Mindfulness with Mochel Launches New Soul Series

By Steven Libowitz   |   September 12, 2019

By his own admission, Dave Mochel was a victim of restlessness, boredom, frustration, anxiety, fear, and anger and suffered such debilitating anxiety in his mid-20s that he could barely leave the house. Now he runs Applied Attention, a Carpinteria-based mindfulness consulting company that teaches people simple and powerful practices to focus thoughts in ways that not only help embrace challenges, build flexibility and increase resilience, but also result in a more peaceful life.

Mochel’s journey took decades, and found him studying the world’s great religions and spiritual practices as well as diving into research and eventually earning degrees in biology from Williams College, a Master’s in Humanistic and Multicultural Education from SUNY New Paltz, and a clinical internship in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. But beginning this week, you can get insights and experiences drawn from his vast experience via several two-hour events at the new “Mind, Body & Soul” speaker series at the Marjorie Luke Theatre.

Mochel will present three talks during the initial five-part series, which was created by the Luke’s Rod Lathim, including the opening event, titled “Practicing a Peaceful & Powerful Life in an Anxious & Divided World” on September 17, as well as “Kindness, Gratitude & Awe: The Neuroscience Behind the Benefits” on October 1, and “Making Every Day Count” on October 15. But despite the different topics, the basic tenets of all the talks is the same, he said.

“It’s about separating circumstances from your response, and conditions from practice,” Mochel said in an interview. “You have a choice of where to put your attention and your energy. You have the choice to fuel things that are (stressful), to continue along a difficult line of reasoning, or simply to see it as a circumstance, then choose to practice something else. That’s fundamental to a good life.”

If it sounds simple, it is, Mochel said.

“Most of what we need to learn we can learn from paying careful attention to our own experience. If we look at our own lives honestly and kindly, the wisdom we need is there. But we get caught in the stories of our lives, the narratives we’ve created, rather than the actual experiences. Circumstances are real. It’s how you respond that has a huge impact on the quality of your life.”

But simple doesn’t mean easy, Mochel cautioned. While the two main points he wants to get across to people at the Luke – and those he encounters in his work and elsewhere for that matter – aren’t complicated, they take commitment to achieve results.

“I want to give people a realistic understanding of mindfulness,” he said. “There’s an increasingly popular notion about mindfulness that it’s about feeling good, that if you sit quietly long enough you will feel blissful. That’s just marketing. But it’s actually a practice of encountering how things are, not escaping them. It’s not a way of turning anxiety into peace just by sitting.”

But actually being more in touch with the truth of your life can lead to change, he said, because of how the brain works. “To the brain, everything we do is practice,” explained Mocher, who taught human development at Cate School from 1989-93 and again from 2000-10 before founding Applied Attention. “You don’t just get better at things you like. You get better at everything you do. If you grip the steering wheel tightly and swear whenever you’re in traffic, for example, you’ll get better at that… We want to make conscious contact with life as it is, and refocus our choices to practice things that work better for us.”

Fortunately, Mocher has developed some practical tools to set seminar attendees on the path to freedom – which he defined as “the ability to choose kindness (to self and others) in the presence of stress.

These are practices you can do right away, and employ at home immediately, he said. “The idea is to take things out of the realm of the dharma whisperers.”

The “Mind, Body & Soul” series also features author and life coach Pamala Oslie presenting “How Tuning-In to Your Energy Can Change Your Life” on September 25, and spiritual counselor Kim Stanwood Terranova discussing “Creating Your Life by Intention” on October 8. Tickets cost $22 per event, or $88 for the series. Call (800) 838-3006 or visit www.mindbodysoul.brownpapertickets.com.

Sarod, Ragas, Songs and Sound Healing

Montino Bourbon, Montecito’s master of traditional instruments of ancient India, has put the finishing touches on a new album of new original compositions that will be officially released in a special concerts/sound healing session at the Santa Barbara Yoga Center this Sunday evening, September 14. Bourbon, a lineage holder of classical Indian music from the Beenkar Gharana who studied for 12 years with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, will be joined by longtime colleagues Joss Jaffe and Sudama Mark Kennedy, See my entertainment column elsewhere in this issue for details and an interview with Bourbon.

Healing Hands

Over the weekend, Kathy Bower and Courtney Mazzola team up for a Hands of Light Workshop, an experience of the enlightening system of energy work that combines hands-on healing techniques with spiritual and psychological process that was created and authorized by Dr. Barbara Brennan. Over the two-day workshop at the Santa Barbara Yoga Center, participants will learn healing techniques for yourself and others; access the power of intention, strengthen your internal support system and live your life purpose; access your inner knowing and ability to connect with inner guidance; consciously connect with Universal Energy through the use of Brennan Healing Science techniques that can empower individual and global change. Bower is a dean at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, while Mazzola is an BBSH Professional Studies Graduate and HOL Workshop Leader Trainee. The workshop takes place 12:30-8 pm on Saturday and 10 am-5pm on Sunday, September 14-15, and costs $350. For more information or registration, contact Mazzola at (818) 590-1353 or somacourtney@live.com, or Bower at (831) 588-3682 or email kathy@energyaware.com.

Mindful Self Compassion 

Also launching this week at Santa Barbara’s oldest yoga studio is an eight-week empirically-supported program that teaches core principles and practices to cultivate the skill of self-compassion. Taught by Hattie Bluestone, a local physical therapist and yoga instructor who has practiced Vipassana meditation for more than 10 years, and Anahita Holden, a licensed clinical psychologist, meditation teacher, and yoga instructor who specializes in the integration of psychotherapy and evidence-based mindfulness interventions, the two-month workshop includes guided meditations, short talks, experiential exercises, group discussion, and take-home mindfulness and self-compassion practices to integrate self-compassion into daily life. The sessions take place 1:30-4 pm on Sundays, September 15 to November 3, and cost $400. Financial assistance is available.

Santa Barbara Yoga Center is located at 32 East Micheltorena Street. Call (805) 965-6045 or visit www.santabarbarayogacenter.com.

Movement in Ojai

David Hurwith, who led an Authentic Movement workshop at the recent Body Mind Centering Association conference at UCSB earlier this summer, is launching a new series with the practice at the Somatic Sanctuary at 410 West Ojai Avenue in Ojai. Hurwith, who has been researching artistic practice and making dances as a choreographer since 1981, has trained as a facilitator in AM and spent the last 25 years researching methods of healing, training and nourishing his body and psyche. The series, which takes place 6:30-8 pm on Thursdays, September 12-October 24, is an ongoing deep dive into our inner landscapes, in which the mover, who explores self-directed impulses in the present moment, and witness, who holds the intention to observe and support the experience without judgment, converge to experience the mystery of movement. Admission is $25 per session, $55 for a three-class pass, or $105 for the full six-week session. Call (805) 633-9320 or visit www.SomaticSanctuary.com.

Wisdom Wednesdays

September’s guest for the monthly special event at Kineci Health & Movement Center will be Deanna Cohen, who will be speaking on Feng Shui. Cohen will talk about what Feng Shui is, and how it is applied to create balance and harmony in people’s lives so that they are supported in having good relationships, good finances and good health. Cohen will be addressing the three schools of Feng Shui used to accomplish those goals, including the Land and Form School, the Flying Star School, and the East/West Directions School, as well as how Feng Shui and Interior Design work hand-in-hand to create an inviting and peaceful environment. Admission is free for the 7 pm talk on Wednesday, September 18, at 22 West Mission Street, Suite B. Call (805) 284-9449 or visit https://kineci.com/feng-shui-a-path-to-balance-and-harmony/

Navigating Grief

Montecito writer Diana Raab and psychologist/meditation teacher Radhule Weininger team up for a three-hour journaling and meditation workshop on Sunday afternoon, September 15. The leaders will guide participants in a process that includes writing as well as meditation specifically focused on journeys surrounding grief, whether you’ve lost a loved one, are dealing with an illness, or are transitioning into a new life path. The seminar takes place 1-4 pm in the sacred space at a private home in Montecito, and is limited to 25 participants. Admission is $50, and remember to bring a journal and pen with you. Address provided upon registration at www.mindfulheartprograms.org.

Spirituality at SBCC Adult Ed

The fall session is already underway at both the Schott and Wake Center campuses of the SBCC’s School of Extended Learning, with myriad courses in psychology, self-help, self-management and movement practices, both free and tuition based. But most of the special one-day workshops in spirituality and personal growth are yet to come. Next up is “Grist for the Mill: Managing Grief and Self-Transformation,” the latest three-hour excursion with Dr. David Cumes in which he explores how to make the best of the crises that come our way and still be in joy. Cumes will offer techniques to accepting that unhappiness is just an inevitable and chronic part of our human existence and avoid submitting to the negative emotions of “Monkey Mind” that can arise as a consequence of grief and loss. Admission to the 10 am class on Saturday, September 14, is $25. Visit http://sbcc.edu/extendedlearning.

Meditation for Minors

Mahakankala Buddhist Center’s next event for families and kids takes place at 9 am on Sunday, September 15, when children can learn simple Buddhist principles such as kindness, respect for others, and keeping a happy heart through meditation and crafts. A parent or guardian must accompany each child for the class, but adults should also find these introductory teachings valuable if only to employ the teachings throughout the week as a family practice. Admission is $10 per family.

Mahakankala also continues its regular Sunday morning Meditation for World Peace offering, a Dharma teaching and guided meditation to develop a mind of compassion for all living beings. Each class consists of a guided breathing meditation, a short teaching and guided meditation on Taking and Giving, and prayers (in English) to the Buddha of Compassion, Avalokiteshvara. No experience is necessary for the 10:30-11:45 am Sunday sessions, which carry a $10 suggested donation, at the Center, located at 508 Brinkerhoff Avenue.


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