” without distraction, for your mindful response, rather than remaining centered in solely intellectual, solely emotional, or solely behavioral modes of reaction.

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Over time, you find that your “larger purpose” is increasingly understood by you, with increasing clarity, depth, and appreciation, because you are guided by your whole mind and not simply your logic, as important as your logic is.

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Your larger purpose involves your heart and soul, in addition to your intellect.  Your intuition is active and available to you.

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Your awareness of personally more holistic purposes and understandings evolve over time.

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Meanwhile, you remain “at one with yourself.”

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You rest assured — due to your own prioritization — that you will take the time, each and every day, to literally feel great by behaviorally relaxing in a non-disturbed place and space that you now know how to reliably create.

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While doing this, you are relaxed and open to new information that will help you in your tasks of increasingly joyful focus, even if not necessarily always easy implementation.

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Your whole mind becomes and remains available to you through good times and also in particularly challenging times.

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You do not remain limited to simply utilizing your intellect OR having your three less complex CNS subsystems hijack control away from your intellect, impacted by a sense of danger.

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You physically feel better than ever.

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You feel mentally clearer than ever.

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Your personal achievements are enhanced.

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You know at a gut level that this regular “time out” (or is it “time in”?) is strategically completed by you as a priority, on behalf of your own greater awareness and peak performance with sustainability.

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You can back this assertion with your own behavioral data and results, if ever needed.

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You have greater peace of mind, ultimately, along with greater and more timely awareness, with respect.

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What about you?

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Where and how do you experience “flow”?

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Where and how does personal peace of mind and respect guide you?

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Is this easy for you?

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Do you practice some form of personal mindfulness on a daily basis?

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What kinds of prioritization does this require of you?

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Whom do you sometimes practice with?

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What are the practical benefits for you?

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~Norman Jentner

Norman Jentner, Ph.D.
Peace of Mind for Peak Performance
Bridges to Culture Advantages
Conflict as Opportunity
(All grounded in Respect)

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