Mindfulness meditation is having a moment in the West, and with it some compelling reasons to understand and try it…”
This is the tagline for a recent article by in The Atlantic by Liz Kulze, which shares an articulate overview of the practice, personal stories and some of the behavioral and neuroscientific research being done around Mindfulness meditation.
..it goes without saying that some time to ourselves, quietly sitting and slowly breathing, will prove to calm us down after a stressful day, but when it comes to life’s most mentally taxing episodes — death, disaster, disease — how much good can mindfulness meditation really do?
As an atheist, [Gary] wanted nothing to do with Alcoholics Anonymous or any form of rehabilitation involving a higher power. What he needed was a way to depend on himself. He experimented with various secular groups, but he says it wasn’t until he .. began ‘sitting’ that ‘everything started coming together.
(**It’s worth noting here that you don’t have to be an atheist to practice mindfulness, nor do you have to give-up your pre-existing spiritual practice.)
“Such an activity seems impossibly simple and non-invasive for its various purported benefits, but according to Dr. Katherine MacLean .. a neurological understanding can lend some clarity. In fact, if you strip it of its religio-historical context, mindfulness meditation is essentially cognitive fitness with a humanist face.
What develops is a keen sense of internal and external perception, which Dr. MacLean describes as a kind of clarity of consciousness: “You begin to see things for what they are rather than your virtual reality of what you want them to be..”
The article continues by citing the main areas of mental function which mindfulness helps to regulate (attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and change in perspective of the self) as well as real-life examples of practitioners for whom the results of mindfulness have been evident.
Read more here.