Dedicated to the memory of the 20 children and 6 adults who lost their lives in last week’s senseless shooting in Newtown, CT.

StoneTowerSmoothRocksPeterMorganFreeMindfulnessIn these holiday weeks, full of both great joy and also terrible sadness, I’ve become really interested in the connections between mindfulness, gratitude, and EQ. These three pursuits seem more important than ever.

I hope that developing mindfulness, EQ, and gratitude will help us to be resilient in the face of tragedy, to cherish the time we spend with others and by ourselves, and to build a more peaceful and compassionate world. 

The other day, I went to Yoga class.  In line with Anusara yoga’s teaching principles, the instructor told a story with a “heart theme” – Gratitude.  I left  the class full of appreciation for my family, friends, colleagues, and for my health.  I left feeling deep gratitude for being a part of our global network, Six Seconds, where people care so deeply about each other and about creating positive change with EQ. 

While EQ and gratitude are practices I strive to cultivate each day,  I wanted to further explore the practice of mindfulness and to share this with our readers. After speaking with one of our network members who studied at the Naropa University in Boulder, CO, I invited her to write a post on the connection between mindfulness and EQ. Thank you, Nikki, for this wonderful post. 

The Bridge between EQ and Mindfulness/Awareness Meditation

 The three important pursuits of the Six Seconds EQ model: to become more aware (noticing what you do), more intentional (doing what you mean), and more purposeful (doing it for a reason), weave together beautifully with the meditation practice of Shamatha/Vipassana or Mindfulness/Awareness meditation. 

Boulder MeditationThrough the practice of Mindfulness/Awareness sitting meditation we become witness to the contents of the mind without judgment or reaction, and begin the process of training the mind to just notice.  In time this practice of noticing enhances our ability to see and feel the millisecond that exists (if that), between thought and reaction.  When we become aware that this moment is actually available, then we have the choice to do something different and create new habits and patterns.   Just like a cloud forms and dissipates, through the practice of sitting meditation we begin to see the natural ever-changing flow of thoughts arising and passing through our mind.  By giving your self the opportunity to experience non-conceptually, you slowly begin to create space around beliefs, perceptions, and storylines.  Then the tight grip on those things that usually aggravate you may begin to loosen.  This is exciting!

 The process of meditation has the ability to:

  • Observe thought patterns non-judgmentally
  • Allow buried thoughts to surface and contact the deeper self
  • Cultivate the “witness” that observes the fluctuations of the mind
  • Go beyond storylines and loosen their hold
  • Develop compassion and kindness towards self and other
  • Develop present-centered awareness

There is no where to hide when it’s just you and your cushion.  Because of this undistracted direct experience with the self, slowly we awaken to the fullness of what we are, which is wrought with both joy and pain. There is joy in reclaiming the lost parts of the self.  There is also grief in reacquainting with what was lost; and an infinite amount of rich experience between these two.

Mindfulness and EQ may use different terminology, but at the heart both have similar noble goals. 

  • To develop clear-seeing
  • To look deeply into how you operate
  • To cultivate awareness of your words, thoughts, actions and reactions 

It is important to note that having a meditation teacher and/or group to help guide and support you while cultivating a meditation practice is gold.  I had teachers while at Naropa University who walked the talk and showed me what it looked like to turn towards authentically experiencing what we are, with compassion, discipline, and an open-heart.  Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist Monk said, “To truly see, is to truly understand, and to truly understand is to truly love.” 

prayer in jewels

This sentiment seems to speak the language of the three pursuits of becoming more aware, more intentional and purposeful. 

EQ builds mindfulness, and mindfulness practice builds EQ.  Wherever you start, one inevitably leads to the other.  It just so happened my path first travelled down the river of meditation practice. While traversing this river I ran into an Island that felt undeniably familiar, and discovered that this island was called EQ.  I decided to stay awhile and contemplate my discovery. Thus, here I am writing what that is. 

Nikki Exelbert, MA

Transpersonal Psychotherapist


Dr. Susan Stillman

Director of Education, Six Seconds' Global Office: With years of experience as an educational leader, scholar-practitioner, K-12 school counselor, and higher ed faculty, Susan brings a diverse background and set of skills to bear on her mission to build and sustain the Six Seconds' educational programs and to support Six Seconds' team members around the world, working to develop EQ in children, educators, families, schools, and communities.