Posted by Sharon Schendel on May 12, 2019
For the past 15 years, John Allcock, our speaker at the May 2, 2019 meeting, has practiced and taught mindfulness- the art of paying attention to the present moment without judgement, but with curiosity and openness. Practicing mindfulness mediation can free a person from being captured by thoughts or external events, as well as to choose how to respond to these events. 
John is the father of three daughters, and 10 years ago he began sending them emails outlining things that he’d wish he’d known when he was younger.  He eventually summarized these emails in his book “40 Things I Wish I’d Told My Kids”. Among the lessons he describes in the book are 1) Don’t be ruled by the tyranny of events; 2) 90% of worries are wrong, either the thing we worried about didn’t happen, or happened in some other way; 3) Thinking is overrated (and can lead to worry); 4) You can’t control what comes into your head, but you can control what happens when it gets there; 5) “You make me mad” is a fantasy- you allow yourself to become mad at the actions of others.
By practicing mindfulness, we can respond rather than react and create space that allows impulsive reactions to be replaced by thoughtful responses. Regular practice of mindfulness may even remodel the brain to increase the gray matter density of the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus that control higher-order functions and memory, respectively, and decrease the size of the amygdala that controls the “flight or fight” response.
John incorporates mindfulness training at Sea Change Preparatory school in Del Mar, which was founded by his wife Cheryl as a school for students who learn best in non-traditional settings.