I recently spent five days at the Western States Communication Association Conference in Santa Clara, California. It was a great experience and I brought home a lot of valuable information on a variety of topics.
The theme of the conference was mindfulness & communication. Many of the topics and ideas lend themselves to my teaching career. But they also relate to the four cornerstone topics of this blog: creativity, productivity, simplicity, and success. Mindfulness is closely related to skills such as listening, empathy, and meditation, all of which can become simple habits for success.
A Talk from Dr. Shauna Shapiro on Mindfulness
The keynote speaker, Dr. Shauna Shapiro, gave a talk on mindfulness and meditation. Dr. Shapiro has published more than 150 academic journal articles, and she has given one of the top 10 Ted talks on mindfulness. Watch Dr. Shapiro’s Ted Talk. She has also consulted with diplomats and governments around the world on creating more happiness within their societies.
Her talk was enlightening. Well, it was more than a talk. Dr. Shapiro made the presentation interactive with the audience members. We all did several mindfulness exercises throughout the speech. The core idea she presented was that mindfulness consists of three major parts: intention, attitude, and attention. I’m not going to rehash the whole presentation, but would like to focus on one of the final points Dr. Shapiro emphasized.
Stop Shaming Yourself and Practice Kind Attention Instead
We all have attributes or practice behaviors that we dislike about ourselves. The most basic human response to these negative qualities is to feel shame. But shame does not allow us to grow.
Dr. Shapiro explained that whatever we practice grows our brain stronger. In other words, if we practice impatience, our brain grows in a way that leads to more impatience. If we practice feeling shamed, our brain grows to feel more shame.
Throughout her journey in meditation, she has learned that rather than feeling or using shame, we need to practice kind attention. Dr. Shapiro was speaking of ourselves, but the same concept easily applies to others. Treat both yourself and others with kind attention.
The concept is not only simple, it is scientifically proven. When we practice positive and mindful behaviors, our brains grow in these areas. So when we practice kind attention toward ourselves or others, our brains grow to be more mindful.
Unshaming: It’s a Simple Way to Have a More Successful Life
Unshaming yourself is a simple way to become happier and more successful. Here’s an exercise you can try that will help you to become more mindful:
- Sit quietly with your eyes closed.
- Beginning with your feet, feel each part of your body.
- Focus on your breath.
- Try to clear your mind of all thoughts.
- When thoughts reenter your mind, (and they will), don’t become frustrated or angry, but give the thought kind attention and then let it go.
Practice this exercise as often as you can. But if you don’t get to it regularly, be easy on yourself. Accept your imperfections, inadequacies, and mistakes and treat yourself with kind attention. You’ll find yourself becoming more accepting of yourself and others as you learn to eliminate the feeling of shame from your life.
Watch Dr. Shapiro’s Ted Talk…
Success is built from the inside out. Taking care of yourself first is the best thing you can do on your journey to becoming more successful. Being mindful of our own tendencies to feel shame is a good place to start. Rather than dwelling upon that shame and becoming more critical, we need to practice kind attention. What you practice grows stronger.