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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.
Tag Archives | Mindfulness
How to visit Ancient Sites – Mindfulness & Meditation
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.
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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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.
“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:
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“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.
Miriam Greenspan, writing in the January 2003 issue of the Shambala Sun:
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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?
via Psych Central
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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.
This week on Mindful Cyborgs Chris Dancy and I discussed the relationship between mindfulness and quantified self with biosensor engineer Nancy Dougherty. Nancy talks about how she came to the practice of mindfulness through some of her “happy pills experiment,” her light-based mood tracking system and why a portable fMRI might be a little over kill for self-tracking.
You can also read more notes and the full transcript on Technoccult.
This week the Mindful Cyborgs podcast interviewed Nathan Jurgenson, the co-founder of the site Cyborgology, co-founder of the Theorizing the Web conference, a contributing editor at The New Inquiry and a sociology graduate student at the University of Maryland.
Here are some excerpts:
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If you’ve taken a lot of photos, if you’re a photographer and you spend a lot of time with the camera in your hand or up your eye. You develop the thing that is called the “camera eye,” that is even when the camera is not at your eye you start to see the world through the logic of the camera mechanism. You see the world as a potential photo with a framing, lighting, the depth of field and so forth. And that’s called the camera eye and I think social media, especially Facebook, has given us the sort of documentary vision or the Facebook eye where you see the world as a potential Facebook post or tweet or Instagram photo.
Most of us probably assume that scientists have little time for the mysteries of Eastern spirituality and meditation. And until just a few years ago that assumption might well have been true. But in recent years the emerging field of contemplative science has been having a real effect on the perception of meditation in the scientific community, a shift that might be the start of a new scientific revolution.
David Vargo is an instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, and has held the position of Senior Research Coordinator for the Mind and Life Institute, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to fostering dialogue and research at the highest possible level between modern science and the great contemplative traditions. In this episode of the Buddhist Geeks podcast he gives a cogent overview of the state of scientific research in to meditation.