There is something wonderfully bold and liberating about saying yes to our entire imperfect and messy life. ~Tara Brach
Do you listen to what your mind tells you? Or do you step back and observe it cooly, knowing that you aren’t what you think?
Because, there is a world of difference between those two positions. If we are to trust what many of the great meditation teachers have told us through the ages, one leads to a life of insight, understanding, and happiness, while the other leads in the opposite direction.
In today’s interview with author and mindfulness facilitator Jennifer Howd, we explore the practice of mindfulness meditation and how it teaches you that you are much more than what you think.
Three Lesson From Mindfulness
Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. ~Viktor Frankl
One of the greatest things I’ve learned from twenty years of meditation is how to observe my mind. It’s not something you get overnight. With patient practice, you start to build a little space between you and the stream of thought that runs like a shimmering stream through your head.
Cultivating that space has helped me understand many things about life and about myself. Here are three important ones.
- First, I learned that I am not what I think. I am infinitely more.
- Second, I learned that without that space between me and my mind, it’s easy to live life hypnotized by the thought stream and mistaking it for myself.
- And third, it taught me that I always have a choice in how to respond to life.
Sure, I can have strong reactions to things. Happens every day. I get stressed about time. I get upset at drivers while I’m walking the streets of Boston. I feel deflated and defeated when my new blog post or podcast doesn’t attract attention.
But I always know that I have a choice in response to these reactions. I can dwell on them and fight them or I can accept them, observe them, and keep moving.
You see, if you merely react to the many narratives in your mind, they will dictate how you live. The problem is that those narratives are mostly habitual and conditioned responses to life. More often than not, they are shaped by our deep fears, desires, and traumas.
When we blithely listen those voices, we start to believe them. Then slowly but surely, they eclipse the natural expanse of who we are and what’s possible in this life.
In contrast, mindfulness meditation helps you reverse that process and live a more conscious life.
The Mindfulness Diaries
Healing comes from letting there be room for all of “this” to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. ~Pema Chodron
In today’s episode, we explore the practice of mindfulness meditation with Jennifer Howd, the author of The Mindfulness Diaries: How I Survived My First 9-Day Silent Retreat. In her book and in her work, Jennifer uses the power of story to help illuminate the depth and subtlety of mindfulness practice.
You see, mindfulness isn’t merely a practice you do sitting on a cushion in the quiet hours of the morning.
As Jennifer says again and again, mindfulness is a way of life. It’s a way of looking at oneself and the world that’s deeply awake and profoundly present.
I invited Jennifer Howd to the OneMind Meditation Podcast so she could share her expertise, her stories, and her passion for mindfulness meditation. I think you’re going to love it.
In this episode of The OneMind Meditation Podcast, Jennifer Howd and I discuss:
- The dramatic story and events that led to Jennifer embracing meditation
- How she started her daily meditation practice
- Her experience training at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center
- Why she was more comfortable learning, practicing, and facilitating a secular based approach to mindfulness
- The role that meditation played in helping her shed old patterns of reactive behavior and belief
- How she learned that what she thought was not who she was
- How to practice mindfulness based meditation
- How to deal with the inner critic
- How mindfulness helps you know the difference between pain and suffering
- Why meditation teacher Shinzen Young says that pain + resistance = suffering
- How mindfulness helped Jenn overcome her fear of performing on stage at the Fringe Festival
- Jennifer’s advice for new and aspiring meditators
- Buy The Mindfulness Diaries
- Read The Mindfulness Diaries Blog
- Connect with Jennifer Howd directly
- Learn about The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center
>If you enjoyed this podcast, you may also like our Meditation for Life Mini Course
>Learn more about our free awareness meditation course, How To Free Your Mind & Discover Deep Peace
>Take a self-paced orientation to Meditation and explore the How To Meditate Core Training Program