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Mindful Parenting

Learn how to explain mindfulness to children and some practical ways to integrate mindfulness into family life with Kristen Race.

I'm your host, Melli O'Brien and I

am just really honored and privileged

to be here today with Jack Kornfield.

Jack has just really been a pioneer

in bringing mindfulness to the

West and Buddhism to the West.

And he's an internationally bestselling

author who was written really extensively

on the topics of mindfulness and living

a more conscious and connected life.

So and he's also the founder of the

wonderful Spirit Rock Meditation

Center in the States, which I

really hope to get to sometime soon.

Jack, thank you so much.

Such an honor and a privilege to

have you as part of the Summit.

Thank you, Mellissa.

I'd love to dive right in and

ask you a question I'm really

curious to get your perspective on.

And, and that is what is the

relationship as you see it between

mindfulness and spiritual awakening?

Is, is mindfulness a kind of permanent

embodiment of, so is spiritual

awakening a kind of permanent

embodiment of mindfulness or is it

something else completely different?

Well, it would depend on what you,

how you define spiritual awakening,

but let's talk about the relationship

between mindfulness and spirituality.


They're not separate.

We live in a culture, modern culture

that tends to divide things so that we

have \the gym where we go and work out

for our body or we have a trainer and

we go to work to make money, and then

we go on vacation to have a relaxed,

good time, and then we go to the church

or the synagogue or the mosque to pray.

As if our body and our work

and our education and so forth,

they're all separate things.

And what mindfulness does, it

actually connects back together

this whole that is always true.

So that in a culture that is

sometimes defined as the absence of

the sacred, mindfulness opens our

eyes and our heart to see the beauty

and the sacredness of life itself.

You can call that

spiritual, if you wanted to.

People live in a way in the complexity

of modern life where they're

multitasking and often over busy and

stressed and they aren't so connected.

There's a line from James Joyce

where he wrote of one character, Mr.

Duffy lived a short

distance from his body.

And it kind of defines the way we

can walk down the street lost in

thought and not see the faces of the

passers by, or the reflection of the

sunset in the rain puddle, you know,

or really even notice where we are.

The beautiful gift of mindfulness is that

it allows us to live the life that we

have, where we are, in a very full way.


Mindfulness means, in

some way, to see clearly.

You could call it mindfulness.

You could also call it heartfulness.

The mind and heart are

the same word in Sanskrit.

But when we see with mindfulness, we can

step out of the small sense of self, the

self preoccupation, what's called the body

of fear, the dramas that we get caught in.

And we do, we get lost in

thought lost in our dramas.

And then there's a moment

where we go, oh, here I am.

I was worried about this and remembering

that and reacting to that, and

actually here's the step I'm taking.

Here's the breath.

Here's the cup of tea and my hand, here's

the face of the person in front of me.

Here's this amazing mysterious

day right in front of me.

And mindfulness allows us to step out of

the whirlwind of thoughts, take a breath

and actually be present for life as it is.

Someone said that the question

is not the future of humanity,

but the presence of eternity.

There's some way that with mindfulness,

and sometimes it can best be translated

as loving awareness and awareness that

has also got compassion or love in

it, that we step out of the tyranny

of time, worrying and remembering and

so forth and come into a sense of the

wholeness of life, even in just a moment.

And we know we're completely

caught up in things.

And then there's a moment where you say,

oh, I was really caught in that wasn't I?

I was upset.

I was angry.

I was worried and so forth.

There's that moment of being

spacious and taking a breath

and saying, oh, here we are.

And mindfulness invites us to do that.

It also is very intimate.

Zen master Dogan said to become awakened

is to become intimate with life.

So when we become mindful, we

become more intimate with our

body and feelings and thoughts.

We become intimate with what's happening

with those around us and with the,

with the circumstances of life itself.

And it's not about some spiritual ideal.

Your initial question as well, you

know, can we have some spiritual

awakening that lasts and is permanent?

You're, you know, if you look in the

Buddhist tradition, one of the very core

teachings is that nothing is permanent.

That everything is a river coming

out of consciousness and playing.

Thoughts are always changing.

Feelings, the whole set of perceptions

of the world around us is constantly

arising new in each moment.

So mindfulness allows us to awaken to

this the way that it actually is, and then

to respond to it rather than to react.


The goal isn't to become

some rigid mindful, okay.

I have it.

Now I can hold onto it, Now I am mindful.

The goal is actually to be

able to flow with experience.

And it's not about perfecting yourself.

It's kind of too late for that.

Most people have tried for, you know,

decades with their workout strategies

in the gym and their therapy and

their, all these things are good.

You want to take care of your body,

therapy's very helpful, so forth, but

the point isn't to perfect yourself.

It's to perfect your love.

It's to perfect your ability to

be awakened, present with an open

heart, to become like the Buddha

that you are and walk through

the world with a compassionate

heart and to really be present.

And when you meet somebody like Zen master

Thich Nhat Hahn, who is the embodiment

of mindfulness, there's a way in which

his presence, you can feel it brings

everybody else around him more present.

And it's not like it's some great state.

The beautiful thing is that you can

become mindful even for a moment.

Even as we're talking, you become

more present and less caught

in how it should be and more

relaxed with the way that it is.

So this is a long answer.

Is that okay?

That's okay.

That's wonderful.

And I've, you know, I'm, I'm really,

I think it's really wonderful that you

also brought up that, that it's not about

perfecting ourselves and it's not about,

you know, because I think so many people

on the spiritual path have this almost

like a spiritual trap, you could say, that

you get caught in of this idea of maybe,

you know, once I'm spiritual enough,

I'm never going to say the wrong thing.

I'm always going to be kind and wonderful.

I'll never get stressed

and I'll never suffer.

And, and, and sometimes I think people

see those things as a failure, you know?

So I'm, I, I'm so glad that you

brought that up, the natural ebbs and

flows of life are part of the whole.

And in my business, I get to hang out

with lots of spiritual leaders, swamis and

lamas and mamas and gurus and so forth,

and they all also have their problems.

But also, so did Jesus and Buddha.

I mean, you look what happened to Jesus.

It was like, and then when he went

home, he'd had trouble with his family.

The Buddha had trouble

with his family too.

And at times, he had difficulty with

the monks around him and so forth.

Or he had, he got sick with his body.

It's not like you're not human.

But awareness and mindfulness, and more

than that, compassion, allows you to

see this humanity, to see who you are

and who we are, this mystery of being

alive with love, with compassion and

say, oh yeah, not caught in it, but

loving it and tending it beautifully.

I think, you know, that I love, you

know, the, the book title that Jon

Kabat Zinn has, Full Catastrophe Living.

It kind of reminds me of that idea of

being just more deeply in touch with

our humanity, the whole, you know, the

good, the bad and the ugly, so to speak.

So, yeah.


And I think, you know, one of the

other challenges that we often faces

as mindfulness practitioners is this,

you know, we, we have the formal

practice of mindfulness, many of us

that we do every day, meditation.

And this, this, challenge, I think

we have sometimes is that, that tends

to be this one area of our lives

that we do come into touch with that.

You know, the sacredness of life and

the mystery of life and then we kind of

get up and go about the rest of our day.

So the informal practice sometimes

is something that we easily forget.

So do you have any tips on

integrating what we might call

spiritual life with everyday life?

Well, I don't divide them really, but

I do see that what happens when people

take time to sit quietly, to quiet the

mind and open heart, that it somehow

prepares them to also then move with

a quieter mind and an open heart,

or to meet someone else in that way.

They say in Zen, there are

only two things: you've sit

and you sweep the garden.

And it doesn't matter how big the

garden is, which is to say, you learn

to become mindful and compassionate

in yourself, and then you practice.

That's why it's called

practice rather than perfect.

Then you practice as you walk or as you

go to work or in your family and so forth.

Now, one of the important things is

that as you sit, you start to experience

after a little while, not just the

calming pleasure, reduction of stress,

but you also see how crazy your mind is.

You get the things that are unfinished

in the heart, that trauma or grief

that you carry will a re-arise.

And it's not always that easy.

My friend, Annie Lamott, the

humourist,, she writes, "My

mind is like a bad neighborhood.

I try not to go there alone."

Which is, you know, just

describing how it is.

Some days we sit down and it's

actually hard to stay with ourselves

because we're so worried or

anxious or caught up or something.

And then you are there with your anxiety

or your fear or your boredom, or your

judging mind, which you mentioned,

cause we're also so hard on ourselves.


And that kind of self judgment

can get reinforced in the

spiritual life, as you point to.

The novelist, Florida Scott Maxwell,

she wrote, "No matter how old a mother

is, she looks to her middle aged

children for signs of improvement."

You know, and there's some way in

which we can borrow that kind of

striving from the worldly ambitions

of the society, and think now we're

going to become spiritually ambitious.

And that just ties us in knots.

So mindfulness has to be wedded with

loving kindness or compassion for

the trauma we carry, for the stress,

for the worry that every human being

has at some point or not, you know.

Like Mark Twain said, "My life has

been filled with terrible misfortunes,

most of which never happened."

We see the mind spin out

in all these stories.

And then when you sit quietly, you

can acknowledge them, oh, this is what

anxiety is like, this is what fear

feels like, this is bored or loneliness.

If we can't be with it, then the

minute it arises, what do we do?

We open the refrigerator or we

go online or something cause

we can't be with our own self.

And then once we've learned this, then

you go to the office, you know, where you

go to the place you work or you're taking

care of your kids or planning your garden

or painting a painting or something.

And those same states of fear or

boredom or upset or reactivity

come and they become familiar.

Oh, I know.

I know what it's like, not only to be

caught, but I also know what it's like to

take a breath and say, and to name it as

you do in mindfulness, in some practices.

Oh, anxiety is like this.

Boredom is like this.

And to let yourself feel that and

not be so afraid of it because

mindfulness is like space.

When you become mindful, you become

broader and vaster and more spacious.

And then, you know, it's like

putting salt or colored dye.

If you put it in a cup,

it gets very salty.

If you put it in a lake,

you can't even taste it.

The water is clear.

And so when the mind and heart

are spacious, and you notice,

okay, this is anxiety, or this

is the planning mind or judging.

You say, thank you for your

opinion, to the judging mind.

I know what the judging mind is like, but

you don't believe it because who you are

is actually the space of awareness itself.

And modern neuroscience shows

how the training of mindfulness

allows us to become both more

resilient and less reactive.

Instead, we can respond in a wise way.

And the simple practice is when you're

in the middle of things and you feel like

you're getting contracted or stressed, you

just pause for a moment, a mindful pause.

You take a breath, aahh.

And then you say what's going on here?

Oh, upset.

Upset feels like this.

What's going on here?

Oh, I'm worried, angry, you know,

wanting, I want something different.

And then you see this as the wanting mind.


Thank you bow to it and

you become that space.

And when you can do this, even

for a little bit, it not only

settles you, but it starts having

effect on all those around you.

So that again, Zen Master Thich Nhat

Hanh said when the crowded refugee

boats, the Vietnamese refugee boats

met with storms or pirates, if everyone

panicked all would be lost, but if

even one person on the boat remained

calm and centered, it was enough.

It showed the way for everyone to survive.

So you become in those moments, like

the Buddha of compassion and you find

that calmness in yourself and you

say, all right, we can carry on, but

we can do it in a very different way.

It's interesting that, that's been

coming up over and over again in, in this

summit, when I've spoken to people that,

you know, this, when you become more

mindful, when you become more conscious

and connected, it's, it's wonderful.

Maybe it begins about you, but it affects,

you know, ripples out to everything

and everybody that you touch, which

is a really empowering thing to know.

And I, my personal belief, and I

don't know, you maybe share this

belief, but my personal belief is

that, you know, for me, it's the, I

believe that it's the most kind, it's

actually the most intelligent and kind

thing that I can do for the planet.

The greatest act of contribution is

to, you know, find my own inner peace

rather than running around, trying

to sort of engineer things on the

outside, although that's important too.

But my primary focus and my primary

belief is that it's, it's through

finding my own inner peace that I

can spread any kind of peace at all.

Yes, you can't spread peace

if you're not peaceful.


And if you are, as you say, then you can

go and tend the rain forest or the ocean

or the refugees or whatever, but you can

do it with a peaceful and loving heart,

which is the power that the world needs.

It doesn't need more aggression

and it doesn't need fear.

It needs a kind of fearlessness

that comes from a peaceful heart.

And I think of my friend and

teacher Maha Ghosananda, who was

the Gandhi of Cambodia, nominated

for the Nobel prize many times.

And he led these peace walks

through the killing fields and the,

through the landmine areas, bringing

people back to their villages.

And every step they would chant

loving kindness, hatred never ends by

hatred, but by love alone is healed.

They would chant this over and over,

that with each step that they took so

that when they finally returned back,

they felt like they had reclaimed their

land and their hearts at the same time.

And he, he was a peaceful

and very courageous person.

And somehow his practice allowed

all these other people who'd suffered

so deeply to find that themselves

and turn their society around again.


That's an amazing story.

Well, I just have one

final question for you.

It's the same question

that I've been asking.

All the people that have been involved

in the summit, and that is, you know,

there's this talk of mindfulness

becoming mainstream at the moment.

And I think it's entering popular

culture, but I, but you know,

whether, I don't think it's hit a

critical mass yet, let's say that.

So my question to you is this, if it

was to hit critical mass, how do you

think that would change the world?

What kind of a world could that create?

Well, I would put it another way perhaps.

The time that we live in now has

this fantastic outer developments.

No amount of internet and Skyping, which

we're doing, and vast computer technology

and nanotechnology and biotechnology

and space technology and all these

extraordinary things that we're able to do

has stopped continuing warfare, continuing

racism, continuing environmental

destruction, continuing tribalism.

So the outer developments of

humanity now have to be matched

by the inner developments.

Otherwise we'll go on, you know,

destroying ecosystems or one

another in global war and conflict.

So we could just say that, we

could just say that it's time now

for humanity and modern society to

match the outer development with the

development of emotional intelligence

of wisdom, of compassion and care.

And those all grow out of attention.

They all grow out of mindfulness.

And if we can do so, if we can bring that

in, then not only do we live with one

another better, but the problems that we

have to solve in the world become seen

from a place of wisdom and compassion

rather than separateness and fear and

conflict as being the root of them.

So may it happen.

Jack, thank you so much for your time.

I want to be respectful of your time.

And so, yeah, it's just been a, a

wonderful honor to have you as part

of the Summit, and I wish you all

the best on your continued journey.

And Melissa, I will add that for those

who are interested, Tara Brach and I

are doing a really comprehensive and

beautiful seven week online mindfulness

training through SoundsTrue.org.

And it's a really wonderful training.

So that would be good to tell people.

And mostly when people ask about

the obstacles for beginning of

mindfulness practice, there's

really only one important

obstacle and that's not doing it.

If you do it, even if it's boring at times

or you feel like not much is happening,

just the willingness to stop and notice

where you are opens the gateway to see

what's really happening and to tenderize

your heart and to be present in a way that

allows you not only to care for yourself

better, but to care for all you touch.

So thank you, Melissa.

I appreciate it.

Thank you so much for your time.

You're welcome.

Take care.

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The Mindfulness Summit  null Playlist · 23 tracks

The Mindfulness Summit

Playlist · 23 tracks4.9

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