Blog

RSS feed for this section

The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education

Print

Consider this: most American children have never known a world without Internet. And in more and more parts of the world, most children under 10 never knew a time where there wasn’t a handheld device they could tune in to… and tune out the people around them. Kids are growing up in a very different world today, one that will change even more as technology evolves.

But the changes will go beyond technology. These kids are also growing up in a culture facing unprecedented social and emotional challenges they will need to address. The Triple Focus is your guide to prepare them.

What are the tools that we might give kids today that will help them on this journey?

In The Triple Focus, Peter Senge and Daniel Goleman describe the three types of focus needed to navigate a fast-paced world of increasing distraction and endangered person-to-person engagement.

Dr. Goleman makes the case for teaching children the first two types of focus: self-awareness and self-management; and empathy and social skills. He offers case studies and research proving how these skills benefit both personal development and academic performance. And he shares examples of how some schools are already teaching their students these vital skills.

Dr. Senge explains systems thinking: analyzing the dynamics of when I do this, the consequence is that, and how to use these insights to enhance learning. Peter also reveals the innovative systems thinking skills being taught in schools today, and what this reveals about the innate systems intelligence of children.

Pre-order your copy here.

3 Techniques to See the World Differently

Texture-plank

Taking photos and sharing them on our social media feeds has become second nature. Even an office coffee run can somehow turn into a photo shoot.

While it’s enjoyable, our snap-happy habits can lead us to live our lives through a small screen. And that’s no fun. How can we break the cycle?

One of the many benefits of mindfulness is how easily we can incorporate a present-minded awareness into any daily activity – including using your camera phone.

Last week Mindful.org guest curated our MindfulFilter feed. They offered exercises to help you stay in the present moment while using your camera phone. Three contemplative photography assignments were oriented toward you, the perceiver. They directed you to your experience of perception, not to the objects that are perceived. They did this by asking you to recognize the basic elements of your world.

Give it a try. Focus on one of these elements the next time you photograph something. Tag #mindfulfilter on Instagram, and briefly tell us what the experience was like.

Color

Shooting color gives you something to look for that will align your eye and mind. When you work on this assignment, be patient.

• Just look for color. Don’t try to shoot something interesting or worry about composition. Your intention will become vague.

• Avoid getting caught up in thoughts of colorful things. It’s the simple experience of color you’re looking for.

• When you see a flash of color, get in close. Look on your viewfinder for just what stopped you.

color-asparagus

Texture

Everything has texture, so it’s easy to recognize. Yet, it can be difficult to think about. Beyond smooth and rough, we don’t have many conceptions about it. Texture is less prominent than color and requires us to dig a little deeper into the experience of seeing.

• Begin each session by clearly forming an intention to recognize texture. Take an inventory of the types of textures around you: rough pavement, smooth glass, coarse tree bark, soft cat fur.

• Notice how the quality of light affects your perception of texture. Rough surfaces will look one way on an overcast day, another on a bright, sunny morning, and still another in the late afternoon.

• When you see an interesting texture, imagine you are also touching it. Let sight and touch come together. Try this for a little while without using your camera.

• When you do take a photo of texture, fill the viewfinder with just the textured element that stopped you.

TerryBell_Texture

People

With people we know well, we often only see our version of them—“my boss,” “my child”—and not as they are, in that very moment. We don’t look beyond labels to see the fleeting expressions on their faces, or how they’ve combed their hair that day. This practice helps us cultivate a fresh way to see people as they are beyond our subjective view.

• Start with people you know well. If you keep things low-key, the camera will soon lose its novelty and you and your subjects will be able to relax.

• You’ll face challenges in this assignment. People being photographed might try to project images of what they think will make them look good, and this strained effect will show up in the final image. You may have to wait them out to get fresh expressions.

• Confront ideas in your mind about people. If you try to take a picture of “my friends having fun at Bob’s birthday party,” rather than photographing a strong visual perception, you will end up with a snapshot.

• Just like a mindfulness practice, consider taking time to photograph regularly—say, once a week—to get comfortable with the practice of photography.

TerryBell_people

Below are some of our favorite contributions from our followers:

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 1.39.23 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 1.40.48 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 1.41.49 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 1.43.04 PM

Cultivating a Mindful Workplace

388ae19

 

More Than Sound’s founder, Hanuman Goleman, wrote an article for Buddhist Insight Network about how his personal mindfulness practice guides the content he publishes.

“I listen to the news on the radio each morning. So much of what I hear is about the strife and difficulty of people, animals, and our entire habitat. Many of the actions I hear about seem so clearly rooted in greed, hatred, or delusion. Since I started my formal meditation practice in the late 80s during my teenage years, I have had an interest in mental constructs, specifically memes – self-replicating ideas. The ramifications of concepts being contagious from person to person are quite profound for me. In the extreme, there is dogmatic and thoughtless nationalism. But in a more subtle way, the fears and aggressions of our parents and our community easily become integrated into our own beliefs and worldview, even through hearing a simple radio program.

When I hear the news, I perceive what’s being conveyed as the physical manifestation of deep mental-emotional habits. I understand through my own practice that it’s possible for any habit to arise in anyone given the proper conditions. I have also seen the deconstruction of habitual tendencies through kind, honest, humble, and vigilant awareness. It is this possibility of transforming unhealthy habits that drives the work we do at More Than Sound.

More Than Sound (MTS) is a media publishing company that offers tools for developing mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and leadership skills. I started MTS in 2007 without a clear direction. Through my father, Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, I had the opportunity to publish CDs that would immediately have an international audience. I did it because I was looking for something to do, but after a couple of years, this minimal motivation became quite unfulfilling.

Through subsequent introspection and contemplation, it became clear to me that there are at least two core aspects of running a business that I want to be informed by my own Dharma practice. The first concerns the business structure, the office environment, and the well-being of my colleagues. The second is the potential effects of the publications we send into the world.

Mindful Workplace

It’s important to me that meditation practice is a part of our work environment at More Than Sound; in fact, I am not interested in working somewhere that doesn’t integrate some contemplation and awareness into the office life. The reason is that meditation helps release fixed ideas and bring clarity and wisdom to our work, so that we are both more effective as a business and acting more in alignment with our personal values.

I find that I often have ideas about how I am feeling or about what is happening. Sometimes these ideas are loud and pushy, and become my primary experience by forcing my sensory experience out of the way. Other times, they are more subtle, existing as some lingering effect from an earlier experience. When unnoticed and left to their own devices, my ideas act as a powerful filter that influences the emotional tone of experience, as well as my whole state of being.

But when I can tune in to my raw, moment-to-moment experience, the loud ideas often prove to be quite fragile, and may simply fall away.  And the subtler ones can be brought into awareness, so that they no longer have free reign on informing experience.

I have seen time and time again that consciously bringing attention to my experience as it unfolds allows me to notice some of the filters that are informing how I feel. This basic act of bringing awareness is often sufficient to release the holding pattern, leaving me with a more accurate view of my experience as well as a feeling of alignment. My mind is more spacious, clear, and focused. I am able to  make decisions that feel wiser and more in line with the thoughtful and caring person that I would like to be.

I wished to bring this mindfulness practice into More Than Sound’s office environment. Imagine a meeting with six people, each of whom is having his or her own difficulties, joys, and distractions. Situations can easily be misunderstood through the various emotional filters that sift experience and give it a personal spin. I felt that simply sitting silently together, each bringing attention to her or his inner world and going through this process of alignment, would create a shared environment of less internal distraction, more focus and openness. A flow to our collective work endeavors would be more available without being blocked by our personal distractions. It is important to say that I don’t mean ignoring or avoiding any difficult emotions, but rather cultivating an inner orientation of spaciousness and alignment that cannot be subsumed by a particular thought or emotion. It is in this state that moments of creativity and focus are common.

Implementing mindfulness practice into the workplace was certainly different than talking about it. I experimented with a few ways of including meditation. At first I set an alarm on my computer to ring every 30 minutes. When we heard the alarm, we would all drop what we were doing and sit together in silence for 3 minutes. This was a bit disruptive to the workflow. We also tried 5 minutes every hour and 10 minutes before lunch, and finally arrived at having a sitting before our meetings. The sitting varies in length and is either in silence or guided from tracks of meditation instructions. Most recently, we have started sitting together in the morning too. These elements have created a nourishing work environment for all of us.

Spreading Ideas and Mental Habits with Intention

The second core facet of More Than Sound that is important to me is directly related to my interest in mental constructs and memes. Publishing is essentially the business of spreading ideas. If one publishes hate-filled vitriol, then those are the thoughts and state of mind they are spreading into the world. But similarly, one can publish material that brings benefit – for example, truthfully examining the human condition, offering some possibility of reducing conflict or pain, and suggesting ways that we can cultivate healthy, positive states. It is important to me that my work is a healthy influence, an agent of alleviating suffering in this difficult world.

The key is to be aware of the mental and emotional habits operating behind our actions. Our work at MTS encourages people to become aware of their habits and offers tools to do so. We can all see mental habits that are unskillful, and with some looking, we can also see habits that are skillful and healthy. Simple awareness is a transformative tool in shifting habits toward greater health.

I am inspired by the quality and potential for benefit of our products. Since I started MTS, mindfulness has become a buzzword in American pop culture. People are offering mindfulness instruction after doing very little practice themselves. We ensure the integrity of the instructions that we offer by working with authors who are rooted in Dharma traditions and have many years of practice and teaching.

One of the main topics that we highlight is the development of leadership qualities. Many leadership competencies are qualities that I have found to arise naturally from Dharma practice. SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, offers a list of leadership competencies that includes: managing change, demonstrating ethics and integrity, increasing self-awareness, and developing adaptability. These could have been pulled from Dharma instructions for householder life. These are also some of the qualities that make us effective, positive influences in the world at large.

I would like to see a world with more emotionally stable, generous, and kind people who recognize and understand that we are all in this together. This is true in at least two ways. In Buddhist terms, we are all subject to the Eight Worldly Winds: pleasure and pain, praise and blame, fame and disrepute, gain and loss. We are also all literally “in this together.” We have decided national borders and come up with allegiances and group identities that offer some illusion of separation – someone as “other” – but the reality of our situation is that this planet is effectively a closed system. Every action has an effect, so whatever the emotion and intent from which we act, we are propagating the same.

Developing MTS has been a journey of trial, error and improvement – both in commerce and in management. I am thankful that mindfulness is part of our workday and hope to integrate more collective mindful moments into the environment here. I’m also happy that we are spreading that intention outward.”

 

Are We Outsourcing Our Memory to Camera Phones?

nevada-from-sky

Do we remember less as we take more photos with our camera phones? NPR’s Audie Cornish explored that question in her recent story, Take Photos to Remember Your Experiences? Think Again. 

Peter Jon Lindberg asked a similar question in his latest Travel + Leisure article: Are we really experiencing a new destination – or just recording random moments?

Psychologist Linda Henkel conducted two studies to examine whether photographing objects impacts how we remember them. Results showed a photo-taking-impairment effect: If participants took a photo of each object as a whole, they remembered fewer objects and details than if they only observed the objects without photographing them.

The growing conversation around our snap happy habits is not to advocate a Boston Tea Party-like event with our smartphones. But, as Dr. Henkel suggests in her NPR interview, we could benefit from a more mindful approach to our experiences – and why we record those experiences.

Are we taking and sharing photos to seek approval? Are we relying on our camera phone as a memory retrieval tool? Asking such questions encourages us to reassess our habits – and perhaps help enhance our memory of real-life experiences.

Join the conversation about our camera phone habits. Take part in our MindfulFilter campaign to help you create more awareness around how and why you take and share photos. Learn how to participate here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus Coaching for the Distracted Manager

image1342914

The latest Inc. article, The Kings of Concentration, warns business owners about the impact distraction can have on an organization. As you can imagine, lost productivity is the most costly side effect. According to the article, info-tech researcher Basex surveyed 1,000 office workers in 2005. It found that distractions cost U.S. companies nearly $600 billion per year in lost productivity.

Yet cognitive overload remains a real issue for managers – and those they manage. How can HR, executive coaches and leaders help others – and themselves – stay focused?

Notice when you’re distracted

In Daniel Goleman’s latest article for Human Resource Executive, he notes that a senior executive told him that “when his mind wanders during a meeting, he wonders what business opportunity he just missed.” Take note of how often you check email or social media when you’re stuck on a problem, or bored with a project. The same exercise goes for when you tune out during meetings.

Think about unplugging

Responding to endless alert chimes from apps, emails or texts can be addictive. Try shutting your phone off, or closing a few windows on your computer screen for 30 minutes at some point during the day. Notice your productivity levels without the many electronic temptations.

Pay attention to attention

Try this exercise for a few minutes several times each day: select a single point of focus and resist the pull of anything else. It could be your breath, a picture on the wall, or a body sensation. When your mind wanders, just notice that. Bring your attention back to your focal point. This mental workout strengthens your brain’s circuitry for concentration.

Create a productive cocoon

Focus is crucial when you’re trying to come up with a creative solution – quickly. To help a person or team stay focused, carve out uninterrupted time for them to think, research and plan.

Here are some other resources to help distracted leaders rein in their focus.

Articles:

A More Mindful Workforce

What Mindfulness Is – And Isn’t

Organizational Attention Deficit Disorder

The Two Biggest Distractions – And What To Do About Them

Resource Library:

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence and Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence - Daniel Goleman’s latest book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence uncovers the science of attention in all its varieties – presenting a groundbreaking look at this overlooked and underrated asset, and why it matters enormously for how we feel, and succeed, in life. To answer the call for practical techniques to increase focus, Dr. Goleman created Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence, a series of guided exercises to help people of all ages hone their concentration, stay calm and better manage emotions.

Working with Mindfulness -  Mirabai Bush, key contributor to Google’s Search Inside Yourself curriculum, developed and narrates these attention training exercises for the workplace. The practices are designed to help reduce stress, increase productivity and encourage creative problem solving.

Relax: 6 Techniques to Lower Your Stress – Chronic stress can disrupt almost all of your body’s processes. It’s been shown to increase the risk of numerous health problems including heart disease, sleep issues, digestive complications, fatigue, depression, anxiety and obesity. Daniel Goleman developed Relax, a 45-minute audio program to help listeners effectively and naturally reduce stress. The guided relaxation program is especially beneficial to those with stressful jobs, or those managing teams in demanding work environments. The techniques are also useful for any number of everyday stressful situations or life transitions.

 

MindfulFilter: Can we mindfully photograph a fleeting moment?

MindfulFilter-Logo-HiRes

One of the many benefits of mindfulness is how easily we can incorporate a present-minded awareness into any daily activity. How we use social media and our mobile phones can sometimes feel robotic and automated.

Our new interactive experiment, MindfulFilter, is an opportunity to pay more attention to how we use and interact with technology and social media through something we do regularly – taking and sharing photos.

This week’s MindfulFilter theme was Earth.

We saw two major trends in the photos people shared with us on Instagram: sky and light. Colorful cloud formations, rainbows and sunrises/sunsets galore.

That’s understandable.

Those fleeting moments need to be captured on the spot. There’s an unconscious drive to capture images that may not be there a second later. Perhaps we want to record and share situations that only we experience. Or we’re trying to make sense of things we don’t normally see.

With those considerations, we asked ourselves: Are we mindful of the moment we’re photographing – or are we responding instinctually without any conscious awareness?

One follower said: “I find that the process of taking pictures of such situations is incredibly mindful: you need to be cognizant of every move, every sound. It’s certainly a change from how I (we?) usually blunder through the natural world!”

There’s also an opportunity for the viewers of the photographs to practice mindfulness. When viewing some of this week’s #earth photos, for instance, we took a few extra seconds to examine different elements in the image, such as different shading in cloud formations or patterns in sunbursts. Elements we would usually notice, but not really look at closely.

The additional time we spent really seeing the image, or parts of it, allowed us to notice emotions that arose while looking at the photos: curiosity, awe, joy, jealousy (I wish I was actually there right now!), and so on.

Take a look at some of our favorite photos below.

rainbow

 

sky

nevada-from-sky

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 2.15.00 PM

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 2.15.59 PM

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 2.16.50 PM

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 2.17.40 PM

What comes to mind when you look at these images?

Please consider taking part in our social experiment. It’s easy to participate.

MindfulFilter-Onesheet

Follow MindfulFilter on:

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

Tumblr

 

More Than Sound’s Email Campaigns: A Model Approach

Our email marketing service, Benchmark, recently profiled our campaigns in their Emails That Do Work series.

We’re honored by the recognition. Everyone is inundated with information from a variety of sources. We take extra steps to provide useful, engaging content in our emails. Here’s what Benchmark had to say about our campaigns.

“Based on the nature of their business and their email campaigns, we can safely say that More Than Sound understands how to communicate effectively to their subscribers. It’s very rare to see graphics that stray anywhere far from the usual stock photos…The friendly interaction between the people in the graphics and the product immediately communicates two messages: (1) that this book is for everyone, and (2) that someone at MTS took the time to create a visual to engage readers. Rather than to slap a few stock images that could maybe fit into the context of the email message, MTS took ownership in branding their imagery.”

You’re welcome to receive our free emails (average 3-4 per month). Send us an email at hello@morethansound.net. Write Benchmark email list in the subject line.

Take a look at our latest email campaign here, which includes links to a collection of podcasts by Daniel Goleman discussing his research for his book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.

 

 

Overcoming obstacles to meditate

Meditation is too difficult. I can’t shut my brain off. I can’t sit still for too long. I have no time. These are just a few of the common excuses we tell ourselves when we think about starting a meditation practice. The latest issue of Mindful invites us to examine some of the reasons we use to not meditate – and the benefits of why we should try anyway. View the complete chart here.

Excuses to not meditate

1. I can’t sit still. That’s OK. No one starts out sitting perfectly still. Meditation is a process that develops over time.

2. My mind is too fast. So be it. There’s no need to find an ideal rate for your mind.

3. I don’t have time. Taking even just five minutes to slow down can have more benefits to your mind and outlook than powering through your day.

Reasons to meditate anyway

1. Lower stress. Excess stress can cause certain illnesses, and make other illnesses worse. Mindfulness has been shown to help reduce stress.

2. Reduce brain chatter. Quiet the voice in your head to help you think more clearly.

3. Improve focus. It’s frustrating when our attention is pulled in so many directions. Meditation hones our innate ability to focus.

Try some easy-to-follow guided exercises on our podcast.

Listening exercise for teens

Being at peace with food – working with emotions

Mindful driving

Auto suggestion exercise for relaxation

Deep breathing exercise

Other resources:

Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence

Focus for Teens: Enhancing Concentration, Caring and Calm

Focus for Kids: Enhancing Concentration, Caring and Calm

Working with Mindfulness

Relax: 6 Techniques to Lower Your Stress

Awake at the Wheel: Mindful Driving

Being at Peace with Food

Daniel Goleman’s “The Focused Leader” Wins HBR McKinsey Award

Best-selling author and psychologist Daniel Goleman is the 2013 HBR McKinsey Award winner for his article “The Focused Leader,” which was adapted from his book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. A synopsis of that section on leadership is available in Dr. Goleman’s new collection What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters. The book is a compilation in one volume of Dr. Goleman’s groundbreaking, highly sought-after Harvard Business Review articles and other business journal writings.

The award-winning article sheds new light on how leaders can direct their most valuable resource – their attention. Drawing on the latest neuroscience research, Goleman argues that leaders must cultivate a higher level of awareness about what truly matters, and demonstrates how they can do so through various methods of attention-training.

Since 1959, the HBR McKinsey Awards have recognized practical and groundbreaking management thinking. “It shows how important a leader’s focus is today,” said Daniel Goleman.

 

 

VIDEO: Education for Today: Rethinking Skills for Success with Daniel Goleman and Peter Senge

In this recorded webinar, Daniel Goleman and Peter Senge discussed the why’s and how’s of incorporating three crucial skill sets in today’s classroom:

Self-Mastery: Students can learn to focus on the task at hand by ignoring distractions and managing emotions.

Empathy and Caring: The ability to tune into those around you is the basis of solid relationships.

Systems Understanding: It’s never too early to learn how to analyze complex systems to better understand the consequences of our actions.

The discussion also looked at model educational programs that include these skill sets in their curriculum, and shared best practices for introducing these concepts in schools.

Watch the video here.

sidebar