Miami Mindfulness October 2020 Newsletter

lotus flower

Dear Friends,

The lotus flower has many petals that surround the center in multiple concentric layers. As the petals open, more petals unfold until the lotus is in full bloom and all layers are revealed. This process is seen as a metaphor for progress made in gradual stages toward ultimately reaching peace and wholeness.

Called padma, the lotus flower grows naturally in ponds starting out rooted deep in mud and scum. To blossom, it must make its way through murky water until it finally breaks the surface. In time the lotus emerges and blooms fully in the sun, radiant and whole.

As this next wave of virus begins to crest, I would like to share with you some free practices, teachings, guides, informative articles, and offerings that remind us to practice mindfulness meditation daily as if our life depended on it. Because it does.

In a conversation with Jon Kabat-Zinn shortly after his 13-week Covid-19 Pandemic Mitigation Retreat, hosted free worldwide by Wisdom 2.0, he emphasized to me what we and the world need now is more clarity and inclusivity.

Perhaps we can take time everyday to cultivate a mindful garden of clarity & inclusivity.

To access JKZ’s wonderful free daily 1-hour retreat sessions on YouTube, click on the recordings link on the Map of Love:

~Valerie York-Zimmerman

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Miami Mindfulness Spring 2020 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

While life is changing and we are separated physically because of this pandemic, perhaps we are becoming even more connected than before. One way of looking at this global pandemic is as a bell calling for us to awaken. Crisis has a way of shining light on what is wounded and broken in our lives and mindfulness teaches us “to remember.” So let us look more closely at what the light is revealing to us now as we shelter at home. Let us remember the truth of our history and learn to walk a more skillful path. Choices like skillful understanding, skillful thinking, skillful speech, skillful action, skillful livelihood, and skillful effort can support and heal us during this time of disease in the body and dis-ease in the mind and heart. It can help us to remember to be more mindful.

May we and all sentient beings be well, safe, free from suffering, and filled with lovingkindness.

~Valerie York-Zimmerman

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Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn: ‘People are losing their minds. That is what we need to wake up to’ (The Guardian)

Kabat Zinn

By taking the Buddhism out of the practice, Kabat-Zinn pioneered a meditative approach used all over the world to treat pain and depression. He talks about Trump, ‘McMindfulness’ and how a 10-second vision in 1979 led to a change in the world’s consciousness

Interview by Robert Booth
The Guardian
Sun 22 Oct 2017

The police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, showed no mercy to Jon Kabat-Zinn in May 1970. The man now considered the godfather of modern mindfulness was a graduate student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and an anti-Vietnam-war protester, agitating alongside the Black Panthers and the French playwright Jean Genet.

“I got my entire face battered in,” he recalls. “They put this instrument on my wrist called the claw, which they tightened to generate enormous amounts of pain without leaving any marks. But they certainly left a lot of marks on my face. They pulled me into the back of the police station and beat the shit out of me.”

Today, at 73, Kabat-Zinn’s restful, lined face shows no scars from that protest outside a police station, when a trip canvassing support for a nationwide university strike boiled over into violence,leaving him with stitches.

He sits beneath the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on Parliament Square in London taking a breather after going straight from an overnight flight out of Boston into a 90-minute talk to a gathering of international parliamentarians about how he thinks mindfulness could – to put it bluntly – change the world.

The once “very macho” anti-war activist who raged against MIT’s role in nuclear weapons research is the catalyst behind the west’s mushrooming interest in mindfulness meditation, having reimagined Buddhist contemplation practices for a secular age almost 40 years ago.

With others, he pioneered an eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction course at the University of Massachusetts Medical School for patients with chronic pain, harnessing the fundamentals of mindfulness meditation as taught by the Buddha, but with the Buddhism taken out. “I bent over backwards to structure it and find ways to speak about it that avoided as much as possible the risk of it being seen as Buddhist, new age, eastern mysticism or just plain flakey,” he says.

Kabat-Zinn had been meditating since 1965, but had no compunction in playing the Buddhism right down. “I got into this through the Zen door which is a very irreverent approach to Buddhism,” he says. He talks a lot about dharma, the term for the Buddha’s teaching, but he’s not a Buddhist and remarks that to insist mindfulness meditation is Buddhist is like saying gravity is English because it was identified by Sir Isaac Newton.

The UMass Stress Reduction Clinic opened its doors in 1979 and taught people with chronic back pain, victims of industrial accidents, cancer patients and sometimes paraplegics. Kabat-Zinn has defined mindfulness meditation as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”. By focusing on the breath, the idea is to cultivate attention on the body and mind as it is moment to moment, and so help with pain, both physical and emotional.

“It often results in apprehending the constantly changing nature of sensations, even highly unpleasant ones, and thus their impermanence,” he says. “It also gives rise to the direct experience that ‘the pain is not me’.” As a result, some of his patients found ways “to be in a different relationship with their pain” while others felt it diminish. The title of his 1990 bestseller about the clinic captures his approach to accepting whatever life throws at you: Full Catastrophe Living.

Now, in 2017, Kabat-Zinn vibrates with an urgent belief that meditation is the “radical act of love and sanity” we need in the age of Trump, accelerating climate change and disasters such as the Grenfell Tower fire.

He has a platform to build on. Mindfulness courses ultimately derived from his work are now being rolled out in the UK to school pupils, convicts, civil servants and even politicians. It is prescribed on the NHS in some areas to prevent recurrent depression, with 2,256 people completing eight-week courses last year. The course reduces the likelihood of relapse by almost a third, according to an analysis of nine trials. In the US, the NBA basketball champions, Golden State Warriors, are the latest poster boys for the practice after their coach, Steve Kerr, made mindfulness one of the team’s core values.


Mindfulness + New World Symphony

NWS blue project logo
Regrets but this NWS concert has been postponed.


NWS BLUE projects allow all Fellows to pursue musical activism based on their personal interests with their own original initiatives, from concept to execution. These special projects guide their continued development, while demonstrating music’s ability to have a positive impact on the community, and benefiting South Florida programs and businesses.

The 2019-20 season’s BLUE projects fall into three main categories: audience and community engagement, education and media, and will reach diverse audiences.


Monday, April 6 at 7:30 PM, SunTrust Pavilion

Fellows: Carson Marshall, Amelia del Caño, Eric Windmeier

Audience is guided through a series of sonic meditations during performances of works by Bach, Beethoven, Pauline Oliveros and others.

Video: “Mindfulness and Mental Health” with Runcie, Jennings, Brewer and Leifman.

Autistic Not Psychotic – Increasing Awareness & Preventing Tragedies

In 1973 when Judge Steve Leifman was interning in Tallahassee for a state senator, his office was notified that a parent was seeking help for their child being held inappropriately in a South Florida State Hospital. He found the young man tied to the bed, both arms and legs in restraints, and enormously overweight from the Thorazine (antipsychotic medication) hospital staff had been injecting him with. But the bloated young man strapped to the bed was not psychotic. He was autistic.


Mental Illness and Addiction are Public Health Problems (Not Crimes) Afflicting the Privileged and Underprivileged Alike

“Mental Illnesss is NOT a Crime”

“Mental illnesses are treated successfully at the same rates as diabetes. With treatment, even acute cases can be ameliorated. Treatment works; recovery is real… If you do it right, it actually saves money. It improves public safety. It gives people their lives back.” — Judge Steven Leifman


Creating Great Cities through Mindful Leadership and Comprehensive Systems

Mindful Cities Pilot

Civic leaders across America are aspiring to build flourishing communities. They have a vision for breaking down the silos to bring mindfulness training to leaders across all sectors in their cities. Engaged on the ground, cities like Flint, Michigan, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Boston, Massachusetts are countering rapid change and uncertainty, isolation, divisiveness, health problems, environmental degradation, and economic uncertainty with innovative social strategies rooted in mindfulness, compassion, and inclusivity. Why not Miami, Broward, and Palm Beach?

New approaches to social infrastructure, just like good physical infrastructure, are needed for communities and schools to thrive.

VIDEO: Mindful Cities in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with Sara Flitner, (1:06)
VIDEO: Mindful Cities in Flint, Michigan with Gerry Myers(0:52)