Tag Archives: Luis Morones

Live and love more deeply with “Your Mindful Heart”

Mindful Heart Image and Logo-Badge

By Luis Morones, MFT

For many of us, it is in our most significant relations that the quality of mindful presence dissipates. Our formal meditation practice, challenging as it can sometimes be, is often a “cake walk” in comparison to the challenges of mindful relations. Our families and partner relations offer an extraordinarily fertile field for our mindful heart’s awakening.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the esteemed creator of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program entitled his seminal book on MBSR “Full Catastrophe Living”. Referring to the “full catastrophe” of family living, Zinn’s work encourages us to bring our mindfulness skills into the beautiful and volatile arena of our everyday relationships.

It is often in our most significant relations that we are more inclined to react defensively than to respond mindfully. This may be because we are much more vulnerable with the persons that we care about most deeply. Our history with our families of origin, nuclear families and partners often make it very difficult to remain present with an open heart. We tend to project unto them (and they unto us) ideals and the fulfillment of expectations that are completely impossible for even the most enlightened persons in history to fulfill. Mindfulness practices can help us recognize these projections. By bringing us back to the present moment, mindfulness allows us to relate to each other, as we truly are, imperfect and indescribably precious.

Luis Morones - Instructor Photo

 My hope for this class is that compassion and connectedness which are integral elements of  Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction can be accentuated. Straight up what most fuels my draw towards mindfulness practice is the awakening of love.

Demanding and critical as we are often in our expectations of others, we tend to be even more brutal critics of ourselves. At a meeting the Dalai Lama had with western teachers, he wept, when he heard the westerners describe the enormous suffering their students and themselves experienced due to their harsh inner critics. The Dalai Lama said that this was from his eastern perspective a new form of suffering with which he was not familiar.

Mindful relating begins with a compassionate relation to oneself. By learning to relate to our own “Inner Lover”, the “Inner Critic’s” power over one begins to decrease. We are then more able to approach our relations with others with fewer judgments, more assuredness and joy.

Mindful relating can help us identify “triggers” in the present moment as soon as we begin to experience fears, judgments, and divisive separateness. Before we become fully “hooked” into a habitual negative pattern of reaction, we can learn new ways of responding skillfully. In situations when we start to feel engulfed by anxiety, anger, or emotional paralysis we can practice bringing compassionate attention to the bodily experiences that are occurring. By “unhooking” our emotions from the “stories” our anxious thoughts are creating, we can recuperate sooner our sense of calmer connection.


Your Mindful Heart presented by Luis Morones MA MFT, at the UCSD Center for Mindfulness, Saturday mornings, June 23 and June 30, from 9am-1pm is now open for registration.

In the Your Mindful Heart course, participants will be introduced to mindfulness skills that may help strengthen our relational bridges. Mindful awareness releases a greater clarity and strength from which we can make more informed and safer decisions. Mindful relating points us to the liberating realization that our true nature is already imbedded in a wise love that is both protective of our own value and capable of great love.

The UCSD Center for Mindfulness offers a spectrum of courses that can make the inevitable difficulties of relating less stressful and more grounded in a joyous life with others. The Mindful Heart course is just one small aspect of this much larger program. It is simply another compassionate attempt to “sell you a little water” in the already free flowing rivers of your hearts.

Luis points out that “When I am feeling relatively happy I am totally convinced that love is our true nature and that I am in exactly the right relationships to become fully alive. When I am feeling physical or strong emotional pain my convictions and sense of connectedness quickly fade. My appreciation for my wife, family of origin, everybody, especially my-self goes down the drain. All I can do is try to be awake compassionately to the experience of the inner yelp for help. Help seems to come a little more quickly when I struggle to stay mindfully with these difficult moments with a seed of compassionate hope.  My intention in this class is to together share a few skillful means to help us stay a little more connected to others and ourselves when the waters of the relational psyche are stormy.”

 Although couples are most welcome, this class is not primarily a mindful couples workshop. It is intended rather as an opportunity to learn from each other what may strengthen a little our mindful hearts capacity to imperfectly love our lives with others.



Wondering about ways that MBSR touches lives? This graduate says it beautifully and powerfully.

By Steven Hickman, Psy.D.
Director, UCSD Center for Mindfulness

In the course of teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, I have had the opportunity to hear first-hand how participation in the program has had an impact on the lives of many people. I know from my own experience of mindfulness practice how powerful it can be, but I often struggle with how to put that into words that really capture the experience. Fortunately, every now and then, one of our MBSR participants articulates it so poignantly and eloquently that I get a new look at how this practice changes lives. Recently, in a class taught by my colleagues Luis Morones and Amy Holte, one of their participants (we will call her Katie to protect her privacy, but she has given us permission to quote her) offered some wonderful feedback about her experience that we felt would be helpful to anyone considering embarking on a practice of mindfulness or in taking an MBSR course. Here is what she had to say:

“Thank you … for letting me attend most of the recent class  (in which I had) a 60% attendance rate, which makes me laugh because in addition to suggesting kindness to ourselves and not always striving towards something (like counting attendance) a mere 60% of your class has changed at least 90% of my life.  Although I have read only the opening of the book and made very little time to practice outside of the class, I cling to the concept of my breath always being there for me, or my feet being planted on the ground, and that has consistently redirected my next action in every situation.  Pausing for a moment to just be present gives you the time to envision a desired outcome or at least remember your long-term goal in any given interaction.

“Always a mellow driver, I now am even more inclined to let others race along without getting upset (hard not to urge others to do the same).  When working with my children, my focus is not on being right, but on getting them to decide for themselves what is right and why.  When there is a work crisis, it is amazing how many people already have the solution but have not dared to allow themselves to solve it.  Or friends who want you to solve their problems but don’t like your solutions, you realize they want the problem, and you can let go without guilt.

“Mostly I am finding that giving myself a moment to reflect keeps me calm and much more able to enjoy everyone’s company.  Just this week, all five of my family were in 1) my bathroom, 2) my closet, 3) our bedroom, and in each instance I stopped myself from saying “why are you all here, stop following me” but thought instead, how wonderful that you want to be with me, that we trust each other and listen to each other and want to be together.”

Katie works in the same office space as that of the UCSD Center for Mindfulness, and her group recently experienced a significant reduction in their workforce. The stress of the process of “downsizing” was immense, and we were moved to extend the offer of free participation in MBSR to any of their group affected by these layoffs. Katie noted, “I know that Steve may have been thinking about laid off employees when he so generously offered us a space in your class, but for those of us left behind to pick up the pieces of the dozen or so people we’ve lost, it has been stressful in a different way – survivor guilt, maybe, and the inability to share about the quality and quantity of work when we should be grateful to still have the opportunity to serve.  If I were going through all of these changes without the anchor of this class, my flame would definitely be starting to flicker!!  It is also such a grounding experience to learn from those whose life situations harbor even darker days. I do so regret having missed the retreat, I felt like I was letting my classmates down, but it was unavoidable.

“I feel so empowered about how to live my life in a way that is healthier and happier and that has positive effects on those I love.”

When I wrote to ask Katie’s permission to share what she wrote in her email to the teachers above, she responded with still more wonderfully descriptive feedback: “. . . essentially this experience has been the best gift since my wedding and the birth of my three healthy boys.  That is really not an overstatement or overly enthusiastic – I feel so empowered about how to live my life in a way that is healthier and happier and that has positive effects on those I love, which was my original goal for joining the group.  It will obviously take a lot more practice, but I can already tell that I am making better choices and just thinking before I speak (I can have a sharp tongue) is improving many relationships.”

It seems as though there is nothing else to say, as Katie said it all quite well! If someone you know could benefit from the practice of mindfulness or may be interested in taking a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course, I highly recommend that you share this blogpost with that person. It could change their life in the way that it changed Katie’s. (NOTE: We have a morning sitting group on weekdays in our office and Katie continues to attend with us many times each week.)

The 2012 Schedule of MBSR Classes offered through the UCSD Center for Mindfulness is now online and available for online registration. Take a look at the lineup starting in mid-January and consider joining us to more fully experience the practice of mindfulness for yourself.