Saturday, 15 February 2014

#492 Mindfulness Practice & "the Real World"

     When one starts practicing Mindfulness meditation, it's a bit like taking a mini-vacation to a far-off land, where everything is different. When the few minutes of practice end, vacation's over, & it's back to "the real world".
     Meditation practice may thus initially seem like a brief escape to a pleasant, idealistic never-never land. Too many of us, out of fear, firmly believe (& behave accordingly) that survival in the "real world" demands a very different proactively aggressive approach. A popular poster in the 1970s showed a cave-man-like brute carrying a huge club, with the caption: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil, because I'm the meanest son-of-a-bitch in the valley."
     The practical necessity of primitive brutishness, and therefore, impracticality of an evolved approach like mindfulness is a surprisingly common, deeply-held misconception. Furthermore, stress, like ethanol, can instantly shut down evolved judgment (prefrontal cortex), and suddenly we react (brain stem) as primitively as our cave-dwelling ancestors or cornered wild animals.

     People are drawn to meditation practice when they recognize that their usual approach is failing to bring them deep, lasting meaning & satisfaction. People continue with meditation practice when they experience how effective it is.
     Mindfulness is a universal human capacity that fosters clear thinking & openheartedness. The goal of mindfulness is to maintain awareness moment by moment, gradually & progressively developing a greater sense of emotional balance & well-being.           Ludwig DS, Kabat-Zinn J. "Mindfulness in Medicine." JAMA 2008; 300(11): 1350-2.

     If meditation is practical & powerful for the people in the documentary below, it can work in your world.


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