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Dave Mochel: Discomfort and Joy

Well-being coach and Stanford University lecturer Dave Mochel spent the day at St. Clement’s School on January 22, 2020 discussing working peacefully and powerfully with stress, anxiety, and challenges. The visit, part of our LINCWell Speaker Series, included dedicated time with SCS staff and Upper School students, and an evening session with parents and other members of the greater St. Clement’s community.

Using physical exercises to demonstrate his points and always encouraging questions and comments, the sessions were interactive, personal, and informative.

Dave is regarded as one of the foremost experts in the revolutionary approach of mindful self-regulation and describes mindfulness as “…the skillful use of attention.”

“The key to mindfulness is not preventing your mind from wandering,” he explained, “but noticing that your mind has wandered.”

Although mindfulness has been presented as a marketable commodity in recent years, Dave pointed out that away from the sound bites and catch-phrases, mindfulness is actually as simple as finding your body, finding your feet on the ground, or finding your breathing.

“It’s about finding what means the most to us, about connecting to what really matters,” he said.

The commodification of mindfulness has led to a suggestion that if you practice it, you will feel better, but Dave emphasized that mindfulness isn’t about feeling good: “It’s not an escape or a cure-all; instead, it can help you choose where you focus and help you to be with life as it is.”

While mindfulness does not eliminate discomfort, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as discomfort is a normal aspect of life.  Dave explained that learning to work with discomfort can be a valuable skill throughout life, and that awareness and acceptance of discomfort are powerful practices.

While we all experience discomfort throughout our lives, rather than seeking a solution that very often doesn’t exist, comfort can come from something as simple as someone responding “Of course” when another person admits to feeling anxious, stressed, sad, or insecure.

Ultimately, when faced with difficulty, we have three choices. We can spin, going over and over the same thing in our minds. We can take action by talking about it, reading, or writing. Or we can simply let go.

“The practice of letting go begins by bringing attention to the present,” said Dave.


Dave Mochel is just the latest speaker presented by LINCWell.  Details on our next speaker will be shared soon!

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