By Leo Gura - March 5, 2014 | 34 Comments

How to actually use mindfulness to do advanced personal development and transform your life.

Video Transcript

Show Full Transcript Minimize Transcript

Hey, this is Leo from Actualized.org, and in this video we’re going to talk about mindfulness.

Let us crack into the topic of mindfulness. This is a really important topic. I think you should start to really think about this, and develop mindfulness, because it can have some powerful effects on your life.

No Theory, Just Practice

Let’s crack into what mindfulness is. I’m going to give you some practical ways to start developing mindfulness, without just theorising about it. I’m going to tell you how you can actually start developing it. This is going to be really cool, really fast, really practical.

Before we get into that, though, let’s talk about why mindfulness is important. Why you want to care about mindfulness is, basically, because it’s going to make you happy. It’s going to make you calm and peaceful. It’s going to get you high performance in your career or whatever else you’re out there doing in your life.

That is why I love mindfulness. It can lead to some really profound realisations down the road, if you keep really practicing it and doing it. It’s about stopping suffering. It’s about how do you stop suffering. I think all of us have this question, all of us are looking for something more in our lives.

We’re doing this, we’re doing that, we’re doing relationships, we’re doing our work, and then we’re wondering “How can I get rid of some of this pain I’m having?” What you’re having there is suffering. You’re suffering in some way, in different parts of your life, and you’re always looking for ways to eliminate that suffering.

Mindfulness is very powerful for that. Let’s talk about what mindfulness is. Mindfulness, quite simply, is being in the moment and having an observation of yourself. In your mind, it’s as though you stepped out of yourself, stepped out of your body, stepped out of your mind, and you’re just observing yourself, without any sort of judgement, without any sort of criticism, without any sort of additional thought.

Observe Yourself

All you’re doing is observing yourself, so it’s like an extra layer that you’re adding, like an extra cognitive layer you’re adding into your everyday activities, where you’re just observing yourself. You’re looking at yourself as though you were observing a chimp in a zoo.

You know how a social scientist or an anthropologist or whoever studies chimps will go into a zoo and sit there, and just sit near the chimp cage and watch the chimps do their thing? If that scientist is trying to be objective, that scientist is trying to sit there and not add any of his own ideas to what the chimps are doing, he’s sitting there and recording notes on what the chimps are doing.

“OK, that chimp just ran across from one side of the cage to the next.” Then he writes that down. Then he sees another chimp go and hit this chimp in the head with his fist. He writes that down. He doesn’t judge it, he just writes it down. He’s just observing. It’s like he’s sitting there with a camera, recording what the chimps are doing.

That’s what mindfulness is. Because we are self-conscious beings, we have the ability to look at yourself and to introspect. That is how you can be more mindful. You can start to observe yourself, notice what is happening throughout your day.

You might say “Well I already know what’s going on. I’m conscious. I know what I did yesterday, I know what I’m doing today. I know what I just did before I sat down to watch this video. Aren’t I doing that already?”

The answer is “No, you’re not doing it already.” This is something, when you actually start doing it, you’ll start to realise how much you were missing out on. One thing that is kind of a shocking revelation, if you haven’t really studied this stuff and you haven’t really done any consciousness work through meditation or contemplation, then you’re actually going to be shocked by how little consciousness you exhibit throughout your day.

You’re going to be shocked at how much of a stimulus-response animal you are. All you’re doing is behaving like a chimp. You’re walking through life and you’re doing your chimp things, and you’re behaving like a chimp, not even knowing that somebody is watching you. You’re just doing it. You’re just doing stuff.

You Are Unaware

You’re not aware of what you’re doing. You’re not really conscious. This is such a deep point, I’ll probably have to shoot a whole new video just on that one point, because Peter Uspensky in his book, The Psychology Of Man’s Possible Evolution, talks about the fact that we are not conscious of what we do in our day. Most of us are not.

The way you start to develop consciousness is by starting to be more mindful, starting to notice what you’re doing. What does this mean? What does it mean to be noticing what you’re doing? First of all, let’s start off by having you be aware of the mundane little tasks you’re doing throughout your day.

The next time you sit down to have some lunch or dinner, any kind of food, I just want you to be aware that you’re sitting down and having some food. Do it. Try it. Try that as a little test. Are you going to be able to do it? It’s harder than you think it is.

Just sit down, and remember, try to be conscious of the fact that you’re sitting down to eat some food. Don’t think about it too much. It’s just an observation.

Also, the next time you walk out of your front door of your house or apartment, or you walk back in, I want you to be aware of the fact that you were doing that. This is what it takes to start building up mindfulness.

What you’re going to notice if you start doing this is that it’s actually very difficult, and that you’re forgetting all the time, and that you’re actually not aware of what it is the hell that you’re doing.

A little exercise for you right now, you can pause the video and do this. What I want you to do is stop, pause the video and think of yourself. Think of your names. Say your names. I’ll pretend like I’m doing it right now.

I would turn it off, and I would get my stopwatch, and I would try to look at that clock and while I’m doing that I’m thinking of myself. Thinking of myself, Leo. I’m thinking of Leo. Leo, Leo, I am Leo. Try to just think about that, don’t say anything. Try to just think about that for sixty seconds.

Notice what happens. What you’re going to notice is that you can’t even do it for sixty seconds. Some thought is going to come up, and it’s going to distract you. Your consciousness is going to wander. You’re also going to notice, that at that point, when you’re actually thinking about yourself, you’re observing yourself and you’re conscious, you’re really self-conscious.

Notice how different that is from the moment before you did the exercise, and the whole day that went on today, or the whole day that went on yesterday. Notice how you just ran through your whole day, until up to this point, where I actually forced you to focus your consciousness by doing this exercise.

That will start to get you to realise that you are not as conscious as you think. That really you are asleep, you are not conscious at all. What you’ve got to start to do is then start to bring awareness to things throughout your day.

Accept Your Negative Emotions

The other thing I want you to really start to bring awareness to is the most difficult thing to bring awareness to, and you know what that is? Negative emotions. The next time — this is the best way to build mindfulness — the next time you have an emotional episode where you get angry at someone, you get frustrated, you want to yell at them, you get sad, you get depressed, you start to worry, you get anxious, you start to get pessimistic or down on yourself, you start to feel very lonely and sad, you start to feel overwhelmed, very stressed, anything negative, anything emotional, especially where you tend to then do stupid things as a result, that is where you’re the least conscious.

What you’ve got to do, as an exercise, is next time that’s happening to you notice it. Remember to notice it. Notice it and be aware. Here’s how it’s going to look. Let’s say some guy just cut me off. I’m on my way to work, I’ve got an important project and this guy just cut me off and almost bumped into me on the road.

Now I’m furious. I’m irritated. I’m not yelling at him, but it ruins my mood. I’m thinking “God damn it, that fucking guy.” You’re thinking that. Normally, you would think all that, and then you would go into a tailspin of thought, like a cyclone of thought, it just goes all over the place.

An Extra Layer

Instead, what you do if you’re trying to be mindful, is run that additional layer of mental processing and say “OK, let this thought process burn itself out. This anger, let it run itself out.” But you’re watching it, you’re an observer. You’re like a third party observer. You’re like that scientist watching that chimp.

Pretend that you’re the chimp and you’re just watching yourself. Just watch yourself be angry about that guy. Watch your thoughts. I might have thoughts like “God damn it, how could that guy do that? I’m always so polite on the road, I observe proper etiquette. I always turn my signals on. This guy just cut me off like that. That’s was so dangerous of him. What if I had my kids in the car and we actually had a crash and the car flipped over? It’s raining now, so it’s even double dangerous. Then I wouldn’t have been able to make this meeting.”

This whole thought process is going through. Watch it. Don’t stop it, let it run through. Don’t judge it. Don’t tell yourself this is bad. Don’t tell yourself it’s bad to be angry. Just let it run through, but watch it.

Wow. That is so powerful. If you can do that, and you can start doing that consistently, this is the key to developing emotional mastery. It’s the key to developing real self-consciousness, self-awareness and control over your life. The more you start to do this, the more control you’re going to develop, the more self-aware you’re going to become, and the less things will start to bother you.

Your suffering will diminish. What’s going to happen is when you take that third person perspective, and you’re mindful of everything that’s going on in your life, then you’re no longer identifying with the pain and suffering of everything. You’re no longer reacting, you’re not a stimulus-response animal.

You can actually have something come into your life that is “painful or bad”, but because you can detach yourself from it, it’s not really going to affect you. Then, hopefully you can imagine the level of performance that can get you in life.

It takes a little bit of vision to see this, but imagine the performance you could have in your life, if something bad happened to you and you did not have to react to it or suffer from it. Can you imagine what that can do for you?

Can you imagine, if you’re running your business, and you lose your biggest client, but instead of getting butthurt about it, and yelling at your employees and causing this big ruckus, and maybe getting depressed about the whole outlook of your business, instead of that you were completely calm. You were able to take the proper action to go on with your business.

Could you imagine the level of difference that could have? Those things stack up. That’s one event, because that crazy business problem, what do you do? You go home, and then you’ve got a problem at home with your relationship. Then what do you do after that? You might go drinking at the bar, and you’ve got a problem there.

Then on the weekend, you’ve got some other problem. This stuff stacks up. Your life is full of problems. Think about what you could do if those problems were dissolved. You can dissolve them with enough mindfulness.

Do Not Forget

I want you to start applying this stuff. Start really applying yourself. This is so powerful. It’s going to be tricky at first, because you’re going to forget. You’re going to forget to be mindful of the fact that you’re eating a meal. You’re going to forget to be mindful of the fact that you’re walking out the door. You’re certainly going to forget to be mindful of the fact that you’re pissed off at somebody, or that you’re sad or depressed, or afraid.

You’re just going to forget this things. You’re going to identify with it, and that’s when your life goes downhill, because you suffer and your actions then reflect your suffering. Actions reflect suffering lead to very poor results.

Not to mention that you’re not calm, you’re not happy, because you’re suffering all the time. Why do you want that?

That is it. The last point I’m going to make is if you really want to develop more mindfulness, the most practical thing you can do besides the little exercises that I gave you here is to start meditation. Meditate for twenty minutes every day, I recommend you commit for the rest of your life to doing that.

Find the time. Fix your schedule so you can do that. I’ve got other videos that talk about meditation, give you specific techniques and tips for how to get a meditation practice in place.

Wrap Up

This is Leo signing off on mindfulness. Go ahead and apply this stuff. Leave your comments, please. Also, like this and share this, so that other people can notice it. I want your comments because I do use them as feedback to polish up my videos, polish up my delivery. I also just love to hear some intelligent discussion. That’s always excites me.

It gives me ideas for new content to shoot. If you have some idea, if there’s some concept you don’t understand around mindfulness, then go ahead and leave me your comment. Maybe I’ll shoot a new video about it next week.

I’m going to be signing off. Go ahead and subscribe to the newsletter at Actualized.org. We have exclusive videos. You can sign up right now and get an exclusive bonus, with a nineteen part video series for busting your limiting beliefs. You can also win two hours of free coaching that I give away every month to one of my subscribers. Check that out and sign up.

Tip Jar
Tip Jar
Like this video?
Leave a tip
Come join the Actualized.org Forum! Meet like-minded people & transform your life.
John Byrne says:

How about something on “The Looking Glass Self” and the ways you’ve found of shattering the mirror?

Leo Gura says:

That’s a very advanced discussion. I’ll make more videos about self and ego. Here’s a basic one:
http /www.actualized.org/articles/what-is-ego

larry says:

Leo your awesome,I cant believe you just started to pop up on my searches for personal developement. you have given me a complete approach on my journey. All your videos have work you give us…..fabulous……keep them coming

Leo Gura says:

Thanks, will do

Asaiah Powers says:

hey Leo,could you make a video on how to define and act on your values,thanks.(by the way your advice really helped me create success with the opposite sex.)

Leo Gura says:

I will be creating an entire online course for that. It’s quite involved.

zaki khan says:

Be mindful even if your mind is full great video .I have been practicing mindfulness last two years and sure it does make a big difference in our lives.You are a genius keep up the good work.

rick marse says:

Man, I shake my head for all the time i was approaching life the wrong way. I owe you, thanks. You are saving lives keep them coming master Leo.

Shirley says:

Hi Leo, as I am quiet shy, I find that being self conscious hinders me in social situations, so if i practice mindfulness when I am out socially but just not judge my actions or words would that be practicing mindfulness?
thanking you

Dennis says:

Leo, I watch your videos daily. Thank you for the outstanding content of each video. I used mindfulness to change my appearance and better my life. I am 63 years old. I noticed I looked like a homeless person with my gray beard and hair. I recently had my hair and beard professionally colored. I am happy now with my look and have received positive feedback.

I train at 24 Hour Fitness Gym six days a week and I have been training since 1975. Though I am a senior citizen, I train heavy and am a big dude. This simple change with my hair color has brought wonderful results. Many women and men have spoken to me about my change and have said I look twenty years younger.

Thanks again for your outstanding videos.

Marjorie says:

Dennis my hat off to you, for the outstanding work of going to the gym, this motivation is where i am stuck at. I am at my worst at setting goals, especially one such as what you have suceeded at, (working out at the gym) I love working out, i have my own personal gym at home, a hugh garage of so many machines and equipment. I don’t use any of them, because of not knowing how to be mindful. (Help)

Dennis says:

Hi Marjorie,

I have passive income and I will never have to work again. My situation may be different then yours? First, I would suggest to continue to view Leo’s videos to keep you on track. I am a senior citizen and I can testify the videos I have viewed on this channel are spot on because the principles have worked throughout my life.

To begin, learn the techniques of self-hypnosis and visualization. I have a set routine, which I follow. I workout 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, 6 days a week. 1 1/2 hours of my workout entails treadmill walking at 2.3 miles an hour. I read a book during this time. I work 1 body part each day, six days a week. What do I do for fun? I go to the gym, read a book, watch self help/ motivational videos.

I am extremely happy with my life. I have found tranquility, not seeking things or fame is the best life for me.

Joyce says:

Thank you. Once again I am intrigued by your video presentation. I am in my late 50’s and have practised self awareness on and off in those years. In the last 7 years I had fallen by the wayside only to realize how painful life really can be when living unconsciously. I ended the relationship – there was no other option.
You are right. It takes commitment – to oneself – for life. That is key. Your work is a refreshing inspiration to living my own big extraordinary life. I am now – and will always be – working towards becoming alive and awake once again. The self-work pays off exponentially. I am totally excited about my future – onward ho!
All the best!

Tom says:

Great videos Leo! I love the subjects you have been covering. Perfect timing too….it’s a new year and you are just the person I like to learn from.

By the way…in the area of mindfullness, there is a meditation that uses this very process called Vipassana and one of the best teachers I have listened to on this subject is by a man named Shinzen Young. Listen to some of his lectures and you may find him very interesting. He is @ Shinzen.org

Mark Liddell says:

One of the big things Leo brings up here is Meditation. I’ve only really just begun this. Leo is spot on in saying 20 mins per day everyday ongoing should be a minimum!

Remember there’s a few ways to be mindful. Not just a visual thing like being mindful while viewing things. You can be mindful by closing your eyes and listening and not judging sounds, simply listening. Or, you may sit down and feel your bum on the seat, or feel your left big toe on the floor or the wind on your passing by on your skin. Again, not judging just feeling – same goes with smell…. etc.

You know you’re starting to ‘nail’ mindfulness when you can watch your thoughts go by like clouds, you feel the couch underneath you, you hear the noises around you and imagine whats going on beyond your eye lids (or see things without judgement and not be lost in thought).

People think it’s hard. ANYONE can do this. Practice, praise, practice.

I believe that if we ALL DID THIS, everyone’s lives naturally improve!!

Bigups Leo!

Mark7 Adelaide Austraia.

Leo Coleman says:

Hello Leo
Great vid on mindfullness, your a great influence
and I’ll keep on watching your vids.
Leo , manchester, UK

Lena Kudra says:

Leo, thank you for your work. You project your thoughts in a very linear, clear way. I have been trying to be mindful and get extremely frustrated that I can’t stay in the moment even for 10 seconds. However, I appreciate your very practical advise on just putting in the hours of practice. As simple as that. Eventually consistency and perseverance will do their magic. Leo, you are changing people’s lives, keep going.

Todd Schafer says:

Sometimes I have a problem with the whole “make believe somebody is watching you”, or “watching yourself”. Today as I was taking out the trash, I noticed two girls across the parking garage just talking among themselves. I imagined them looking at me as I was walking across the parking garage. This made the whole idea of “watching yourself” a lot more tangible for me.

Colin says:

Hi Leo,

Could you answer my question please?

I began mindfulness meditation in 2009 it had a profound impact on me. I worked up to 50 minutes each day then I just stopped. Your video on backsliding explained why.

Today I continue to observe my thoughts, just to watch a thought or an emotion is empowering as it allows us choice. We can either engage with our thoughts or just watch as they pass on by like a cloud in the sky. The realisation that a thought is just that, that it has no meaning or weight than what we chose to give it. I also believe its very difficult to consciously, mindfully, grip onto anything negative. I’m Ninja minded at thought stopping.

Now to my question, How do I create a more positive content. I cannot live consciously in every moment. This negative content is the product of decades of toxic relationships. I had 9 years of talking it through but now is about change, taking responsibility and evolving. Yet this habit of negativity is very addictive, I keep returning to the known.

Leo Gura says:

Start building positive habits, one every 30-60 days.

Steve says:

Hi Leo and co.
I have a question about something you mention in this video.
Well first of all, I’m trying to become more mindful and am also just starting to meditate.
You mention, how when I have a negative thought process, I should step back and basically “watch the thought and let it develop”. I get to the point where when I have such a thought, I sooner or later realize it, but as soon as i do, I can’t continue that thought, it just stops unless i try to loose control of my thoughts again or I start to interfere.
What I’m saying is that i can’t seem to “watch” a thought consciously because if i do I’m somehow interfering, it’s no longer a thought that’s happening, but would become something I’d be steering to some extend.

Can you give me your thoughts or advice on that?

Nat says:

It’s only hard to stay “aware” because an untrained mind will always keep switching attention to something else. Vladimir Levy’s books on auto-training place a huge emphasis on learning how to focus first. He starts with simple exercises trying to focus on a ticking clock every day. Being able to focus & therefore to control your attention is the key to any type of self-development.

Kathy says:

Ive just recently stumbled across your videos and I Love Them!! I was never really aware of “self actualization” before this. I am an RN that was injured severely 8 years ago, when a lead door fell on me at work. I’ve had 3 back surgeries and just recently a neck fusion in March of 2015. I was forced to stop working in December of 2013. Then in November 2014, my husband passed away from an illness. I’m in my early 50’s and decided that I was tired of watching life pass me by, while I did nothing! Your videos have made a huge impact on my outlook for my future. Although I’ve not been into this very long, I’ve decided that I want to live my life to the fullest and I’ve begun talking to a guy who has recently gotten into self actualization, as well. I cannot thank you enough. I was wondering if you’ve ever considered doing videos on the subject of chronic pain? There are many of us out here that want to be the best we can be!!

Kat says:

I wonder if we knew that the Aliens were watching us all if we would behave differently. They are you know. That’s a whole other topic though.

Daniel says:

Hey Leo,

I have had a hectic life and have never truly known what I want to do. I am 37 and was addicted to heroin for over 10 years. I am 5 years clean but that was not the end of the struggle. Getting used to a “normal” life was a great struggle.
I began meditating and self improvement techniques 3 years ago and as I got more level and happy(ish), I still never knew what i wanted to do.
I always had it in my head that I would love to help people in a meaniful way but as I never attented college I knew a psychology degree would be hard financially and also perhaps too long a process. I was also never fully sold on western psycholgy as it never truly helped me. I helped me more.
So, I really began to focus on how I can earn money doing something I could feel happy about. Helping people.
Anyway, one day whilst just getting lost on the internet I came across someone talking about being a life coach. Wow. What a moment that was. I knew I could do that. I have lots of life experiences with all kinds of people. I am well travelled. to make a long story short I looked up classes, courses etc. I have watched so many of your videos but I one day clicked on your “How to become a lifecoach” video and you mentioned you did the very same course I am signing up to. For me, that was it. I finally had some kind of epiphany on what the fuck had been staring me in the face the whole time. Life coaching!!
I took an instant liking to everything about you and I think you are just a pure ball of inspiration, and obviously not just to me. Your videos are amazing and I love your style.
Keep them coming and maybe one day the whole world will wake up and see what the hell we have done to ourselves. Peace.

Jenn says:


I love your videos. They are extremely real and insightful. The mindfulness is incredibly challenging but in a good way. I’ve started a daily meditation practice. Thank you!!!

Hengame says:

Thank you Leo i have difficulty with secret word this is 3rd time wanna say i believe all ur statements i hope this time my comment as appreciation goes through

Rick says:

This is the first of your videos I’ve seen. You break-down the subject in a very practical way, thanks for that. I’ve been looking into the work Jon Kabat-Zinn has done, but he never just comes right out and says it’s like a third-person perspective. I appreciate your saying that with the scientist-chimp analogy. It’s a simple analogy to make, but it’s helpful to me at this stage.

Keep up all the good work you’re doing, Leo, and I’ll see you in the other videos.

Vincent Tran says:

Hi Leo,

I was watching your other videos on things like worry and overthinking. With mindfulness should there be a line where we should just stop observing our negative thinking and eliminate it? I am asking this because I have a negative thinking habit, and I don’t know if there should be a point where I should just eliminate it or not.

Thanks Leo!

Sara says:

Hi Leo,
Tried to do this technique today. Most of my triggers are family related, specifically from my sister. She’s one of the few people in my life that can set me off with something she says. When it happened today, I was incredibly annoyed and wanted to fire back but tried this whole watching my emotions task. I just can’t tell if I’m doing it right because every time I try to “watch” what’s happening, it’s as if my anger is getting interrupted and I can’t fully feel how I would have felt if I wasn’t watching myself. I’m not sure if that’s the point of this technique (ie when your watching yourself get angry, it’s hard to actually be angry) or maybe I’m doing the watching process wrong because I’m just starting it and I need more practice with it. Could you help shed some insight on this? Thanks, and I love all your videos!

Also I know you have a video on how to deal with toxic people, but do you have one more family related, for situations where you can’t just bail on them and you have to learn to deal with all their BS?

Leo Gura says:

That’s right. The mere act of applying awareness to a situation often affects the situation or your thoughts/mood about it. That’s the power of awareness!

But that’s the not the point of awareness. Awareness is not to be used to change behavior. Awareness is simply to be used to see what’s actually TRUE! Whether that alters one’s behavior or not should be left open.

You’re doing it right. Just keep practicing pure awareness and don’t worry about what happens or whether a change takes place or not. Be more concerned about TRUTH than outcomes or the ego’s self-agenda and you’ll put yourself into a great place in life. It takes ENORMOUS amounts of practice. See my video: Mindfulness Meditation for a very powerful technique to build your mindfulness muscle.

Wendy Ramos says:

So when they said “Check yourself before you wreck yourself!” they were talking about mindfulness?

Oscar says:

Thanks for spreading and sharing your knowledge on human behavior ans development. I find your couching very helpful Leo. (Mexico)

Oniel says:

Hey Leo, your videos are amazing. Do you have any videos on self identity and disovering it? If so what category would they be under? If not would you make some?

Leave a Comment
What color are lemons?*