The art of mindfulness has been practice by Zen Masters since ancient times. Many other spiritual philosophies believe that mindful pray, meditation and rituals can lead to a richer and fuller life leading to happiness and peace if practice on a daily basis.

Psychology Today one of the leading magazines in the self-growth field defines mindfulness as: "mindfulness is a state of active open attention on the present. When you are mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience."
(Psychology Today)

I have been practicing mindfulness as a way of life for over twenty years. I was encouraged by the many teachers that I had along my pathway to learn the techniques of meditation to enhance my understanding of not only what they were teaching me but how this understanding could empower my life one moment at a time.

My most powerful encounter as a student of life was with my American Indian Navajo teacher who was very much like a Zen Master. He believed that through thoughtful intention I would come to realize the divine connection all things; animate as well as inanimate structures.

As I began to go deeper into this meditation, I would begin to honor the energy in each person, place and thing including my own life.

My growth was filled with challenges and my mind did not easily embrace this change in my consciousness. It wanted to pull me back to an unconscious state of being were my rational mind triumphed over a state of meaningful balance and my emotions brought chaos to situations where the training of my childhood and old decision-making made in my childhood would still hold sway over my adult life. It was so much easier to give in to the automatic program then to be conscious of my decision-making on a daily basis. However through practice, dedication and discipline, I began to see the changes and empowerment that was beginning to occur in my life. My understanding of my teacher's knowledge and wisdom which had been planted during our many sessions together began to bloom and expand me. The application of that knowledge began to increase my own knowledge as a soul. My mission in life became clearer and fuller. I began to transform how I thought about myself and the world around me. I could begin to reflect on the parts of me that needed to change not through negativity as I had been taught from my past but as a way to bring new understanding through self-reflection and self-compassion. It was not an easy road for me. Negative self-talk ran deep within me like a never ending river sometimes quiet and just a whisper transforming to a raging river storm of energy that at times created a sense of overwhelm and self-doubt.

At the same time, I was on an intellectual quest of education and learning of another kind. I entered into a traditional education program including two graduate programs one in psychology and one in public policy. The two pathways began to compliment each other. In my major of psychology, I began to understand the functioning of the brain and mind and how the plasticity of the brain allowed change on a biological basis creating the new term in mindfulness and brain functioning as neuron-plasticity. This new understanding of the potential expansion of the brains capacity for change is being studied at leading university around the world. The outcome of these studies are proving the theories of ancient shamans of the past. We are not only unlimited on a spiritual level but also on a biological level. As my spiritual life continued to unfold with my teacher, I began to integrate the new biological information with his teachings as a Shaman. He spoke to to me of the oneness of all things.

Science was beginning to prove through 
Quantum Mechanics which is simply defined as the study of the interaction of atoms and molecules that produce energy in all things. As the research grows in depth this concept begins to prove that we are all connected through the energy that we produce as we interact not only on a human level but also with plants, animals and inanimate things.
I began to have and experiential understanding of his meaning of oneness as an adult. As a child, I did experience that all things were one but was not able to integrated it purposefully into my life. Meditation and mindfulness began to bridge my own inner wisdom and the natural intuitiveness and psychic ability I had from childhood.

Our rational and analytical activities are a function of the left brain hemisphere. This part of the brain is like a computer it only solves problems for us with either or choices; right or wrong, black or white. good or bad. Our intuitive/spiritual self can view unlimited possibilities and solutions to life's challenges which is one of the functions of the right hemisphere of our brain but it can also create compulsions, over reactions and drama in our lives.. It is a feeling based center where we experience fear, hurt, sadness, joy and love. Our right hemisphere is feeling based rather than intellectually or rationally based as is the left hemisphere. We need both of these center of the brain/mind to perform the activities of daily living. Mindfulness brings a balance to these two parts of our brain. It enhances our understanding that we
don't need to be us run by compulsions and overreactions in our daily lives. This over reactive state can occur from a right brain imbalance. This philosophy also teaches us that we have the opportunity not to be limited by the program that runs in the left part of our brain which rationalizes old ways of making decisions and keeps us stuck in life through patterns and behaviors that run automatically. Eventually, if we continue this way of living, we become automated and at the effect of situations around us instead of being
 self-directed and empowered.

The art of mindfulness begins by allowing yourself to be present in the moment. It allows us to become aware of the breath of life or prana that is within us. By using this technique, we can stand back and become an observer not only of the possibilities and options that we have but also behavior or thinking patterns that do not serve our growth any longer. In other words, mindfulness allows us to make a choice rather than be at the effect of our emotions and rationalizations. We are no longer at the effect of unconscious decisions. Unconscious living normally produces a reactive stance to life's challenges. Mindfulness is a quiet pause that brings tremendous change in our life. Through this pause moment by moment we begin to learn to detach and observe ourselves through our intention and commitment to change our lives in a self-caring manner.

Purposeful intention is the ability to be mindful and present within the moment of our experience. When we are present in the moment, our actions can be responsive instead of reactive to our challenges. Responsiveness is a choice. When we are at choice", it requires self-understanding and self-reflection. These two skills are two of the key elements of Emotional Intelligence (EQ}. The practice of mindfulness is a state of consciousness that release the limitations that are self-imposed and brings options to problem solving, relationship issues, stress reduction and empowers every part of our lives. It integrates our desire to choose result-oriented living by becoming consciously aware of the cause and effect of our decision making and unconscious thinking patterns. It also allows us to observe these behaviors without self-blame. Releasing ourselves from critical judgement increases self-trust. Through this process of mindful presence self-doubt begins to disappear as well as the negative voice that most of us have within our heads.

As my spiritual journey continued, it deepened my self-knowledge. I found a freedom in many areas of my life that I had not experienced before. True passion and joy began to permeate my life. Life challenges were still there but my response to them was different...less drama more time to have fun, more time to grow.

I have been involved in a project called The Mindfulness Movie produced by Paul Harrison. All of the experts in the movie have volunteered their time to bring this important message to the world. In the movie, thirty-five of the leading experts in the field of science, psychology, education , writing medicine and the healing arts explain in detail how mindfulness can change not only your brain but your life. I feel honored to be part of this project as one of the experts in the movie. The one thing that all of the team members
have in common is that we believe that mindfulness can help change the world one person at a time. You can find the trailer of the movie at: expected release date will be Sept 2013.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Jo Anne Bishop PhD MPA

Crossing Bridges Coaching

Certified Professional Coach

Licensed Psychotherapist

Author's Bio: 

Dr Jo Anne Bishop is founder of Crossing Bridges Coaching. She is a Certified Professional Coach with a national and international client base. A top performer and leader in field, of intuitive development, mindfulness, coaching and psychology, she brings twenty years of expertise to areas such as training individuals and corporations on the value of Emotional Intelligence, organizational psychology and conflict meditation in life and the work place. She completed a highly successful psychotherapy practice in Beverly Hills, CA and Long Beach, CA to create Crossing Bridges Coaching. As an author, speaker, trainer and intuitive, she is committed to her life passion of supporting her clients to find their own inner wisdom and potential. She holds graduate degrees in Counseling Psychology as well as a Master Degree in Public Policy and Administration. She has co-authored three books with authors such as Mark Victor Hanson, Deepak Chopra, Steven Covey, Les Brown and Brian Tracy; Success a State of Mind, Roadmap to Success and Success Strategies: A Guide for High Achievers as well as numerous articles.