Why we need to sharpen the lens of mindfulness and be more willing to see the full catastrophe through a mindful eye than ever before.
Of all the ancient and modern practices designed to wake us up, why has the simple practice of mindfulness and mindful meditation arrived at the forefront of our cultural sensibility?
Why is it taking hold so strongly in our American health care, academic, and business institutions? What makes mindfulness so compelling, grabbing our minds and our hearts, not letting us go?
Over 30 years ago, when Jon Kabat-Zinn began sitting and adapting Zen Buddhist mindfulness practices to the health care arena at UMass Medical Center and writing Full Catastrophe Living, no one, and certainly not he, could have predicted the Mindful Revolution.
Our willingness today to face life’s difficult truths has increased
Why are we now sharpening the lens of mindfulness, polishing the glass, and more willing to see the full catastrophe through a mindful eye than ever before?
As a psychologist in private practice who practices mindful meditation and yoga for many years, I can say that our willingness today to face life’s difficult truths (suffering, loss, impermanence) as well as its joys (love and happiness), has changed, deepened and increased.
But again, why mindfulness? Why not yoga (although popular)? Why not Tai Chi (also popular)? Or boot camp, spinning, running, Zumba?
Here is why:
- Mindfulness is FREE: in more ways than one
Not only is mindfulness free, it is “free-ing.” The practice of mindful meditation, when practiced with commitment, is a sure-fire way to help liberate us from our reactive states of mind and emotions.
- Mindfulness IS SIMPLE: practiced anywhere and everywhere without equipment.
If you are breathing, you are able and capable of practicing mindful meditation. If we are alive then we are breathing. Simply follow your in breath and out breath.
- Mindfulness is FLEXIBLE: practiced solo, but can also be a group activity
Not only is it flexible, the practice of mindfulness helps create a more flexible and open mind and body. Period. We become less reactive and more able to see our usual patterns of thought and behavior.
- Mindfulness itself is ORGANIC: a word very popular today
Breath based and derived from the simple ground of our Living. Self-explanatory and, certainly, healthy!
- Mindfulness is RELAXING: or it teaches us to relax.
We live in a busy, often-anxious culture. Usually more focused on “doing” versus “being.”
A regular mindfulness practice helps restore the states that we lived as children —happy, free, and simple.
Lisa Langer, PhD, is the author of Deeper into Mindfulness: Next Steps to Sustain Your Meditation Practice and Find Inner Peace. Dr. Langer is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, and the Founder of PRACTICE Body Mind Soul company, a wellness center in Roslyn, NY, acquired by the Katz Women’s Institute/Northwell Health System as their first ever Center for Wellness and Integrative Medicine. She has a 30+ year history of training in mindful meditation and body practices.