Mindfulness 101

Mindfulness: Taking Charge of Your Life
and There are No Secret Teachings

Grosvenor T. Burnett
Founding Teacher
Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center

Most of us live our lives on automatic pilot, entirely in our heads. Our minds are constantly wandering. We spend a lot of time and energy engaged in two deeply habituated past times:  remembering the past and planning and organizing the future.  We are frequently distracted, entangled in endless activity. We roam about being scorched by life.

Mindfulness is a way of taking charge of your life. Mindfulness is the art of self-awareness and attending to present moment experiences with openness and composure. By practicing mindfulness we learn how to disengage the automatic pilot, collect ourselves and experience the world and whatever is happening in our lives directly. We can actually be fully present and live consciously.

Although ancient in origin, mindfulness can be practiced by anyone of any background, and is extremely helpful in today’s uncertain and challenging times. The simple art of being aware is the basis for insight, wisdom, and seeing things clearly.

Mindfulness instruction is now being offered in a wide array of professional settings, including: physicians and health care professionals, professional athletes and teams, major corporations, law firms and law schools, and non-profit organizations.  Participants experience marked improvement in concentration, listening and interpersonal skills, clarity of thinking, ethical behavior, creativity and patience.

Science is showing mindfulness can help reduce stress-related illness, reduce anxiety and depression, help with focus and concentration, and even change our brain structure to promote more flexibility and well being. Mindfulness training empowers us to cope better with burnout and the stress of our work.  We develop better management and leadership skills.  We act more compassionately.  We are more effective.

Mindfulness is extraordinary in its simplicity, its lack of dogma and, above all, its results.  There are no secret teachings. It does not require any elaborate techniques or external devices.  It has nothing to do with exotic cults or rites nor does it confer “esoteric knowledge” in any way other than by self–awareness. Mindfulness deals exclusively with the everyday phenomena of human consciousness.  Its working material is the daily life.