Dr. Lisa Napora has spent many years living mindfully as best she can.
The Niagara Falls woman believes that returning again and again to a peaceful, contemplative state of mindfulness has enhanced her life and she has devoted herself to exploring and sharing the concepts which emerge as gifts for those who seek it.
As such, she’s helping to lead the first Uplift Buffalo Mindfulness Festival on Saturday for those who wish to learn more.
The festival, expected to draw attendees from Western New York, southern Ontario and beyond, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Buffalo Grand Hotel, formerly the Adam’s Mark at 120 Church St. The event will feature mindfulness guides and experts from across the region and the world and will offer awareness-based practices on the main Serenity Stage, mindfulness experts in the Learning Center, a Kids Corner, an interactive labyrinth and more than 40 local vendors and food trucks. Best-selling author Sharon Salzberg, who teaches mindfulness and is the author of ten books including the New York Times best seller “Real Happiness,” is the main speaker.
Napora, an educator and consultant on mindfulness, is the executive director of The Mindfulness Alliance, which is running the festival.
The Mindfulness Alliance formed as a cross-sector collaborative about six years ago, becoming a non-profit a year ago. The founding members are educators and health care workers who believe that the future of the mindfulness movement is rooted in collaboration, Napora said.
Many had been involved in a similar event in 2016 funded by the SUNY System, after mindfulness practitioners and teachers were found in so many areas of education, health care and business. A vision emerged from the collective, she said, and “the vision became magnetic.”
”We are transforming our systems from the inside out,” Napora explained. “Together we can support our own well being, the well being of others and the well being of society.”
This week, she took a few minutes away from the 18 months of planning for the massive event involving many mindfulness advocates throughout the region and the world — including representatives of many colleges in the region such as Niagara University, as well as many local schools, health care organizations and other institutions where mindfulness is being infused — to answer some questions about the practice of mindfulness.
QUESTION: How do you define mindfulness?
ANSWER: Mindfulness is generally defined as non-judgmental present moment awareness. So it’s looked at as a state of mind and a way of being in the world, but I like to talk about it as our basic human capacity for awareness. We all have this capacity that we can cultivate.
Q: Why is mindfulness a good thing?
A: When we come into contact with our inner awareness, we can learn how to help ourselves and support ourselves, and then we have an innate toolkit inside ourselves. It helps mentally, emotionally and physically and translates outward to help us professionally.
Q: Mindfulness isn’t meditation, correct?
A: Mindfulness today has become a way of living and being in the world, a way of being present that is open and curious while accepting what is.
Q: Can you describe the life of a person who is mindful?
A: Everyone struggles to work with their mind, to work with their thoughts, to work with their emotions. Practicing mindfulness helps you become aware of those and to understand that those thoughts are not you. You can learn how to work with your mind with flow and by letting go, which transforms your relationships and experiences and your every day.
Q: Tell me more about the mindfulness movement and how so many believe it can benefit our world?
A: The mindfulness movement resides mostly at the individual level, where it needs to be. The idea of The Mindfulness Alliance is to bring together everyone who believes in the power of awareness and then add to that the power of community to advance collective well being. Those two components together can catalyze our collective capacity.
Q: Do you believe your ideas can change the world?
A: We say ‘believe the world you envision can become a reality. Be daring, let go more, open more, deepen your capacity for awareness. Take action. Turn individual aspirations into collective outcomes.’ There is a quote from Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor. It’s a powerful quote. He said ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’
Q: Wow. That is a great quote. Can you tell me how mindfulness has changed your life?
A: It is my life.
Tickets to Uplift Buffalo are $10. Children younger than 10 are admitted free of charge. For more information about Uplift Buffalo, visit www.themindfulnessalliance.org/festival.html.