"When the alarm goes off, I like to take a few moments and say one of Vietnamese Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh’s gathas (short verses designed to promote mindfulness): ‘Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.’ Saying this helps me to slow down, relax, and refocus—to begin my day welcoming whatever will come up."
—Jeanne Yeasting, PhD, professor of literature and creative writing, Bellingham, Washington
"To invite mindfulness into my life, I bring my attention to the natural world, which is a source of strength and harmony. This can be done anytime, anywhere, from observing a tree while waiting at a stoplight to watching a bird from my office window. Engaging with nature by spending time outside is also an essential component of staying mindful in my life."
—Erin Stokes, naturopathic doctor, Boulder, Colorado
"I do a Tibetan Dzogchen meditation every morning that I can, for 45 minutes or so. It’s the simplest kind of meditation, just sitting and watching your mind. Then I try, during the day, to ‘re-mind’ myself of that slightly calmer place. If things are particularly hectic I might just stop and take one slow breath. Sometimes I say the first few words of a Hail Mary (I grew up Catholic) or lift a little prayer of thanks or petition to the heavens."
—Roland Merullo, author of A Little Love Story (Shaye Areheart Books, 2005) Williamsburg, Massachusetts
"When I think of mindfulness, I think of one-pointedness, or balance. The yogis look at all of nature (both inner and outer) as comprising three qualities: tamas (underactive), rajas (overactive), and satwa (balanced). My teacher used to say that the mind is like a monkey who is drunk and has been stung by a scorpion. Staying mindful in a world that is like a stung, drunken monkey, with a mind that is like a stung, drunken monkey, can be a challenge. For me, mindfulness is restored through going back to basics: awareness of tensions held in my body, awareness of emotion-laden thoughts, awareness of my breath, my center."
—David Hassin, project manager, Oakland, California
"As part of being an elementary school principal, being mindful every day includes paying attention to the needs of others—students, especially. My goal is to help them become aware of who they are as individuals and help them to become self-actualized people who can achieve their goals in life. Toward this end, I seek to be continually mindful of how I can best support each of the individuals in our learning community—students, teachers, parents, staff—to be successful."
—Ron Allen, principal, Olson Elementary School, Marina, California