Are You Ready For The Mindfulness Revolution?

Via on Jul 16, 2011

Part One.

This summer I found myself captivated by an unexpected page-turner: The Mindfulness Revolution, edited by Barry Boyce, published recently by Shambhala.

It’s a collection of articles by eminent meditation teachers, thinkers, scientists, and academics who share their lifetime personal and professional experience with mindfulness: Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh, Daniel Siegel, Matthieu Ricard, Chogyam Trungpa and Pema Chodron, to name a few.

It’s an incredibly thought-provoking read; so much so that I’ve decided to use it to write a series of articles on mindfulness and its daily life applications this summer in Elephant Journal.

Why A Revolution?

Over the last few years, mindfulness has become one of the biggest buzz words in mind-body and psychology matters. This popularity comes from the undeniable achievements of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program created by Jon Kabat Zinn more than three decades ago. In his introduction to The Mindfulness Revolution, Barry Boyce, the editor of the book, explains the growing success of mindfulness by quoting Margaret Cullen, a MBSR teacher:

There are hundreds of research papers on the effects of mindfulness-based interventions on physical and mental conditions including, but not limited to depression and relapse prevention, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, insomnia, chronic pain, psoriasis, type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, HIV, cancer, and heart disease.’

Also, recently, scientific studies have evidenced the effects of meditation on the brain:

‘As Matthieu Ricard and Daniel Siegel indicate in the pieces excerpted in part 3 of this book, science has indeed confirmed that the brain is “plastic” or changeable throughout life and that mindfulness and other forms of meditation help the brain change—even grow—in positive ways.’

Mindfulness was initially applied to medicine but has now drawn the attention of all types of professional fields -sports, law, business, politics- who have adapted this practice to their own purposes.

In other words, these days everybody wants a piece of mindfulness.

It Will Not Be Televised.

Mindfulness as a revolution however is not particularly sexy, it can even sometimes appear slightly austere, because the approach is rather sober. To pay tribute to late Gil-Scott Heron; it will not be televised, it won’t make your bum look good in your latest Lululemon pants, or make you lose 5 pounds, it won’t be starred by Madonna or Lady Gaga, it will not trend on Twitter or be broadcasted on youtube.

It just entails doing what we try to avoid doing in so many clever ways, because it can be so paradoxically uncomfortable: to just be.

A Discipline, A Practice, An Art, A Choice Of Life?

We learn from The Mindfulness Revolution that it is a bit of all. Jan Chozen Bays simply explains in her introductory article ‘What is Mindfulness?’:

‘Mindfulness means deliberately paying attention, being fully aware of what is happening both inside yourself (in your body, heart, and mind) and outside yourself in your environment. Mindfulness is awareness without judgement or criticism.’

In the next article, ‘Is Mindfulness For You?’ , there is a cautionary notice however; although the practice is simple, it is not an easy one. There are no need for complex instructions, you only need to pay attention to your breath and your body; but the difficulty lies in the turbulent nature of the flow of our ever-so busy minds. It’s a tricky task indeed to let go of the most die-hard habits of our minds, especially in our information-overload times where the voids created by boredom and silence seem to echo failure and anguish.

We are more than ever attached to the constant chatter of our and other’s minds and we carry around the technology that will make sure we will stay connected to this noise all the time. How easy is it to cultivate a non-judgmental attitude when every item of news or non-news is disseminated and commented on over the web in the blink of an eye?

How can one stay in the moment when we are planning our next three moves, ten clicks, two meetings, and our next meal?

Mindfulness seems utterly counter intuitive in an era that makes little room for the contemplative. It is an art to cultivate that takes skill, practice, creativity and dedication. However, mindfulness is that patient gentle nudge that can change our daily lives in many ways.

Mindfulness Daily

Everyday life offers countless chances to practice mindfulness. I was particularly amused by Karen Maezen Miller’s honest and witty approach in her article ‘Do Dishes, Rake Leaves’, where she takes the practice of mindfulness to her backyard, her kitchen and her laundry basket: ‘Laundry presents a mountainous practice opportunity because it provokes a never-ending pile of egocentric resistance.’

The Mindfulness Revolution explores many aspects of life, from the laundry basket to music, art, food, money, ageing, chronic pain, addiction recovery, parenthood but also about our relationship to others, and to the world.

I will be writing more about this invaluable book and some of these matters over the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you allow me, I would really recommend you find a copy of this endless bag of treats, as each article is as insightful and as delightfully well written as the next. Reading it is in itself a mindful exercise.

Picture credits:

Revolution: www.underconsideration.com – Peter Whitley

Just Breathe: Flickr – chintermeyer

The Mindfulness Revolution: www.shambhala.com

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About Sophie Legrand

Sophie is the littlest French hobo. After studying American Literature in Paris, she left France in 1998 to first live in Santa Barbara, California, for a year. She then went to Madrid where she started working in publishing, as a literary agent. After 5 years of movida in Spain, she moved to London. There, she was introduced to yoga by two fantastic teachers, who gave her some very good foundations, a sense of precision and a taste for Asian philosophy. She completed her Yoga Teacher Training in Vancouver in 2011 and is now back to England where she is a proud stay-at-home mom and a yoga teacher. She is also a passionate home-cook with a focus on multicultural, tasty and healthy dishes. Her culinary explorations are on L'Artichaut. You can find her on Twitter and on Mindful Mum She also helps looking after Reviews at Elephant Journal.

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25 Responses to “Are You Ready For The Mindfulness Revolution?”

  1. Mid Walsh midwalsh says:

    Thanks for the post, Sophie. Mindfulness Revolution is now on my reading list!

  2. Sophie Legrand Sophie says:

    Thanks for your comment. I'm very happy to read that The Mindfulness Revolution is on your reading list! Enjoy, it's such a treat!

  3. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    Thank you so much for this review, Sophie! I will definitely at this to my reading list. I also love the fact that mindfulness isn't a destination, it's right now. I think when we really start to understand this, we start to use time for only practical reasons versus a distraction. Love it.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
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    • guest says:

      Thanks for that "quote" Mindfulness is not a destination… etc. very pithy and worth remembering.

  4. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  5. Hello Sohie,

    You know, mind-chatter is no different from any other experience.
    You can be "mindfull" pay attention to it too, embrace it too, flow with that too.
    :-)

    Warmly

    Halina

    • Sophie Legrand Sophie says:

      Thanks for your comment Halina. You're right, any experience can be approached mindfully, and listening to the chatter of the mind, paying attention to it, can be fascinating and can help us engage a different dialogue with ourselves. Identifying fully with it is another matter though…
      Keep flowing :)
      thanks again!

  6. yoga-adan says:

    timely article for me, and when shouldn't mindfulness be timely? ;-)

    but esp, for me, "We are more than ever attached to the constant chatter of our and other’s minds and we carry around the technology that will make sure we will stay connected to this noise all the time"

    look fwd to your future installments, noise or not ;-)

    • Sophie Legrand The Budgie Spirit says:

      thanks a lot for your comment! I'm writing the next instalments at the moment, one will be on our relationship to the digital world, silent yet so noisy!

  7. Har-Prakash Khalsa says:

    Actually mindfulness instruction is to be found on YouTube – you might start here:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/expandcontract

  8. Erika says:

    This is why it says Revolution on my Facebook profile page. Thanks!

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  13. gravity shifter says:

    great article. i will check out the book. mindfulness is such a great practice. I try to catch myself when I am really busy of when my mind is wandering too far down the rabbit hole. It really helps with the issues in my life if I can remember to identify what I am feeling, in the present moment, and how my breathing is, am I hungry or is my hunger being triggered by the sight of food.

  14. Jay Kay says:

    Very powerful name, "mindfulness revolution".

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  20. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    Looking forward to the food aspects in this series – I am indeed interested! :-) And, I'm going to get it! Ordering it today!

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