From Mindfulness to Heartfulness: Transforming Self and Society with Compassion ペーパーバック – 2018/2/9
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Open Mind, Open Heart
Millions have found mindfulness to be a powerful practice for reducing stress, enhancing attention, and instilling tranquility. But it can offer so much more—it can transform you, make you more fully awake, alive, and aware of your connection to all beings. In Japanese, the character that best expresses mindfulness, 念, consists of two parts—the top part, 今, meaning “now,” and the bottom part, 心, meaning “heart.” Using stories from his own life as the son of an Irish father and a Japanese mother, a professor in Japan and America, a psychotherapist, a father, and a husband, Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu describes eight “heartfulness” principles that help us realize that the deepest expression of an enlightened mind is found in our relation to others.
“From Mindfulness to Heartfulness is a rare gem—beautifully written, deeply engaging, and filled with valuable and authentic teachings about practical and spiritual paths toward balance and understanding. As Murphy-Shigematsu embraces his vulnerability, he opens up to and reflects upon his life stories, and that can inspire us to do the same—encouraging us toward knowledge and understanding. Just what is needed to bring the increasingly popular mindfulness approach back to its reality core—the blending of heartfulness with mindfulness.”
—Richard Katz, PhD, Professor Emeritus, First Nations University of Canada, and author of Indigenous Healing Psychology
“Through tender teaching stories and an insightful narrative, Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu shows us the ways we can weave together mindfulness and compassion into what he terms heartfulness. As master educator, he leads us through the stages of heartfulness from vulnerability and connectedness to acceptance and gratitude. This is an important book. I heartfully recommend it to all who want to join their own personal journey of self-discovery to selfless service and the care for others.”
—Arthur Zajonc, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Amherst College, and former President, Mind and Life Institute
“This book has the potential for radical change in the way we live together, and I loved reading it! Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu takes us beyond mindfulness as it is often currently taught—as an instrument for cognitive changes like focus, attention, or stress relief—to the truths of the gentle, appreciative, nurturing heart. He shows us through stories and practices how to expand our contemplative lives from being self-focused to being inclusive, connected, compassionate, and responsible. Immense heartfulness shines through every story he tells, drawing on experiences from teaching children and college students to being with his dying grandmother to his own biracial childhood. Each story is a jewel, opening the heart. He connects heartfulness to social justice, leadership, and education and offers simple, direct instructions for seven heartful practices.”
—Mirabai Bush, Senior Fellow, The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, and author of Compassion in Action (with Ram Dass) and Contemplative Practices in Higher Education (with Daniel Barbezat)
“This powerful book is full of love and intimate wisdom. Full of rich stories and deep guidance, it is also a map of the human heart and the best in all of us.”
—Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, Abbot, Upaya Institute and Zen Center
“Resonant with Stephen’s kindness, heartfulness, and wisdom and filled with excellent exercises and practical guides, this lovely volume will be a friend and guide to all those intent on creating and sustaining thriving lives, workplaces, relationships, and communities.”
—Dan Barbezat, Professor of Economics, Amherst College
“A profound and wise book written by a respected colleague and friend . . . this book humbly reminds us that mindfulness without the heart is lacking and shows the way to live our lives with awareness, compassion, and responsibility.”
—Frederic Luskin PhD, cofounder of LifeWorks, Stanford University, and author of Forgive for Good
“I couldn’t put this book down! Dr. Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu’s From Mindfulness to Heartfulness is a profound exploration in heartful connection with ourselves and others. Through moving storytelling, Murphy-Shigematsu offers several integral components to cultivating a heartful way of being. Drawing on examples from his college teaching, his many talks to corporations and public audiences, and vulnerable moments from his own life, Murphy-Shigematsu illustrates what this heartful journey might look like—he is in it with us. He models the vulnerability heartfulness calls for, exploring the fraught experience of living a biracial identity in the racial contexts of both the United States and Japan. The insights that result offer a model of compassionate transformation that are applicable in a variety of contexts, including social justice, education, health care, corporations, and community work.
“This book is accessible, mesmerizing, and practical, offering both deep insights to ponder for days and practical tips to enact right now. It promises to become a classic mindfulness resource.”
—Beth Berila, PhD, RYT 500, Director, Women’s Studies Program, St. Cloud State University
“Master listener Dr. Murphy-Shigematsu demonstrates his attunement to the needs of a multicultural and stress-filled world by distilling wisdom stories from a range of perspectives to illuminate the holistic dynamics of heartfulness. His intimate stories exemplify how to live with heartfulness. They inspire and empower us to heal through a mindful awareness that plumbs the personally and socially transformative power of heartfulness.”
—Paula Arai, PhD, Associate Professor, Harvard University, and author of Women Living Zen and Bringing Zen Home
“The focus is not on how you can reduce stress through mindfulness but on teachings that sensitively and carefully show us a valuable way that humans can live good lives.”
—Roshi Nanrei Yokota, Enkaku-ji Zen Temple Master
“A moving testament and sharing of the lessons learned from the author’s grandmother, the daughter of a samurai, who taught him the art of living with heartfulness. The book is the distillation of many years of searching for authenticity, making peace with his vulnerabilities, exploring his connectedness with others, and finding his unique purpose in life. I am deeply moved by his stories of integrating the American and Japanese values and his insights on achieving mindfulness. The exercises in the book are a helpful guide for us to find our own meaning in our lives.”
—Reiko Homma-True, Professor Emerita, Alliant International University
“Murphy-Shigematsu, through vivid and insightful storytelling, shows how our connections to our ethnic and cultural heritage can guide and enrich our search for both enlightenment and social justice. The beautiful stories here bring vivid color to the practice of mindfulness that may seem like a world of whiteness in which race and culture are dismissed as worldly distractions on the spiritual journey.”
—Satsuki Ina, PhD, filmmaker, psychotherapist, and community activist
“Dr. Murphy-Shigematsu’s book offers an insightful new perspective on practicing mindfulness to cultivate heartful interconnections instead of just using it for stress reduction. This book is a timely and a much-needed intervention/response to corporate mindfulness. Using cultural and personal stories, Dr. Murphy-Shigematsu offers a moving narrative account of cultivating compassionate wisdom by opening our heart to listen to stories in and around our lives. The book is moving, wonderful, and heartfelt and an excellent guide to fully engaging in life with our heart.”
—Ramaswami Mahalingam, Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
“Wisdom of the heart. Murphy-Shigematsu’s gentle storytelling deftly illustrates a compassionate centering to the mindfulness movement sweeping across the country. In sharing the wisdom of his grandmother, he reminds us that outward-focused love and compassion are the complements to inward-focused peace and clarity. Significantly, this recentering is developed through stories that are cross-cultural and intercultural, illustrating how heartfulness provides compassionate pathways for navigating increasingly diverse societies. A valuable book.”
—Anthony Lising Antonio, Associate Professor of Education, Stanford University
“In a society where supposed ‘intelligence’ is measured by a person’s ability to analyze and compute, Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu reminds us that the depth of our humanity is more than a number, an algorithm, or a test score. In a powerful story only he can tell, Stephen shows us a workable path that crosses cultures, boundaries, and identities that stitches a broken world back together.”
—Jeremy Hunter, PhD, Founding Director, Executive Mind Leadership Institute, Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management
“Mindfulness has become a contemporary cliché, all too often taken far from its roots to be practiced in ways that exemplify the very problems of solipsism and disregard it was meant to transform. Encouraging us instead toward heartfulness, Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu returns us to the importance of presence, empathy, and compassion. With humor, humility, and vulnerability, he guides us back toward thinking of how we might live, work, and act together in diverse and inclusive communities.”
—Jeff Chang, author of We Gon’ Be Alright
“Murphy-Shigematsu is a master of storytelling. By artfully weaving together personal threads of his bicultural upbringing with accessible spiritual practices informed by Buddhism and modern psychotherapy, he becomes our friend and Sherpa, guiding us to reaching our highest human potential. Heartfulness is a life-changing philosophy of life, intended to heal not only individuals but communities at large. Reading this book will make you a better person.”
—Isabel Stenzel Byrnes, hospice worker and coauthor (with Anabel Stenzel) of The Power of Two
Steven has discovered eight ways of cultivating heartfulness: 1. beginner’s mind; 2. vulnerability; 3. authenticity; 4. connectedness; 5. listening; 6. acceptance; 7. gratitude; 8. responsibility. I’m going to jump ahead to his chapter on Listening, which really should have been called Active Listening to distinguish it from what most of us do; that is, passively listening to what someone is saying and just waiting until they stop talking so that we can express ourselves. Stephen thinks, and I agree, that really listening to what someone is saying with the intent on truly supporting and understanding the person is hard work. But the value of this type of listening can hardly be measured. Readers of this review might take a moment, as Stephen often asks us to do in his book, and think of the few people in our lives who are truly interested in what we have to say. These people are like gold, their value in our lives lives on and allows us to build the confidence we need to feel good about ourselves so that we then can be active listeners for others.
Let me take a moment to talk about Stephen himself, for an important part of his book is his own story. He is a Murphy, the most common name in Ireland. But it is the Japanese connection – Shigematsu, his mother’s name, that is crucial to his story. Growing up Stephen was aware of his difference from other children and a most important part of his development was learning from the Japanese culture what it meant to be a strong and honorable human being. He was a bright and hardworking child who eventually would receive a doctorate from Harvard University. His Japanese heritage became a tool he would use successfully, not only in his practice as a psychologist, but also as a sought after public speaker. To get the attention of his audience, he would sometimes speak Japanese. He discovered that people connected with his Japanese heritage and wanted to learn more about him and Japanese culture.
Stephen includes plenty of the Japanese language in his book to illustrate key points he wants to make with us. One example that he expands on is the Japanese phrase Shigata ga nai, which means that it does no good “to wallow in self-pity or whining.” Stephen agrees wholeheartedly with Winston Churchill, who made one short speech that was comprised only of this statement: “Never, never, never give up!” As a Harvard teacher, David McClelland pointed out so convincingly in his research, the achievement motivated person accepts responsibility for what happens and does not whine, cry, or make excuses for the problems we must overcome in our lives.
The Buddha is often referenced in Stephen’s book and the Buddha’s First Noble Truth that Life is full of suffering is connected to the phrase Shigata ga nai. His Japanese heritage has helped Stephen to face up to the often harsh realities of the human condition. He points out that Americans “want to believe that life is fun.” He says that we have “an industry of self-help books … that teach us how to be happy and successful.” He cites the Dalai Lama’s book on Happiness, which counsels us “to embrace life in is wholeness rather than simply striving for happiness.”
Even though Stephen would not characterize his book as “Self-Help,” many readers are going to find much self-help information in the exercises that end each chapter. I must confess that I looked forward to these end-of-chapter exercises and both enjoyed and learned from them. I often found that Stephen repeated himself more than was necessary, but the repetition often was useful reinforcement for important points he was making. He ends his book by telling us that “We do our best with what we’ve got. This is my best, Thank you for reading and caring.” Amen, Stephen.
I have watched as mindfulness became popular, and I have even seen it make a positive change for people I know, but I was always troubled by the focus on the self in a world that already seemed a little too self-obsessed. This book keeps the promise of mindfulness, but adds the elements I was missing. I look forward to working on the exercises.