Someone walked into the studio last week and said she saw an article in the Parade section of the Sunday paper highlighting meditation. “I’ve been thinking about what I am doing for my stress levels for a long time, and this seemed like a sign that it was time to try something new.” She began her Intro to Yoga Series last Sunday, and is signed up for the Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation which begins next Monday.
My dad called me a couple of weeks ago about a piece on 60 minutes with Anderson Cooper about Mindfulness. Now he, at 83, is interested in Mindfulness and meditation for the first time in his life.
Every day, I see articles on social media about the science and benefits of meditation. I have been practicing mindfulness meditation for 20+ years, and never have I seen such mainstream media attention on it. Even the Seahawks are meditating!
The truth is, this practice has been around for thousands of years. Why is it suddenly in the press now? I might say that it’s because we need it more than ever before. We are in such a fast paced culture, and we have literally forgotten how to do nothing. Waiting at the doctor’s office, in line, or to pick up our child at school – these used to be opportunities to do nothing. To just sit, or connect with other people. Now what do we do? Pull out our phones and distract ourselves with the technology constantly at our fingertips.
We have forgotten how to slow down. Forgotten how to nap. How to just be. Our nervous systems are in a mode of constant fight-or-flight reactivity. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, says “A lifetime of unconscious reactivity is likely to increase our risk of eventual breakdown and illness significantly…There is mounting evidence of the sympathetic nervous system can lead to long term problems such as increased blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, digestive problems, chronic headaches, backaches, and sleep disorders, as well as chronic anxiety.”
“The healthy alternative,” he says, “is to stop reacting to stress and to start responding to it. This is the path of mindfulness in everyday life.”
This is why meditation is beginning to hit the main stream. It is time for us to choose a new path. It is time to slow down. Time to feel our breath. Time to let the constant buzzing in our minds to settle down. Time to settle into who we really are, to tap into the innate wisdom of our body, mind, and heart, and respond from a place of center.
“As meditation moves us toward wholeness, we rediscover a strong center, an inner store of mental and emotional strength that was once lost to us. Many people who practice concentration to steady their attention use the same word to describe the feeling it gives them: empowered. Once we have a sense of a center, we can more easily withstand the onslaught of overstimulation, uncertainty, and anxiety the world launches at us without getting overwhelmed. We’re stronger because we not only see more but also see more clearly.
Sharon Salzberg, “Real Happiness”