The word “mindfulness” is in the air these days where people are talking about well being and problem solving and reducing stress. Now that I think of it, mindfulness is probably in the air because stress is in the air. War, political strife, severe weather, economic crises are all, in my opinion, contributing to increased stress all over the world. A lot of people are getting in the stress reduction game – teaching mindfulness workshops, for example.
It’s good to be hearing the M word tossed about. This means people are talking about and thinking about solutions to their problems. I employ the practice of “mindfulness” in my Un-Agoraphobic recovery program as a means of soothing your savage system. By focusing fully throughout the day on each task you perform, every activity you undertake, you always are living in that moment and that moment only. There’s no anxiety or regret over past or future, there’s only now.
A question was raised recently in a Salon Magazine article over whether mindfulness practice is becoming a fad, losing its meaning and spiritual background. Authors Ronald Purser and Andrew Cooper expressed fear that the practice of mindfulness will become the equivalent of an energy drink, designed to be consumed quickly as a way for business people to reduce their stress so they can build their business bigger and even more successful
Mindfulness is also associated with meditation, which I recommend in the recovery program. Once you learn how to focus on something as simple as the passage of air through your nostrils or the rising and falling of your abdomen or a pine cone on a tree you will have created a safe room in your brain. Meditation becomes a place to go when anxiety is having its way with you. The breathing preparation alone will lower your vitals. Your brain gets to take a break any time you are engage in a singular activity. I do a lot of drawing to reduce my stress. The activity takes all my thoughts away and gives me the feeling of having taken a great nap.
The article in Salon expressed concern that the “science” of mindfulness – the brain imaging truth that resting the mind is beneficial – will lead people to use the practice for purposes other than what the Buddha had in mind. Purser and Cooper remind us that Buddha wanted people to use focus and meditation to clear their minds for spiritual benefit. Buddhist teachings concentrate on such things as loving compassion and simplification and reducing the need for “things” to achieve happiness.
A calm that will lead you to free yourself from anxiety and panic attacks is the goal of the use of mindfulness in my panic disorder recovery program. My opinion is that one can practice mindfulness without becoming a Buddhist. but that any materialistic gain from such practice is contradictory to the original purpose of meditation and mind cleansing activities.