Chances are you’ve recently heard somebody talking about mindfulness or mindfulness meditation. It would appear that the concept has passed through its 15 minutes of fame and is here to stay. If you’re still unclear as to what mindfulness is all about, there’s a recent Men’s Journal piece by Dan Harris called “A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation” that gives a quick and informative overview.
Many folks who give meditation often have two common complaints: 1) It’s hard; 2) It offers few if any early pay-off for your labors. Harris responds,
Yeah, but if you waited your whole life to go running, you’d find that brutal, too. The first time you try to play an instrument, it’s really hard. It’s a new skill. Meditation is not relaxation. It’s not sitting there and zoning out. You’re taming your mind. It’s hard work – just the way rock climbing or swimming a mile is. But it has benefits just like those activities do.
So what is the pay-off? Harrs has a nice, simple answer:
There is a phrase I really like: “Respond, don’t react.” Say you’re in line at Starbucks and somebody cuts you off. You think to yourself, “I’m angry.” And immediately, instantaneously, reflexively, you inhabit the thought and become angry. Meditation teaches you to put a little bit of a break between the thought and the emotional state. You recognize that you’re angry or annoyed or impatient, but instead of blindly going with the emotion, you have a buffer between stimulus and response. As a result, you’re often the smartest person in the room.
Good stuff. Here’s the link:
Onward, Malcolm Gauld