Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
IN THIS ISSUE
Breakthrough
"Productive insight; clear (often sudden) understanding of a complex situation."  Free Dictionary

Pop the bubble of conditioned thinking and emerge into the creative realm of "no absolutes," continuous change, uncertainty and unlimited possibilities.

Then, there can be innovation, adaptation and optimal performance.
Performance and Open-minded Mindfulness
Open-minded:questioning everything, accepting diversity and uncertainty.  

Mindful: consciously aware; concentrated. 

Foundation for blending process, project, engagement and knowledge management into a cohesive approach to optimize performance.

Breakthrough
Newsletter
VOLUME VIII ISSUE NO. 5 | MAY 2016 
Mindfulness with George Pitagorsky - 

Insight Meditation | IIL Stream


Mindfulness and How You Can Improve Yours
By George Pitagorsky
 
Mindfulness has hit the mainstream. You might want it because it promises enhanced performance, stress relief, better health, healthier relationships and more.
 
If you want to become more mindful, start by understanding what that means, why you want it, and what you need to do to get it. Also, be aware of what you might be faced with.
 
Learner Beware
Mindfulness meditation is taught by people with varying degrees of personal experience, knowledge of the practice, motivation, and teaching skills.
 
Different understands abound. For example, someone at a yoga and meditation center in Chicago explained "Being mindful is simply focusing your mind only on the one thing that you are doing. In meditation that might be just concentrating on your breathing. Or in the case of a walking meditation, just feeling each step and not letting your mind start to worry about your emails,.... "
 
This describes concentration and leaves out the fundamental difference between concentration and mindfulness. 
 
Mindfulness Meditation
Concentration holds the mind to an object like the breath. Mindfulness meditation is being purposefully aware of whatever occurs, including worrying, fantasizing and all the other things that arise in our minds and around us.
 
Given the wide range of current interest in using enhanced mindfulness to improve performance, reduce stress and reach a fuller understanding of self and others, misleading information leads people astray.
 
The effective teacher differentiates between mindfulness and mindfulness meditation and goes on to explain that mindfulness meditation is practiced progressively.
 
It begins with concentration on breath or some other object. Once there is sufficient, concentration, mindfulness meditation opens to the awareness of anything that might arise in or around the practitioner -- thoughts, sounds, feelings, sights, physical sensations, mental states and concepts -- seeing each as something that can be objectively observed as it arises, exist and change or pass away. As the practice progresses, awareness is heightened and the practitioner integrates mindful awareness into every moment. 
 
Concentration meditation is a wonderful practice for stress relief and more. But, it is not mindfulness meditation.
 
East vs. West
To further confuse things, distinctions are being made between Eastern and Western perspectives. To me, having been trained in the Eastern traditions, practicing for over forty years in the West, and teaching the application of mindfulness in daily life, the distinctions seem contrived and ill informed.
 
Robert Feldbauer, in a recent article[1], summarized: "the Eastern perspective of Mindfulness can be described as enhanced attention, while the Western perspective can be viewed as distinction making." His conclusion is based on the writings of Western mindfulness experts.
 
I think the Western experts misunderstand the purpose of enhanced mindfulness. In the East and in the West, its purpose is to enable distinction making. "Right" decisions come from the ability to objectively distinguish among choices and to recognize the things that get in the way.
 
Is There Really a Difference
How can one make distinctions without enhanced attention?
 
Robert refers to Ellen Langer who is credited for developing the current Western perspective of Mindfulness. "Rather than the focus on internal awareness and meditation, this perspective focuses on switching one's thinking from a 'mindless' state to one which actively engaged noticing new things. An example of thinking mindlessly is making poor decisions due to mental traps."
 
The core teachings of Eastern mindfulness training include attention to mental states, concepts and thoughts as objects of mindfulness. It is by training the mind through meditation that one becomes able to tell when he or she is thinking mindlessly. With mindfulness, whether in a business, the Army or in a monastery, there is an active engagement in new things. Ultimately, anything that arises is a new thing.
 
Western thinking thrives on distinction making. Whether or not that helps one to achieve enhanced mindfulness and the other benefits of mindfulness meditation, is an open question.
 
Both-and not Either-or
Whatever differences in perspective there may be, it is not about East vs. West. In the East, just as in the West, mindfulness may be cultivated to make better decisions, gain power, relieve pain and suffering or to reach enlightenment.
 
Mindfulness meditation, as described in Buddhist texts and by recent Westerners like Kabbot-Zinn, Dan Goleman and Joseph Goldstein, who have studied and practiced for decades, is a method for becoming increasingly aware of everything that is occurring internally and externally.
 
There are differences in terminology and in intention.
In one direction mindfulness means being aware of and skillful in making decisions. In the other direction mindfulness is the awareness before judgement and action kick in.
 
One way or another the end seems the same, to clearly perceive what is going on in the moment and apply good judgement to make sure behavior or performance is optimal. In other words to be consciously aware.
 
The Buddhist based view sees mindfulness as one part in an approach to cut through conditioned thinking and behavior. The other parts are understanding, intention and skillful action, these are informed by study and mindfulness and motivate one to do something to switch from mindlessness to mindfulness.
 
The intentions of an assassin, a monk, a business person and a mother are different. Mindfulness though, is the same and is useful to all.
 
Clearly distinguish decision making, wisdom, values, intentions and goals from the simple moment to moment awareness, without judgement, that mindfulness is. In this way you will have more clarity about what you are doing and why. That will help you see if you are achieving you goals.
 
What to Expect
Cultivate mindfulness through meditation to be able to decide rather than react. As you do that you will increasingly find yourself in a quiet, peaceful state that is the perfect platform for action. Action stemming from clarity replaces re-activity. Add in some compassion, kindness and equanimity and you have something special.
 
Be ready to experience things as they are. You will cultivate a witnessing aspect of mind that becomes increasingly subtle. You will be confronted by both the positive, negative and neutral. You will face much of what you have tried to avoid. You will learn acceptance of all of it and then you will be able to decide and act without being driven by hidden beliefs and urges.
 
ssIt doesn't matter what continent you are on or what culture you are influenced by, mindfulness is mindfulness. Your intentions and beliefs do matter. They set the stage for the display of mindfulness in action.


[1]Feldbauer, Robert, Mindfulness: East versus West - Silence vs. Action, http://www.mpmglobal.com/

                                   
2016 George Pitagorsky                                                 Top
Performance and Open-minded Mindfulness

Open-minded: 

questioning everything, accepting diversity and uncertainty.  
 
Mindful:
 consciously aware; concentrated. 

Foundation for blending process, project, engagement and knowledge management into a cohesive approach to optimize performance.

 Learn More
Managing Conflict in Projects
By George Pitagorsky
Managing Conflict in Projects: Applying Mindfulness and Analysis for Optimal Results by George Pitagorsky charts a course for identifying and dealing with conflict in a project context.

Pitagorsky states up front that conflict management is not a cookbook solution to disagreement-a set of prescribed actions to be applied in all situations. His overall approach seeks to balance two aspects of conflict management: analysis based on a codified process and people-centered behavioral skills.

The book differentiates conflict resolution and conflict management. Management goes beyond resolution to include relationship building that may serve to avoid conflict or facilitate resolution if it occurs.

 

Read More
The Zen Approach to Project Management 
By George Pitagorsky

Projects are often more complex and stressful than they need to be. Far too many of them fail to meet expectations. There are far too many conflicts. There are too few moments of joy and too much anxiety. But there is hope. It is possible to remove the unnecessary stress and complexity. This book is about how to do just that. It links the essential principles and techniques of managing projects to a "wisdom" approach for working with complex, people-based activities.

Home  /  Blog  /  About  /  Contact