Scientific evidence that mindfulness produces demonstrable effects on well-being and health is well established.(1) Mindfulness classes are offered in many different contexts, to healthcare professionals, secondary school students or patients suffering from depression.(2) There is now also a significant body of research showing that mindfulness-based methods to develop empathy lead to a decrease in the biological markers of stress. (3)(4) Participants found they had greater compassion for themselves and for others after just two weeks of applying the techniques.(5) Happier teachers means happier students. An article in next month's Review of Educational Research corroborates existing studies on how teacher empathy improves student's engagement and achievement.(6)
Dr. Jonathan S. Kaplan speeks about the connection between mindfulness, meditation and therapy.
The other night I attended a talk at the Interdependence Project in New York. The talk was given by two psychologists who use mindfulness meditation in their practice.
Just the other day I found myself in the all-too-familiar situation of trying to explain what I do when I meditate to a curious and inquiring stranger. I’m sure this has happened to you before…You know, you’re sitting on the bus or in a coffee shop and you strike up a friendly conversation with someone next to you. One thing leads to another, and before you know it you’ve let it slip that you meditate. Then comes that slightly tense moment as you wait to find out whether or not the other person thinks you’re a total wacko and if you need to try and change the subject to something safer…like sports or IKEA.
This time it was a little bit different though…
In this video, Sogyal Rinpoche speaks about this awareness and how it relates to the three principles of shamatha or meditation.
Mindfulness probably means slightly different things in different traditions of meditation. At WMRI we usually talk about three principles for using an object, such as the breath, a candle or even the state of non-distraction itself, as the focus of our meditation.
1) Mindfulness – which is the pure knowing or awareness of the object.
2) Watchful Awareness – making sure that we are keeping our attention gently focused on the object
3) Abiding or Remaining Spaciously – It is said that we should ‘train in letting the mind remain’. We should remain in whatever we are aware of, be it:
—meditating with an object like watching the breath, or
—simply remaining in the state of non-distraction or pure awareness of the present moment.
Inspired by the previous post from Marieke van Vugt, I decided to try my hand at sharing what a "normal" day of work-integrating-meditation looks like.
Since preparing to publish my book, Minding the Bedside: Nursing from the Heart of the Awakened Mind, and starting my own business, the unfortunate fact is that the time for my "formal" practice has suffered. Yet, while I lament and moan about the lack of time to formally practice, it seems like the integration of practice into my daily life, and my ability to take life onto the path, has increased.
When you think about caring for another, and about arriving fully present at the bedside, what comes to mind? Does the idea of compassion in caring mean that we have to sacrifice some part of ourselves, or somehow “become” something we’re not in order to arrive present? Is there something that we lack that needs to be gained in order to be compassionate?
When we think about meditation, it's easy to think about sitting on a cushion, or in nature and working with our mind, working with our practice. And, to some extent, that's what we need to do when we formally practice. It's through our formal practice that we gain the stability to practice every day, to integrate what we've learned into how we are and who we are in our lives.