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Practicing Mindfulness

Practicing Mindfulness
  • Meditations (by )
  • Sunday meditations and selected prose sk... (by )
  • In the Hours of Meditation (by )
  • Zen Buddhism and its relation to art (by )
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In today’s fast-paced digital era, many people yearn for some leisure time. When they finally have some highly coveted down time, rather than indulging in the moment—a silent stroll through the park attuned to the beauty and serenity that abounds—they spend their time talking on their phones, browsing Facebook, and keeping their minds super busy.

A multi-tasking, digital-obsessed culture has led to a generation that denies itself of the ability to relish the moment. Many Millennials—those born from 1980 on—have grown up with the immediacy of the internet and don’t know life without an abundance of information literally at their fingertips.

A recent study by Microsoft Corporation revealed that the digital lifestyle has even impacted our ability to remain focused. Over time, attention spans have shortened from 12 seconds to eight seconds.

With an overload of information and media stimulation, many seek solutions to unwind and disconnect. In recent years, more people are recognizing the benefits of being “present with self.” They place an emphasis on “mindfulness,” which refers to a mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present while calmly acknowledging and accepting all thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

Used as a therapeutic technique, mindfulness is a meditative practice with roots in Buddhism. In recent years, it has become more mainstream in destinations worldwide. Its benefits include stress relief, gaining more control over emotions and behaviors, and decreasing depression.

In August 2016, the topic of mindfulness reached mass audiences when it became the topic of a cover story in Time magazine. The Zen-like practice has also moved into corporations, schools, the medical industry, and even the military. Many variations are offered from office yoga classes to guided mindfulness retreats and company-funded meditation programs.

Some schools have swapped punishment-oriented programs, such as detention and suspension, and opted for the calming benefits of yoga and meditation. Yoga studios and meditation spaces have sprouted up in cities around the world. A newer trend, float tanks, has also become quite popular. Those seeking serenity can enjoy floating in a soundproof tank filled with saltwater.

Many also opt to attend retreats that encourage them to unplug and focus on being “present.” They tune into yoga and nature while abandoning their cell phones, laptops, and other devices. People also tune into popular apps, such as Headspace and Smiling Mind, which offer guided meditation.

There’s no magic formula to meditation. 

Mindfulness expert David Gelles said, “Meditation doesn’t require us to wear robes, chant in a foreign language, or sit with our legs folded. Mindfulness meditation simply asks that we take a comfortable position—sitting, lying down, or even standing—and observe our thoughts, emotions, and sensations.”

French philosopher Blaise Pascal once said that all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone. Learn more about the benefits of mindfulness by exploring In the Hours of Meditation by A Disciple; Sunday Meditations and Selected Prose Sketches by Donn Piatt; Meditations by Marcus Aurelius; or Zen Buddhism and its Relation to Art by Arthur Waley.

By Regina Molaro
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