Tag Archives | Mindfulness

Mind Your Own Business

Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Barbara Ehrenreich writes at the Baffler:

At about the beginning of this decade, mass-market mindfulness rolled out of the Bay Area like a brand new app. Very much like an app, in fact, or a whole swarm of apps. Previous self-improvement trends had been transmitted via books, inspirational speakers, and CDs; now, mindfulness could be carried around on a smartphone. There are hundreds of them, these mindfulness apps, bearing names like Smiling Mind and Buddhify. A typical example features timed stretches of meditation, as brief as one minute, accompanied by soothing voices, soporific music, and images of forests and waterfalls.

This is Buddhism sliced up and commodified, and, in case the connection to the tech industry is unclear, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist blurbed a seminal mindfulness manual by calling it “the instruction manual that should come with our iPhones and BlackBerries.” It’s enough to make you think that the actual Buddha devoted all his time under the Bodhi Tree to product testing.

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Nihilistic Mindfulness

Harry Koopman (CC BY 2.0)

Harry Koopman (CC BY 2.0)

Andrew Gonsalves writing at Don’t Feed the Animals:

I’ve been bad. I haven’t practiced meditating in a long time and I would easily classify most of my thoughts during the day as “mindless.” That is, of course, the opposite of “mindful.” Mindfulness is a skill that takes a fair amount of work to acquire. The most recognized route to mindfulness is through meditation, wherein you practice acknowledging your thoughts for what they are and then let them go. This leads to what is often called being “in the moment,” a state where you neither pine for the past, nor mull about the future, but instead appreciate your here and now.

The benefits of mindfulness meditation are so numerous that it may as well be considered a superpower (as close as you can get to one in this world). From various health improvements to a calmer, happier disposition, mindfulness will likely improve your life, if only a little bit.

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Meditation Sweeps Corporate America, But It’s For Their Health. Not Yours

There must be money in meditation: its going corporate. Oliver Burkeman explains at the Guardian:

As a fairly regular meditator, I naturally responded with only a slight smile and a deep sense of imperturbable inner peace to the latest crop of articles asserting that mindfulness has conquered the highest levels of American corporate life.

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Photo: Jemasty (CC)

This most recent coverage has been triggered by Mindful Work, a new book by the New York Times reporter David Gelles, which documents – and largely celebrates – the discovery of meditation by hedge fund managers, health insurers, Ford, Target, Goldman Sachs and the Bank of America as a way to reduce stress and boost employee productivity. Arianna Huffington is thrilled by the news; the Wall Street Journal is excited; even the Marine Corps is interested. Now, obviously, I wouldn’t want to suggest that Goldman SachsBank of America or the US military don’t always have humanity’s best interests at heart in everything they do.

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The Meditation Boom

Apparently there’s a boom in the number of people who meditate, at least in California as reported by the Los Angeles Times:

Meditation, primarily a 2,500-year-old form called mindfulness meditation that emphasizes paying attention to the present moment, has gone viral.

"Deep meditation" by Karoly Czifra (CC)

“Deep meditation” by Karoly Czifra (CC)

The unrelenting siege on our attention can take a good share of the credit; stress has bombarded people from executives on 24/7 schedules to kids who feel the pressure to succeed even before puberty. Meditation has been lauded as a way to reduce stress, ease physical ailments like headaches and increase compassion and productivity.

Religious practitioners have long claimed that, adopted by enough people, meditation could bring us world peace. Now we hear that from Chade-Meng Tan, a Google executive charged with making the company more mindful. You needn’t even put down your phone, with apps like Insight Timer, which has guided meditations and ways to track your stillness.

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The McMindfulness Craze: The Shadow Side of the Mindfulness Revolution

Harry Koopman (CC BY 2.0)

Harry Koopman (CC BY 2.0)

Jeffrey B. Rubin at Truthout writes:

In case we had any doubt after watching Anderson Cooper on “60 Minutes,” mindfulness is the new yoga – and we are in the midst of a mindfulness revolution. It’s been embraced by celebrities, business leaders, politicians and athletes; and recommended by doctors, clergy, psychotherapists and prison wardens. Apps and bestselling books touting the benefits of meditation proliferate. Google “mindfulness” and you’ll get over 24 million hits.

It’s not surprising that with unbridled enthusiasm about mindfulness come exaggerated claims and problems that are eclipsed. Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the architects of the mindfulness revolution, claims mindfulness “has the potential to ignite a universal or global renaissance that . . . would put even the European and Italian Renaissance into the shade . . . [and] that may actually be the only promise the species and the planet have for making it through the next couple hundred years.”

Backlash was inevitable.

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How to visit Ancient Sites – Mindfulness & Meditation

How to visit Ancient Sites – Mindfulness & Meditation

Giza-Plateau-panoramic

This is the first in a series of short articles highlighting the approach I use when visiting ancient sites. I regularly organize and co-host tours to many powerful ancient sites around the world. During my tours I have observed the different ways people interact with sacred space. On one hand we have mainstream tours with guides reciting dates and names over a microphone while the tour members wear headsets. At the other end of the spectrum we have people visiting ancient and sacred sites to meditate. After witnessing these different ways of interacting, I felt compelled to share the techniques I use. I hope my insights will help others to maximize their time on location.

Ancient ritual

Anyone that has visited a museum or studied books on ancient cultures will no doubt have run into two labels “ancient ritual” and “ceremonial purposes”, these labels among others are used to explain in very broad terms what archeologists believe our ancestors were up to.… Read the rest

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The Weaponization of Mindfulness?

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Pic: RadicalCourse (CC)

Via ScienceDaily:

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Naval Health Research Center have found that mindfulness training — a combination of meditation and body awareness exercises — can help U.S. Marine Corps personnel prepare for and recover from stressful combat situations.

The study, published in the May 16, 2014 online issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that incorporating meditative practices into pre-deployment training might be a way to help the U.S. military reduce rising rates of stress-related health conditions, including PTSD, depression and anxiety, within its ranks.

“Mindfulness training won’t make combat easier,” said Martin Paulus, MD, professor of psychiatry and senior author. “But we think it can help Marines recover from stress and return to baseline functioning more quickly.”

Drawing on the teachings of Zen Buddhism, scientists describe mindfulnes as a mental state characterized by “full attention to the present moment without elaboration, judgment or emotional reactivity.” Mindfulness training, traditionally practiced through sitting meditation, attempts to cultivate this mental state by quieting the mind of extraneous thoughts.

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David Foster Wallace Offers a Lesson in Mindfulness to Graduating Class: ‘This Is Water’

“I don’t know who discovered water, but it definitely wasn’t a fish.” – Terence McKenna

Its been well said that familiarity breeds indifference.  It can also breed, or rather lead, to a life lived on auto-pilot.  Enter a helpful reality check from David Foster Wallace:

On a related note, wish I could take credit for the following insight, but it comes from London Real’s Brian Rose after smoking DMT for the first time:

“When we’re in our own consciousness; we don’t know we’re in it – because we’re swimming around in this water all the time.  And when we perturb it, then we get to see the water that we’re in is actually water.  We get to see that what we’re in, what we think is just normal life, is this consciousness.  And it’s nice to perturb it every now and then because it gives you an appreciation of your own consciousness, it allows you to observe yourself outside of your normal day.  

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The Wisdom in the Dark Emotions

eclipseMiriam Greenspan, writing in the January 2003 issue of the Shambala Sun:

I was brought to the practice of mindfulness more than two decades ago by the death of my first child. Aaron died two months after he was born, never having left the hospital. Shortly after that, a friend introduced me to a teacher from whom I learned the basics of Vipassana meditation: how to breathe mindfully and meditate with “choiceless” awareness. I remember attending a dharma talk in a room full of fifty meditators. The teacher spoke about the Four Noble Truths. Life is inherently unsatisfactory, he said. The ego’s restless desires are no sooner fulfilled than they find new objects. Craving and aversion breed suffering. One of his examples was waiting in line for a movie and then not getting in.

I asked: “But what if you’re not suffering because of some trivial attachment? What if it’s about something significant, like death?

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Meditation: Effects on Emotion Shown to Persist

via Psych Central Meditation 2

Meditation affects a person’s brain function long after the act of meditation is over, according to new research.

“This is the first time meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state,” said Gaelle Desbordes, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and at the Boston University Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology.

“Overall, these results are consistent with the overarching hypothesis that meditation may result in enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing.”

The researchers began the study with the hypothesis that meditation can help control emotional responses.

During meditation, a part of the brain called the amygdala (known for the processing of emotional stimuli) showed decreased activity. However, when the participants were shown images of other people that were either good, bad, or neutral for a practice known as “compassion meditation,” the amygdala was exceptionally responsive.

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