Last week I was lucky enough to attend an Action for Happiness event where the guest speaker was Jon Kabat-Zinn. For those not au fait with the great man, Kabat-Zinn is basically the father of mindfulness in the western world.
He captivated the audience of 1000 people for about 90 minutes – speaking without notes on the well-being movement and where mindfulness fits into it. We were also lucky enough to to be led in a guided meditation by him.
Here are 3 of the most powerful pieces of advice that I took away from the evening.
Don’t be a Slave to your Thoughts
· The mind has its own agenda (and has an inherent negativity bias) so notice the tendency of the mind to go down habitual (usually self-critical) pathways and respond accordingly.
· A thought is an event that can ruin your day. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Recognise this and recognise that thoughts are not the gospel.
· Our thoughts often take the form of a ‘narrative of me’. Remember that your narrative is not always the true narrative as thoughts are just mental events NOT facts.
Be in a Wise Relationship with the Present Moment
· Kabat-Zinn explained how he was once asked if he believes in life after death. His response: He’s not interested, he’s more interested in focusing on life before death.
· The present moment is the door to life itself.
· In order to change the future, be fully present.
· Mindfulness is an invitation to be awake, not to feel good.
Meditation is a radical act
· Kabat-Zinn has been meditating for 52 years. It is not a fad.
· It’s something to commit to and isn’t always easy. But it doesn’t have to be overly difficult. He used a tennis ball as a prompt to remind the audience to drop the anchor and be grounded in the present moment.
· The world is starving for mindfulness, meditation and ‘heartfulness’ (especially since 9th November 2016 with the election of Donald Trump).
· The NBA (US basketball team league) is awash with players who meditate. The best team in the US right now, the Golden State Warriors have mindfulness-based principles including meditation at the core of their training and practice. These are the role-models who can inspire our young to meditate.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, an academic, a scientist, a meditator, an innovator and apparently a warm and gentle human being. A man who also speaks sense. Before the talk he walked past me in the corridor and it probably was obvious that I was awe-struck. He just nodded, smiled and said ‘hello’. One grounded and grounding man who I felt incredibly grateful to have had the chance to hear him speak.