IF YOU ARE reading these words, there’s something drawing you to meditation.
Maybe you’ve heard that meditation can help you become more peaceful and feel safer in a complex, uncertain, and often harsh world. Perhaps there’s another reason. Maybe you don’t even know why.
But you do know you’d like to learn to meditate. Only problem is, meditation sounds really complicated and extremely time-consuming. If only you could find a simple way to meditate that would suit your lifestyle yet provide the benefits you long for . . .
Well, here’s good news: You’ve found it! And all it takes is 8 minutes a day.
8 Minute Meditation is the revolutionary new program that will change your life as easily as it fits into it. In just 8 minutes a day—the space between two television commercial breaks—you can build a lifetime meditation practice. Time magazine calls it “the most American form of meditation yet.”
This year’s Super Bowl will be played in New Jersey, but it looks as if the Seattle Seahawks will have the ‘ohm’ team advantage, as head coach Pete Carroll encourages all his players to meditate daily.
—ABC NEWS, JANUARY 2014
YOU COULDN’T HAVE CHOSEN a more exciting time to discover meditation, the path to mindfulness, and a happier life.
It seems that everyone is meditating these days, from publishing moguls like Rupert Murdoch to the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. They’re even calling it “The Mindfulness Revolution.”
It’s now more than ten years since the original publication of 8 Minute Meditation. Meditation has come a long way from Zen monks sitting and staring at white walls in silence. The decade has been nothing short of transformational, exciting, and revolutionary for the practice of meditation to develop mindfulness.
Meditation and mindfulness have gone mainstream, featured in magazines like Fortune, Forbes, and Vogue, online in the New York Times and Huffington Post, and instantly available on your mobile device. It seems not a day goes by where you won’t see meditation mentioned in the media somewhere and in some context—not as something flaky, eccentric, or countercultural, but something totally American. Why? Because the more focused and present you are, the happier and less stressed you can be.
Meditation is now taught everywhere, from grade schools to medical schools. Entertainers like Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres meditate before they perform. It’s also being used by such diverse institutions as Procter & Gamble and the US Marine Corps.
But meditation is not just for celebrities, CEOs, and professional athletes. Meditation and its resultant mindfulness are incredible tools that can be applied in every walk of life—including yours. Meditation and mindfulness are now part of the American culture, offering a path to better health, productivity, creativity, and physical and mental health.
Right now, you’re probably eager to start practicing mindfulness with 8 Minute Meditation. But before we get down to the actual program, let’s take a few minutes and explore the skills you’re going to develop. Doing so may give you ideas of your own as to how to utilize meditation and apply it to your own life.
Let’s begin with meditation.
MEDITATION: THE PORTAL TO MINDFULNESS
In my opinion, meditation is the simplest, most powerful tool ever devised for the cultivation of mindfulness. It is indeed the “portal” to mindfulness.
While it might be possible to develop mindfulness without a meditation practice, it certainly would be the hard way, kind of like learning to ride a bike without training wheels. Training wheels, as we know, let you learn to ride with a minimum of scraped knees and frustration. So think of meditation as “training wheels for your mind” that will allow you to optimally develop mindfulness.<h4 class="x05-Head-B">A Definition of Meditation: “Allowing What Is”</h4>
Legend has it that the Buddha taught 83,000 methods of meditation. That may or may not be true, but the bottom line is that, if he did, those 83,000 instructions would probably have included “Allow what is.” For it is this allowing that makes it possible to connect with mindfulness.<h5 class="x05-Head-C">How to “Allow”</h5>
Meditation affords you a constant opportunity to allow what is. Each 8 Minute Meditation technique is designed to help you develop this skill. When you meditate, even for 8 minutes, you reinforce the practice of allowing anything and everything that arises in your mind and body to do so, without intervening, judging, or manipulating it.
Note that allowing “what is” is not something you do once and then you’re done; allowing what is is a skill developed by repetition. That’s why meditation is called a “practice.” Why is this? Why does the mind have such difficulty accepting and allowing what is?
The answer might be found by taking a look at what your mind thinks is its job: to alleviate your unhappiness and suffering. To accomplish this, your mind will manipulate, cajole, intimidate—in short, do whatever needs to be done to make you happy. This constant thinking, judging, and evaluating is what my friend Marc Lerner calls “mind-made reality.” Of course, it never really does the trick, because there’s only so much you can do to mentally control and manipulate the world to the perfect state you think you desire.
So how do you achieve real happiness? Like I’ve said: Allow what is. 8 Minute Meditation comes with a set of “Operating Instructions.” And perhaps the most important one is “allow, allow, allow,” a variation of the first rule of real estate: location, location, location. Make “allow, allow, allow” your mantra (slogan) and you will change your life.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS? AND WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU?
Mainstream magazines and books are devoting increasingly more space to mindfulness. It’s been defined as everything from “presence” to “The Now” to “being in the moment.” Although this is exciting, it can also be confusing. You might come away from your readings with thoughts like:
“What is mindfulness anyway?”
“What makes mindfulness so great?”
“What’s in it for me?”
“How do I get it?”
These are excellent and important questions, particularly if you have an interest in developing a mindfulness practice. So let’s take a look at them.<h4 class="x05-Head-B">A Definition of “Mindfulness”</h4>
What does the word mindfulness mean? Is it a noun (a quality) or a verb (an activity)? This isn’t a sixth-grade grammar lesson or a word game; it’s fundamental to understanding mindfulness.
The dictionaries say that “mindfulness” is a quality and therefore a noun. This may be grammatically correct, but it can cause confusion, giving the impression that mindfulness is some “thing” to add to your inventory, like a new Honda or iPhone.
In my opinion, the better view of mindfulness is that it is a verb that expresses an action—the “action” of allowing. Allowing what is to be just as it is. Moment by moment. Experience by experience. Breath by breath.
So for the purposes of 8 Minute Meditation, we will define mindfulness as this:
Mindfulness is allowing what is.
Your next question might be “What does allowing ‘what is’ do for me?” For starters, when you allow what is, you are present, here, in the Moment. “Here” means that you are residing in this moment, observing and allowing everything that is arising in your senses—whether you are meditating on a mountaintop or making a tuna fish sandwich in your kitchen. You’re not, as author Josh Baran says, “elsewhere and elsewhen.”
Right now I can hear you saying, “What’s the big deal? I’m ‘here’ right now. Matter of fact, I’m always here . . . ! Well, aren’t I?” To see if this is true, let’s do a short investigation into this thing called “mindfulness.”<h4 class="x05-Head-B">Investigation: Mindfulness</h4>
[Note: This is a two-part exercise. Read the instructions and then put down your book to do it.]
• Gently close your eyes.
• For the next minute or so, simply watch your thoughts. Just let them come and go.
• As you do this, note how much of your thinking is occupied with the past or the future. In other words, notice how often you are “elsewhere or elsewhen.”
• Gently open your eyes, pause, take a breath, and close them again.
• For the next couple of minutes, summon up the experience of something you really love: This could be anything from viewing a Matisse, hearing the sound of Joni Mitchell’s voice, or maybe something as simple as tasting your favorite chocolate.
• As you immerse yourself in this experience, focus full attention on what you are doing. Really see those vibrant colors, hear Joni’s sublime voice, taste that divine chocolate.
• When you’re done, gently open your eyes.
Good work! Now, let’s compare Part One and Part Two:
In which part did you feel more grounded? More present? More “here”?
In which part were you more relaxed?
In which part did you experience more “mind chatter” and thinking?
In which state would you prefer to live?
If you found a preference for Part Two, you’re not alone. This is a “mindful” state, the state of being “here.”<h4 class="x05-Head-B">Mindfulness: “What’s in It for Me?”</h4>
Right now, you might be thinking, “Okay, all this is interesting, but how is being mindful going to change my life and make me a better person, more productive and more successful?” And of course, how does it answer the question that is always in the forefront of our minds: Can mindfulness make me happier?
You also might be thinking, “Well, this moment isn’t so great. Someone dinged my new car, I just broke up a five-year relationship, and my job security is nil. In fact, I don’t just dislike this moment—I hate it!”
Okay, I hear you. So stop—take a deep breath. And relax. What is it that is making you so upset? Is it the Moment you just experienced in our earlier investigation? Or is it the events that are occurring in this moment?
This is a bit challenging, but stick with me here. This isn’t a lesson in linguistics. That capital “M” makes a difference. Because it lets you see exactly where you are right now: mindfully present in the Moment, or lost in the content of the moment, with thoughts primarily about the past or future.
Your experience of life is determined by where you focus your attention. If you focus on content, i.e., the thoughts, images, and feelings arising right now, your attention is lost in a world of judging things as good, bad, or neutral—a real roller-coaster ride.
However, when you focus on being in the Moment you can directly experience a spaciousness that embraces and includes all the happenings and events arising in the here and now. And in this spaciousness, you can experience the basic peace, clarity, and insight that is your birthright—the “aliveness of the Moment.” Right here. Right now.
Other writers and teachers describe the Moment in their own ways:
• Eckhart Tolle says: “Most people confuse the Now with what happens in the Now, but that’s not what it is . . . Do not confuse the content of this moment with the Now.”
• British nonduality teacher Jeff Foster says: “Remembering who you really are involves a subtle shift of attention from a tense present to the present tense.”
Now pause, take another deep breath, and just settle into your body. Does the Moment sound like a place you’d like to live in? What could be better than to be mindful and clear and nonjudging?
Like I say, living in the Moment is your birthright. It is not some special state reserved for a select spiritual few, or vegetarians, or longtime meditators. The truth is that the Moment is already present—and has always been. The Moment is always ready to meet you, whenever and wherever you are ready to receive it.<h4 class="x05-Head-B">Mindfulness: The Path to Real Happiness</h4>
The Dalai Lama puts it simply: The goal of life is to be happy. And heaven knows we try everything we can to make that so, from acquiring new cars to new lovers to better homes and gardens. And while material things may provide temporary satisfaction, inevitably objects and circumstances change. Which means you’re usually never happy for long.
Is there another path to real happiness?
The answer is yes. Mindfulness: a way to happiness that arises from open acceptance of whatever is arising right here and right now. This is an unshakable happiness independent of conditions, external happenings, and your never-ending internal story. This happiness, independent of conditions, affords you an unshakable vantage point from which to deal with your daily life no matter what arises, good, bad, or ugly.
If this sounds like something you want, you’re in the right place to begin your journey to mindfulness.
As I mentioned at the beginning, there’s a mindfulness revolution happening. And I think it is the result of a “perfect storm” in our current civilization that includes:
• Easier and wider access to mindfulness and meditation instruction
• People realizing the benefits of mindfulness in their professional and personal interactions and communication
• The desire to find better ways to adapt to a lightning-speed culture and an increasingly complex, technology-dominated world
• The understanding that mindfulness can be applied to corporate and other nontraditional settings to increase productivity, reduce stress, and allow innovative insights
Let’s look at a few current examples of the Mindfulness Revolution.<h5 class="x05-Head-C">New “Delivery Systems” for Mindfulness</h5>
Mobile and audio courses and other Internet technologies now make it possible for anyone to access mindful meditation instruction, anytime and anywhere.
More and more people are accessing mindfulness through smartphones. Mobile apps like Simply8 (www.simply8.com) guide students through a daily, three-week meditation program. The Huffington Post’s GPS for the Soul even contains a built-in heart sensor to alert you when you’re calm or stressed.
The Internet also offers a wide variety of opportunities to learn mindfulness and meditation. For example, well-known mindfulness teacher Shinzen Young offers an extensive free website, www.basicmindfulness.org, where you can also register for his once-a-month Basic Mindfulness Practice Programs that include guided meditation instruction and interactive participation.<h5 class="x05-Head-C">Mindfulness and Health Care</h5>
Many of the nation’s hospital systems, such as Kaiser Permanente and Aetna, now offer classes in mindfulness meditation to patients as part of their wellness programs. And this is more than altruistic in light of new evidence that mindfulness practice can result in both physical and mental health benefits, not to mention cost savings.
The hospital setting for mindfulness isn’t just limited to patients: Doctors also now can avail themselves of mindfulness training to counteract job burnout at medical schools like the University of Massachusetts and hospitals like the Mayo Clinic.<h5 class="x05-Head-C">Mindfulness in the Classroom</h5> --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
Revue de presse
“The most American form of meditation yet.” —Time
“Indeed humorous, wise, effective, and resolutely nonsectarian.” —Library Journal --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
“Indeed humorous, wise, effective, and resolutely nonsectarian.” —Library Journal --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .