THE PATH TO MINDFULNESS
The Path To Mindfulness
May 28, 2020
There's more to mindfulness than just meditating. Done properly, mindfulness builds a higher level of awareness to your day-to-day activities.
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In this episode, I delve into the deeper meaning of mindfulness and answer some common questions, for example, what exactly is mindfulness? How do you practice mindfulness? How is it any different from meditating? What are some situations where mindfulness can help me the most? And a whole lot more!
With my guest, high-functioning entrepreneur, and co-founder of Signal Insights, Taylor Trusty, we also tackle the topic of how mindfulness works for different kinds of people and mindfulness apps that sometimes gain mixed feedback from various users.
Hi everyone and welcome to the high-functioning hotspot with me, Dr. Chloe Carmichael. I'm a clinical psychologist in New York City and I specialize in working with high-functioning people. So I'm really excited because today what we're going to be doing is looking at the topic of mindfulness, which is super important for high-functioning people because the mind, as you can imagine is key for high-functioning people. So I'll start by reading one of my blogs on the subject of what exactly mindfulness is and a little bit of an instruction on how to get started with it. And then I have a very high-functioning person, Taylor Trusty, who's a very successful entrepreneur, serial entrepreneur, has created and sold companies talking million dollar plus revenues for these companies. He's a very high-functioning person and I was really excited to just have someone like him respond to my blog and ask me some questions about it and as well as share some of his own experiences of trying to get acquainted with the world of mindfulness.
Dr. Chloe (01:17):
So without further ado, I'm going to go ahead and start by sharing my blog with you and then we'll follow up going right into this very interesting conversation that I was able to have with Taylor Trusty about the topic. So thanks again for joining and let's get into the blog. Before I became a clinical psychologist, I was a certified yoga teacher, so I've been studying mindfulness for years. The field of psychology has recently begun embracing the concept of mindfulness, and these days it's common to hear the term being thrown around outside of mental health and wellness contexts. I consider mindfulness to be a crucial tool both inside and outside of therapy, but I find that many people don't fully understand what it means and how to practice it. This series of blog posts, and again, today I'm only reading one, but this is part of a series of blog posts, will explain why I find mindfulness to be so important and how you can learn to use it for your benefit.
Dr. Chloe (02:24):
We use the term mindful in the dictionary sense to mean keeping something in our awareness. Examples would include being mindful of passing cars when crossing the street or as the British like to say, minding the gap when getting on the subway. When psychologists use the term mindfulness, we are referring to a tool that can be used to facilitate meta awareness of the self meta awareness. So “meta” is coming from the Greek term “meta”, which means large and overall. So it's like you have this overall kind of bird's eye view awareness of your total self. Practicing mindfulness meditations or mindfulness based cognitive behavioral exercises helps us to observe our thoughts and feelings so that we can better manage and understand our needs. Mindfulness to the rescue. A common scenario, imagine that you're standing on a stage ready to speak to a large audience. All of a sudden your palms start to sweat and you can feel your pulse racing and you’ve forgotten that opening joke that you knew would make a killer first impression.
Dr. Chloe (03:34):
You have one of two options. Option one would be to give in to the feelings, start wiping your hands on your shirt, which then shows moisture stains so you begin worrying everyone will notice and it only makes you sweat more. Start thinking thoughts like, I knew this would happen. Oh no, this is awful. Those thoughts keep racing in your mind until suddenly your mind just goes completely blank. Eventually you find yourself a ball of nerves and you stumble through your speech like a robot or melt into a pile of panic. Option two would be to recognize the feelings for what they are, deal with them rationally and keep your blouse intact. You know it's normal to be nervous even though you've prepared for this day and you recognize the sweaty palms and jittery thoughts as nothing more than markers of moderate anxiety. Plus you even feel kind of proud of yourself for recognizing those pesky speed bumps for what they are and even having a plan to deal with them.
Dr. Chloe (04:36):
Since you've had this mindful awareness of what's going on, you have the tools to put your plan into action. You take a slow, deep, not gaping three-part breath. The three-part breath, by the way, is an exercise many meditators like to do, but any sort of deep breath would do just like you've rehearsed, you focus your mind on the self-statements that you've pre-crafted and maybe even written on an index card for this very moment and trust that even if things don't go exactly as you planned, you most certainly will survive, likely even grow stronger and quite possibly do a very good job. The second option is obviously preferable and it also describes how you can benefit from mindfulness at times of panic or anxiety. That moment when you can internally say to yourself, I'm sweating because I'm nervous, is the moment when you stop the cycle of panic because of your mindful awareness, and then you use that insight to help you choose the right tools to deal with whatever you're feeling.
Dr. Chloe (05:46):
While this scenario is admittedly rather simplistic, it also raises the key point that mindfulness is a practice when you're standing on the stage and frozen with fear is not the first time that you want to try out some mindfulness skills. To practice mindfulness in times of pressure, we must first be able to practice it in times of calm. That's why the keyword is practice. In meditation, we have a meditation practice. Mindfulness is a muscle and it improves with use. By slowly building up your awareness and practicing the following techniques during calm times, like sitting at home or even during a boring meeting, you'll be much better equipped to use mindfulness as a tool in emotionally intense situations. So here's some mindfulness 101. Step One is to learn to be mindful of an object. The first thing that we do when learning to practice mindfulness is to increase your awareness by focusing completely on a tangible object.
Dr. Chloe (06:57):
So find any object such as a paperweight from your office and start by just looking at it. Allow yourself to observe the object, noticing its curves, any hard edges, any blemishes or scratches. Explore the color of the object and how it changes, or if it changes when light hits it. Touch the object. Notice the surface texture, whether it is rough or smooth, and whether it is consistent throughout. Does the object have a hot or cold temperature? Try picking it up and feeling its weight in your palm. Depending on the object and where you are, you may want to smell the object. Leather, wood, plants, food, clothing, and other everyday objects have a scent all their own. The goal is just to find as many ways as you can to notice and focus your senses on the object. Believe it or not, much research has shown, for example, at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, many other places have shown as well as it's been a known fact in Buddhist literature for thousands of years, that learning to observe objects in this way actually does prepare us to learn to observe intangible objects such as our thoughts and emotions.
Dr. Chloe (08:19):
It's really quite incredible. So Step Two here is to learn how to put your awareness into words. By completing the above exercise of observing an object, you'll notice that you can now describe the object far beyond its name or what its function is. A helpful aid for learning mindfulness is to put everything that you have perceived into words. Practicing verbalizing your observations helps you to consolidate and clarify them. And it is a skill that comes in handy once you start using mindfulness to observe and express your feelings. To illustrate, before the exercise you may have answered the question
“What is this?” simply with “A paperweight.” Now the goal is to answer that question with the observations that you made in Step One. You might say something like, this is a round, black, cool to the touch, stone paperweight that has no smell. It is somewhat heavy in my palm when I pick it up and it is big enough to fill my whole hand.
Dr. Chloe (09:30):
It has several faint gray scratches that I can feel if I use the tip of my finger. So as you can see, mindfulness facilitates connections, cognitive connections, and the ability to describe what we are perceiving. I'm sure you can imagine how this would come in handy in complex relationship dynamics. And again, it's really quite incredible, but science has proven it over and over and it's been known in Buddhism for thousands of years that by learning to practice on tangible objects that don't mean very much to us, we actually sharpen our ability to do the same thing when describing our own internal experience. Mindfulness facilitates connections and options. By practicing mindfulness of an object and sharing your observations with others or writing them down, you'll be practicing how to hone your focus on an object fully and completely as well as practicing how to communicate your experiences to others.
Dr. Chloe (10:34):
If you do this with a partner and listen to their observations too, you will also start to learn about what types of perceptions you tend to make compared with perceptions that others tend to make and you'll learn how you communicate compared to others because you and your partner are both focusing on the same object. It can be very interesting to compare what you notice and how you express it. Becoming fully aware of a tangible object will increase your powers of observation and prepare you for the more challenging experience of observing and communicating more abstract things like your thoughts and emotions. Only once we truly notice our thoughts and feelings can we work strategically to shape, soothe or cultivate thoughts and feelings. Keep practicing the next entries in this series will help you learn to channel your observational powers inward. But it goes without saying that the more you practice focusing on things, the more natural the process will feel when you start to focus on yourself. As you know, obviously I'm recording. But I just wanted to thank you and ask you, so what did you think of the blog?
Taylor Trusty (11:57):
I liked it. I got to pull it up here. I like this idea of this was the item that I used. This is a pen from my last company. And so I did as you talk about it in the blog and looked at it and thought about it and it brings back memories because it's a prior business of mine and it didn't have much of a smell. But it was great. It made me feel peaceful and then I went for a walk.
Dr. Chloe (12:28):
Yeah. Well that's really interesting that you actually used an object with such an emotional charge to it. When we do the exercise where you're just studying an object, we usually do things where we actually choose something that's going to be like a mundane object so that we're just training our powers of neutral observation. But you are a high-functioning person, Taylor. So it doesn't surprise me at all that you just naturally kind of skipped ahead, which is great. And I'm super curious about that. So did you find yourself kind of toggling back and forth between like studying the pen itself as a physical object or studying and observing your mental and emotional reactions to that object?
Taylor Trusty (13:22):
Yes, though I could have something to do with, you know, I had forum yesterday, two days ago, an EO forum, and I was very reflective in forum. So I'm in this kind of very reflective state of mind and grateful. And so I think that's part of it. You know, I have this inner context of working on being more grateful and appreciative for the things around me and physically I guess in this case. And then I was thinking about how good of a job like this pen does, and so it wasn't just the emotional reaction, it was like, you know, I'm really appreciative that when I want to write, I just put this on a piece of paper and then I can, you know, I don't worry about it. And that's why I've kept it all these years. I mean, we bought these pens like five years ago, six years ago.
Dr. Chloe (14:11):
Right. So I just wanted to explain to listeners that Taylor is a very successful entrepreneur and when he talks about forum and EO, he's referring to the entrepreneur’s organization where Taylor and I are both members. And it's really high-functioning entrepreneurs. I'm so honored to be a part of it. They have a minimum annual revenue of $1 million just to join. And Taylor has actually recently sold one of his businesses and Taylor you’re what like 30 years old or something.
Taylor Trusty (14:46):
Dr. Chloe (14:47):
I mean, so amazing. That at 34, you were able to actually create this incredible business, sell it, and now you've actually started another one as well. So that's why I thought you would be the perfect person on the high-functioning hotspot to talk about mindfulness because obviously mindfulness is for everybody. It's for people that are not intelligent, that are not driven and it's for people who are intelligent and are driven.
Dr. Chloe (15:15):
But because mindfulness is about that meta awareness of what's going on in your mind, I believe that it's a different experience for a high-functioning person who's probably having a lot of mental activity, a lot of cognitive balls in the air, that such people are going to have special needs for mindfulness. I mean it's interesting that you're saying that you've found it relaxing. I find that a lot of times people say that they find mindfulness relaxing. And to be honest, I have sometimes like a mixed reaction. So on the one hand I'm glad that it's relaxing, like what's not to love, and I think there is something inherently relaxing about knowing that you're paying attention to yourself. It almost reminds me of the way people can sometimes just find a therapy session relaxing because it feels good and safe to know that you're under careful and caring observation and that you're getting attention and that can be soothing.
Dr. Chloe (16:17):
On the other hand though, I want people to know, and I'm glad you mentioned this cause you gave me an opportunity to talk about it, that mindfulness does not have to always actually be about relaxation. Sometimes we can be in really high pressure situations where we actually need to really have our wits about us. Or maybe we're trying to make sure, suppose for example, that you're trying to quit smoking and you need to have an early warning detection system for when your pre-smoking thoughts start getting active and that really good sharp meta awareness of mindfulness, of everything that's going on in your mind can be really helpful too. So while mindfulness is certainly great for relaxing sometimes, I just want people to know it doesn't have to always be about relaxing.
Taylor Trusty (17:10):
Hmm. That's interesting. So what percent of the time should it be about relaxing?
Dr. Chloe (17:15):
Well, honestly I think that's going to be different for every person. But it's like a picture inside of a picture here, a meta awareness inside of a meta awareness. What I would say is that if you're practicing mindfulness, not necessarily with the intention to relax, but just to observe yourself, that would be how you would know if you needed a relaxation technique. Because I'll have clients come to me for stress management and they're like, “Oh, can you just teach me some meditations to just relax and calm myself down. I learned this guided imagery once about a soothing place and it felt really good. And you know, maybe that's just what I need.” But as I really drill down into why they're stressed, we sometimes discover that escapist relaxing strategies are actually counterproductive. Maybe in other situations what the person actually needs is to learn assertiveness skills because maybe they're stressed out because their employees are walking all over them or their wife is walking all over them or whatever. And if they just kind of sit there and think about a soothing waterfall, it's actually counterproductive. Sometimes we need to learn how to kind of walk right into the storm and mindfulness can tell us that too if we have that meta awareness of really what's happening in our mind and with ourselves. So to answer your question, some people need to relax more and some people need to relax less. So there's really no one size fits all answer.
Taylor Trusty (18:54):
Hmm. But how would I know that? How would I know that I, well, for instance, I know that at different parts of my life I have used like float tanks or some of these things as a method to relax. There's a float tank place in Brooklyn that I was going to. And I remember the first time I went, I had this like hallucination around like a little girl's voice. It was very vivid. It was this like lucid dreaming state. And then on subsequent times I went, I really had really, not terrifying thoughts, but I had really serious thoughts about like, should I, you know, at the time I was relatively unhappy in my business and I wanted, you know, it brought up all these thoughts about like, what this assertiveness you're talking about. And then I didn't go to the float tank for a while. I was like, you know what, maybe I don't want to think about those thoughts or I don't want to go up to that reality.
Dr. Chloe (20:06):
Yeah. So I'm so glad you're talking about that. And by the way, I love float tanks as well. And I can see where they would help with this mindfulness because what they're doing is they're removing the ability for anything else in your environment to distract you. And so it makes it that much easier for you to just kind of watch your thoughts and be with yourself. And also when you do get into a float tank or do a mindfulness meditation, make space for yourself to do that, you're actually sending a behavioral signal to yourself to say, “Hey, there's room right now.” Whatever kind of stuff that maybe has been put on the shelf that maybe needed processing because there wasn't time or space to do it before there's room right now. And so you're setting the stage for some of that stuff to come forward. But…
Taylor Trusty (21:04):
Are you saying that by going to a float tank, I'm telling myself there's room right now. Is that what you’re saying?
Dr. Chloe (21:10):
Yeah. Whether by going to a float tank or clearing 10 minutes in your schedule to do a mindfulness meditation you're sending a behavioral signal to yourself that you're interested in removing those distractions and being open and receptive and observing a little deeper, a little bit more introspective, what's happening inside of you that you're making some time to observe what's happening inside of you. But a key part, Taylor, which I understand sounds like it was kind of missing from that experience that you had in the float tank is the experience of sharing your mindful observations with another person. So in Buddhism, which is where mindfulness is rooted, there's the three jewels, there's the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
Dr. Chloe (22:07):
The Buddha is obviously the Buddha, the physical Buddha. The Dharma is the teachings of the Buddha and the Sangha – S A N G H A – is Sanskrit for the community. And so it's a really important part of mindfulness, and I touch on this a little bit in the blog that once you have these observations, we actually don't want to let them just swim around in your head as just kind of non-verbalized thoughts. So whether you might journal about exactly what you experienced and then share that experience with another person or just tell the person about it, that helps you to kind of connect the dots. And one of the things that we as human beings have that's very unique is language. And that's one of the reasons many psychologists think that human beings have been able to evolve into such sophisticated and complex societies.
Dr. Chloe (23:06):
Because by talking things through, we develop ideas, then we get support and we learn from other people. So a big part, and again this is kind of why for me, I love the apps like Calm and Headspace and everything else, especially for guided imagery. But if a person is really wanting to do kind of mindfulness proper, which is what it sounds like you were kind of doing there, but just going in that sensory tank, sensory-deprivation float tank, and just observing yourself, a really key part of that actually is the community. So, I can understand why you kind of shied away from that as an experience that was missing the important ingredient of the Sangha.
Taylor Trusty (23:49):
Hmm. That's cool. Yeah. There's this online community called Hacker News. It's not hackers, but it's like a tech community. It's probably the top tech community in the country and it's run by Y Combinator, this startup incubator. And they had this whole, you know, if people post articles like this was Slashdot in the nineties was a big tech community. And then it's moved to Reddit and all these other places. Basically people post articles. And then there were comments on the articles and there's probably once a month an article about meditation or about mindfulness and it creates this, it sparks this really interesting conversation where people say, it didn't work for me or it changed my life or some combination or thereof. And I ended up posting, this is probably six months ago, my morning journal template.
Taylor Trusty (24:43):
So I posted, I put together this Google Doc that I fill out probably three times a week and it asks me a series of questions. It asks questions, like there are prompts and then there are things that I read to myself. And then there are questions that are asked. And I just put this together ‘cause people post like their five minute journal and so I would read like Tim Ferriss or I'd read different or that there was a book, Magic Mornings or something like that. There's some book like that. So I would go and I would gather the things that looked cool and I'd put them in this template and I keep updating it. And when I was reading this, I thought, “Oh, maybe people will be interested in this.” And so I put it together as a one page or two page Google Doc.
Taylor Trusty (25:30):
And I shared it on Hacker News and it got all of this interest. And what was interesting is that people thought I was doing what you're saying. They thought that I was filling out this journal and then I was sharing it every day with the internet, which is not what I was doing. But that sparked this whole conversation around, well, is there value, it sounds like somewhere to what you're saying is there value in, I journal my deepest, darkest things and then I just release it into the ether and somebody go, you know, whoever wants to can go look at it. That sounds terrifying to me. But I'm curious if you think that that would be a good idea for anybody.
Dr. Chloe (26:09):
Well, I think that sounds like an interesting thing and I do just want to draw a distinction between that. That would be literally sharing without boundaries, right? If you were to just, as you said, take your also, you said your deepest, darkest thoughts. And so in mindfulness it's not even always about deep dark thoughts. You know, sometimes it's even about noticing that you're feeling pulled into a certain direction or that all of your thoughts seem to be about work or that all of your thoughts, whether they're about work or about personal, seem to be filtering through some kind of a lens of wanting to control things or be enough or take care of people. So it's not necessarily always about your deepest, darkest thoughts. And the Sangha, the community is not the abyss of the internet and the world at large.
Dr. Chloe (27:05):
Right? So in a mindfulness exercise, if you were going to do some mindfulness and then share your observations with someone, the idea would be that you would be doing it in an intentional way that your Sangha would be a person that you trust that is supportive of you. And even if it were just in your journal, just forcing yourself to actually come up with words to put a fine point on what you were feeling and then as you read your journal over yourself even, you're kind of being your own Sangha in a certain way because you're giving yourself something physical to actually reflect on and really have a dialogue with yourself as opposed to just sitting there letting those thoughts kind of spin around in your head. And that would also be very different from necessarily just taking your deepest, darkest thoughts and dumping them on the internet for everyone to see.
Dr. Chloe (28:04):
I can see where you might notice that there are some similarities there, but I would say that they're actually still quite different.
Taylor Trusty (28:11):
So you would not recommend that?
Dr. Chloe (28:13):
I wouldn't say I do or don't recommend it. It's not something I personally would do. But I know that there's a lot of different people out there and for some people there might be something really liberating about that, about just knowing that they could put it out there to the world at large or they might be so hungry for connection with other people that just somehow knowing that other people that they didn't even know were reading this and commenting on it and it might fill some void for them in terms of connection. So I'm not saying I would recommend it or disrecommend it, but I would just say whatever that is, it would be different from doing your mindful observation of yourself and then sharing your observations with your intentional community of your Sangha, which again, could even be yourself or could be a friend or could be a therapist.
Taylor Trusty (29:05):
Hmm. Hmm. I wouldn't recommend it.
Dr. Chloe (29:10):
Yeah. I mean, again, it's not something I would do myself, but it takes all kinds, right?
Taylor Trusty (29:17):
Dr. Chloe (29:18):
Okay. Well, Taylor, I just want to thank you again. It's been really neat to get your take on this because as I said, I do feel that high-functioning people such as yourself have a lot of activity going on inside their heads. And so I do think that mindfulness is a really neat way for us to kind of just track and observe that and then learn how to put those thoughts and feelings and experiences into words, which is a key part of it. As a psychologist, of course I'm all about communication and relationships, so thank you for joining me.
Taylor Trusty (29:58):
Can I ask one question?
Dr. Chloe (30:00):
Taylor Trusty (30:01):
What do you think people are missing by using the apps? Is there a chance that people are giving up? I mean, this is a lot of the conversation that you see in places like Reddit and Hacker News and all kinds of online communities on Facebook. Anytime somebody talks about meditation, there's this very like, “Oh, I downloaded Headspace” or I tried this or that and it didn't work for me. And so I'm curious, A. Do you think this mindfulness or meditation or any of these things can work for everyone? And B. What do you think that they're missing there? Are they missing components by going quickly to an app or what have you?
Dr. Chloe (30:39):
Yeah. So I mean, I just want to say and I think that the apps like Calm Headspace and everything, those are wonderful things and I'm certainly not against them. I think that they're really great. But I do think that without some understanding of really what they are and how to use them and what they're not, it's not surprising to me, that the public is having kind of just hit or miss experiences with them. So those apps, for example, do contain mindfulness meditation tracks and they also contain guided imagery tracks. And I'm not sure the public even really understands the difference.
Taylor Trusty (31:18):
What is the difference?
Dr. Chloe (31:19):
Yeah. So mindfulness is where you're practicing to just observe your own thoughts and feelings in a neutral, non-judgmental way. Almost like you're just a reporter for a newspaper that's just noting them down and logging the observations and then looking at them as an aggregate to understand any patterns and what those patterns mean.
Dr. Chloe (31:46):
Guided imagery would be more along the lines of, you're in a lush forest and you look forward and you feel a golden sun warming your skin and all of those things. And you know that stuff is wonderful. Guided imagery is wonderful. Or you could use guided imagery for if you have public speaking anxiety and you see yourself and you're standing in front and you feel the crowd's energy and that's guided imagery. That's totally different from observing your thoughts and feelings. Guided imagery is really about actually inserting thoughts and feelings and wrapping your mind around a particular pattern of thoughts and feelings that you want to take on. And they're both of value. I like them both. I do them both. But again, for someone to say quote, “it didn't work.”
Dr. Chloe (32:36):
If somebody was turning to meditation because they were feeling really burnt out at work and they just ended up listening to a bunch of guided imagery about being at a beach all day. They might say, well, you know what, that felt really good in the moment, but I'm still miserable at my job. Whereas a mindfulness meditation around you and work might help you to actually discover, okay, well I think about my job and I discover, I feel my body clenching and I discover that. I remember my mom telling me that money is the most important thing and I think about my job and I feel a sinking feeling and I feel powerless or whatever it is, just observe. By the way, I love my job. I'm just giving examples of someone that might not be happy in their job.
Dr. Chloe (33:26):
And so the person who's in that latter scenario, again would not benefit from a guided imagery app that was just going to give them some relaxing tracks. They would need something different. They might need mindfulness meditation and then sharing it with somebody that could help them to translate those observations into some kind of healthy action steps around those observations. So that would be my idea then as to why just a random person downloading the Calm app… it would be like saying “do vitamins work?” Okay. Well it depends on if you grab the right vitamin off the shelf or not depending on your situation. So I do think that if you have an understanding about the difference, even between guided imagery and mindfulness meditation, that would be a really good starting point.
Taylor Trusty (34:25):
How often can someone on their own come to that conclusion that you said? I’m very happy in my job, but at times I've not been. And so how often would somebody come to that? I remember that my mom, when I was in, as you said, my mom used to talk about money and how important that was and how much of an impact that had on my life. How often can somebody come to that on their own?
Dr. Chloe (34:51):
Well, I would say rather often, especially if the person does a little mindfulness practice every day. Like people would be so surprised that even just by practicing your observation skills of yourself and learning to just observe yourself in a neutral way for even just a couple of minutes every day, then you would certainly start to become aware that if you do a mindfulness meditation and you think about the topic of your job, that you could absolutely start to notice what thoughts and feelings float through your head. Especially if you made sure not to do what we call chasing the thoughts, right? So if for example, you had that thing where you said, I'm going to do mindfulness, think about my job, and then the first thing that came into your mind was your mom and her emphasis on money.
Dr. Chloe (35:41):
Chasing the thought would then be to start shifting into thinking about your mom and saying, well, I wonder if she did that because of her background and gee, I'm angry with her and gee, I should probably call her and whatever. So you wouldn't want to do that. That would be chasing the thought. You would want to just notice, okay, I had a thought about my mom and what she said and then try to practice that detachment again and just see what pops into your head next. Maybe what pops into your head next is the day that you walked down your graduation March and the thoughts and feelings that you had about work at that time and actually a feeling of optimism. And you might be surprised at what it feels like to notice that, but again, you wouldn't want to chase that feeling.
Dr. Chloe (36:28):
You wouldn't want to start saying, okay, well that's what I need to get back to. You would just want to return to just neutral observation. And that's why I do think it's important if you can, to set your mindfulness time in advance. So you might set a timer and say, I'm going to do mindfulness for five minutes. Because otherwise it can become a mental sideshow and a non-mindful activity to start kind of asking like, what should I stop now? Is that enough? Do I have enough observations? Or you know, whatever. So you just want to practice, just noticing as if you were a third party, just recording what happens in your mind and what thoughts and feelings kind of get pinged either around a certain topic or just plain old without even introducing a topic. Like you could do mindfulness first thing in the morning and just say, I'm just going to notice like what are the things that come up for me? First thing in the morning, where does my mind go? What happens? And again, for high-functioning people, I find this to be such an exciting exercise because they do tend to have such rich, full lives that it can be really so engaging and so exciting that they don't always stop to kind of zoom out and take a look at the bigger picture.
Taylor Trusty (37:54):
The person, the hypothetical person that's upset at their job, what percentage of them, it's the framing of the job and what percentage should just leave the job?
Dr. Chloe (38:04):
Well, I certainly wouldn't know that. But yeah, I mean that's a really good question. Is it that it's about them and they have an unhappiness or a sense of entitlement and they're going to feel unhappy at whatever job they go to, or have they just really come into a situation where they're just in the wrong fit, and that's a whole other question. I'm going to maybe do a separate blog, separate episode about that one. But just to keep our focus really tight on mindfulness, such a person might be able to figure out which one of those two things that is if they start just observing their thoughts and feelings around work and starting to catalog whether it looks like the issue seem to be situational or whether the issues do seem to be stemming from something more internal. Yeah. So Taylor, I just want to thank you again. I know you are such a busy person and such an incredibly high-functioning and successful entrepreneur. I'm super excited about your new business. Can you just say in a nutshell really quickly what it is? ‘Cause I never can really wrap my mind around it ‘cause it's so complex. But you also make it sound so simple in the moment.
Taylor Trusty (39:14):
Signal Insights is a competitive intelligence dashboard for large brands. Basically, if I'm a brand manager, when do my competitors… what's going on that's important in the news about the competitors in the industry? When did they post on social media that's important? What website changes they making? So we aggregate all of that in a really, really nice dashboard and email for clients.
Dr. Chloe (39:37):
Cool. It's like you're being mindful of everything that your competition is doing or bringing that meta awareness.
Taylor Trusty (39:43):
That's exactly right. And we're filtering out the things that don't matter.
Dr. Chloe (39:46):
Beautiful. Beautiful. That's so important. Wow. So that was a really amazing conversation that I got to have with Taylor about mindfulness. And I'm so glad that we got to actually also talk a little bit about the difference between mindfulness and guided imagery because I have always felt like that's one of the things that people don't quite always understand. And I'm also really glad that we got to talk about it through the lens of high-functioning people because I'm super excited to just start really sharing with the world about what high-functioning people are and how things like mindfulness or other types of things that I like to do and think about really matter when we are thinking about high-functioning people.
Dr. Chloe (40:33):
So I'm super grateful for the opportunity that I had to share that conversation with Taylor and to share it with you. So I would also like to thank you in general for listening to the podcast, the high-functioning hotspot. I hope that you enjoyed it. I hope that you will hit the subscribe button so that you can make sure that you're getting notified all the time. And of course if you would like to actually read the blog yourself, you can go to drchloe.com/blog and I am all over social media. So whether your thing is Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, but whatever. I am there. So if you Google Dr. Chloe, then all of my socials will pop up, or you can just go to drchloe.com/hello and there'll be all kinds of links and things where you can sign up for my newsletter if you want. But otherwise, just please, definitely, definitely, definitely give me five stars and hit the subscribe button. [inaudible].
Before I became a clinical psychologist I was a certified yoga teacher, so I have been studying mindfulness for years. The field of psychology has recently begun embracing the concept of mindfulness, and these days it’s common to hear the term being thrown around outside of mental health and wellness contexts. I consider mindfulness to be a crucial tool both inside and outside of therapy, but I find that many people don’t fully understand what it means and how to practice it. This series of blog posts will explain why I find mindfulness to be important, and how you can learn to use it to your benefit.
We use the term mindful in the dictionary sense to mean keeping something in our awareness. Examples would include being mindful of passing cars when crossing the street, or being mindful of stepping over the gap when getting on the subway.
When psychologists use the term mindfulness, we are referring to the tool that can be used to facilitate meta-awareness of the self. Practicing mindfulness meditations or mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral exercises helps us to observe our thoughts and feelings so that we can better manage and understand our needs. Read the full blog