It is surprising
how aversive it feels for so many people
to look into what determines the quality of our every instant in life -
our minds.
So little time, so little concern gets invested
into the discovery of this boundless inner universe of our minds,
even though it is far more interesting than going to a movie,
and at least as interesting as the external universe.

Dear Mindfulness Community,

I hope this email finds you all soaking in the summer's sun rays as you store Vitamin D for the winter like squirrels store nuts.

Talking about nuts - it may sound nuts to talk about the fall now. It seems so far away, the hint of an idea we'd prefer to not think about. I can assure you though it will be upon us far sooner than the blink of an eye. For this reason I am contemplating the programs starting in the fall and preparing the next wave of teaching content to continue fostering our ability to use our minds to rewire the brain. What follows is a sneak peak at some of the issues, attitudes, challenges and inquiries we engage in at our Mindfulness Centre. 

A Preamble on Knowledge
The Mindsight Intensives
The Mindfulness Lectures
The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program
 - expanded version (MBSRP-X)
Reflections from the Salt Mines

In the course of human history the greatest impediment to discovery hasn't been ignorance as we might imagine, but the illusion of knowledge. When we think we know we close ourselves off from new possibilities and from everything that contradicts our knowledge. This leads to fantastic delusional worldviews from which we can only be awakened, if at all, by hard knocks. Truth then is not what can be proven, but what enduringly survives our vigorous efforts of discrediting what we disapprove of.

We have two sources of knowledge: The intuitive self-exploration of our subjective experience from the first-person perspective and the scientific exploration of the objective world from the third-person perspective. Our brain is capable of both, and fortunately we have entered an era of human history where in certain sophisticated circles of inquiry the open dialogue between these two modes of knowing is actively sought after.

Indeed, we are coming to realize that truth is most likely to be found when we are able to tap into 'solution states', very coherent states of being, where a sufficiently large number of neurocircuits widely distributed over large areas of the brain are able to get into stable activation patterns that can be maintained over a sufficiently long period of time. When that happens it 'feels good', in the sense that we experience a cluster of qualities such as depth, inner strength and freedom, compassion, kindness and altruistic love.

How do we know that we know? Humbly speaking - never quite fully. The hallmark of wisdom is the ability to bear the unpleasant sensation of uncertainty and limitation with openness for the unexpected. To do that requires deep kindness and compassion towards oneself and everybody else who is in the exact same boat, even if they pretend not to be. And this is where a most unexpected insight about knowledge comes into play: True knowledge is not just conceptual in nature, but includes the element of love and compassion. As Northrop Frye would have said, 'the highest form of knowledge is love. Without that compassion, we will never be able to free up the brain enough (create large enough patterns of coherent neurofirings) to know anything beyond very limited, rigidly defined and therefore distorted views of existence.

No piece of knowledge, no single thought or moment of cognition can ever be determined as true or false in isolation from its context. To determine truth we need to open ourselves to context, to 'interbeing' as Thich Nhat Hanh would say. What is valid has to be valid within the context of its interrelationship with other moments of cognition, other thoughts, and other cogent people's cognitions and views. The illusion of knowledge can only be overcome by marrying both brain capacities for inner subjective and outer objective inquiry, and by engaging deeply with people who share radically different visions of the world. However, for this to be successful, the dialogue both within ourselves and with others has to be engaged with respect and humility.

Meditation creates exactly that kind of coherence necessary for wisdom. Instead of just bobbing around aimlessly on the alternatively smooth and choppy surface of the ocean, we find our anchor in its depths, which remains stable throughout its surface changes. That is true wellbeing.
This year-long weekly course is designed to be rich, intense, stimulating, contemplative and transformative.

We will follow a framework that entails three components: 
1. Theory or worldview: We will not only explore the science of the brain (interpersonal neurobiology and beyond), but also the science of the mind, which refers to a direct, non-dogmatic, inquiry into subjective experience. This is the sophisticated, highly trained, introspective study of mental phenomena, for which Buddhism in particular, but also other traditions worldwide have contributed so much rich material. Like last year I will include the study of our Christian metaphors, which are rich in wisdom but poorly understood, given that they have been so badly disfigured by the socio-political forces motivating our dogmatic religious organizations.
2.    Practice: This is the empirical probe, like the microscope in the physical sciences, with which we investigate the tenants of theory and the nature of reality. It includes 3 activities: transforming the mind, investigating the world of experiences, and investigating the nature of the mind and its relationship with the body and the environment.
3.    Conduct: Honing those ways of life that are conducive to the cultivation of heart and mind and the harmonious engagement in relationships, is the third core component of our framework.

With regards to practice (2. above), we will explore three parts, each of which constitute a scientific attitude that is taken purely empirically with no burden of dogma or belief:
1.    Ethics  or the pursuit of virtue:
This is the behavioral foundation of practice, which refers to a way of life that brings about social and environmental flourishing. Because some of our impulsive behaviors are destructive and damaging, we develop ways of restraining ourselves by adopting a set of principles that guide our behavior. However, that alone would not be sufficient; impulsive, destructive  behaviors stem from a restless, undisciplined mind in pain, which requires a direct approach with its own set of principles. We therefore have to include the second part of our practice .....
2.    Focused attention, concentration or the pursuit of truth:
This is about mental balance and the development of exceptional levels of mental health, which gives rise to psychological flourishing. Here there is a tremendous diversity of different types of meditative trainings oriented towards both exploration & investigation, and transformation & balancing. We will survey these aspects of meditative practice, which include conative (desire and intention), attentional, cognitive and affective balancing. Once a certain degree of stability is achieved, we can begin to include the third part of practice ......
3.    Insight or wisdom or the pursuit of serenity: This is about the deeper levels of eudaimonia that lead to spiritual flourishing and liberation. With the tool of refined attention we now have the possibility to deal with destructive emotions and habitual thought patterns and transform the toxic energy flow into a healing energy flow. We are now also free to explore the very nature and phenomenal experience of consciousness and its relationship to the universe at large. The exploration of awareness itself is what we call the spiritual level of inquiry. At this level we experience a degree of health that is not just the absence of illness, but the embodied manifestation of commonly untapped potential. 

In our civilization these three pursuits of virtue, truth and serenity are disconnected and kept separate from each other, leading to grave and deleterious consequences. In this course it will be our endeavor not to separate the three, but to develop a way of being that encompasses them all and integrates them into a personal way of Being.

To achieve the above, I intend this year to flesh out in more detail my notion of dynamic mindfulness. This will entail four elements of study and practice:
1.    In our sitting practice ...
we will get to know and develop the practice of the five alignments. This allows us to navigate with our attention and awareness the whole spectrum of subjective experiences in one fell swoop, quite like the brain coordinates and harmonizes its activities and regenerates through synchronizing waves of neurofiring that rhythmically sweep large regions. The fifth alignment includes the vast stillness of Being and the infinite potential of the nameless. I will introduce a technique of recognizing and dealing with story content patterns and their meaning as they arise in consciousness, realizing how deeply they affect us emotionally and how activated the whole organism becomes under their influence. Through this approach we come to appreciate how every single element of experience is intertwined with everything else that is unfolding, and how no stirring of the mind, the heart and the body is ever random, even if it may appear so when we have not yet found access to deeper layers of processing.  
2.    Theoretically ...
we will freely explore the complete landscape of science, psychology and spirituality without segregating the three, emphasizing the fluidity of thought and knowledge that is really inherent in reality. This study will reveal the central role different language modes have in determining how we see the world and what aspect of reality we look at. We will have a chance to delve deeply into the sciences of both the brain and the mind, and the psychology of trauma and attachment with its far-reaching implications on our daily lives.
3.    Somatically ...
we will explore more intensely micro-movement and its connection to emotion and meaning.
4.    Group-dynamically ...
we will put significant emphasis on the manner of each of our participation. We will emphasize 'showing up' and 'manifesting one's presence' with intelligence and compassion. The idea is to counteract the forces of torpor, anxiety, self-loathing and laziness within the social context of the group. We are encouraged to use the group and its wealth of exquisite social capital contributed by everyone's rich lives as a catalyst (or cauldron if you so want) for open intimacy, vibrant dialogue, loving support, intelligent feedback and unencumbered personal growth. An essential message has to be grasped here: No matter what topic I present, how intelligent other people's input seems to be, or how 'advanced' or sophisticated certain dialogues appear, it ALWAYS comes down to one simple essential invitation: manifest your very unique, authentic presence and vulnerability. The only way to learn is to find the freedom to comment or ask about absolutely everything that is relevant to you at that particular moment. There are no stupid questions and no questions that are too simplistic, because every corner of mind is relevant and fascinating, and there are no definite answers. There also is no such thing as `too much of a beginner`, because the moment you are on the path, every part of the path is interesting, relevant and beautiful.

The sessions run from October to June at the rate of one session per week to a total of 36 sessions (3x12 sessions = three trimesters). Barring a massive interest that would burst the walls of my group room, this year I am planning to run one group on Monday nights 6-8pm. The cost per person: $60/session = 3x$720 for the year.

To sign up:
1. E-mail Dr. T. at, or
2. Call Reena at 905 338 1386


Lecture 1*:
Simplicity and the bottom-line of mindfulness 

Saturday, October 4, 2014
3:00pm - 5:00pm  

Are you going places? ... building a career, accumulating assets, raising a family, planning vacations, seeking fun, thinking about retirement ... you raise in rank, you get wealthier, your kids grow, you buy stuff, you invest, you age ... in the process you experience your share of challenges, problems, losses, illnesses, accidents, tragedies, deaths, stresses ... as best you can you try to solve them, overcome them, cope with them, accept them ... and yes, you suffer - to various degrees, at different times, in different circumstances ... and increasingly so as you age. So many places you thought you were reaching just vanish like mirages in the desert, you try to find ways out of your suffering. You seek, and no matter what you say you are seeking (money, power, prestige or God), what are you really seeking?


Where are you going? Where is your life going? What places are you going to - really? How successful is your search for what you are missing and always imagine you should have in an unforeseeable future? Isn't there an easier way to live the meaningful life?


Where has all the meaningful time gone? 


Saturday, November 1, 2014
3:00pm - 5:00pm

You don't have the time, you cannot make the time, you cannot afford the time, you cannot find time. Time is the hottest commodity; it trades at a premium all the time. Lack of time is believed to be a major source of stress.


Driven by the belief that time is a child of circumstance the solution most people pursue is to try and make more time by changing their circumstances. Experience shows that this approach only trades one time scarcity for another, because changing circumstance does not change the source of the lack of time. You cannot find more time within time!

This lecture explores how little we understand time, and how to find more time we have to look in a surprisingly different direction than the direction of time.


Religion is not what you think 


Saturday, December 6, 2014
3:00pm - 5:00pm   

The idea that religion and the brain are intricately intertwined seems surprising. And yet for years now the Dalai Lama and representatives from other spiritual traditions have dialogued with world-renowned scientists from all over the world under the umbrella of the Mind and Life Institute. What if our ideas about religion and our religious practices are flawed? What if the connotations we associate with the notion of religion are inadequate? What if religion and science make surprisingly cozy bedfellows essential to health and a meaningful life?


You are invited to be moved, stimulated, even disturbed as Dr. T. assists our guest lecturers, Jesus and Buddha, in the exploration of who we are and what reality is.


* All lectures provide some common-sense directions about how to practice mindfulness.  


The new binder for this introductory mindfulness program containing the latest knowledge from the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology is now introduced for course participants. It is a 'beta version' so to speak, and is being refined in the next few months. As soon as the final improvements are fully implemented, you will be able to order a copy.

With regards to these programs, the good news is that the interest in mindfulness meditation has skyrocketed. Over 700 family physicians and specialists from Niagara Falls to Toronto refer to the Mindfulness Clinic.

The bad news is that all our groups for the fall are full, and those for the winter 2015 are almost full. We are looking into possible options to accommodate more people.

Where has depth vanished?

We only know the easy, quick soundbites anymore. We have become information junkies and time gluttons. Always pressed for time we crave more time, and no amount of improvement in our efficiency provides more time. The more time technology spares us, the less time we are left with. When through efficiency we have gained some time, we fill it with more activity, more tasks and more achievements. Something drives us from deep within in a way that keeps us going, running, chasing, striving and yearning. We have become addicted to speed and very impatient. Our default mode of being is to be nervous and high-strung, always on the go for some imagined better moment, better time or better place. As one of my students complained, she just could not 'find' time for meditation practice, because she had too much to do - too much to do ... really?

What is this statement all about? 'I cannot sit to meditate for an hour, because I have too much to do'. A few questions impose themselves: 
1. Who has too much to do? Who is this 'I'?  
2. How do you get to 'have' too much to do? How do you get to own 'too-much-to-do' like you own a car? 
3. What is too much? How do you get to regulate your energy flow in a way that is overwhelming your organism? 
4. Last but not least, what is the nature of your
doing that gets to be too much? Where did you leave Being?
These are questions to be deeply and thoroughly explored if we want to change our lives for the better. Only then do we begin to dig into the depths of our Being instead of skating on the thin surface of survival. Depth requires much more than soundbites, cursory attention and the superficial knowledge of infomercials. Reality is far too complex to be understood through Wikipedia.

We must learn to develop patience, lingering presence, high tolerance for boredom, slowing down, daydreaming and apparent inefficiency. I don't mean lack of concentration, sloppiness and torpor. On the contrary, I mean a way of being slow but efficient, free to dream but concentrated, curious for knowledge but inquiring of context, playful and leisurely but present, attuned and patient, and able to sit and wait for reality to reveal itself in its own time. Depth grows exponentially through listening and silence, through our ability to get out of our own way and let truth speak to us directly.

I assure you, when depth takes over and fills a room full of people in dialogue, healing takes place. 


Do you know someone who could benefit from this information?  
Please forward this newsletter by clicking 'Forward email' at the bottom of this newsletter - they'll appreciate it!

I hope this newsletter gives you an idea of how we work and what's in store. I also hope to see as many of you as possible again and to either embark on or continue to pursue together this exciting journey of inquiry, transformation and daily life application of what is most important for our human existence.

I look forward to seeing you in the fall.
In the meantime, move, frolic and soak in the warming sun rays of August.

With kind regards,

Dr. T.

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 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programs - Expanded Version 

Mindsight Intensives to make mindfulness a way of life.

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