The Mindful Life Program is based on the integrated four key areas of mindfulness.
Attention – The first step is to begin developing our attention by establishing a daily meditation practice. In this way, we will start training the mind to attend to what we choose, instead of having it constantly drag us around. In order to live a meaningful life, we need to be present. This means we have to be able to consciously bring our awareness into the moments, instead of constantly being distracted with thoughts, worries, desires, or lost in some past event or future possibility. One of the best methods to cultivate attention and train the mind is the practice of shamatha meditation, or calm abiding.
Values – Values are a critical component of mindfulness and yet, unfortunately, they are left out of so many mindfulness programs. The source of finding inner peace, genuine happiness and well-being is living a life that is in alignment with one’s values and is of benefit to oneself, to others and to the greater good. This is an easily verifiable, universal truth that we have learned our whole lives. Lasting happiness does not come from outside sources such as other people, places, things and events. It comes from how we live our lives and what we bring to the world. When our actions are not in harmony with our values, it is easy to recognize that we don’t feel good about ourselves or others. However, when we live a life of integrity, in ethical alignment with our values, it is much easier to find inner peace and a lasting sense of well-being. When we are mindful, we are aware when our thoughts and actions are out of alignment with our values, creating disharmony with ourselves and others. So the point of mindfulness is to cultivate healthy habits that are beneficial to ourselves and others and in alignment with our values.
Wisdom – As we begin to increase our attention through meditation, we become more able to consciously bring awareness into our daily activities. We can start observing ourselves, others and the world more accurately, recognizing unhealthy habits and tendencies, biases, projections, and emotional triggers in our lives. With this level of awareness, we recognize the impermanent nature of emotions, thoughts, events, and identify the true sources of our suffering as well as the true sources of our genuine happiness and well-being.
An Open Heart – An ancient practice to develop an open heart is cultivating the Four Immeasurables of equanimity, loving-kindness, compassion, and empathetic joy. It is a universal truth that we cannot feel both love and anger at the same time for the same thing. Love can switch to hate in a second, or hate to love, but they cannot be simultaneous. It is like turning a light on in a dark room. It is also a universal truth that what we water grows. That is to say, the mental states and tendencies that we nurture grow. As the neuroscientists say, “neurons that fire together, wire together.”