Category Archives: Mindfulness

The Second Cornerstone: Mindfulness

Originally posted March 24, 2015

First you must still the mind - Bill Harvey

In last week’s post, we made the point that better decision-making and higher performance is achieved mainly through Positive Thinking and Mindfulness. We included tools to increase Positive Thinking, which we also call Solution Orientation. We promised to investigate the nature of Mindfulness in this post.

Mindfulness is a form of attention control.

The need to be master of one’s own attention has gotten progressively greater over the centuries as a result of information overload and its distractive effects. We have given this condition the name Acceleritis™, the vast increase in the amount of information needing to be processed by our brains each day. ADD, ADHD, and a fairly obvious reduction in the general population’s ability to stay focused on one problem long enough to solve it, have been the result.

Watch a video about the cure for Acceleritis.

The need for Mindfulness has never been greater.

The Vedas, some of the earliest writings on the planet, recommend three yogic mental/ emotional methods to achieve the conscious and willful control of our attention.

  • Concentration is the focus of the mind on a single object.
  • Contemplation is the focus of the mind on a single subject.
  • Meditation is the contemplation of the Self.

What then is Mindfulness?

We define Mindfulness as the optimal allocation of attention for maximum effectiveness. When one is mindful, attention optimally allocates both inwardly and outwardly at the same time. This helps us understand our own motivations in the moment, to consider not only our needs but the needs and probable responses of others, and to greatly improve what fighter pilots call situational awareness. This is in sharp distinction from our typical behavior, which is to allocate virtually all attention outwardly whenever the eyes are open.

It takes attention and effort to be mindful, but practicing persistent mindfulness not only allows us to be more present in each moment, it also allows us to shift into a higher state of consciousness to reach the Observer state more often and launch into the Zone or Flow state, the highest known state of consciousness in which right actions seem to do themselves effortlessly.

Mindfulness and Positive Thinking with a solution orientation — overleaping the focus on the problem once it is defined and going right to the focus on the solution — are the cornerstones of what I practice to achieve superior decisions, highest effectiveness, and creative innovation in all aspects of my life. Try this approach for yourself to see if it works for you.

Best to all,

Bill

Read the latest post at my media blog, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com

Originally posted 2015-03-24 12:35:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Step Away from Business as Usual

Originally posted December 8, 2015
Volume 5, Issue 41

This summer vacation season is anything but Business as Usual, and with it comes the opportunity to step away from the ordinary. Life in general is more complex than ever — we rush through our days trying to keep up and we tend to miss so much of what and who is around us. This is not conducive to being in the moment, open to the opportunities to be more present and engaged in our everyday lives, at our jobs, and with our families and friends.

Being master of our own attention has become progressively more challenging over the centuries, since the advent of written language some 3000 years ago and the resulting information overload. We often do not take time to ponder and instead we charge on, driven by rationalizing assumptions below the level of our own awareness. With hordes of distracting clutter in our daily lives creating a state we call Acceleritis™, most of us believe we “do not have time” to be in the moment, fully enjoying every second.

The need for Mindfulness has never been greater. Mindfulness has been used going back to the Vedas as a tool to remind us to pay attention — but to what? Mindfulness is about paying attention to both the events outside us as well as what’s going on inside — at the same time.

The miracle of another perfect day. Had to pull over to capture this moment. – Phil Howort, photographer

We need to step back from our demanding environments from time to time in order to really figure out our priorities — to fully contemplate and reflect on our lives, our relationships, our passion work, and where we’re heading.

Every moment we face choices. We make these choices in the context of how we view our options, but in our distracted rushed state we usually don’t consider all of our options. We often make random choices on how and with whom to spend our time and where to exert our energy, without realizing we are squandering an opportunity to stop and focus on our real priorities. Being mindful in the moment may allow for something unimaginable and superb to emerge.

We all need to bring mindfulness into more corners of our lives. We might have perfect mindfulness on the basketball court, stage or operating room, but lack it in our living room, bedroom or boardroom. Life offers a plethora of opportunities to learn how to be mindful across the spectrum of life.

During this summer vacation season, let’s take a break from our usual ways of doing things. Let’s not miss yet another opportunity to live in the moment.

The moment is always new, everything starts again now, unencumbered by whatever has gone before. Each moment is an opportunity for a fresh start, an opportunity to connect to the miracle of Life in the present.

My Best to All,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog, In Terms of ROI at Media Village. Here is the link to my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-12-08 12:00:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Visualizing 2016

Visualize the whole universe as one thing

Go the the current Great Being postVolume 5, Issue 47

As we leap into 2016, with clear intentions and resolve, let’s keep this visualization in the forefront of our minds to guide our thoughts and actions:

Visualize the whole
Universe as one thing
Every individual
of every species
Every idea
Every event
Every moment of time
Every percept
Every lump of matter 
and energy
All parts of one thing*

Then, each day, realizing your connection with the Universe, play your hand as best you can:

You are a Musician,
harmonize.
You are an Actor,
detach.
You are Real,
don’t pretend.
You are in Time,
don’t hurry.*

May we all reopen our minds to the existence of all possibilities, as we rediscover the unique experiment that Nature has designed uniquely for each and every one of us on our branch of the Tree of Life.

Happy New Year 2016,
Bill

*From Mind Magic: Doorways into Higher Consciousness

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What Is Mindfulness?

Volume 3, Issue 24

In the prior post we made the point that better decision-making and higher performance in the end reduce to two main drivers, Positive Thinking and Mindfulness. Positive Thinking, which we also call Solution Orientation, is easier said than done, and we pointed to our book Mind Magic as a compendium of proven operational techniques for actually achieving and maintaining both of these inner behaviors. We promised to investigate the nature of Mindfulness in this post.

Mindfulness is a form of attention control. Going back at least as far as written language and probably as far back as the cave paintings, the human race has discovered the importance of focusing attention in achieving its aims. The cave paintings are widely believed to be evidence of a method for rehearsing the hunt. Yogic mental/emotional methodologies are the essence of what is recommended in the Vedas, some of the earliest writings on the planet, and these include contemplation, concentration and meditation, all three related to the conscious and willful control of the attention.

The need to be master of one’s own attention has gotten progressively greater over the centuries as a result of information overload and its distractive effects. We have given this condition the name Acceleritis. Our relevant hypothesis is that written language, by making language visual — the dominant sense of not only homo sapiens but of all primates — brought the human race up to Piaget’s Formal Operational level of thinking, the highest known level of thinking until Systems Level thinking was discovered in the twentieth century. This so augmented the ability to invent that in only 3% of the time since the appearance of the species, the human race in the last 6000 years has invented more and more things and ideas each year than in the prior year, and at an increasing rate, driving a vast increase in the amount of information needing to be processed by our brains each day. ADD, ADHD, and a fairly obvious reduction in the general population’s ability to stay focused on one problem long enough to solve it, have been the result. Again, the need for Mindfulness has never been greater.

Concentration is the focus of the mind on a single object. Contemplation is the focus of the mind on a single subject. Meditation is the contemplation of the Self. What then is Mindfulness? We define Mindfulness as the optimal allocation of attention for maximum effectiveness. Now that we’ve defined the term, we’ll stop initial-capping it.

Attention optimally allocates both inwardly and outwardly at the same time. This is in sharp distinction from normative behavior, which is to allocate virtually all attention outwardly whenever the eyes are open. This normative attention strategy virtually eliminates the ability to understand one’s own motivations in the moment, causing actions to be controlled by ego drives that are counterproductive to efficacy. When one is mindful, there is a predictive feedback loop allowing one to suppress actions that are merely self-serving and do not consider the needs and probable responses of others.

Mindfulness also makes one more observant externally, improving what fighter pilots call situational awareness. Our theory of Holosentience postulates a shift into a higher state of consciousness as a result of persistent mindfulness. We call this the Observer state, and it is from this state that the mind-body can launch into Flow state or the Zone, the highest known state of consciousness in which right actions seem to do themselves effortlessly.

It takes “attentional” effort to be mindful and thus to reach the Observer state and the Zone.

Mindfulness and solution orientation (overleaping the focus on the problem once it is defined and going right to the focus on the solution, otherwise known as Positive Thinking) combine to form the core of the Human Effectiveness Institute’s psychotechnology — the recommended set of methodologies to achieve superior decisions, highest effectiveness, and creative innovation in all aspects of one’s life.

Best to all,

Bill 

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com. 

Optimized Mindfulness

Volume 2, Issue 44

The usage of the word “mindfulness” is increasing rapidly, in connection with the benefits of meditation and the cultivation of emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson are among those who have popularized this useful word.

There are two basic kinds of meditation: deep relaxation that uses the breath, mantra, japa or rosary beads, a candle flame, etc., to carry the individual into a deep inner state— and the other type focusing on mindfulness, the inner deployment of attention to observe carefully what is going on inside oneself at all levels — by an act of will, bringing on the Observer state or at least seeking to do so.

One widespread form of mindfulness meditation is focused on the garnering of insights about oneself and reality in general, and is sometimes called Insight Meditation.

The Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI) specializes in its own specific form of mindfulness/insight meditation, which might be called “Optimized Mindfulness”. This was a technique that arose instinctively early on and evolved throughout my life. Since it helps me get more frequently into the Flow state and keeps me most of the time in the Observer state, both of which I find useful and enjoyable places to be compared to the alternative (EOP), I am eager to share this technique and thus formed the Institute many years ago as the vehicle to do so.

What distinguishes Optimized Mindfulness is this. The generalized version of mindfulness meditation does not start you out with many insights, nor does it usually guide you to assemble your insights with the specific purpose of achieving the two higher states of consciousness just mentioned, Observer and Flow states. Mostly, mindfulness meditation in the current world is being used to reduce the stress of EOP, by at least for short periods each day getting you out of EOP into the Observer state. The military is now using mindfulness and relaxation meditation to reduce the suicide rate of troops suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As we recommended to military leaders in speeches and meetings many years ago, they are now finally empirically testing the efficacy of one versus another specific version of meditation to see which works best.

Just as in the infant science of psychology, the modern world starts by focusing on the negative side of the coin, using not only meditation but many forms of applied psychology (we call it psychotechnology) primarily if not totally to relieve negative states. THEI, like Maslow, goes the other way and focuses mostly on the achievement and maintenance of positive states.

To summarize, THEI’s ideas are unique in the general field of mindfulness in the following ways:

  1. Focuses on the achievement and maintenance of two specific positive states of consciousness. Both states can be verified by the individual observer, thus we are talking science not “mere” mysticism (although mysticism is one valuable heuristic lens of mindfulness we will discuss another day). The states also have measurable correlates both in terms of objective performance metrics and in terms of brain conditions.
  1. Provides insights to begin with —ways of looking at things that have been observed to help precipitate the desired states. For example, Mind Magic.
  1. Provides a framework for the accumulation and mining of one’s own insights. By demonstrating that some thoughts and ways of being help reach Observer state (Flow typically coming later), each individual realizes profoundly that paying attention to one’s own insights is unbelievably valuable, among the most important things in life. This changes life from too often a grind into an adventure of discovery, in which challenges are appreciated as the irritants to catalyze creativity and self-growth, turning the tables on negativity.
  1. When negativity does get through the shields, and one spirals down into old- fashioned EOP, Optimized Mindfulness provides ways to get out again as quickly as possible.
  1. In short, Optimized Mindfulness is a Westernized approach in the sense of having set very specific goals and objectives, and not losing track of the focus on those goals, while systematically moving toward and into them, based on accumulated fieldcraft, hard logic and reasoning. At the same time Optimized Mindfulness does not lose sight of the value of the intuition, nor impose reductionist assumptions the way that Western Materialist Religious Scientism does.

We hope you experiment with and enjoy Optimized Mindfulness, adding it to your moment-to-moment life, and that your incremental experiences in Observer and Flow states make your daily life an even more wondrous experience.

Happy Valentine’s Day, 

beating heart

Bill

P.S. From Wikipedia on Mindfulness
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Zen criticism
Some Zen teachers emphasize the potential dangers of misunder-
standing “mindfulness”.

Gudo Wafu Nishijima criticizes the use of the term of mindfulness and idealistic interpretations of the practice from the Zen standpoint:

However recently many so-called Buddhist teachers insist the importance of ‘mindfulness.’ But such a kind of attitudes might be insistence that Buddhism might be a kind of idealistic philosophy. Therefore actually speaking I am much afraid that Buddhism is misunderstood as if it was a kind of idealistic philosophy. However we should never forget that Buddhism is not an idealistic philosophy, and so if someone in Buddhism reveres mindfulness, we should clearly recognize that he or she can never be a Buddhist at all.[25]

Muho Noelke, the abbot of Antaiji, explains the pitfalls of consciously seeking mindfulness.

We should always try to be active coming out of samadhi. For this, we have to forget things like “I should be mindful of this or that”. If you are mindful, you are already creating a separation (“I – am – mindful – of – ….”). Don’t be mindful, please! When you walk, just walk. Let the walk walk. Let the talk talk (Dogen Zenji says: “When we open our mouths, it is filled with Dharma”). Let the eating eat, the sitting sit, the work work. Let sleep sleep.[26]
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BH comment
The concept of mindfulness, as a positive thing to be striving for, helps one get from EOP to Observer state, but impedes one getting from Observer state to Flow state. The Zen Masters above are saying the latter but not explaining fully what they mean.

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