Mindfulness & sustainability: a path of consciousness

34 min read

Ariadne brings a creative background as a former documentary producer for A&E, History Channel and Discovery networks. She followed her curiosity towards meditation training in 2008, and she’s been teaching and developing the Kairos model for over a decade.

Her diverse background of training includes 700 instructor training hours in self-awakening methodology, a 3-month immersion in non-dual meditation, and extensive MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) coursework. She lived in Costa Rica teaching at a renowned meditation institute for 6 years before returning to the US.

In 2016, she founded Kairos, a creative transformation partner for innovative organizations. She facilitates training at high-performing companies including Google, Walsh Construction, University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences, and Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group.

Jeanette: Today's guest is Ariadne Ducas. We know that she is a former journalist and documentary maker for the History Channel and Discovery Network and has been interested in mindfulness since 2008 and founded a company in 2016 called Kairos. It's an amazing company where she is chief mindfulness officer. And she has facilitated training at Google, Welsh Construction, University of Chicago Medicine, amongst others. So amazing guest today.

And in today's podcast, we'll be talking about being mindful and mindful of sustainability. So, before we kick off about what mindfulness is and, you know, how we're going to apply this to sustainability, perhaps Ariadne might may ask you to introduce yourself in the way you'd like to be introduced and perhaps tell us how you got onto this path.

Ariadne: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. I'm really so glad to be with you all today. So, I'm Ariadne. I'm a mindfulness coach. Truly, and what that means is that I work with people to help shift their perspective and I do that in a way that helps improve wellbeing and increase creativity. So, through my company, Kairos, I work with organizations, with teams, and one-to-one as a workshop facilitator, a retreat leader, a speaker, and a coach. But I would say that really truly what I am is a teacher.

I'm here to teach mindfulness in a way that brings context to kind of what this is all about, to give some awareness around the context of the qualities of attention that we're training for, and what we're really doing in meditation practice, and then apply them very consciously. So, it's really a different kind of awareness. It's that perspective shift that I was speaking of, where you can tap into that, use it, and harness it for greater benefit.

So, I've been teaching for about 15 or so years, but I do bring a creative background, as you mentioned, as a journalist and documentary producer, as well as commercials. So, I think that I have always been really interested in changing people's minds. I'm just doing it quite literally now. And it's something that I, it is a skill that has helped me enormously, and it is a privilege and a joy and a pleasure to bring that skill into people's lives and help them apply it for again, greater well-being, creativity, thinking a bit differently. And as to how I got started on this crazy, strange path, I really used it as a, it was something that I was always interested in and in my early career as a creative and as a journalist, certainly it was very stressful. You're pulled in a lot of different directions. You need to have a lot of ideas quickly and on deadline and all of those things. So, I understand the stress that we all go through with trying to kind of manage ourselves and then, you know, create a good outcome. So, I think that it was something that I started studying just really for myself. And then over time really grew into the understanding of this skill and this kind of innate wisdom that we can tap into this other way of thinking and being in the world can have so many benefits that it needs to be contextualized, taught, and shared.

Luis: Well, I know there is a lot of people looking forward for this episode. But I'm very curious to know what exactly is mindfulness. And you also mentioned about the benefits. So, what are these benefits of mindfulness in this world that is full of noise? And this is my other question. Sorry but is mindfulness about controlling your thoughts?

Ariadne: Right, yes. This is such a good question of like, because so many people, mindfulness can be such an expansive topic. And so, it's like, well, what are we really talking about here? So, it really, mindfulness really is this perspective shift. It's a different kind of awareness that is unlocked through a really deliberate meditation practice. But it's this space and this kind of sphere of non-judgment is a great way to kind of categorize what are we, what is this. It's when we're really aware of what's happening and we can look at it without immediate judgment to go, okay, there's a space in which there's a perspective where I can see what's happening without getting carried away with it in one direction or another. So, unlocking that different kind of awareness or that perspective is something that takes a lot of practice and it speaks to you, you know, your question about like the benefits, you know, I think because there are there are so many, but when I think about these three categories of benefits where you're developing a sense of curiosity, a sense of compassion, and a sense of concentration. So, it's like within those, you know, curiosity, concentration, compassion, there are these, you know, ancillaries, you know, secondary and tertiary benefits that are related to it of being able to focus, for example, through a lot of chaos. That's one of the concentration aspects that you're training your attention in.

The curiosity is a space of how do we get more curious about what's really happening here, see what it is for what it is, accept it, and then choose compassionate action on behalf of whatever is happening. So you're training for compassion, for acceptance, for focus, for observation, for kind of seeing things in a different way. And all of those different qualities and different benefits, you know, do things like increase creativity, benefit emotional intelligence, can help make you healthier, happier, you know, predict pro-social behavior, like all kinds of phenomenal benefits, but it can get a little bit lost sometimes in, wait, I'm just like sitting here with my eyes closed, how, what is this attention? Or what is this awareness? How do I translate that? So that context again is teasing out the attributes that you're training for, doing it in a deliberate and progressive way. And then, and here's the kicker, consciously applying it so that we're not, it isn't just a thing that you like check off on a box of, hey, I meditated today, or hey, I, you know, ate my vegetables. For sure. Great. Those are all fabulous. And also, finding that state of mind, harnessing it, cultivating it, so that you can apply it and choose differently or make good decisions or use it in a way that is beneficial. So that was a long-winded answer to say, it's this perspective shift and we're choosing ways to tap into it and use it differently and for a way that's of benefit. That's really at the end of the day, that's the, that's the point. Oh, and to answer the last bit of your question about mind control, because this is one that comes up, is this controlling your thoughts? No, no. We are not here to control. We are here to see. We are here to see differently, look at it at a place of awareness, and it starts, and this may sound like semantics, but you start to go into a space where you're aware of and eventually just aware as. It's this natural state of awareness where you can just go, oh, I can see this for what it is, a space of clarity, and then be able to not necessarily control, but just shift to where you wanna go, to go, okay, I see something that is maybe not so helpful, and I can start to just, from this peaceful perspective choose differently or allow it to be there without controlling it, just recognizing it. Okay, what do I want to do about it? Those types of things.

Jeanette: Oh, wow. Because sometimes I think meditation is looked at from almost a spiritual point of view and a way to relax and a way to get away from it all. And I think this link between using meditation not just to get away from it all, but to actually be aware of the situations you're in. I think that is a really powerful tool and I don't know whether many people have actually made that shift in using meditation as a tool to be creative and to be, you know, in the professional side. So, my question for you now, maybe you can tell us what brings mindfulness to your day. We know that you're a creative, born creative but you're also an entrepreneur and now you're doing, you know, courses and lecturing and how do you actually bring upon mindfulness into your own day?

Ariadne: Yeah, it's a great question. It's something that I both, you know, do for myself and coach other people to bring that into your day. So, it really is this sense, there's the obvious one for sure of a meditation practice and being building a habit around that and being consistent with that. So that is certainly, it's a fantastic start. It's where it's kind of the work where the, you know, where the work is done a bit. But in addition to being deliberate with your meditation practice, it's really being able to translate that in your everyday life.

So, it's, for example, things like taking the perspective shift that is less myopic and less sometimes, you know, very self-focused and sometimes it's just expanding it outward to go, okay, what else could be going on here? Or it could be a space of going, you know, I see what's happening for myself of getting stressed out about X, Y, and Z and very often it's getting stressed out about a future worry, or it can be replaying a past regret. So there's kind of rumination or there's, we're just that phrase in our heads a lot. So, the practice is to become aware of what we call metacognitive introspective awareness. So meta, M-E-T-A, taking a meta moment where you just get expansive and go, oh, how am I thinking about whatever I'm thinking about? What's happening for me? What's really going on here? And you start to really do this detective work on yourself to go, oh, here I go on this thought train that, oh, I go on this train a lot and I can choose to go, huh, maybe I'm gonna interrupt myself. Or I'm gonna choose of like, oh, this thing is coming up again. I might have an idea, there might be a spark and really paying attention to how you feel around that to go, oh, like for example, I talk about how does its really feel, curiosity and creativity and problem-solving and those things, it feels really good. You feel like, oh, I'm kind of onto something here. Paying attention to that and taking that time to take that expansive view, pull out of kind of the thought patterns that are maybe less helpful or bringing you down and just choosing those moments to look very carefully.

And I just wanna say it doesn't have to be this long thing. Sometimes we think, oh, it has to be this like 20 minute journaling practice or this like long, I don't know, period of time where I'm being very self-reflected. That's great and absolutely. And also, mindfulness is practiced truly in moments of going, oh, okay, I see what's happening here. I'm gonna take a breath. I'm gonna expand. I'm gonna look a little bit differently. I'm going to do something that kind of shifts me mentally. So those are all choices that we can start to make when we see what's happening. But again, it's this other kind of awareness that you just get used to practicing where it does have a sense, it isn't just to relax, but it does have more of a sense of peace simply because you're just aware without being so like stuck and attached.

Luis: Yes, that's true. In fact, sometimes people find it very difficult to be aware of themselves and sometimes the emotions are so, so strong. Earlier you were talking about emotional intelligence. Negative emotions like fear, frustration, anxiety, anger are really hard to control. How can mindfulness help them? And why are they so hard to control?

Ariadne: Because that is the nature of human mind. It's a great question. So as soon as anyone starts a meditation practice, anyone or frankly, even more experienced meditators, you're gonna start to see that your mind moves very quickly. It has a ton of hard emotions. It's usually incredibly critical. Some of the way that we're wired is, I mean, there's so many different kinds of biases that we have, but negativity bias is one of them. And we give a lot more weight in our minds and in our thoughts and emotions to like the things that are hard, and we can get stuck there. So, it is, that is the work, in my opinion, the work of champions is being able to, okay, I'm just gonna see what's going on here and choose again and again to either pull myself out of fear of kind of calming my central nervous system. So, for example, when we talk about progressions in meditation and mindfulness practice, one way that you help calm your nervous system is anchoring your attention towards your breath and giving it a count and giving your mind this job to do when it's like whirling around. Okay, that's fantastic. That helps build the concentration aspect. But what you also start to be able to do is build that same muscle of your awareness and shift the focal point from your breath to thoughts, emotions, mental events, and go, oh, I see you, hard mental event and I'm choosing to just allow it to pass. Like here it is, and I can also allow it to move. And part of that is the recognition that comes with deliberate practice around impermanence, around this concept of kind of being the sky, but not the clouds or the weather. That there is a space that is more expansive where you're just, where you just see it and we don't have to get so caught up in it.

And it really does take a lot of practice because in the beginning, your mind is moving a million miles an hour and you can then start to hyper focus on say, Oh my God, I'm being like too self. Oh, how do I course correct in the moment? It's, it's, it's a, it's a whole, that's why it's called practice, you know, but it's eventually it gets a lot easier. And when you can shift into that perspective with rapidity and build the muscle of concentration to stay there and build the muscle of compassion to be kind to yourself in it, then that's that perspective from which to then relate, have an emotionally intelligent conversation or project or whatever it is, as well as to create from. So, it's again, going back to it again and again and again, and allowing for yourself when it gets hard and leaning into when it gets, eventually it gets easier and that muscle, just like anything else, that muscle gets stronger. An analogy that's often used with mindfulness and one that I do like a lot, is that it's a little bit like learning how to ride a bike and you do all these different techniques and you're going, you get these moments of balance. You get this like glimpse of, oh, okay, here's like a hot second where I'm balanced and like, I don't need the training wheels. And that's great. Eventually that perspective, that awareness, is being able to ride that bike and to use that, ride that terrain through your creative process to get to ideas or to use it to have an emotionally intelligent, aware conversation or lead a project or whatever it is. But those moments of balance, you know, it just, it takes, it takes training wheels, it takes practice, it takes, you know, your parents holding the back of the bike while you like fall many times and your parents were as compassionate to you when you felt you didn't fall on the bike and they were like oh my god you're a horrible bike rider that's what we as adults do it ourselves of oh I can't meditate I’m horrible at this well yeah compassion, peace, awareness, perspective, again and again and again and then that and then that bike ride gets a lot easier a lot more fun a lot more present awake aware and frankly excited about making changes and living life well. So that was verbose. Sorry.

Jeanette: No, it's, it's fine. It was fantastic. I was actually still thinking about the, the parallel that you'd read with the weather and the sky. And, it's yes, we are negatively biased in a sense that we're all, we're always, you know, thinking about the bad things rather than the good things and the bad things seem larger than the very big good things and I was wondering whether this, detaching yourself, so to speak, and putting a label on these emotions, whether putting a label on bad emotions would then with practice, start putting labels on good emotions and detaching yourself from them. So, this technique of being mindful could it be used or even without wanting, unconsciously, be a detachment from the nice parts, the good parts and the healthy parts and being kind of desensitized to whatever is around you? How do you stop yourself from falling into that trap?

Ariadne: That's a great question because it goes back to what I was kind of speaking of that space of non-judgment where you're just aware, where it holds the, as you say, the good and the bad. It holds the positive and the negative. It's actually, and I think one of the reasons I like the analogy of the sky or sort of something that is so expansive that it holds, it holds everything. And so, when you have those positive emotions, those thoughts and feelings that are helpful, that are moving you forward. Absolutely. It's almost like opening a lens very wide to be in that like really expansive place. And when there are, you know, as there are and will be and should be all of those, you know, kind of positive emotions, it's allowing them a couple things, allowing them to be there and really dive into those, feel them, be present for them, as well as expressing gratitude to yourself, like really going, ah, this is joyful, like this is great. It's part of what helps it expand and grow bigger. But that perspective really does hold all of it. It isn't just about, okay, let's desensitize or let's, for example, I think that you and I had talked about, and I think you just mentioned the labeling of emotions. It's something that we use in mindfulness a lot kind of name it to tame it or those types of things where you label, oh, this is what's going on for me, anxious mind or, you know, worried mind or, you know, whatever it is and going, okay, we have this tendency to, you know, kind of label that as bad. But reality is that's just a human experience that your mind is having. When you can label it, you can create a little bit of distance from it. But in terms and then decide what to do with it in terms of the positive ones and the you know, the joyful ones, it's seeing them, you know, celebrating them.

You can absolutely still label it. It's just that you don't need the vigilance with which to go, okay, I'm gonna take a breath, I'm gonna let go, I'm gonna focus on the impermanence. It's really going, yes, go after that, embody that, and follow what's happening there and see where that leads you, because it's gonna probably lead you someplace good.

Jeanette: Oh, wow. There's so much to unpack here. There's so much to think about. I need to be mindful of what to talk about.

Ariadne: Ok, so many directions we could go. I know.

Jeanette: Yeah, I mean, there are many, many links. I don't know, Luis, we were talking about, you know, the mindfulness and the link to well-being, because all of this, after all, is for you to be centered, to be, you know, a more yeah, more centered human being, someone who will take on the good with the bad and make the best out of the situation that you're in and to be able to strive for bettering himself. So, if we were to take this parallel to the quality of life and maybe we extend this to even how one could be sustainable, Luis and I were talking about how can people be more mindful and aware? And how can they use this awareness to really achieve quality of life and peace of mind and sustainability within that sort of frame of mind? Obviously, we are professionals in the built environment, but we are still, you know, our environment dictates some of this well-being. So how can we be mindful of this and try to use it for our communities, for our families, for our friends.

Ariadne: Absolutely, this comes to the piece of extending it outward. This connection between your wellbeing and kind of the quality of your life and how we really understand from this, I talked a bit about stress is sometimes like this very myopic narrow perspective. And part of what we're doing is being able to expand to include the other and our environment and our how we relate to the world, how we can both use it for sure as a individual practice and also depending on the context, depending on the individual, depending on the brand, depending on the design, being able to translate into that making something a bit better, into elevating it in some way. And it really can come from this space of thinking very holistically. Becoming very aware of your choices. So, for example, it's like when you start as the individual with a space of, okay, I'm coming from a place of, you know, sort of peace and perspective. All of your, the way that we kind of interact in the world and all the efforts that you make and the ideas that you have, all start with the thoughts that you think. So being able to kind of reflect back into ourselves to again go, okay, how can I think big? And encourage myself to like think holistically about whatever is happening here and use it in a way to make the distinction between, you know, and sometimes this is something that comes up in, you know, kind of teaching and work. So, it's making this distinction between empathy and compassion of understanding, okay from a say sustainability standpoint, there's this empathy of all these problems and all these, what people are suffering from. And then going, how can I take one compassionate action towards a more sustainable effort, design, brand, decision, individual choice, collective choice, it really does depend. And that's where the context comes in.

But part of the mindfulness can be the awareness of choice, the thinking holistically, the taking compassionate action. Because action is really key on how do we, as one individual go, okay, how can I make this better? And it's a question that you can kind of both reflect on and also find a space where you're really allowing kind of that interconnectedness and that interdependence that we have in the world, like with ourselves and with each other and with how we interact, allowing that to be present and top of mind in the perspective shift.

So, I do, it's definitely all connected. I think it speaks to that lens of compassionate action of what's one thing I can do better. And that comes from when you're feeling good in that space of your own wellbeing. Those ideas don't come to you when you're in a myopic stressed place. So that's where it's both and, the individual and the collective. Mm-hmm. Sorry, the end of that was breaking up. I didn't, I'm sorry, Luis. I didn't catch the end of the question.

Luis: I think the microphone started doing its own thing. Sorry. So, my question was if you had any examples that you could share with us about how we could use mindfulness when having conversations with people from different cultures, different backgrounds. For example, in cases like meetings or when bringing people together for collaborations of some kind. I ask this because as a CQ, Cultural Intelligence Facilitator, I often come across situations where even leaders, be it general managers, CEOs, COOs, tend to get frustrated either by communication or lack of patience in trying to understand first rather than trying to be understood. What could you share with us on these points?

Ariadne: Sure. Yeah, I mean, I think that that is a great example of, when you were speaking about leaders and connecting to different backgrounds and that curiosity. There's a couple of different examples that I can give. And the first one really is, and it speaks again to that, to that kind of range of curious experiences of just kind of taking a step back and some combination of asking questions and being very present for the answers. And it can sound so basic because this leads to a technique that you may have heard of active listening where you're truly opening your ears to the present moment to what someone else is bringing to the table, to someone else's perspective. And you're listening, and sometimes there can be a way of kind of repeating back what you've heard in a way that asking them if that resonates with them. But that comes from a curiosity about, okay, what's happening? What is this person about? What do they care about? Where are they in this present moment in time. We're all on some kind of roller coaster throughout the day of meetings and commitments and this, that, and the other thing that pull us in all these different directions. So, there's a space of coming to present moment awareness of right here, right now with this person. How can I be curious by asking a good question that gets to, it can even start with something as basic as what's top of mind for you right now? Or how are you feeling about the, you know, it's again, very contextual to the meeting and to the group, but coming from that place of questions first, opening your ears to that person and to the present moment, listening and allowing that information to penetrate. And it's hard to do because we're so trained to be automatic, to have answers right away, to lead with our stuff, especially, you know, in group dynamics, you know, there can be this, you know, sort of pressure to, you know, perform or to be the outspoken one or whatever it is. And this is more about a space of pull back a bit, get curious, listen, and see what's there. And when you do that, then that's when you're able to see, oh, here's what's really going on, either with this person or with this project, and how can we make really good choices about whatever we're problem solving on or whatever the meaning is. And I think it particularly lends itself very well to when we're dispersed in this day and age and in COVID and just all of these things to be able to create a connection with people is done by listening. And particularly when there's different perspectives from all over the world to go, okay, like let's be present and listen. And it's astonishing how much that very it sound it can sound so basic.

And this is why sometimes I say with mindfulness, it sounds simple, but it isn't always easy. And so, getting more and more comfortable with allowing those, those kinds of that kind of perspective or those kinds of awareness to become easy and to feel like something that you want to do, not just because the outcome will probably be better, but because you will also probably feel better doing it as opposed to sort of ramroding and going, here's what it is, you know, so which we all have the tendency to do, self-inclusive, constant practice.

Jeanette: Yeah, that's so right. I mean, people tend to be more of a storyteller than a story listener, and it is so important to listen before you can actually tell a story, because you might be telling a story only from your perspective, other than from the group's perspective, and I think you've touched on about how important it is to be proactive rather than reactive to certain, to this position. So, you have to make sure that you understand that this thing is happening to be able to, to be mindful of it. I remember from previous conversations that we were talking about the perspective of the observer. So, you detach yourself and see yourself sort of from the outside in.

So, when we look at awareness, sustainability, cultural intelligence, and all of these issues that we've been talking about now, how can you see it? How can you disassociate or see it from the perspective of someone outside in?

Ariadne: It's a great question because of course you're you, of course you're inside, absolutely. But it simply is a practice again and again of looking at something with neutrality without creating a story right away about what it means. So, our minds are hardwired, we want to make meaning. It's, we don't like uncertainty. We don't like going, okay, I don't really know what this is. Your mind always wants to figure it out and it wants to fill in the blanks. So, there's a little bit of just simply slowing down and it isn't necessarily slowing down our thinking, but it's almost more like creating more space, not just between, you know, actions and how you respond, but also just it helps you get into that space of neutrality where you just see it and you just go, okay, this is and then you catch yourself making meaning from it. It's we're all hilarious. We all do this all day. So, it isn't like, oh, that's so terrible. You know, that then goes into whole other object of your meditation practices of, oh, there's the critical mind that's like, oh, you're making a story again. Yes, catch it, but just go, okay, I'm just here to observe. I'm here to almost, you know, just, just see.

And it isn't from a place of, and now I'm going to shut down emotionally, or I'm going to like, be robotic and pull myself away from this thing. It simply is perspective, perspective, perspective. And it really comes with that natural awareness practice. And I know I spoke about this a little bit earlier, but that sense of catching the story writing when you see that everything has this sense of kind of impermanence to it. You can have one thought about something and then immediately have some other thought about it and one other one and one other one and one other one. And so, it's like, well, which one's true for crying out loud. And then it's like, none of them are true. It's all just seeing. Here's the data point and go, I observe it. Okay, what do I wanna do with it? Or how do I want to? And I think this goes back to that link of, you know, wellbeing, quality of life and sustainability. And it is the place that I come from with creativity is how do I make it better? How do I do something differently and just somehow in some way make it a bit better, easier, more healthier, happier, more joy, is there a way to do that? And sometimes there isn't, sometimes there isn't. And it isn't just I'm going to think about it differently. I'm going to do one thing that kind of helps. But it does start with that place of observing and seeing, catching yourself when you're making the meaning from it so immediately, and simply allowing those pieces to be there and lean into what's helpful, hopeful, compassionate action like again and again and again.

And, you know, always, always being kind to yourself in going, this is a practice and a process, and I've been trained to only be in rapid fire thinking mind for probably many, many, many, many, many, many, many years until you start a meditation practice. And that's where you start to go, oh, I'm actually training for this other kind of awareness where it is more observant, but where you can get to the place where observation is peaceful, it's perspective. It isn't just, I am going to observe this thought and pull away. It becomes this space of, oh, okay, cool. There it is. And what am I gonna do?

Jeanette: Yeah, I mean, this is so much to, as you said, it requires practice. It does not, you know, you just don't wake up in the morning and say, ah, I'm going to be mindful today. It's something that it happens over time, and it happens with practice, it happens gradually. And so far, we've been talking about me and my mindfulness and my space and me understanding what my thoughts are and how to react or other how to pro react maybe towards these actions. If we were to reverse this entire thing and If I am in a situation where I would like to encourage mindfulness, or I'd like to inspire mindfulness, how would it be best to go about that? I mean, yeah, everyone wants to have quality of life, and everyone wants to have peace of mind, and everyone wants to have all sorts of lovely stuff. But sometimes we see people getting trapped in their own little heads and not being able to see something in which they can get better. We all talk about you know, let's be sustainable. We all have 101 ways of being sustainable. We know that we should be sustainable. But then yet the first occasion we just grab our car keys, and we go off with the car or, you know, for a two-minute walk or something that could be. So how can we instil this urge of being more mindful about whatever it is? What are people?

Ariadne: Yes. It's such a great question. It becomes this awareness of your choices and perhaps even being vocal about what those choices are. So, we're talking about, okay, I'm aware of my, you know, thoughts or emotions or making decisions. It's going every single time that I can choose, for example, as it's related to sustainability, that I can choose some aspect of minimalism, of what do I either need to or could do less of that actually might not only make me happier, but also would contribute to sustainability practices in the world, looking at the choices of what you produce, consume, and then what the effects of those are. So, it's that it is that high level awareness, but then it is also leading by example and encouraging it. I think minimalism that I mentioned is a fantastic way to think about like, okay you know, in particular from a design aspect of, you know, where could they be, what could there be less of? Where could there maybe be more negative space for people to say, have a little bit more, you know, open, whatever it is, you know, open time in nature, or just have a little bit more space to, you know, to just simply be. So that's like one way for thinking about from a design aspect. But I really go back to.

It is that awareness of choice and then being, really encouraging your family, friends, team, community, company to start to see and make those choices and reflecting on like, okay, what were the, something that I think can be really helpful here is like, yeah, what were the outcomes of that? What was it like when you say, supported a brand that was really promoting sustainable practices or that was really, for example, if you're working with food and consumption and those things and really supporting, okay, what is it like when we support sustainable, say agriculture, whatever it is, it goes back to the choice that you're making, the awareness of the choice, and then talking about it and going, okay, this, you know, kind of how did this feel doing this as a group, inspiring a space to go, let's say you're designing, you know, you know, whatever it is, but say a, you know, in the built environment, an actual space of going, where can we have more space for people? Or where can we have, you know, a way in which this is intentionally made to allow people something that improve something that gives it that space where you maybe can, you know, sit for a meditation practice or you can just kind of be without being so like crowded and chaotic and maybe there's signage around that or in spite, you know, I know there was this was that I believe it was at the Museum of Contemporary Art, I want to say in Chicago, I believe that was the MCA and they have you walk in and they have this little like hammock and kind of a nook and it's literally encouraged to go in and like, yeah, go be in the nook. Like before you even go into the museum and before you even engage with the art and the artistry.

And so, I think that that's one way is to make it known. You know, there's encouraging the individual practices and then there's the designing it with intention. And then there's the making that intention known to share it and really allow people to go, oh, you know that's cool. Like I'm going to go, and you know, whatever, sit in that park or support that brand or do the thing that really encourages really wise choices, not just at the individual level, but at the collective level as much as possible. Because at the end of the day, my God, there are so many problems to solve and we all have a role in not just our own choices, but how that affects others, how we design for that, how we're intentional for that and doing that to the best of our ability again and again and again. And it's hard, there's a lot of problems in the world. I'm not saying mindfulness solves all of them, but I am saying that that perspective and then that intentionality and then sharing that intentionality is one way to help make a difference and to help people kind of see, experience things differently, think a little bit differently and then continue to choose wisely again and again.

The end of the day, it's a wisdom tradition. So, coming back to that, like perspective wisdom, but again, verbose, sorry, but really sharing it out as much as you can in the ways that make sense to you. That was maybe too long, sorry.

Jeanette: No, that's fantastic. I was just thinking that, you know, where you've been so generous with your time and with your knowledge on the subject, you know, we could be here talking about this for many hours, I'm sure just perhaps as a way of tying things up. If you could, I don't know, maybe you can give us some takeaways, some points to take home with us and meditate.

And for the people who are not familiar with the techniques of mindfulness, what are the first few steps that one needs to take to be able to get into this world of peace, calm and, you know really focused being.

Ariadne: Sure. Yeah. So great question. There are there are definitely progressions and steps, and you know, in mind holes, we work with the breath as a way to calm your central nervous system, really. So that first step, you know, we talked a little bit about kind of proactive and reactive. The first step is just getting out of reactivity. So that's a couple different kinds of reactivity, a stress reaction for sure, but also automatic reactions that we have. So really the first way to do that is to just anchor your attention towards your breath. So, you can do things like, you know, a breath count, you know, breathing through your nose, inhaling and counting to five or, you know, five and a beat, five and 5.5 is actually a way to help calm the central nervous system. So, counting and then exhaling, counting to 5.5. And you do that a handful of times to help you recenter to the moment and to just go, okay, we're kind of walking around at this state of stress that isn't helpful. So that's just like the beginning stages, but it doesn't stop there. It starts there. That's where we start. To move on, you shift that focal point, just like you anchored your attention towards your breath and your breath was a focal point or an anchor, you shift that towards thoughts, towards emotions, towards mental events, and you just choose to hold those and just look at them. And that practice, that meta moments practice, that's something that if you translate that into your day as you're making choices, as you're making decisions, as you're maybe stuck in a repetitive pattern of, oh, this is something that comes up a lot, I'm trying to choose a little bit differently, it's taking that meta moment to just shift that anchor point to your thoughts and see, okay, here's what's here. So, and then that is what allows you to start to see that, to feel that perspective of just awareness of, eventually awareness as, of like choose consciously. Because I think that to connect all of this, it comes back to making conscious choices. And we tend to be unconscious. We tend to get lost in thought, get lost in our stuff. We all do it, and that's the human mind.

And so, it's going, okay, unconsciousness gets us only so far. And going moments of finding those balance, finding that perspective to make the choices that are intentional, that are around who you really are and how you want to contribute into the world. Whether you're an individual, whether you're a, you know, a team or a brand or a business, whatever it is to be able to go, okay, choosing and aligning and being intentional as much as possible. And but it's a journey. And like I said, it begins with that coming out of stress coming out of automaticity, and then being able to shift and look and see that perspective. But that raising the awareness choosing consciously is it comes back to the individual and the collective because it's both and you know, one piece of compassion practices really is about the action that you take not just to yourself but then to others. And so, it's really calling on those meta with two T's, M-E-T-T-A, practices that expand it outward. And so, choosing the ways we can expand it outward and encourage others to do so as much as possible is really a key to making mindfulness not just something, a self-focused practice that maybe you do, you know, every now and then, and you, you know, pull out your meditation cushion and you're like, okay, I'm gonna close my eyes for five minutes and this somehow like makes my life better. Of find those qualities and bring them out and be aware and choose wisely and encourage others.

Jeanette: Wise, wise words, Luis and all the listeners. I think we have some homework to do, some life homework to do.

Ariadne: We do our best and I just wanna say again, it's a, you know we are kind to ourselves in this practice and process because it is a, it's a road. It's a road. We're all conditioned in certain ways and that's totally okay. And it really is just working with where we're at, accepting that and choosing to move onward in a way that's kind of optimistic, helpful, hopeful, creative and sustainable so that what sustains us can help sustain each other. Because really that is actually where it's at. So I appreciate the time and being able to chat with you guys about this. It's great. I love the work that you guys are doing, kind of sustainability. It's awesome.

Jeanette: Brilliant. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for being here today and sharing all of this with us.

Ariadne: You are so welcome. This was a total joy and a delight. Thank you, Jeanette. And thank you, Luis. You guys are great. I couldn't be happier to be part of your mission on the health and the happiness and the sustainability and keeping just moving ourselves and the world forward in the way that you do. So, thank you for having me on.

Jeanette: This was Ariadne Ducas and you are listening to The Human Agenda. Thank you so much for joining us this episode.


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