David Kundtz on Mindfulness and Learning How to Stop

David Kundtz is an author and retired psychotherapist who has written a plethora of books on mindfulness and mental health. After working several years for a social service agency, he maintained a family counseling practice in Berkeley for over twenty years. David is also the former Director and Presenter of Inside Track Seminars and has presented seminars on stress management and emotional health geared towards working professionals.

David was ordained a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise, Idaho in 1963 and served for approximately nineteen years. After leaving the ministry he pursued his doctorate in pastoral psychology, leading to a career in marriage and family therapist which then lead to his abundant and inspiring writing career.

David attended school at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Baltimore, MD, and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA.

Your book, The Art of Stopping is about how to stay mindful and balanced even when life is overwhelming (which could not be more helpful in this day and age). What inspired you to write this much-needed book?

My own mid-life crisis—and what ensued from it—is what inspired me to write about Stopping. I was a very busy, but content clergyman, or so I thought, when the crisis hit. Not really knowing what to do, I isolated on a very quiet stretch of the North coast and did nothing for a month. Later, as I analyzed my experience, the idea for Stopping was born.

Describe your writing process a bit. What was the most difficult aspect of writing The Art of Stopping? What has been the most rewarding aspect of the whole experience? 

I try to write early in the day and generally from three to five hours at a time. I like to be alone in a quiet setting when writing and as uninterrupted as possible. I actually enjoy the process of writing, so that’s rewarding. But by far the most rewarding is the feedback I receive from readers.

Why do you believe people, in general, have such a hard time stopping?

In a word, fear. I believe we are generally afraid of what might come up for us when there is nothing going on. In my experience as a therapist, what comes up is almost always not so bad as feared. Also, the culture we live in does not encourage or reward the idea or the practice of doing nothing. Stopping is counter-cultural.

What does balance look like to you? Is the idea of a balanced life different for everyone or is there a general idea of what a balanced life would consist of? 

I see balance as having all the aspects of your life—work, family, leisure, friends, hobbies, etc.—in the right order. That is, in the order in which you want them,

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start stopping but does not know where to begin? What would you consider to be the first step in practicing mindfulness?

Start with small steps and easy practices. For Stopping, this involves what I call Stillpoints: a short time—from a few seconds to an hour or so—of stopping what you are doing, turning your energy inward, saying a prayer/making an affirmation/or simply being still. Doing five to twenty-five or fifty Stillpoints in a day will bring you to the end of it more refreshed and relaxed. And it is simply using brief moments, even seconds, so that it is not really noticed, either by you or anybody else.

If you had to choose your favorite quote or passage from The Art of Stopping, what would it be?

“The ultimate purpose of Stopping is to ensure that when we are going, we are going in the direction that we want and we are not just reacting to the pace of our lives, but choosing moment by moment what’s best, what in fact we really want. The ultimate reason for Stopping is going.”

How do you want your readers to feel after they turn the last page of your book?

I would like readers to feel heard, understood, and “seen.” I would like them to feel confident and enthusiastic about incorporating Stopping into their lives.

On a personal note, how are you nourishing your own soul and taking care of yourself during this chaotic time?

I am doing lots of reading. My current project is catching up on old classics that I missed in the past. I walk the dog a lot.

Rapid Fire Questions:

Favorite place in the world? Home. If I have to leave: Vancouver, BC or Florence.

Go to coffee (or tea) order? Small coffee with cream

Summer or winter? Summer

Pancakes or waffles? Waffles – more spaces for syrup

Last book you read? The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Art of Stopping

How to Be Still When You Have to Keep Going

Stopping is a gift to yourself. Knowing when to breathe and regain a clearer vision of yourself and your surroundings helps give you a fresh perspective and an inner balance meant to help you feel in control of the bigger things.

Who are you? What are your true priorities? Your responsibilities may have taken over and are preventing you from living to your fullest potential. Dr. Kundtz gives you insight into key questions you should be asking.

Stop whatever you’re doing and enjoy the sunrise. Big things can grab your attention but don’t forget to turn around and find the serenity in stillness─the peace in a deep breath, and the happiness in remembering who you are.

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