Ok, now it’s on the cover of Time Magazine. Mindfulness meditation, that is. Mindfulness is everywhere! Newspapers and magazines carry stories on the benefits of mindfulness; medical journals report on the latest research about mindfulness; businesses have mindfulness programs to help combat stress and to increase creativity and productivity; schools have begun to introduce mindfulness meditation to students and mindfulness is even taught is preschools; there are classes in mindful parenting; even commercials refer to mindfulness.
What’s this all about? Why has mindfulness suddenly become a cultural icon?
Maybe it’s because most of us live with constant busyness and stress, and that has an impact on all of us. Most of us are over-programmed, over-extended, over-busy and over-stressed. How can we find serenity and ease in our lives? How do we find happiness? For growing numbers of people mindfulness is an answer.
What is mindfulness? It is an effective technique for stress reduction, for lowering blood pressure and for managing pain, depression and anxiety. It brings balance, rest and a growing inner peace, and contributes to physical, emotional and mental well- being. Mindfulness can also increase our feelings of acceptance, gratitude, generosity, compassion, serenity and joy. In a word, mindfulness is good for what ails us in the 21st century.
Mindfulness is essentially the practice of paying attention. It is being aware of whatever happens or arises in your body or mind, including sensations, emotions and thoughts. It is not about trying to change anything or to grasp on to anything, but gently and without judgment accepting whatever arises as it is. Sitting comfortable,we use the physical sensations of breath as the focal point of our attention. As other physical sensations, emotions or thoughts arise, we note them with curiosity and compassion, and then make the conscious decision to return the attention to the breath. It’s that simple, and that complicated.
My teacher and friend Sylvia Boorstein describes meditation this way:
“The point of meditation is to keep the mind free of confusion. Meditation, past calming our nerves, past being good for our blood pressure, past allowing us to work out our own internal psychological dramas, which it does, past helping us to get along with our kin and our community, is a way of really deeply seeing the truth that the only way to ameliorate our own suffering and the suffering of the world is to keep our minds clear.”
Isn’t it time you tried mindfulness?
The PJCC offers a free Mindfulness Workshop on May 9, 2014