As mindfulness has moved from East to West and become more utilitarian and commercialized, something has been lost in translation. Heartfulness expands mindfulness to include compassion and responsibility, with the transformative power of making us more fully awake, alive, and aware of our connection to all beings. Through stories from a life crossing borders that separate us from ourselves and each other, we are encouraged to reflect on how to manifest these principles in our daily lives.

“Through tender teaching-stories and an insightful narrative, Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu shows us the ways we can weave together mindfulness and compassion into what he terms “heartfulness.” As master educator, he leads us through the stages of heartfulness from vulnerability and connectedness to acceptance and gratitude. This is an important book. I “heartfully” recommend it to all who want to join their own personal journey of self-discovery to selfless service and the care for others.”

—Arthur Zajonc, former President of the Mind & Life Institute; emeritus professor of physics at Amherst College, and former director of the Center for Contemplative Mind

From Mindfulness to Heartfulness is a rare gem -- beautifully written, deeply engaging and filled with valuable and authentic teachings about practical and spiritual paths toward balance and understanding.  As Murphy-Shigematsu embraces his vulnerability, he opens up to and reflects upon his life stories, and that can inspire us to do the same -- encouraging us toward knowledge and understanding.  Just what is needed to bring the increasingly popular mindfulness approach back to its reality core -- the blending of heartfulness with mindfulness.


Richard Katz, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, First Nations University of Canada; author: Indigenous Healing Psychology

This powerful book is full of love and intimate wisdom.  Full of rich stories and deep guidance, it is also a map of the human heart and the best in all of us.


Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, Upaya Institute and Zen Center

This book has the potential for radical change in the way we live together, and I loved reading it! Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu takes us beyond mindfulness as it is often currently taught—as an instrument for cognitive changes like focus, attention or stress relief—to the truths of the gentle, appreciative, nurturing heart.  He shows us through stories and practices how to expand our contemplative lives from being self-focused to being inclusive, connected, compassionate, and responsible. Immense heartfulness shines through every story he tells, drawing on experiences from teaching children and college students to being with his dying grandmother to his own biracial childhood.  Each story is a jewel, opening the heart.  He connects heartfulness to social justice, leadership, and education and offers simple, direct instructions for seven heartful practices.


Mirabai Bush, Senior Fellow, Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Author, Compassion in Action (with Ram Dass) 


When Half is whole
Multicultural Encounters

Paul Spickard

Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Synergy, Healing, and Empowerment is an incredible book. Making a compelling case for the paradigm of synergy, which releases an ever-expanding network of healing and empowerment, this book could not be more timely.

Stanley Krippner

Professor of Psychology, Saybrook University

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How to Sustain Your Activism

Three principles to help activists avoid burnout and continue working toward a better world

March 13, 2017

Greater Good Magazine: Science-based insights for a meaningful life

Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley

How to Help Diverse Students Find Common Ground

Principles that promote a truly inclusive university

November 14, 2016

Greater Good Magazine; Science-based Insights for a Meaningful Live

Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley

From Mindfulness to Heartfulness at Stanford University

English version of article published in Japanese

June 01, 2018

進化するマインドフルネス:ウェルビーイングへと続く道。Evolving Mindfulness: The Continuing Way to Well-being

The Heart of Listening

“You keep telling us to listen, but how do we listen?” The student asking the question seemed exasperated and as I looked around the room I sensed that he might be voicing the frustrations of many others. I was admonishing them, “You’re not listening” They were assuring me that they were. I was countering that they weren’t, and now they were challenging me to tell them how to listen.

Arigatou: Beginning and Ending with Thanks

“She waited for you,” the priest told me. I believe she did. It had been a long trip to get there and Obaachan had been on a long journey in this world. My grandmother was 111, though the priest pronounced her 113 by the Buddhist way of counting age, adding one for the time in the womb and another on New Year’s day. Her old body had finally broken down and I couldn't just let her go, so I went to Japan to see her.


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Medical Humanities

We were introducing the topic of health disparities to a group of medical students when it happened. The film we used showed the difficulties of an elderly Asian American with cancer negotiating the health care system. Some of the students had expressed their beliefs that cultural competence was an important part of studying about disparities and the class was going smoothly.

While I (Richard Katz) was teaching at Harvard, I was invited to give a talk about the education of healers to students in the combined Harvard-M.I.T. MD/PhD program. The invitation came from a student in that program who was interested in my research on spiritually oriented healing in Indigenous cultures, and who led me to believe that fellow students in his program would be eager to hear me. Looking forward to such an opportunity to speak with interested young people in an elite medical training program, I eagerly accepted.

We sat there wanting to hear about other people, but the professor told us to look at ourselves first. That was not what we wanted to hear. We wanted to become competent in working with patients who were culturally or racially different and less fortunate than us, but we wanted it to be easier. We wanted to help them, but did not want to examine ourselves. We were there to learn about them, not us. Some of us became irritated and impatient.


When I was told that I had been assigned a person named Yoshiko Meyers to visit, the questions began. What do you talk about with someone who is dying? Would they be interested in small talk about the weather outside their room? Does the news hold any importance for them? Would they like to talk about their religious beliefs? But what if they have none? Would they want to talk about their feelings? And if they wanted to talk about death, what could I say?

Faced with the challenge of teaching pre-medical students about narrative and cultural competence, I decided to take a chance. I walked into the room for the fi rst class sensing that all eyes were on me, and hearing a buzz. I was self-conscious but fully expecting this attention. After all, I was wearing a kimono. I smiled at their anticipating faces and began speaking…in Japanese. I noticed their energy, facial expressions, bodily movements.

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Multicultural Identity and Family

For the Community

Lane Hirabayashi's life story in When Half is Whole. “For the community. ”Lane was a pioneer in using the word hapa, to identify mixed Japanese Americans on the mainland, and in claiming “our” right to self definition. He was a dedicated scholar/activist who devoted his life’s work to research, writing, and teaching about the JA and Asian American communities. When he found out that I wanted to include his story in my book, When Half is Whole, he was humble as always, and told me he was honored. I’m so glad that I did this while he was still here so that he could see how valued his life was. We were allies in asserting our right to be both hapa and Japanese American. I miss him, but he lives on in the ripples his work continues to send out to others.

Grits and Sushi

Black and Indian? Yes, Kamala Harris has raised awareness of multiple identities. Here is the story of Mitzi Uehara Carter, Okinawan Japanese and African American. 

When my mother, two older sisters, and I realized that my grandmother could no longer live alone in Japan, we brought Obaachan to the United States to die. No one actually said, that but we all knew it was true. After all, Grandma was ninety-nine. How many more years could she possibly live? Better to die among those she loved the most, we reasoned. She could pass her few remaining years in peace and would be able to die surrounded by her only child and grandchildren.

My mom and dad met in postwar Tokyo, Occupied Japan. They worked in the same building downtown where MacArthur's general headquarters were. Mom spoke a little English and Dad spoke a litte Japanese, and like most people, they couldn't understand each other. So naturally they fell in love. 

Many young Japanese like to go to the United States or some other countries for homestays. These experiences can be eye-opening in many ways. One of my students in Japan, Yasuko, went to California for a homestay. For two weeks her American host mother hugged and kissed her. At the end of the two weeks her host mother embraced her at the airport and said warmly, "I love you." 

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Multiethnic Society

The social representations of Amerasians of American-Japanese ancestry in Japan have evolved from the derogatory "Ainoko" of the postwar period to the "Konketsuji" as social problem. The term "Haafu" that followed brought stylish images to American-Japanese while "Kokusaiji" and "Daburu" declare their international character.


These changing images reflect evolving social conditions to a certain extent but also are stereotypes and misrepresentations. In general, more positive social attitudes and legal conditions have improved the quality of life for American-Japanese. However, continued belief in the myth of Japanese ethnic purity remains a barrier to the acceptance of multiethnic people.

Invisible Man Narratives

The letter from the Ministry of Justice informed me that I was now Japanese and no longer a foreigner. But I wondered, was it really so easy? Could one become Japanese simply by submitting a few documents to the proper authorities?

The nationality law at the time of my birth in Tokyo had made me a foreigner, forcing me to naturalize as an adult as the only way to become a citizen. Ministry officials told me that my naturalization was easy since my mother was Japanese. But I had always thought that having a Japanese mother made me Japanese, not their stamp of approval. And I am constantly reminded by others that regardless of what the state claims, being Japanese is really a matter of blood.

When my father died, my Japanese mother had a smile on her face during the entire funeral. When people came up to her to express their condolences, she gave them an even bigger smile. When she spoke to them, she often laughed, even when talking about heartbreaking things. The Japanese smile irks some Americans and people from other countries, who find it puzzling, inappropriate and disturbing. But such behaviors that appear so different are often surprisingly familiar.

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