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brainpower

How the Brain Can Boost Your Emotional Intelligence

How the brain can boost your emotional intelligence

Understand Brain Science, Boost Your Emotional Intelligence

Many people think “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but not Daniel Goleman and Daniel Siegel. They understand the brain science, which shows we can all grow new pathways in our brain that support our emotional intelligence and Mindsight. That science explains the mechanism of neuroplasticity – lasting change to the brain. During the Brainpower webcast series, Dr. Goleman and Dr. Siegel describe concrete ways leaders can grow their own brains AND help their employees build their capacity for emotional intelligence and Mindsight.

How to Develop a Connected Brain

A key to emotional intelligence and Mindsight is having a connected brain, where different parts of the brain communicate well with each other. How do you make a more connected brain?

Dr. Siegel explained,

“Here are the steps to making a more connected brain. You grow new connections between neurons with synaptogenesis and synapse modulation. You grow new neurons, at least in the hippocampus. Myelinogenesis is the creation of myelin. Myelin when it’s laid down, allows the action potential. This means that the ions flowing in and out go 100 times faster and the resting period, the refracting period between firings, is 30 times shorter. So 30 times 100 is 3,000. So with myelin, you’re 3,000 times faster and more coordinated and balanced.

So, how do you build myelin? Dan’s insightful book, Focus, talks about the key: focus of attention. The way I think about it is this: Where attention goes, neurofiring flows, and neuro connection grows. Where attention goes – how I use my mind to focus attention – gets neurons to fire and where neurons fire, they grow and rewire. I use the acronym SNAGS: Stimulate Neural Activation and Growth. One of the main things to SNAG a brain is the focus of attention. But the context in which that happens, trust, actually helps you promote more growth. There’s a social engagement system that’s turned on when you get trust going. As a leader, that’s the way you can help promote neuroplasticity. Learning and unlearning and deep practice in skill building – this is all stuff that builds myelin.”

CEO of the Mind and the Mind’s Radar

Dr. Goleman responded to Dr. Siegel’s comments focusing in on two parts of the brain that play an active role in emotional intelligence. Dr. Goleman said,

“I want to hone in on the prefrontal area of the brain. This is the part of the brain that’s really the brain’s executive, the CEO of the mind. It focuses attention, can help us integrate, plan, make decision, process information, strategize, learn, pursue goals. The prefrontal area should be the boss of the brain and is in our best moments. The amygdala, however, is at the bottom of a kind of spiral of emotional centers in the brain. The amygdala is the radar for threat in the brain; it’s the trigger for strong negative emotional responses. When the amygdala looks around, it’s asking: am I safe? Is there a threat? And if the amygdala thinks there is a threat, it can take over the prefrontal cortex in what I call an amygdala hijack and in the hijack, several things are going on.”

Three Signs of an Amygdala Hijack

Dr. Goleman explained, “First of all, there are three signs of a hijack. One is that you have a really strong emotional reaction. It might be anger, or fear, or going numb. It’s something that doesn’t help in the situation. The second is that it’s very sudden. It kind of takes you over. You’re surprised by it. Third is that it leads you to do something that doesn’t work, that’s inappropriate.”

What Happens During an Amygdala Hijack

Dr. Goleman continued, “In a leader, an amygdala hijack is never helpful. The mind state during a hijack, as shown by the research of Joseph LeDoux at New York University, tends to be very childish. The logic of the amygdala is that of a child, that of poetry, art, myth. Anything is possible. It’s a very fuzzy logic. It’s not the logic of the prefrontal cortex.

Attention also fixates on the threat. That was great in evolution because we needed to see what was rustling in the bushes. But, today the amygdala responds to complex social realities, symbolic realities. Feelings such as ‘I’m not being treated fairly’ can cascade in the body a whole flood of reactions. Also, memory reshuffles so what is salient to what we think the perceived threat is, is what we most easily remember. This leads us to rely on over-learned response. During an amygdala hijack, our responses are rigid. We do what comes to us most easily, which is what we’ve practiced the most. It might be something very immature such as ‘I’d like to hit this guy.’”

Managing an Amygdala Hijack

Dr. Goleman offered tips on how to manage a hijack.

“There are many ways to manage a hijack, but here’s one approach. First, pause whenever you sense it’s coming on or are in the midst of it. You may not realize because it can happen so suddenly. We need to collect ourselves, pause. Mindfulness is very helpful here. Dan also mentioned something in another webcast that’s really helpful here. ‘Name it to tame it.’ If you can say, ‘Oh, I’m having that reaction,’ you already are doing something neutrally with your mind. You are deactivating the amygdala and energizing the prefrontal cortex. It shifts the ratio of power.

A third thing you can do is calm down. Focus on your breath. Or, if it’s possible, take a break. John Gottman at University of Washington, who studies marital arguments, which are really mutual emotional hijacks, recommends that a couple take 20 minutes out. He says it takes about that long to calm down from the hijack. Then you can come back and talk things over.

The fourth step is repeat as needed. This takes advantage of the neuroplasticity that Dan is talking about. What we’re trying to do is develop a new way of reacting to those triggers.”

How to Help Others Build Their Brainpower

Dr. Siegel described concrete ways to help others build their brains. He said,

“These are ways as a leader you can help promote neuroplasticity. You can have relationships that build trust. You can create a culture with a lot of strength and integrity and intention that encourages the people working in your organization to get good sleep. Sleep is the greatest thing for neuroplasticity. We’re now beginning to understand that sleep helps clean away the toxins that are inevitably produced during the waking state. So, people who are sleep deprived are accumulating toxins. They don’t pay attention as well, they can’t remember as much, they’re irritable. The brain does not consolidate learning when it is sleep deprived. Nutrition. People need to be eating well. Aerobic exercise, keeping active, humor. Some studies suggest that humor actually helps promote brain growth. Novelty, having new things go on and the close paying of attention. All of these things help promote building a connected brain.”

“At drdansiegel.com, we’ve had a lot of people download a simple practice called ‘The Wheel of Awareness.’ It takes about 25 minutes. The results have been absolutely fascinating. I’ve collected and recorded responses from over 10,000 people who I’ve given this to in person. You can actually integrate consciousness to promote self-monitoring and self-modulation. That is, you can modulate your internal state through this very simple practice. What you’re doing basically is distinguishing the knowing from the known of consciousness and in doing that, you’re giving a huge amount of power for choice and change. This is exactly what we as leaders want to do is to provide the people we work with the opportunity to actually create more integration in their life.”

leadership development

Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership is a collection of four streaming videos with Daniel Goleman and Daniel Siegel. This series provides leaders, executive coaches, management consultants, and HR professionals with a science basis for their leadership development work. The video content is a recording of Dr. Goleman and Dr. Siegel’s live webcast series broadcast in February 2016.

mistake

Mopping Up Emotional Messes After Mistakes

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Image: iStock/Bplanet

What’s Worse? Making a Mistake or Poorly Processing the Mistake?

Susan hasn’t been the same since she made a mistake in a meeting with an important potential client. She used to be the most confident member of the sales team. Now she’s hesitant to go after new accounts.

While Susan’s manager Glenn is frustrated with her mistake, what he really wants is his confident and high-producing salesperson back.

What’s getting in the way of Susan’s recovery from her mistake?

What can Glenn do to help her move on?

Replaying Mistakes in Your Mind

Ever since her mess-up, Susan has replayed the events in her head. The soundtrack for that mental film: “How could I have been such an idiot? I should have known that strategy wouldn’t work with this guy. Why didn’t I read his cues that I was off-track sooner? I’ve lost it. I’ve just been fooling myself to think I am good at this job.”

No wonder Susan feels hesitant. With that constant stream of negative self-talk, she’s continually reinforcing her feelings of shame and fear. Susan is triggering brain activity that keeps her in the brain’s “low road” emotion centers instead of the “high road” part that allows for clear thought and creativity.

Here’s what Daniel Goleman said about this phenomenon in his book, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships:

“When we are under stress the HPA axis roars into action, preparing the body for crisis. Among other biological maneuvers, the amygdala commandeers the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s executive center…. As our brain hands decision-making over to the low road, we lose our ability to think at our best. The more intense the pressure, the more our performance and thinking will suffer. The ascendant amygdala handicaps our abilities for learning, for holding information in working memory, for reacting flexibly and creatively, for focusing attention at will, and for planning and organizing effectively….

The neural highway for dysphoria runs from the amygdala to the right side of the prefrontal cortex. As this circuitry activates, our thoughts fixate on what has triggered the distress. And as we become preoccupied by, say, worry or resentment, our mental agility sputters. Likewise, when we are sad activity levels in the prefrontal cortex drop and we generate fewer thoughts. Extremes of anxiety and anger on the one hand, and sadness on the other, push brain activity beyond its zones of effectiveness.”

Recovering from Mistakes

Cleaning up after a mistake requires a range of practical and mental steps. For Susan, the key is to shift away from replaying the scene continuously in her mind. Being able to change her focus from that past incident will help ease the brain chemicals triggering her distress. Goleman wrote about such recovery in “Can You Pass this Stress Test?”:

There’s a simple way to increase our recovery time from stress, as research at the lab run by Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin shows: rehearse letting go of our thoughts and returning our attention to a chosen topic. That mental move is the essence of mindfulness, or any other meditation. In my own research at Harvard on this, I found that people who meditated recovered more quickly from a stressful challenge later. I start my own day with such an inner workout.”         

How Managers Respond to Mistakes

Glenn has a choice. He can come down hard on Susan and reprimand or punish her. Or he can help her learn from the mistake and move on. That second, kinder path doesn’t mean he accepts what she did. He can talk with her about how it impacts business and look at how she could have done things differently. Such a response shows he understands what’s best for Susan and his whole team in the long run.

Here’s what Goleman wrote about taking the kind path:

“If you respond without losing it yourself, it boosts an employee’s loyalty to you enormously — and he or she just might learn something about doing better next time around. It’s even better if you can deliver your reaction with a supportive tone, not a judgmental one. Call it managing with compassion. And despite its soft ring, research finds that compassion has better results than a tough-guy stance. For starters, people like and trust bosses who show kindness – and that in turn boosts their performance.”

Stepping Away from Frustration

Knowing your best choice is to manage with compassion doesn’t make it easy. How can Glenn step away from his frustration?

Here are three possibilities:

  • Pause before you react. Taking a mindful moment – or a longer pause to cool down – when you notice you’re getting angry can give you the window you need to calm down before you respond. And a calmer state makes you more clear, so you can be more reasonable. Better self-awareness gives you more emotional self-control.
  • Take the bigger view, beyond this particular moment. Remember everyone has the potential to improve. If you simply dismiss a person as faulty because they screwed up, you destroy a chance for them to learn and grow.
  • Empathize. Try to see the situation from your employee’s perspective. You might see reasons he or she acted as they did – things you would not notice if you just had your knee-jerk reaction. This allows you to nod to their viewpoint, even as you offer your own alternative.

Make the Most of Mistakes

Susan isn’t the only one who can grow from her mistake. A skillful response from Glenn can help his whole team learn lessons to make them more effective in their work. And, he can reap a bonus as well. Employees who see him react to Susan with understanding rather than anger will become more loyal. Feeling positively toward your boss is a bigger factor in loyalty than a big paycheck.

leadership development

Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership, provides leaders, executive coaches, management consultants, and HR professionals with a science basis for their leadership development work. Register for the live four-part webcast series with Daniel Goleman and Daniel Siegel throughout February here

Additional Resources

 

develop a healthy mind

How to Help Children Develop a Healthy Mind

develop a healthy mind

A key component to helping children develop a healthy mind is teaching them self-awareness and empathy.

Like learning any new skill, these two kinds of awareness can be developed through regular practice. We know from modern neuroscience research that to establish new connections in the brain, systematic practice is essential. Unfortunately, traditional curricula often ignore these topics, which are building blocks for all other types of learning.

If children are unable to exercise cognitive control and to pay attention, they won’t be able to learn – or worse, manage their emotions. Starting in preschool, we can introduce very simple exercises to cultivate these qualities of attention.

Notice a Sound

For example, here’s an exercise that can be done with four- and five-year-old children. Ring a bell that lasts for 15 seconds. Ask the children to pay very, very close attention to the sound and, as soon as they no longer hear it, to raise their hand. What happens in a class of 25 children during the time the bell is sounded? There’s a dramatic stillness. Kids will just start to raise their hand. They love this exercise.

develop a healthy mind

Notice a Sensation

Other exercises have children pay attention to internal bodily states. Practicing this helps cultivate attention and empathy, because empathy very much involves understanding how your own body is responding.

Tania Singer, a neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute, studies empathy. Tania says that when you experience empathy, systems within your own brain are automatically attuning to the emotional or internal state of another person – and duplicating that in yourself. In order to know how the other person feels you actually are attuning to yourself using the insula as a principal pathway. Those changes can occur consciously or non-consciously. To take full advantage of the changes you must become aware of them.

Notice Your Breath

How can we strengthen the brain circuitry, the prefrontal circuitry or insula circuitry, in children for this kind of awareness? Practice attention training. Another simple exercise for children is to have them practice paying attention to their breathing. While the children are lying on the floor, have each child place a little stone or stuffed animal on her or his belly. Ask the children to observe the object rising and falling with each breath cycle. Not only is this extremely relaxing, it’s also something that helps them focus their attention on their internal bodily sensations.

 

Additional Resources

Develop a Healthy Mind: How Focus Impacts Brain Function

develop a healthy mind

The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education

triple focus

Focus Back-to-School Bundle

back to school bundle

Focus for Kids: Enhancing Concentration, Caring and Calm

focus for kids

Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth

bridging the hearts and minds of youth

Ep 161: Develop a Healthy Mind: How Focus Impacts Brain Function

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast. 

In this episode…

Richard Davidson is a neuroscientist and the founder of The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. In a conversation with Daniel Goleman, he discusses innovative practices in cognitive control for children, including ways to help them quickly recover from upsets and return to the task is at hand.

The rest of their conversation is available as an audio download, Develop a Healthy Mind: How Focus Impacts Brain Function, which also contains supplemental guided exercises you can practice at home, in the office and in the classroom. Available at morethansound.net.


“Attention works much like a muscle: use it poorly and it can wither; work it well and it grows,” said Daniel Goleman. “In an era of unstoppable distractions, we must learn to sharpen focus if we are to contend with, let alone thrive in, a complex world.”


In Develop a Healthy Mind...

Richard Davidson talks with Daniel Goleman, author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence  highlighting the latest scientific research tells us about our brain functions, common psychological conditions, habits, and what it means to have a healthy mind. They also answer the following questions:

•  How can attention training enhance emotional intelligence abilities?
•  What are the different types of attention – and how can we recognize them?
•  Why is it crucial to teach our children how to focus?
•  How can we develop an attention training practice that suits our needs and style?

Also included are guided exercises by Danial Goleman and Mirabai Bush, to help you practice attention-training skills at work, at home, and in the classroom.

Sensory Focus – for adults at home or work
Body Scan – for teens at home or school
Breath Exercise – for kids at home or school
Listening Exercise – for teens at home or school
Breath Count – for adults at home or work
Enhancing Listening and Communication – for adults at work
Managing Negative Emotions – for adults at work

develop a healthy mind

What to do when worry dominates your attention

develop a healthy mind

Did I unplug the iron?

Traffic is brutal. Will I be late for my meeting?

I haven’t heard back from my friend. Are they upset with me?

Worry is a natural response to an upsetting situation, the unknown, or if we’re run down and frazzled. It can be difficult to get a handle on distressing thoughts. Fixating on a worry can exact a toll on our brain and our body. It also affects our decision-making skills, even our relationships (spending too much time with a “worry wart” can be draining).

Daniel Goleman spoke with Dr. Richard Davidson, founder of The Center for Investigating a Healthy Mind about the role of attention training in optimal brain functions in Develop a Healthy Mind: How Focus Impacts Brain Function. Here’s what they had to say about attention driven by worry.

Human beings are endowed with a very large prefrontal cortex, which gives us the ability to do mental time travel. That means that we can anticipate the future and reflect on the past, which clearly has its advantages. But it can also create a lot of problems.

We can worry about the future. We can anticipate threats that don’t actually occur, which, in most cases, turn out to be far more significant than real threats.

Our brain on stress

When we’re under stress, the brain secretes hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that in the best scenario mobilize us to handle a short-term emergency, but in the worst scenario create an ongoing hazard for performance. In that case, attention narrows to focus on the cause of the stress, not the task at hand. Our memory reshuffles to promote thoughts most relevant to what’s stressing us, and we fall back on negative learned habits. The brain’s executive centers – our neural circuitry for paying attention, comprehending, and learning – are hijacked by our networks for handling stress.

In today’s over-stimulated, fast-paced culture, it’s very difficult to respond effectively to worry and stress. Our old habits kick in: we shut down, lash out, ruminate, stress eat, and on and on. But you can develop more positive responses to stress.

Write it down

In Paul Ekman’s book Emotions Revealed he encourages people to keep a log of regrettable angry episodes. Write down:

  • what the incident was about
  • how it happened
  • what set you off
  • and what did you do that you think you shouldn’t have done.

After a few journal entries, try to see the commonality in the triggers and responses. You’ll usually find a particular script that underlies what’s causing you to have a particular perception on certain situations, to cast people into roles that they really aren’t in, and to try to replay a plot that doesn’t really fit.

Exercise your mental muscle

Practice different mental exercises to calm the mind and body down after a stressful arousal. The more you practice, the easier you can recall these tools when you need it most. Try these very simple exercises when you’re stressed or angry:

develop a healthy mind       develop a healthy mind

Know your stress type

Stress hits each of us differently. Some of us feel it in our bodies. Others just can’t stop worrying. Knowing how you experience stress can help you find the most effective relaxation methods. Try different exercises, such as deep breathing, auto suggestion or sensory focus. See which methods work best for you.

Stop and see

Stress management expert Elad Levinson developed the stop and see practice for the overwhelmed executives he coaches. Try this:

Begin with a simple exercise of thoughtful observation.

  • How would I characterize my mind right now? What does it feel like?
  • If I had to guess its revolutions per minute, what would I guess?
  • Does it feel hot or cool?
  • If my mind were a river, would it be a lazy river or a rushing river?

Next, try a slow deep breathing exercise to calm the mind.

  • Inhale and count to 3, 4, or 5, depending upon how deep an inhalation you can take.
  • Now exhale, doing the same.
  • Try this for one minute.
  • Notice any differences in you body, or changes to the content of your thoughts.

Additional resources

Develop a Healthy Mind: How Focus Impacts Brain Function

Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence

Relax: 6 Techniques to Lower Your Stress

Working with Mindfulness

Thriving on Change: The Evolving Leader’s Toolkit

Knowing Our Emotions, Improving Our World

Training the Brain: Cultivating Emotional Intelligence

career

Is it Worth It? When it’s Time to Question Your Career Ambitions

career

Source: snapwiresnaps.tumblr.com/Pexels.com CC0 License

The late New Zealand-based art director, Linds Redding has recently gained notoriety for his brutal rant against the soul-grinding culture of the advertising industry. He started a blog after he was diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer. Many of his posts reflected on his career – a rather impressive one in the creative field. Yet despite his accomplishments, he felt it was all a waste of time.

Redding wrote, “It turns out I didn’t actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did…Countless late nights and weekends, holidays, birthdays, school recitals and anniversary dinners were willingly sacrificed at the altar of some intangible but infinitely worthy higher cause. This was the con. Convincing myself that there was nowhere I’d rather be was just a coping mechanism. I can see that now. It wasn’t really important. Or of any consequence at all really. How could it be? We were just shifting product. Our product, and the clients. Just meeting the quota.”

Could that have been his understandably stark end-of-life perspective, or a legitimate warning to all who put pleasing the client and the company before their own wellbeing? And is this exclusive to the advertising industry?

Pushing yourself – or others – past their limits isn’t sustainable. Burnout, resentment, and backstabbing are common symptoms of work cultures that expect everyone work at a break-neck pace. But some of the most successful organizations recognize that productivity, profits and personal fulfillment are intertwined. Such a corporate mindset is often identified as “good work.”

Multiple Intelligences author, Howard Gardner defines good work as a combination of the three Es: excellence, ethics, and engagement. When what we do becomes good work, we love what we do at every level: we feel competent, happy, and that our efforts have meaning.

[PODCAST: What is Good Work?]

How Can Leaders Create a Culture of Good Work?

Creating a workplace that embraces the good work concept must start from the top. When Daniel Goleman spoke with Gardner in his Leadership: A Master Class video series, he asked him: What would a business leader look like who exemplified good work? Here’s an excerpt from their discussion.

Gardner: A business leader who exemplified good work is somebody who understood himself or herself, understood the corporation or company that they were in very well, knew something about their history, understood the domain and had some sense of the mega-trends going on in the world. You cannot be an excellent leader unless you’ve thought about this kind of knowledge, so that’s excellence.

Engaged means they really love their work. They want to do it. Their energy crystallizes other people, and the other people on their team love them and want to be with them. Charisma doesn’t hurt, but you ought to be able to inspire people even if you’re not charismatic, because of the way you behave.

And a person doing good work is someone who is always trying to do the right thing. The right thing, of course, involves the self, and it involves the company. But if it’s only about advancing the company, then it cannot be ethical. There are many things we could do to advance the company that are bad for the company in the long run, or bad for society.

Goleman: Well, I think I need to push back a little. Did I hear you say that you can’t be a good leader if all you care about is promoting the company?

Gardner: Of course you need to promote the company, otherwise you shouldn’t be the leader. But if you’re promoting the company at all costs, you’re not thinking about how the workers are being affected, what happens to the company in the long run, what are the externalities. If you’re not thinking about the people that might be hurt by what you do, then you certainly would not be an ethical leader, and it’s a continuing conversation. You never get to be ethical or not. There’s always an effort to try to figure out what is the right thing in the broader picture, and whom we respect over the long run.

Don’t Wait to Make a Change

If you find yourself in an organization or an industry that puts profit over people – and don’t know how to transition out of it – consider Gardner’s tips on developing a career using the good work model as a guide.

Decide what you really would like to spend your life doing. According to Howard, this is much more important than deciding what particular job to hold, as the employment landscape changes so quickly. Let’s say you went into journalism with plans to work for a newspaper or magazine. Those outlets may not exist in their traditional forms now, but you still might want to write about interesting things. You want to investigate and talk to people. So you have to say “Where could I carry that out?” and be very, very flexible about the venue and the milieu, but not flexible about what you really get a kick out of and where you excel.

Think about people whom you admire and respect. Then think about people whom you don’t want to be like. Consider why you admire certain people and why you’re repelled by others. If you can’t think of people you admire, that’s a warning sign. It’s not necessarily a warning sign about you; it’s a warning sign about the culture around you. Perhaps you’re in a situation where you can’t admire anybody at all, or the people you admire don’t do anything related to what you do.

Consider where you want to work. Then ask yourself, “Is this the kind of place where I can see myself in others and where I can see others in me?” For example: Say you have job offers from both a small startup company you believe in, and a large corporation with a worrisome reputation for treating employees unfairly. You might make five times more money in the latter position, but does that reflect who you are and where you want to be?

If you’re a coach working with people in career transition, help them approach their search through the good work lens by asking them these three questions:

  • How much of what you do now is good work?
  • What could you do to boost that percentage?
  • How could you develop your career to maximize good work?

Additional Resources

Good Work: Aligning Skills and Values

Today’s Leadership Imperative

The Executive Edge: An Insider’s Guide to Outstanding Leadership

Thriving on Change: The Evolving Leader’s Toolkit

The Competency Builder

The Coaching Program

mindful school

The Mindful Child: Teaching the New ABCs of Attention, Balance, and Compassion

 

mindful school

Credit: dharmaschool.co.uk

The classical training of mindfulness revolves around the four foundations or applications of mindfulness, depending on translation. These four foundations involve paying attention to inner experience, then outer, then both together without blending the two. It is so important to ground your bases in some form of well-established, or basic and classical truth.

Andrew Olendzki concisely defines them in his article, The Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness, as:

  1. Mindfulness of Body – bringing awareness, attention, or focus to breathing and bodily sensation
  2. Mindfulness of Feeling – noticing the affect tone, such as pleasure or displeasure, that comes with every sense object, whether a sensation or a thought
  3. Mindfulness of Mind – noticing when there is attachment (greed, judgement, wanting) present in the mind and when there is not attachment present
  4. Mindfulness of Mental Objects/Phenomena – being mindful and attentive to any thought that arises and allowing it to pass away unobstructed, and eventually directing this observance through a much more in depth exploration of the true origins of that thought

The Mindful Child

At the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference in 2012, Susan Kaiser-Greenland talked in her keynote address about the importance of having a deep and scholastic understanding of mindfulness before even thinking about addressing a classroom full of children about it. It is crucial not go about it haphazardly. The games and activities you do with your children should be rooted in scientifically proven and backed truth. This could include the classical training, or a multitude of other resources. It is also important to bring the language down to a level children can fully understand.

“When I work with children,” says Kaiser-Greenland, “I teach them mindfulness is paying attention with kindness – first towards yourself, then to other people, then to everyone and everything.”

Kaiser-Greenland believes another way of defining mindfulness is that it’s a way of looking at the world; it’s attention, balance, and compassion. Always remember to check in on your mind. Is it cloudy? Dull? Alert? Judging? Are my actions or words consistent with who I would like to be or who I would like to become?

“What happens when we do this?” she asks, before drawing on activist Cornel West. “We are in the world in a different way. A way of looking leads to a way of being. We call that love on legs.”

View an excerpt from Susan’s speech here, or purchase the full streaming video here. To view the entire BHMY conference, it is exclusively available here.

Additional Resources

Focus Back-to-School Bundle

Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth 2013 Conference

The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education