Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mindfulness Meditation: As Simple As Breathing?

Mindfulness is either on the cusp of something great, or risks becoming the latest self-help fad to perish from oversimplification. It has, without a doubt, improved my functioning with bipolar disorder. In working with others, I have seen similar results. And while research specific to meditation and bipolar disorder is scarce, the effect of mindfulness on other mental illnesses is well documented, and positive. But it’s not so easy.

The nascent field of secular meditation instruction for personal improvement is beginning to promise an awful lot for very little effort. Chip Wilson, founder of lululemon, the athletic clothing company, has kicked off the “whil” initiative. The premise is great results from one minute of meditation. The UK firm Headspace provides daily meditations and messages that promise all the benefits of more rigorous practice.

Maybe my opinion is colored by the austerity and rigor of my Zen training, but I fear some of this borders on hucksterism. I have absolutely no problem with people marketing meditation or making money off of it. It’s an income source for me, after all.

But as in other wellness fields, the expectations for mindfulness have been set very high and results are being touted for less and less effort. Dieting, fitness, and self-image have suffered from, and continue to suffer from, big promises for a minimum investment of time (the money spent on this stuff is huge), when what is really necessary is self-discipline and the time to make things work.
Yes, I want people to read me and attend my classes and workshops. Instruction is valuable and can be inspiring. Sharing a common experience with others also is important. But before you dive into the next fad meditation, or buy the latest app, consider the elegance and simplicity of basic, time-tested meditation methods. Before you open the latest book on the underpinnings of meditation, or the great metamorphosis you can undergo if only you do this one thing, determine whether your time may be better spent just sitting and counting breaths. (MORE)

Source: Psych Central

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