Wednesday, February 25, 2015


‘The only Zen you find on tops of mountains
is the Zen you bring there.’ Robert M Pirsig.

We all want to live life more fully. We are told constantly that we must live in the moment, that is, in the eternal now. However, all too often we live either in the past or in the not-as-yet future. At one moment in time we can be living ‘in the moment,’ so to speak, and then ... wham ... within less than a nanosecond we are either back in the past or we have projected our consciousness into an imaginary future. Is that not the case? And before we even realize it, we have lost all direct and immediate contact with the action of the present moment.

The last few days I have been re-reading, for the umpteenth time, a book which was one of the monumental bestsellers of the 1970s. The book is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig [pictured right]. I well remember when I first read this book. At the time I was aged 19 or 20 and was an arts/law student at the University of Sydney. The 1970s were a good time to be alive.

As for Pirsig’s book, which combines some thinly veiled autobiography, fiction and philosophy, I must admit that I did not understand it at all. I am not sure I do today. However, I enjoyed, as I still do, the author’s freeform romp through Eastern and Western philosophy and religion. The book details the search for the meaning and concept of ‘Quality,’ whatever that may be, and we get a review of the ‘classical’ and ‘romantic’ approaches to life. The classical approach is objective and rational, ordered and methodical. It seeks to explain. The romantic approach can be found in such things as Zen and the ever-popular idea of ‘living in the moment.’ It seeks to know and understand in a supra-rational, direct, immediate and intuitive way. The author seeks to arrive at a synthesis of these two approaches. Read the book and decide for yourself whether the author has succeeded in his aim.

Upon re-reading the book I found many felicitous phrases as well as a great deal of insight into life. Here are some lines from chapter 20 that I think are extremely relevant to the subject of mindfulness:

The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality. The tree that you are aware of intellectually, because of that small time lag, is always in the past and therefore is always unreal. Any intellectually conceived object is always in the past and therefore unreal. Reality is always the moment of vision before the intellectualization takes place. There is no other reality. ...

Did you get that? The present is our only reality. However, as soon as---that means the very nanosecond---we start analysing or in any way thinking intellectually about the action of the present moment, that of which we were just aware ‘becomes,’ so to speak, the past---and we ourselves are now in the past. Reality has moved on. It always does, you know. Unceasingly. Remorselessly. However, Pirsig makes the point that the ‘past’ to which we have retreated is an ‘unreal’ one. What does he mean by that? Well, I think he is saying that the ‘past’ to which we have retreated is not one that actually occurred in spacetime. It is ‘past’ in the sense that it is not ‘in synch’ with what is otherwise the action of the ever-present moment. Things have moved on but we are locked into some prior, but now gone, momentary experience of life. The same phenomenon occurs when, upon experiencing some experience of the moment, we project our consciousness---in particular, our imagination---into the supposed but actually non-existent future.

Don’t let reality die on you. Don’t experience it as a past event. Let your mind penetrate sensation, not by anticipating it. No, that is not the way to go. Nor should you constantly reflect upon or evaluate sensations as they arise and vanish. That is also not the way to go. Let each sensation arise and vanish of its own accord. Watch it closely, without analysis, judgment, evaluation or condemnation---indeed, watch it, without thinking any thought associated or connected with the sensation. Otherwise, you will instantly lose the immediacydirectness and actuality of the experience.

Now, at the risk of stating the obvious, there are many occasions when we must intellectualize and seek to solve problems in a rational and analytical manner. Indeed, that is, in my view, the only respectable way to solve problems pertaining to such matters as one’s finances, career, property, and even relationships. However, in the moment-to-moment and in-the-moment experience of the content of the action of the flow of life as it unfolds from one moment to the next, there needs to be a directness and immediately of our experience lest we find ourselves either in the past or in the future.

Shakyamuni Buddha advised us to observe and watch closely---that is, mindfully---whatever is occurring in time and space in the here-and-now, in the moment, from one moment to the next. Not only watch, but the Buddha went on to say, ‘and firmly and steadily pierce it.’ Pierce the reality of each here-and-now moment-to-moment experience. And do so firmly and steadily. Only then can you truly say you are alive and no longer living in the past.

‘Reality is always the moment of vision before the intellectualization takes place,’ writes Pirsig. ‘There is no other reality.

One more thing. Reality---that is, life and truth---is to be found everywhere. You need not go to some mountaintop or ashram to find it. And you don't need a guru or swami. All you have to do is---live mindfully from one moment to the next.





Thursday, February 19, 2015


What do you really want out of life? Fun? Happiness? Sex? Love? Financial security? Peace of mind? All of those things? Or something else altogether?

There is something that, consciously or unconsciously, we all yearn for. It is this—the truth. Even dishonest people want the truth. I am not talking about truth as in ‘telling the truth,’ although that is certainly part of that to which I refer. After all, truth is what is. Truth is a factually correct description of reality, that is, things-as-they-really-are. However, truth is much, much more than that. Truth is enlightenment. Truth is waking up and staying awake and remembering to keep staying awake to the fullness of all that there is at this every moment.

Deep down, we all want purpose and meaning in our lives. Some seek purpose and meaning in religion and often in some particular religion, many of which claim to be the only true religion. Some seek purpose and meaning in philosophy, and there are many such philosophies which, like religions, offer very different accounts of what is. Some people seek purpose and meaning in sex, love, relationships, partying, shopping, and many other things. Now, I happen to hold the view that life has no intrinsic purpose or meaning but that does not mean that we cannot find or rather create purpose and meaning in our lives. Indeed, I think that we must in order to live fully and be happy.

Here’s a Zen story that I think is a real gem. (By the way, Zen is not so much a religion or a philosophy but a means of ... waking up. Ditto mindfulness.) A monk was saying farewell to Zen master Joshu, who asked him, ‘Where are you going?’ The monk replied, ‘All over the place, to learn Buddhism.’ Joshu said, ‘Do not stay where the Buddha is, and pass quickly through any place where there is no Buddha. Do not bring up Buddhism to anyone for three thousand leagues.’ The monk replied, ‘In that case I won’t go.’ Joshu said, ‘Farewell! Farewell!’

That anecdote is so typically Zen. It reminds me of some lines from the famous ‘
contract scene’ [pictured below] from the Marx Brothers film A Night at the Opera. Groucho says to Chico, ‘Now just put your name right down there and then the deal is legal.’ C
hico says, ‘I forgot to tell you. I can't write.’ Groucho says, ‘Well, that's all right, there's no ink in the pen anyhow.’ Those lines, like so many of the Brothers---especially those uttered by Groucho---are so Zenlike.

Back to the Zen story. Joshu commands the monk, who seeks truth, not to stay where the Buddha---a symbol of truth, meaning and purpose---is. Not only that, but Joshu commands the monk to pass quickly through any place where the Buddha is not. The monk is even commanded not to bring up (that is, mention or discuss) Buddhism to anyone. How seemingly very odd! Here we have two Buddhists who, one would have thought, have either found or (in the case of the monk) are seeking truth, meaning and purpose in life through Buddhism---which by the way is only a religion in some but by no means all of its manifestations---and along comes this learned Zen master who appears to be saying that we must look elsewhere for the truth.

Now, there are quite a few interpretations of this Zen story, but here’s my take on it. Truth is everywhere. We are in direct and immediate contact with truth. The only thing that can separate us from truth is any barrier that we place between ourselves and truth---for example, a barrier in the form of beliefs of any kind. Now, we must be careful here. Joshu is not saying that truth cannot be found in the experience--note that word 'experience'---of religion or philosophy, be it Buddhism or some other religion or philosophy. No, he is not saying that.

What I think Joshu is saying is that truth is to be experienced---again, please note that word 'experienced'---in the here-and-now, that is, in the unfolding moment-to-moment experience of life. Truth is not locked away in some person or belief-system. Truth is not something to be found. It is not something that must be asked for or sought. It is definitely not something to be argued about. Indeed, truth will die on you if you argue about it. (My father's advice to me was, 'Never argue about religion.' Sadly, I haven't always followed that good advice.) And once you attempt to write truth down in the form of creeds, articles of faith and statements of belief the truth has already died on you. Truth is not any particular religion or philosophy. At best they, along with this post of mine, are mere attempts to express the inexpressible. And truth is definitely not some particular person, despite the words of one who purportedly said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but by me’ (Jn 14:6). (I strongly doubt that Jesus ever said those words---rather they represent the belief of the person who wrote those words as some sort of creedal statement, and the faith of at least some of the early believing Church---but that’s for another day.) And we do not need to go to some place where religion is to be found, nor do we need to go to a place where there is no religion. Truth can, indeed must, be experienced right where we are now! At this place. At this moment. Truth is reality. Truth is life. We are life. All is life in one form or another.

Meaning and purpose in life is to be found in the living of your days---in the living of these days. Do not seek truth anywhere else. Indeed, do not seek it at all. Just experience it in all its fullness. And in order to do that you need only live mindfully---that is, with choiceless awareness of whatever is---from one moment to the next.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Do you ever get angry? Resentful? Jealous? Of course you do. So do I.

Now, there is a type of anger which, if properly directed, can be good. We ought rightfully be angry about such things as climate change, world poverty, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, and many, many other things. However, we must
never allow our anger to contaminate our lives or those of others. Additionally, reason must always prevail over our emotions.

This post is about anger and other negative states of mind that, if not properly managed, can and will poison our lives and those of others as well. How can mindfulness help us to overcome those negative states of mind?

When we are angry---and what I am about to say applies equally to all other negative states of mind---we attach our consciousness and our attention to a false self-image in our mind (eg the ‘angry I’ self-image). There is an attachment or an aversion (the latter being a reverse attachment, but still an attachment for all that) to this negative self-image which we mistakenly assume is the person (that is, the sentient being with a certain identity) that each one of us is. This false self-image becomes our master, and we its slave. Now, when we are angry [or whatever] at some other person, we make the very same kind of assumption and mistaken belief as respects the other person. In other words, we attach ourselves---that is, the person each one of us is---to a false image in our mind as respects the other person. We see that person, not as the person that they are, but rather as the ‘nasty him [or her]’ or the ‘unappreciative him [or her]’ or something similar. In effect, we conflate the person that he or she is with our negative and false self-image of that person.

These images of ourselves and others are false and illusory, not because they do not exist, but rather because they are not the real person that we and the other person are. Additionally, these self-images have no separate, independent or non-transient existence from the person in question. In truth, they are inconstant, identity-less and conditioned.) To use a Buddhist term, these self-images are ‘empty,’ which means they have no independent existence. Of course, the images are false in another sense as well, for no single image of a person can ever be true as respects the totality of that person as a mind-body complex. It may be true as respects perhaps some of the temporal behaviour or conduct of the person in question but in truth it can never be true of the person as a whole who, unlike the image, has a real, ontological identity. Enough said (hopefully).

Now, how can mindfulness help us to manage and even overcome such negative states of mind? Well, mindfulness is sustained self-observation, and with the latter comes self-insight. Over time, we come to see our negative self-images as false and illusory.

The ‘secret’ is to give these self-images, when they arise in our consciousness, choiceless, non-judgmental, bare attention. In other words, we give them what is known as ‘unadorned observation.’ Over time, you will find that there is no longer any ‘I’ in what you are experiencing from moment to moment. That is, you will come to simply observe that, for example, ‘there is anger’ as opposed to ‘I [that is, you] am angry.’ (There really isn't any 'I' in any event.) Yes, you will come to simply see and observe what is present in each experience of the moment as present, and additionally what is absent as absent. In short, there will be no self-identification---and no attachment to any ‘I,’ ‘me,’ or ‘mine’ on your part. Too good to be true. Not at all.

Many of you will have heard of the Four NobleTruths of Buddhism. They are as follows: (i) the truth of suffering [or unsatisfactoriness]; (ii) the truth of the origin of suffering; (iii) the truth of the cessation of suffering; and (iv) the truth of the path to the cessation of suffering. Now, you don’t have to be a Buddhist, or for that matter a follower of any religion at all, to be able to apply these truths to the solution of your problems. The process has been called ‘unbinding.’

Here’s how it works. Let’s confine ourselves today to the application of these four truths to the management and overcoming of your negative emotional states. Take, once again, the emotional state of anger. The key, as always, is to observe---simply observe as if an objective, detached bystander to your own mindset and its workings. So, here it is. Observe, ‘There is anger.’ 

As you continue to observe you will in time come to see the cause of your anger. Observe, ‘There is the cause of my anger.’ Now, continue to observe as dispassionately as possible. In time, your anger will dissipate---for all things are impermanent---and you will then be able to say, ‘This is the stopping of anger.’ Not only that, but in time, if you are painstaking about your observation and choiceless awareness you will come to see how your anger came to an end. (The anger ended because you choicelessly and nonjudgmentally observed it with detachment.) Now you can say, ‘This is the way leading to the stopping of anger.’ And what has there been in all this? I will tell you. Simply observation and experience in and of itself---that is, with no subject or object superimposed upon it.

I love these words from the influential Thai Buddhist teacher Ajahn Chah [pictured left]:

'Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.'

Got that? 'Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering.' The solution to your problem is always to be found on the same level, indeed at the very same 'spot,' as the problem itself.





IMPORTANT NOTICE: See the Terms of Use and Disclaimer. The information provided on this blogspot is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your medical practitioner or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on this blogspot. For immediate advice or support call Lifeline on 13 1 1 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. For information, advice and referral on mental illness contact the SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) go online via



Wednesday, February 11, 2015


‘Who am I?’ Have you ever asked yourself that question? What was your answer?

Here’s a famous Zen story on the point. I often use this story in my counseling work. What it says about who we really are forms the cornerstone of Buddhist psychology as well as other forms of psychotherapy such as self illusion therapy.

A distraught man approached the Zen master. ‘Please, Master, I feel lost, desperate. I don't know who I am. Please, show me my true self!’ The teacher just looked away without responding. The man began to plead and beg, but still the master gave no reply. Finally giving up in frustration, the man turned to leave. At that moment the master called out to him by name. ‘Yes!’ the man said as he spun back around. ‘There it is!’ exclaimed the master.

When someone sees you they see you, that is, the person that you are. However, when you see and experience yourself you do not see and experience the person that in truth you are. Instead, you see and experience any one or more of a number of self-images held in your mind. At one point in time you may see and experience the ‘little me’ or the ‘frightened me’ or the ‘inferior me.’ At another point in time you may see and experience the ‘confident me.’ These ‘me’s’ are nothing more than self-images in your mind. They are images felt and experienced as real, that is, as the real person that you are. Because there is a feeling component to these images many of them can be quite strong and persistent over time. (Their persistency over time only reinforces the mistaken belief that these images are really you, and also makes change seem very difficult indeed.) However, none---I repeat none---of these felt self-images are real. They are not the real person that you are. Having said that, these ‘me’s’ constitute in whole or in part your sense of who you are. Whichever image is most dominant in your mind at any point in time will constitute your sense of ‘me’ (that is, what to you, in you, is you---at least at that point in time).

At the risk of repeating myself, while you experience these ‘me’s’ as real, the truth is they are just images in your mind that you feel and experience, by choice or otherwise, as you. Now, as I’ve already said, these self-images will change over time but some are more durable than others. Take, for example, a person whose parents constantly told her, when growing up, that she was a failure. It is more probable than not that this person will grow up with self-images such as ‘little me’ and ‘useless me.’ So, what can she do in order to overcome her sense of self as a failure? First, she needs to know that it is possible to let go of these false selves (note: they are false because they are not who she really is). Secondly, she will change for the better---sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly---when she learns to live her life relying solely upon the power of her personhood, which is a power-not-oneself that we all have. Then, and only then, will she come to experience herself as a person among persons as opposed to one or more of those false and illusory selves with which she so closely identified herself for so many years in the past. In short, the woman hands over---that is, surrenders her false selves---to what she, as a person, can do.

Now, back to our Zen story. The distraught man wants to discover, that is, experience, his ‘true self.’ The teacher refuses to answer the man. The man pleads and begs, but to no avail. Finally, giving up in frustration---note those words ‘giving up,’ for they are so very important---the man turns to leave. At that moment---yes, at that exact moment---the master calls out to him by name. (The teacher was very smart, for he realized that the man had 'let go' and was therefore now ready to know and experience the truth.)  ‘Bill Taylor?’, he says.
‘Yes!’, says the man as he turns back around. ‘There it is!’ exclaimed the master.

You see, for the very first time in his life this man came to see and experience himself as he really was---as a person among persons. He experienced enlightenment. That means he---woke up! Yes, he woke up to what in truth he really was. He was not those many
false selves (‘me’s) which in the past he mistakenly believed to be the real person that he was.

This is a very powerful story. Never forget it. More importantly, never forget the ‘moral’ of the story, namely, that what to you, in you, is you is NEVER what in truth you are.

Real personal transformation come when we 
get real, that is, when we start to think, act and live from our personhood as a person among persons. And remember this---there is no human problem that is not common to other persons among persons.


Friday, February 6, 2015


Most people are asleep---a deep, psychic sleep in which they do not know the difference between living mindfully and living mindlessly. 

The American spiritual psychologist Vernon Howard [pictured left] wrote, ‘Regardless of exterior appearances, the vast majority of human beings dwell in a state of inner sleep.’ How right he is!

Do you think you are awake? Of course, you do. Well, let me ask you this simple question? When was the last time you drove your car from A to B, and when you got to B you did not recall travelling along this street or that street even though you did travel along those streets? Was it today? Was it yesterday? I bet it wasn't too long ago. You know, if you had driven a bit more mindlessly you might have had a collision. And what about the others on the road---including me---how mindful are they? I suspect that most would be pretty much like you---and me.

Here are some wonderful lines:

Caught in a dream of self---only suffering.
Holding to self-centered thoughts---exactly the dream.
Each moment, life as it is---the only teacher.
Being just this moment---compassion's way.

I have read that the these Four Practice Principles, which are recited at the Ordinary Mind Zen School, were formulated by Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck and written by her student Alan Kaprow. The Four Practice Principles are a restatement of the Four Noble Truths, a basic teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha. (The Four Noble Truths are the Unsatisfactoriness [or Suffering] of Existence, the Cause of Unsatisfactoriness, an End to Unsatisfactoriness, and a Way to the End of Unsatisfactoriness.) 

What does it mean to be caught in a self-centered dream? Well, it’s more than being selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed, and self-obsessed---not that they are minor things. To be caught in a self-centered dream is to be trapped in the illusion of self---false self, lost of them in fact. There is the angry false self (‘I am angry’), the jealous false self (‘I am jealous’), the fearful false self (‘I am fearful’), the unworthy self (‘I am a miserable sinner’), and so on. These selves (actually, hundreds and hundreds of 'psychological "I's" and "me's"' that collectively manifest as our ego-consciousness) are called false because they are not the real person each one of us is, but we mistakenly believe that one or more of these false selves---which are nothing more than self-images in our mind---are the real person that we are. These false selves are illusory, not because they do not exist (for they do exist), but because they have no separate, distinct, permanent identity from the person that we are, the latter being a mind-body complex that is ontologically real (the 'physical "I"'). False selves take many different forms in our mind including beliefs, misbeliefs, opinions, views, assumptions, likes, dislikes, prejudices, biases, predilections, preferences, attachments, aversions, cravings. All this stuff is the result of conditioning or mind-training as well as the effects of memory and habit.

When you hear yourself say, ‘I am angry [or jealous, or fearful, or whatever],’ pull yourself up. Is that your real name? Is there a name on your lapel that says that your first or last name is ‘Angry’ [or ‘Jealous’, or ‘Fearful’, or ‘Unworthy’, or whatever]? Of course, there isn’t. Well, stop acting as if that were the case.

I teach and use in my counselling work what is known as ‘self illusion therapy’ for a couple of reasons. 

First, it works, that is, it helps people to let go of, and even dissolve, their illusory false selves that have made their lives miserable. (It certainly worked for me many years ago when I was trapped in the illusion of a chemically altered false self which had manifested in my life as alcoholism.) 

Secondly, I am firmly of the view that most of our emotional and psychological problems are the result of our mistakenly believing that our false selves are the real person each of us is. Self is the problem and, as William Temple pointed out, ‘no effort of the self can remove the self from the centre of its own endeavour.’ You see, the self that wants to get rid of the self that is causing problems in our life is the same self as the one causing the problems. Self cannot change self. That is why we need to rely upon a power-not-oneself. The person that you are---a person among persons---is ontologically real. Self can’t change. It has no power in and of itself in any event. However, the person that you are can change, if you want change very much, and are prepared to go to any length to effect change. And where does the power to change come from if it doesn't come from one's negative, conditioned ego-self? Real power is this---the absence of false power (the ego-self/false selves).

Suffering---unsatisfactoriness in many different forms---is the natural and inevitable consequence of being trapped in the illusion of self (a ‘dream of self’). The suffering will continue for so long as we hold on to our self-centered thoughts---that is, for so long as we continue in our psychic egocentric sleep. But the good news is that there is an answer. Yes, there is a way out.

What is the answer? Is it some person, some god or god-like figure who will step in and change everything for me? Well, there are some who assert that is the way out, but I beg to differ. One of the many things I like about Buddhism is that it says, ‘Only you, the person that you are, can get yourself out of the mess you have created for yourself.’

Change begins when we practice mindful self-observation. Observe your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. What are they telling you? Look at them dispassionately and objectively. You will soon discover your false selves. Just watch them---choicelessly, non-judgmentally. Don’t resist them or try to expel them directly or forcibly. Let them be---and then let them go. 

Life---which is the moment-to-moment unfolding of life’s self-expression (things-as-they-really-are)—is the only teacher. Your life is your teacher---and you, the person that you are, is the pupil. You need no other teacher or guru or saviour. You don’t need a new set of beliefs. Why do you think you need to believe? Do you want more trouble in your life? Come now. You only need to come to know and understand, and that’s where mindfulness and self-observation comes into play. When you watch and observe your false selves at work in your mind you will come to know and understand their true nature. Observe your 'angry self' as it really is---as anger. Ditto all other false selves. You need not be the victim of your own wrong thinking, beliefs, misbeliefs, and other self-defeating behaviour.

‘Being just this moment---compassion's way.’ If you get your mind of self---all those wretched selves to which I have referred---and begin to live mindfully from one moment to the next, your life will change in a most dramatic way. And you will wake up. It is the way of compassion and loving-kindness, but you must first show love and compassion to yourself---that is, the person that you are---by doing what is necessary to overcome your bondage to self.










Thursday, February 5, 2015


I was never that good at mathematics at school, nor for that matter were my wife and three children. Well, listen up, ye parents who have children at school who are struggling with math---the children that is, but most likely the parents as well. (Yes, genetics has more than a little to do with all this, as it does most other things as well.)

A social and emotional learning program started by actress and mindfulness ‘guru’ Goldie Hawn to help school children improve their learning abilities, be more caring, and become less stressed is now backed by new scientific evidence. Of course, that will not come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with even a few of the more than 1,600 scholarly refereed medical and scientific journal articles attesting to the health and other benefits of the practice of mindfulness.

In a study from the University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers from across multiple disciplines---specifically, a neuroscientist, a developmental pediatrician, developmental psychologists, and education experts---examined the effectiveness of the program MindUP™ which teaches a number of mindfulness practices, including breathing, tasting and movement exercises.

They found fourth and fifth graders who participated in the program were better at regulating stress, were more optimistic and helpful. They were also better liked by their peers than children in a program that taught caring for others but without a mindfulness component. They also found the children in the mindfulness-based program performed better at math.

‘Our findings suggest that children who are taught mindfulness – to pay attention to the present intentionally and without judgment – are better positioned to succeed both in school and in life,’ said lead author Dr Kimberly A Schonert-Reichl, who is a professor in UBC’s Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education, as well as interim director of the Human Early Learning Partnership, a collaborative interdisciplinary research network who helped conduct the study.

Dr Schonert-Reichl said this study is one of the first of its kind to investigate the value of a social and emotional learning program that incorporates mindfulness techniques for children’s wellbeing using a variety of scientific measures including both biological and neurological tests. Other studies have focused mostly on adults, showing positive results.

To measure the MindUP™ program’s effectiveness on stress physiology, the researchers collected saliva from the children to analyze their cortisol levels, a stress indicator. They also relied on peer and self-reporting and also measured the children’s cognitive abilities, testing skills like memory, concentration and focus.

Dr Schonert-Reichl said there are multiple explanations as to why a mindfulness program could improve a child’s math scores. ‘One explanation is that learning occurs in social interaction, so if you are less stressed and more attentive, you will able to share and help others, and then be able to achieve more, including excelling in school.’

Study: Schonert-Reich K A, Oberle E, Lawlor M S; Abbott D, Thomson, K, Oberlander, T F, Diamond, A. ‘Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial.’ Developmental Psychology, Vol 51(1), Jan 2015, 52-66. Special Section: Mindfulness and Compassion in Human Development.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: See the Terms of Use and Disclaimer. The information provided on this blogspot is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your medical practitioner or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on this blogspot. For immediate advice or support call Lifeline on 13 1 1 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. For information, advice and referral on mental illness contact the SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) go online via