Theo Koffler

Hello, I’m
Theo Koffler

Theo Koffler is the founder and executive director of Mindfulness Without Borders, a non-profit organization that focuses on advancing Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and mindfulness in educational, healthcare, and corporate settings. Mindfulness Without Borders believes that brought to scale, its programs can nurture a broad range of human competencies—intellectual and emotional—which prepare individuals to thrive and collaborate.

Advocating for SEL and education reform, Ms. Koffler has served on several boards and advisory committees including the Hawn Foundation, Inner Kids, and the Garrison Institute, where she co-authored the first-ever mapping report on Contemplation and Education in K-12 Educational Settings in the United States.

Articles

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Mind-Body Health

Making a Case for Teaching Mindfulness in the Schools

Mindfulness is a way of being and thinking that grows out of paying attention, on purpose and without judgment, to what is happening in the present moment. When we are mindful, we deliberately slow down to notice what is happening inside us (our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations), and what is happening outside us, in our environment. The intention is to see things as they are, rather than as they used to be or as we wish they could be. The good news is that the development of mindfulness helps us notice our emotions without being triggered by them. It moves us from living on automatic pilot to pausing and paying deliberate attention to what is happening in the now.

Theo Koffler
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Mind-Body Health

The Art and Practice of Mindful Listening

Listening seems like a natural skill, yet it requires attention and practice to stay present and truly hear what another person is communicating. The mind tends to wander, and our internal narratives and busy thoughts fragment our attention and sap our ability to stay focused in the moment. Our emotions can also interfere with our ability to listen. For instance, the other day my son was telling me about his plans to backpack through India for three months. He spoke about his intention to immerse himself in a new culture before embarking upon the next steps in his professional life. But somehow my mind heard him say something totally different – that he wants to put off getting a job for as long as possible. But as my motherly instinct kicked into play, our conversation veered into a tense exchange about responsibility. My emotions were heightened and I started to lose my positive energy. I realized that the conscious act of listening involves being aware of my inner emotional landscape. In this case, the tightening I felt in my chest, decreasing eye contact and physical gestures (a hug would have been nice). Why all the friction? I think it was because my son is leaving home (again!), my thoughts were racing with how to handle the transition. The result was that I did not truly hear him.

Theo Koffler
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Mind-Body Health

Gratitude 365

Last week, I was in the grocery store when I came across a rack of Father’s Day greeting cards. As I looked through the cards honoring dads, I started to think about how occasions like Father’s Day, birthdays, and anniversaries typically prompt us to celebrate special people in our lives. They’re a chance to reflect on how important these individuals are to us and how they have impacted us. Special dates also bring up an awkward paradox: how easily we can express appreciation on auspicious occasions, and how easily we can lose sight of being grateful for the very same people day to day.

Theo Koffler