The Mindful Path – Grounding Your Day

Nov11

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Hello from guest blogger, Lisa Robinson!

Personal mindfulness can help to ground your day. Something that I really benefit from is to start my day quietly with a cup of coffee and a journal. I write down the first three things that come to mind for which I’m grateful. These can be very simple things. Sometimes, I’m grateful for the cup of coffee in my hands (yes, it’s a large cup). It’s good to go with what comes to mind first and not overthink it.

Then, I write down what will bring me joy. It can be something that I know will happen during the day, or something that I will make the time to do. For me, it can be listening to specific music on the drive to work. It could be planning to bake something after work, or relaxing with my husband and our cat, or exercising.

It’s easy to make this practice your own. You might want to use a computer to document your thoughts. You might want to do it at the end of the day instead of at the start. I flex off an approach in the wonderful book “The Joy of Appreciative Living” by Jacqueline Kelm. Click here for more info: Book Link

My morning mindfulness practice helps me to step back from the jumble of thoughts in my head and to be present in a moment of peace.

I hope that you can also benefit from a practice that helps you ground your day in mindfulness.

The Mindful Path – Healing Our Wounds

Oct27

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Hello from guest blogger, Lisa Robinson! In this post, I want to share a wonderful article from Mindful magazine. It’s about one of the most intense healing opportunities there is – to help war veterans use mindfulness to return to life after their military service. The article is called “Healing Waters,” and it brought tears to my eyes. You can find it here: Healing Waters Article

The article presents what a group of veterans experience on a whitewater rafting trip offered by the program “Honoring the Path of the Warrior.” Here’s a short video from one of the founders explaining why she got involved in this work: Warrior Video

After returning from the sorrows of war, veterans can be broken in many ways……physically, emotionally, spiritually. The whitewater experience is “group work toward recovery with a daily routine that includes training in mindful breathing and instructions on nurturing compassion for themselves and each other. The vets, in turn, help each other as they dare to be increasingly honest about their struggles and triumphs.”

I am moved by how this example of mindfulness for healing speaks to the power of the human spirit and to our need to receive and give compassion. For more information about “Honoring the Path of the Warrior,” see here: About the Organization

I look forward to being back with you again in my next post.

The Mindful Path – Courage & Renewal

Oct13

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Hello from guest blogger, Lisa Robinson! In this final quarter of the year, my posts on mindfulness will focus on how it can be used for healing and renewal. I want to share information about the work of the Center for Courage & Renewal. This organization was founded by Parker J. Palmer, a speaker and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change. The Center’s mission is to “create a more just, compassionate and healthy world by nurturing personal and professional integrity, and the courage to act on it.”

How does this work? Through mindful practices and programs that enhance awareness and intention, the Center’s Circle of Trust® approach provides a process of shared exploration where people can find safe space to nurture personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it. Many resources are available on the web site: Center for Courage & Renewal Site

Although mindfulness can be viewed as a solitary practice where each individual discovers it alone, the Center for Courage & Renewal’s group programs show that there can be wonderful support and shared growth when groups come together to enhance their awareness of what’s most important and how to more effectively express it in their life and work.

In addition to programs for individuals, the Center provides profession-specific offerings for:
• Clergy & people of faith
• Educators
• Health care professionals
• Leaders

Here’s a video from the Center’s blog: Parable Video. The Parable of the Trapeze serves as a reminder that for personal transition and transformation, it’s necessary to overcome one’s own fears to step forward. That process is supported through the Center for Courage & Renewal’s work.

I hope you enjoy a mindful week! I look forward to connecting with you again in my next post.

The Mindful Path – Mindfulness Connects Police and Community

Sep22

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Hello from guest blogger, Lisa Robinson! In this last post of the quarter on Mindfulness and the Community, we’ll introduce how mindfulness practiced by police officers connects them to the community in a unique and meaningful way that improves outcomes.

Let’s start with a video from mindful.org, the online home of “Mindful,” the print magazine, and lots of additional content. Watch Richard Goerling talk about how mindful policing can make a difference:

Mindful Policing Video

Below is a link in mindful.org to a related article that Goerling wrote for “The Police Chief,” where he discusses the reactive approach police generally use, and how applying mindfulness on the job can enhance officer performance in the most challenging situations, improving police-citizen encounters.

Mindfulness Impacts Police Article

Finally, in this article from the management consulting firm, Hay Group, see what happens to the brain under stress, and how mindfulness can make a difference:

Brain Stress Article

The Hay Group article demonstrates how awareness of what’s happening and taking mindful action can dramatically impact a stressful police situation. Every time I read the opening example, it gives me chills because it’s clear that mindfulness can mean the difference between life and death on any given day, depending on how a police officer decides to handle a situation.

Mindfulness can be a powerful resource for our communities. Where do you see its application in the area where you live? Are there ways that you can support using mindfulness in your community? Where could using mindfulness in the community provide the greatest impact? I’m leaving you with these questions for reflection, and hope that you’re encouraged by the great potential that applying mindfulness presents for us all.

If you have any questions or comments, please share them in the box below.

The Mindful Path – Impacting the Community Through the Arts

Sep08

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Hello from guest blogger, Lisa Robinson! I have a wonderful mindfulness story to share with you in this post. It’s about Bill Strickland, an incredible man with an amazing vision. Some years ago, I had the opportunity to see Bill make a presentation as part of a “Fast Company” magazine event, and the power of his story, passion for making a difference, and personal presence are forever in my thoughts.

In high school, Bill found himself drifting without purpose. One day, he went by the classroom of Frank Ross, an art teacher who was making clay pots. Bill wandered in and asked Ross to show him how to do that, and the experience was the start of changing his life. Ultimately, with mentoring from Ross, Bill went to college. He found an audacious way to give back to his community, transforming the lives of young students and adults. Bill saw the impact the arts had on his life, and he had to find a way to share it with others.

Bill is a community leader, author, and the President and CEO of the non-profit Manchester Bidwell Corporation based in Pittsburgh. The company’s subsidiaries, the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and Bidwell Training Center, work with disadvantaged and at-risk youth through involvement with the arts and provides job training for adults, respectively. Strickland is a winner of a MacArthur “Genuis” Award and the 2011 Goi Peace Award.

The best way to really understand what Bill has accomplished is to see him explain it in this TEDxMidwest Youth video: Bill Strickland Video

There are many other resources related to what Bill’s vision and passion have helped accomplish for his community and a number of others:

Bill’s web site: http://www.bill-strickland.org/

Manchester Bidwell Corporation: http://manchesterbidwell.org/about/

I’m so inspired by this story of mindfulness paired with vision that it gives me goosebumps. Where in your community might there be others striving to end “spiritual cancer?” View the video linked above to hear Bill explain this. How can we support them, and also encourage the commitment we can each uniquely provide in our own work?

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below. I look forward to providing more ideas and resources on mindfulness in my next post.

The Mindful Path – Transforming the Corrections System

Aug18

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Hello from guest blogger, Lisa Robinson! In this post, another in our series this quarter on mindfulness in the community, we’ll look at the great work of Prison Mindfulness Institute (PMI). See their web site here: http://www.prisonmindfulness.org/. You’ll find a lot of helpful resources and information at this site.

Their mission:

“is to provide prisoners, prison staff and prison volunteers, with the most effective, evidence-based tools for rehabilitation, self-transformation, and personal & professional development. In particular, we provide and promote the use of proven effective mindfulness-based interventions (MBI’s). Our dual focus is on transforming individual lives as well as transforming the corrections system as a whole in order to mitigate its extremely destructive impact on families, communities and the overall social capital of our society.”

This work has the potential to make a significant difference in the communities where individuals are incarcerated. A major tool used in prison programs led by PMI is Path of Freedom®, a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence (MBEI) model for at-risk and incarcerated youth and adult prisoners developed by Kate Crisp and Fleet Maull.

Here’s a link to a video about use of this program: https://vimeo.com/46701853

If you’re interested in finding out about where programs have been offered, here’s a link to more details: http://ow.ly/R2pqJ

It’s great to see how mindfulness can be used in this unique way to serve not only a population of incarcerated individuals, but also to positively impact the communities in which prisons are located.

I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful month of mindfulness, and I look forward to sharing more resources in my next post. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the box below.

The Mindful Path – Mindfulness for Community Improvement

Aug04

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Hello from guest blogger, Lisa Robinson! In this post, I’d like to share information about Tamarack, a nonprofit in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada that “develops and supports learning communities that help people to collaborate, co-generate knowledge and achieve collective impact on complex community issues.”

The web site is here: http://tamarackcommunity.ca

Tamarack offers three learning communities:
• Communities Collaborating for Impact (Leading Collaboratively)
• Vibrant Communities Canada (Poverty Reduction Strategies)
• Deepening Community

At the main web site, you’ll find links to additional sites for each of the learning communities.

There are many, fine organizations around the world providing excellent services that encourage taking mindful action. Our own Peace Learning Center serves as a wonderful example of such an organization that makes a difference in the community.

No matter where you live or work, I encourage you to think of the community where you live. In the context of Tamarack’s learning communities, where might there be opportunities for you to get involved in activities to support positive action in leading collaboratively, reducing poverty, or deepening community? If you live in the greater Indianapolis area, the annual Get On Board event is coming up on October 5.

What’s Get On Board? It’s an opportunity to find out about area nonprofits looking for individuals who want to serve as board members or in other volunteer capacities. If you want to find out more, please see the site here: http://ow.ly/QtSCi

There are so many ways to get involved in helping our communities to build on what’s already good and make it even better. If being part of this work resonates with you, the action you take could support achieving great things.

The Mindful Path – A Special Mentoring Program

Jul21

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Hello from guest blogger, Lisa Robinson! With our focus on mindfulness in the community this quarter, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to tell you about Starfish Initiative, a college access and readiness program serving economically disadvantaged high school students in Marion County here in Indianapolis.

The program gets its name from the “Starfish Story,” where a man slowly and carefully rescues starfish stranded on a beach by gently tossing them back into the water. The beach is covered with thousands of starfish, and a passerby remarks that the man’s efforts aren’t very meaningful. As he tosses another starfish back into the water, the man replies, “It mattered to that one.”

That same mindful action taken to make a difference permeates the work of Starfish Initiative. They match college-educated mentors with academically-promising, low-income high school students. A mentor serves as a “college coach,” helping their mentee, referred to as a Scholar, to stay on track to graduate from high school and prepare for college. Many Scholars will be first-generation college graduates, and benefit from the insight and guidance that a mentor can share because they have successfully navigated their own college journey.

Mentors make a two-year commitment to their Scholar. They meet twice a month, and stay in touch by calling, texting, or emailing during other weeks. Many mentors ask to remain with their Scholar through the last two years of high school to conclude the formal relationship with the accomplishments of high school graduation and college entrance.

I recently applied to become a mentor for Starfish Initiative, attended an orientation session, and will meet my Scholar and her parents soon. I’m really looking forward to beginning this unique partnership, where I will help serve as a resource to my Scholar through the ups and downs of high school. I’m sure that there will be many opportunities for the two of us to take advantage of mindfulness and benefit from its non-judgmental awareness of whatever the present moment might bring.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them in the box below. I look forward to sharing more about mindfulness in the community in my posts next month.

For more information about Starfish Initiative, their site is here: https://www.starfishinitiative.org/

The Mindful Path – In the Community

Jul07

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Hello from guest blogger, Lisa Robinson! In this third quarter of the year, my posts on The Mindful Path will be about mindfulness in the community. There’s a great connection between the two, when the individual practice of mindfulness, which involves attention to the current moment without judgement, is also applied broadly to our neighborhoods, communities, and society.

How does this happen? One example is work performed by Peace Learning Center for Irvington Community High School to help their freshman students learn conflict resolution skills and resolve interpersonal issues. One component of this involved mindfulness exercises that helped the students better respond to stressful situations. Although this focused on school issues, the skills learned could transfer outside the educational environment, with the potential to positively impact all current and future relationships. To read more about this, click here: http://ow.ly/Pcpl0

Let’s go back to talking about us as individuals. Some people actively take advantage of ways they can be of service to others, and this can enhance the benefits of mindfulness in the community. But what if you aren’t easily able to do this? You may already be tapped out by juggling multiple jobs, by the commitment of being a care-giver for a family member with special needs, or by many other possible situations.

You might not easily see opportunities for how you as an individual can mindfully impact the community. However, consider all the roles you may have: employee, child, parent, partner, church member, neighbor, etc. In every interaction you have with others, you have a chance to make a difference through what you pay attention to, and the next action you mindfully choose to take.

I hope that this post sparks your thoughts and encourages you to approach your next interaction with mindfulness.

The Mindful Path – Best Practices for Schools

Jun16

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Hello from guest blogger, Lisa Robinson! In the final post this quarter on mindfulness and education, let’s talk about some best practices. In February this year, independent consultant Patrick Cook-Deegan provided two posts about this on the blog for Carney, Sandoe & Associates, an educational recruiting firm that works with schools and teachers.

In the first post, Cook-Deegan provides an overview of mindfulness in education and lists different strategies for bringing it into schools: http://ow.ly/OiSc8. The pros and cons identified for each of the strategies highlight the importance of first performing an effective needs analysis and making sure that there’s sufficient buy-in from all stakeholders to support a successful approach.

Building on the first post, the second one http://ow.ly/OiSer provides tips for implementation and comments about the future of mindfulness at independent schools. Although all the information is useful, the concept of legitimacy really resonated with me. It can be easy to dismiss implementing a mindfulness program as a “flavor of the month” that wastes time and other resources. Cook-Deegan suggested partnering with a local academic institution to use metrics to identify program effectiveness and impact.

Solid research from reputable sources such as this one from Harvard http://ow.ly/OiShP has helped to demonstrate the importance of mindfulness initiatives. So the big takeaway is to anticipate challenges and carefully engage in the troubleshooting required to effectively address each of them. The benefits of well-crafted mindfulness programs that meet the needs of children, teachers, and their schools are worth the time and effort required to make them succeed.

I hope that this quarter’s discussion of mindfulness in education has been helpful. Please leave your comments or questions below.

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