Return to Mindfulness

Disrupting Default Habits for Personal Fulfillment, Effective Leadership, and Global Impact

Once or twice in a lifetime,
you may come across
a book that can change you in
a most positive way.
Return has this magic and more.

—Ron Hill, Ph.D
Dean’s Professor of Marketing and Public Policy

It is full of practical, playful steps to systematically integrate mindfulness into your daily life, ways that Shalini herself has learned while practicing mindfulness as teacher and governmental leader. 

—Mirabai Bush
Author and Co-creator of Search Inside Yourself

The key to being mindful in the real world is not more meditation but rather fostering skills to disrupt default habits that get in the way of clarity and purposeful action

Do you wish you had a roadmap to live and lead with more clarity, purpose, and impact?

You’re not alone. Our modern world is full of constant pressures that disconnect us from what matters most. In the rush of busy lives, it’s easy to get swept up in chasing temporary pleasures, making reactive choices, and feeling hopeless in the face of global challenges.

But what if there was another way?

This book offers a pathway to transform not only your individual life but ripple out to make a meaningful impact on our shared world.

This book isn’t just another self-help spiel. You will find in these pages a systematic and playful guide based on ancient wisdom that is backed by science to foster eight mindfulness skills—awareness, compassion, curiosity, energy, appreciative joy, inner calm, focus, and equanimity.

The eight essential skills empower us in disrupting the default habits that get in the way of real-world mindfulness.

We’re talking about real change, real connection, and real impact.

The wisdom you seek lies within.

This book, like a mindful friend, is here to cheer you and guide you to your inner calm and compass toward personal success and a brighter, better world.

 

Ten Things You Will Gain from This Book

  1. Trust in your innate capacity for mindfulness, even in the middle of chaos
  2. A systematic and playful path to master essential skills for real-world change
  3. An understanding of how 8 mindfulness skills disrupt 8 outdated defaults blocking your vision
  4. More than 50 daily reminders and practices to develop a mindset of openness, inquiry, and reframing for clarity
  5. Essential skills and strategies to overcome decision fatigue
  6. An ability to transform challenging emotions into opportunities for insight and growth
  7. Relief from self-judgment through self-understanding
  8. Skills to lead boldly, without burning out or burning bridges
  9. Courage and Inspiration to shift from “me” to “we” by recognizing our interconnected ecosystem
  10. An unshakeable knowing that you are enough and delighting in this one wild and precious life.

 Eight Mindfulness Skills Disrupting Eight Default Habits

AWARENESS
See with Fresh Eyes
DISRUPTS
AUTOPILOT
Thinking and acting without conscious awareness and intentions
COMPASSION
Seek to Understand and Interbe
DISRUPTS
JUDGING MIND
Tendency to act on our automatic judgments about ourselves and others
CURIOSITY
Ask What, Not Why
DISRUPTS
CONFIRMATION BIAS
Tendency to seek information that confirms what we believe
MINDFUL ENERGY
Chop Wood, Carry Water
DISRUPTS
STATUS QUO BIAS
Tendency to avoid the discomfort of any kind of change
APPRECIATIVE JOY
Meet Life with Love and Gratitude
DISRUPTS
NEGATIVITY BIAS
Tendency to see more wrong than right in our lives
INNER CALM
Empty the Cup
DISRUPTS
ATTACHMENTS
Tendency to cling to habitual hurrying, beliefs, and expectations
FOCUS
Choose Which Wolf to Feed
DISRUPTS
DISTRACTED MIND
Tendency to be easily distracted by what’s not important
EQUANIMITY
Ride the Waves of Change with Grace
DISRUPTS
IMPULSIVE
Tendency to automatically react based on our biases

Upcoming Classes Based on the Book

Deepen your mindfulness practice for real-world change in community

Return to Mindfulness Introduction: 03/26/2024

Click here to learn more.

Return to Mindfulness: 8 Skills for Clarity, Care & Real-World Change 03-26-24 to 05-21-24

Click here to learn more.

Real Conversations about Real-World Mindfulness 

You can listen to the recordings of the raw, real conversations between the author and her mindful guests from different walks of life about integrating mindfulness into your work, relationships, and even politics. Click the links to watch the recordeings of the live conversations.

8:00 am Real-World Mindfulness: Innovation in Technology for Good
Join me for a coversation with Nick Kellet, founder of Deckible, world’s premier marketplace for digital card decks. Unpack how technology can be used to improve the quality of life of users and why we created the Return to Mindfulness cards on Deckible.com. Learn how to use these tools for everyday moments, from managing stress to making fulfilling choices. Click here to join the Live event.

10:00 am Mindfulness in Politics
Ask questions, challenge perspectives, and explore how mindfulness can shape a more mindful future in this invigorating conversation between Shalini Bahl, a former Town Councilor and Freke Ette, a New Town Councilor in Amherst. Click here to join the Live event.

11:00 am Compassion at Work
Join mindfulness pioneer Mirabai Bush, author (with Ram Dass), Walking Each Other Home and co-creator of Search Inside Yourself at Google, as she shares practical tips on fostering compassion and emotional intelligence in the workplace. Click here to join the Live event.

1:00 pm Behind the Scenes: The Making of Return to Mindfulness
Get the inside scoop on what inspired the book with the author—her disappointments and real-world experiences in politics that led to this guide to return to mindfulness in the real world. Click here to join the Live event.

3:00 pm Mindful Marketing: Oxymoron or Mastermind?
Professor Ron Hill, Dean’s Professor of Marketing and Public Policy at Kogod School of Business, blends his expertise in marketing and martial arts to reveal the surprising connection between mindfulness and effective marketing. Join this exciting conversation about the role of ethics and the eight mindfulness skills in marketing and research. Click here to join the Live event.

4:00 pm Mindfulness and Therapy: A Powerful Partnership
Explore the powerful intersection of mindfulness and therapy with Caroline Aller, a leading therapist and clinical director, Amherst Cognitive Therapy. Click here to join the Live event.

7:00 pm Celebrate the Value of Mindfulness in Family
Wrap up the series with a heartwarming and candid conversations about family dynamics and mindfulness with the author and her family members— George R. Milne and Ankrish Milne. Click here to join the Live event.

Praise for Return to Mindfulness

Mirabai Bush

This book is like sitting next to a kind teacher who guides you through the many distractions of your mind and shows you ways to return to mindfulness, to non-judging awareness. It is full of practical, playful steps to systematically integrate mindfulness into your daily life, ways that Shalini herself has learned while practicing mindfulness as teacher and governmental leader. Whether you are new to mindfulness or have been practicing for decades, you’ll benefit from her guidance toward a calmer, clearer, more loving and compassionate life.

Author (with Ram Dass), Walking Each Other Home Co-creator of Search Inside Yourself: Mindfulness-Based Emotional Intelligence at Google

Ron Hill

Once or twice in a lifetime, you may come across a book that can change you in a most positive way. Return has this magic and more. I have often wondered why my mind operates like a pinball machine (monkey mind?) and what to do about it. As a teacher, scholar, and public speaker, I now recognize the multiple selves that arise from my past to hijack what I am trying to accomplish in any given moment. This volume not only helps the reader understand the process, but it also shows how to mindfully, successfully, and playfully change reactions into pro-actions that serve our individual and interpersonal needs. My plan is to use the 50 options until they become a part of who I am across situations. Of course, the process never ends and will revisit the 8 skill chapters over-and-over, seeking to mine every nugget of mindfulness gold in the foreseeable future.

Dean’s Professor of Marketing and Public Policy Kogod School of Business, Marketing Department Chair Editor-in-Chief, Responsible Research in Business and Management

Acharya Shunya

Return to Mindfulness is a delightful read that will open your heart and mind. Shalini Bahl shares profound yet practical wisdom that will inspire you to live with more meaning, compassion, and joy. This book is like having a wise friend gently guide you home to your best self.

Author Sovereign Self, Claim Your Inner Joy and Freedom with the Empowering Wisdom of the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita

Amishi Jha

Return to Mindfulness masterfully articulates the barriers we all face in being mindful during our everyday lives. Whether you’re a leader or seeker, this book will serve you as a wise guide—a calm, clear whisper in a noisy, distracted world.

PhD, Neuroscientist and best-selling author of Peak Mind.

Chade-Meng Tan

“Return to Mindfulness” is a mindful companion for navigating the complexities of life. Shalini offers a refreshing and practical approach to mindfulness. Whether you’re seeking clarity with the eight mindfulness skills or embarking on a systematic journey to build your capacity for real-world mindfulness, this book is your trusted guide for joyful living and empowered leadership.

International bestselling author of Search Inside Yourself and Buddhism for All.

Michelle Lopes Maldonado

A Return to Mindfulness is what we need in this moment. Shalini offers a profoundly thoughtful guide and reminder for us to be and see one another as deeply human. The 8 mindfulness skills – awareness, compassion, curiosity, energy, appreciative joy, inner calm, focus, and equanimity – are shared with ease and clarity so that each of us as leaders can more skillfully navigate division, conflict, and competing needs as we extend compassion and take wise action that inspires new ways of being and thinking that inform how we do what we do. Return calls us to co-create the conditions and solutions that help bring people together, find common ground, and flourish. The beauty of Return is that it applies to all that we do at home, at school, in business, in politics, and more. Everywhere we are, Return should be.

Virginia State Representative and Founder of Lucenscia

 

Rashmi Bismark

Diving into Return to Mindfulnessby Shalini Bahl, PhD is a refreshing journey back home to inner wisdom. This elegant guidebook not only illuminates the transformative power of mindfulness in everyday life but also shares eight practical, real-world skills to disrupt unhelpful patterns and integrate awareful presence in any moment. Rooted in timeless Buddhist teachings and informed by modern research, Dr. Milne’s clear explanations, relatable stories, and accessible applications enliven mindfulness practice. An indispensable companion for anyone seeking to connect more deeply with life, this book embodies compassionate self-exploration and mindful leadership with authenticity and grace.

MD, MPH, Preventive Medicine physician, certified yoga and mindfulness meditation teacher, and author of Finding Om

Barry Boyce

How many town councilors do you know who practice and teach mindfulness—and bring it into their day-to-day life? Not enough! Shalini Bahl has done just that. And this book is a testament to both the practical and profound impact of the practice of mindfulness and the way of life it promotes. Return to Mindfulness is a rich treasury of insights, methods, and playful illustrations, and also an honest account of a real journey to openness that all of us can relate to.

Founding Editor of Mindful magazine and mindful.org

Caroline Aller

One of the most remarkable aspects of Return to Mindfulness is its ability to seamlessly integrate mindfulness into one’s daily routines. It’s not a practice reserved for special moments; it’s a way of life that becomes a natural part of how one lives. The book offers practical exercises and insights that can effortlessly be incorporated into one’s day, helping to find clarity and self-awareness amid life’s overwhelmingly busy moments. Shalini Bahl’s expertise shines through as she demystifies the practice making it accessible to anyone, regardless of their prior experience. This guide equipped me with the tools to lead my company and staff with greater empathy, clarity, and authenticity. By integrating mindfulness into leadership practices, Return to Mindfulness not only fosters personal growth but also transforms organizations and communities, creating a ripple effect of positive change on a global scale. Return is an essential companion for those seeking a more balanced, mindful, and meaningful existence. With its gentle guidance and profound insights, this book has the power to transform your life, making mindfulness not just a practice but a way of being.

Caroline Aller, Founder and Clinical Director, Amherst Cognitive Therapy

Ted Meissner

With amazing openness and clarity, Shalini Bahl shares about her notable personal successes *and* failures, bringing them together for an insightful awareness of how mindfulness can make a pragmatic difference. Her journey weaves the different aspects of herself together through mindfulness, integrating them while neither judging nor watering down any aspect of who she is, but welcoming them. Shalini’s skillful crafting of the process of coming together reflects much of the tensions of present-day life, showing readers how to work with the joys and difficulties inevitable in life.

Senior Mindfulness Teacher, Podcast Host, Mindfulness Voyage

D. Cristi Stroud-Downey

Return to Mindfulness is a wonderful book. A mix of real-life examples and practical applications. Good for both the newcomer to mindfulness as well as the person who practices daily. A reader can read straight through or skip to the different practices. I felt like Shalini was in the room leading me as I read the pages. This has been a wonderful book to read as I enter a new chapter in my life. A reminder to return to my center and take time to just breathe. A must have by your bedside or desk.

 wife/mom/sister and Managing Director, Guardian Life

 

Greg Runyan

“Return to Mindfulness is a beautiful guide to finding moments of awareness during days filled with multiple demands and expectations. Shalini’s honest reflections sharing her journey with mindfulness are relatable to all of us who struggle to pause in the moment and be with what is present.  The eight mindfulness skills taught in the context of daily work and life routines will help readers further their mindfulness practice and grow as leaders bringing positive change to the world. I was fortunate to study with Shalini as I began my mindfulness journey. Return to Mindfulness is a lovely reminder of the compassionate and gentle guidance she provided.”

Director, Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative

Beyond Meditation, Mindfulness in the Real World

Hi, I am Shalini Bahl. I wrote this book because after a decade of daily meditation practice, publishing award winning research, and teaching mindfulness to thousands of people, I still struggled to walk the talk.

Sure, meditation brought profound stillness. But in the real world, I found it challenging to be mindful or know what it means to be mindful—in the middle of difficult conversations, making complex decisions, starting new habits.

This struggle became more apparent when I entered the world of politics as an elected town councilor. I discovered that my med­itation self could handle anything, but my politician self was easily hijacked by self-doubt and fear.

There had to be more.

So, I dove into ancient mindfulness texts, examining 2,500-year-old teachings of the Buddha —the Satipatthana Sutta—through a modern lens. Could this age-old wisdom help disrupt today’s defaults?

The answer was a resounding, “Yes!”

Now, after refining these skills through integrating them in my political work, research projects, and complex decisions, I’m excited to share what transformed my life and that of many of my clients. So it can transform yours too.

Discover the eight mindfulness skills that disrupt the eight default habits

AWARENESS
See with Fresh Eyes
DISRUPTS
AUTOPILOT
Thinking and acting without conscious awareness and intentions
COMPASSION
Seek to Understand and Interbe
DISRUPTS
JUDGING MIND
Tendency to act on our automatic judgments about ourselves and others
CURIOSITY
Ask What, Not Why
DISRUPTS
CONFIRMATION BIAS
Tendency to seek information that confirms what we believe
MINDFUL ENERGY
Chop Wood, Carry Water
DISRUPTS
STATUS QUO BIAS
Tendency to avoid the discomfort of any kind of change
APPRECIATIVE JOY
Meet Life with Love and Gratitude
DISRUPTS
NEGATIVITY BIAS
Tendency to see more wrong than right in our lives
INNER CALM
Empty the Cup
DISRUPTS
ATTACHMENTS
Tendency to cling to habitual hurrying, beliefs, and expectations
FOCUS
Choose Which Wolf to Feed
DISRUPTS
DISTRACTED MIND
Tendency to be easily distracted by what’s not important
EQUANIMITY
Ride the Waves of Change with Grace
DISRUPTS
IMPULSIVE
Tendency to automatically react based on our biases

Resources to Practice Mindfulness in the Real World

Discover where you are on the mindfulness continuum

Use the Free Mindfulness Assessment to contemplate your eight mindfulness skills.

Get a copy of the book

This book is a systematic program with over 50 dedicated practices and daily reminders to strengthen your eight mindfulness skills to see clearly and act intentionally. Based on your mindfulness assessment, you can give more attention to the mindfulness skills that you’re looking to foster.

Download a free copy of the chapter on Mindful Energy: Chop Wood, Carry Water to sample the energy practices and reminders here.

Download the digital app for 48 practices and reminders

Like a mindful friend, this digital deck of mindfulness cards is designed to be there for you when you need it.
Practice and play with the mindfulness cards to:
1. Start your day intentionally
2. Find clarity about a situation or relationship
3. Make choices that are personally and collectively fulfilling
4. Invite a mindful lens to a challenging situation
5. Strengthen the eight mindfulness skills


Please 
email me if you would like to explore how the eight mindfulness skills can support you or your team in reaching your goals for personal fulfillment, effective leadership, and global impact.