News — MIndfulness


Excerpt from "Mindful Leadership" with Ellen Langer

The NeuroLeadership Institute is doing such important work around how we can use our brains better to create a more mindful society and workplace.  Check out this transcribed excerpt from "Mindful Leadership" with Ellen Langer.  Langer talks about how easily we engage in mindlessness rather than mindfulness.

We get lulled into thinking we know.  But perhaps the most important bottom line to all that I’m going to say is that we don’t know.  And we need to be excited about not knowing because that gives us reason to pay attention and tune in.  There is an easier one.  How much is “1 + 1?”.  I’ve got some of you scared already, right?  OK.  Well, it turns out that 1 + 1 = 2 if you are using the base 10 number system.   If you are using the base 2 number system, 1 + 1 = 10.  And if you’re adding one wad of chewing gum to one wad of chewing gum, 1 + 1 = 1. 

Now, what happens is, we learn information in some absolute way, oblivious to the way it may be different depending on different contexts.  What happens is that it never occurs to us to question all of these things we think we know.  So when we are uncertain, instead, we stay open to the subtleties.  We stay in the present.  So, if you ask people over 50, “You are driving along on ice, the car starts to skid -- what do you do?”  And what they’ll tell you is, “You turn into the skid and you gently press the brakes.”  Well, this made sense before we had antilock brakes.   Now what you’re supposed to do, is firmly press on the brakes.   Mindlessness is not stupidity.  It made sense at one time, people keep behaving in the same way, circumstances change, and accidents then occur.

I went into a store and I made a purchase.  The cashier asked for the credit card.  I gave it to her.  She saw that it was not signed so she asked me to sign it.  I signed it.  She then ran it through the credit card machine, gave me the credit card slip, asked me to sign it.  I signed it.  And she then compared the two signatures…


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The NeuroLeadership Summit Collection


Excerpt from Pema Chodron's "Don't Bite the Hook"

We are delighted to share with you this transcribed excerpt from Pema Chodron's fantastic book Don't Bite the Hook.  In it, she talks about the importance of working with anger -- something so many of us would rather avoid!  

So -- what is the significance of the teaching on how to work with anger?

Well, it has tremendous significance because again and again, whenever we’re challenged, there is opportunity to open to the difficulty and let the difficulty make us more compassionate, more wise. Or the opposite, which is that when things are difficult, the chances instead of it making us more afraid and therefore more vulnerable or more subject to being able to catch the anxiety in the atmosphere and spin off into wanting to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and the tendency for aggression to escalate and violence to escalate under challenge is much greater.

I wanted to begin by giving the Dharma talks on the sixth chapter of Shanti Deva -- chapter on working with anger.

So, for Shanti Deva teaching as he did in the eighth century in India a long, long time ago, to Yolanda University in India to a entire packed audience of celibate monks, you might wonder what the relevance of such a teaching would be today, and all I can say is at the level of human neurosis, nothing has changed much. And so what he has to say and the way he… you’ll see, it actually has humor in it where he keeps pointing out example after example of our foibles of how we justify our anger and all the many, many situations that make us angry. But it’s more than just like losing our temper or something. We’re talking now about finding ourselves in a situation where many, many people are feeling more vulnerable and the situation is more volatile. And so, it might be that in the years to come, you might look back and think of it as something like, that was teaching. That was really -- because I have started to use it every day of my life in difficult situations -- has made it possible for me to be become more compassionate, to become more tenderhearted and loving rather than more afraid and full of aggression and wanting to strike out and protect me and mine. You might just look back and say, “This was really important” because right now the key thing is whether it was a difficult situation in the world or not; it’s to use the difficult situations of everyday life to wake us up, to awaken our compassion. To make us feel our kinship with each other rather than to buy into polarization. So Shanti Deva says a lot about our mindset. The mindset of friend and foe. Like and dislike. For me and against me. And how that very mechanism of buying so tightly into this notion of the good people and the bad people -- the ones that I like and the ones I don’t like and how we get so invested in this and how this is  “the kindling” or “the fuel” for anger and aggression to escalate. So from this point of view, the teachings are on non-violence and on non-aggression. And you could think of that as a synonym for the word patience. 

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More Information on Pema Chodron

Original Be Here Now Talks - Transcribed excerpt Part I


We are thrilled to offer these rare lectures recorded live in NYC in 1969. Available for the first time in digital download, these talks given by Ram Dass went on to become the basis of his international best-selling book Be Here Now.  Following is a transcribed excerpt from one of these seminal teachings.

We are also extremely pleased to have the inspired artwork of Peter Max on this digital download cover.

" I think life is just a game, then I am taking from it the meaning of its acts. I am denigrating the precious nature of the life process.

Do you think the man that made the music stand was able to make a more exquisite music stand because he was not attached to making a music stand?

Do you think he really got closer to the essence of music standness because he did not remain in subject object relation to the music stand? That’s the issue.

Let’s say you want to get close to somebody. Do you get closer to them through playing out the love story of Hamlet? Or do you get closer through getting beyond the interpersonal, beyond the subject/object to the place where both of you are one consciousness? If we can be us here, us, more us, just here and now us, forget where you came from, where you are going, that I’m talking, that you’re listening, here we are, just us and more us and more us and more us and finally right here on this world, right there here, huh -- here we all are.

How much intimacy do you want? I can feel it. I can be it. Do you think we would be any closer if we were all rolling on the floor together? Really? The thing you are seeking, the very thing you are seeking in life is so within your grasp if you but only know how not to grasp for it. It’s already here. It’s here. "

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