Ruth Landstrom,Ph.D.                                                                                                                         

November 2007                                             Volume 1, Number 4
When you work with a life coach, you develop the habit of living with intention.  Each session, you talk with your coach to clarify your values and goals.  Each session, you choose what steps you want to take to make those values and goals central in your life.  Coaching can seem very future-oriented with all this focus on goals.  How does the pursuit of goals square with mindfulness of the present moment? 

Mindful Goal-setting
Being open to each changing moment does not require us to give up all plans and goals.  To "be here now" we don't have to become passive blobs, "accepting" whatever experience happens to come our way, without direction or intention.  
After all, cultivating mindfulness itself requires intention.  If we are to have any hope of being mindful, we need to muster up a firm intention to rest our awareness in the present and let go of the merry-go-round of thoughts we usually ride on.  Moment after moment, we need to renew this intention to stay with our experience.  
One of the main reasons we cultivate mindfulness is so that we can see clearly enough to be able to set good goals.  We can be mindful of the sequence of moments as well as each moment in isolation.  Mindfulness of this sequence helps us discover what leads to happiness and what leads to suffering in our own lives.  We can then set our sights on cultivating the conditions that create happiness and letting go of the conditions that create suffering.  

Mindful Goal-pursuing

The mistake we often make is not in pursuing goals, but in thinking that our contentment and happiness lie solely, or even primarily, in reaching those goals.   
Looking forward to that crowning moment when we finally reach a goal, we tend to discount all the moments that come before.  But when we pin our happiness on future achievements, we often miss all the happy moments that arise in the meantime. 
Through mindfulness, we learn to experience each moment with openness.  We let go of the need to judge this moment or compare it to some imagined future happiness.  Letting go of those judgments and comparisons, we can appreciate every moment for what it is.
We don't have to wait until we achieve our goals to be happy.  Instead, we can savor each step along the way.  
Isn't it possible to work toward a goal, but still be content before the goal is reached?
To seek the end but love the middle?
To look towards the future without bypassing the present?
To work toward a certain result, but let go of that tight need to get it?
To plan our actions but be open to surprises?



Day to Day

When I first started practicing meditation, I was astounded by the amount of planning that went through my head.  I found my mind going over my schedule, figuring out how to fit everything in, trying to remember what I might be forgetting -- and then doing it all again.  
Through meditation, I came to know how hard it was for me to put down the pieces of my life, even for half an hour, even for one moment!  As I observed my mind running around, I experienced how this repetitive thinking gave rise to an unpleasant feeling of being overwhelmed. Of course, this feeling then drove me back to thinking about how I could get my life under control. After seeing this pattern over and over -- planning, feeling overwhelmed, planning some more -- I have developed a firmer and firmer intention to train my mind to take it easy.    
Now, no matter how many balls I'm juggling, I know that there are many moments during the day when my mind can kick back and relax.  Any physical activity -- walking, washing the dishes, waiting on line -- is an opportunity to quiet my planning mind, sink into sensations and just breathe.  I can't say I always take advantage of the opportunity!  But that's the goal, and working toward that goal feels great.
"Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable.  Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak." 
Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., Happier(McGraw-Hill, 2007),  p. 27


 Habits and Happiness workshop!

Making Peace With Your Thoughts
Friday, December 14, 2007, 7 - 8:30 p.m.
Yoga for Well-Being
2 Industrial Drive
Florida, NY
Ruth's "Habits and Happiness" workshops take place on the second Friday of each month.  Each workshop includes a talk, meditation, and discussion.  This month, we will learn how to be mindful of our thoughts.  Often, we either get too caught up in our thoughts or try to get rid of them so that we can have some peace!  Mindfulness of thoughts gives us another option: through becoming aware of our thoughts as they come and go, we can develop a more comfortable relationship with our own minds.
Meditation class
Ruth's weekly meditation class takes place Thursdays from 12:15 to 1:00 p.m. at Yoga for Well-Being, 2 Industrial Drive, Florida, New York.  
Ruth is available for coaching and private meditation instruction in New York City, in Warwick, New York, and by phone.    Contact her for a free consultation at 1-866-788-4526 or

I'd love to hear from you!  Please e-mail me your comments, questions and requests at