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Friday, November 28, 2014

Trending

Two recent items show that meditation continues to move to the mainstream:

Suze Yalof Schwartz, a former Vogue and Glamour editor, opens what she hopes will be the first in a chain of meditation studios on the west side of Los Angeles. It's named Unplug, and she calls it “a SoulCycle for meditation,” a reference to the exercise-and-empowerment chain. Her slogan is “Hurry up and slow down.” Inventing a Drybar for Meditation
“The people who need to meditate are lawyers and bankers and stressed-out mommies,” she told me, smiling sweetly. “And those people get turned off by the Buddhas and sage and all the woo-woo talk. I wanted Unplug to be meditation for Type A personalities: clean, modern, secular, effortless to attend.”
The Times also offers a story about people using meditation groups for networking, How to Find a Job With Meditation and Mindfulness. 

There could not be two less compatible concepts: the quiet of the ancient practice of meditation and the heart thump of striving New Yorkers looking for the next opportunity. Now, meditation studios and conferences catering to Type A Manhattan careerists are becoming a new hub for networking without the crass obviousness of looking for a job. It is hard to quiet the mind in a city where competitive cab-hailing is a blood sport. So why not look for a little stress relief, or start-up financing, among empathic meditating friends?
...What makes meditation palatable to entrepreneurs and executives these days is that it is perceived as a tool to help increase productivity. A quiet mind more easily recognizes unexpected business opportunities and is poised to react more astutely.
Meditation is a tool, certainly, but expecting it to increase productivity or to bring business opportunities is to miss the point. In fact, if you expect it to bring you instantly to a state of mental relaxation, you may be disappointed. Many new meditators notice instead how busy their minds are -- which is the first step toward watching thoughts instead of being pushed around by them.

What you find in meditation is yourself -- the self that is spacious, clear, and kind, first of all to yourself. You have to be willing to be with that person before you look for an investor or a mate at your meditation class.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Meditation promotes creative thinking

Meditation doesn't just create a sense of calm -- certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking, even if you have never meditated before, according to a study by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato and Dominique Lippelt at Leiden University, published in Mindfulness.

The study is a clear indication that you don't need to be an experienced meditator to profit more from meditation. The findings support the belief that meditation can have a long-lasting influence on human cognition, including how we conceive new ideas. Besides experienced meditators, also novices may profit from meditation.
The study found that after mindfulness meditation -- "being receptive to every thought and sensation" -- study participants' developed multiple solutions to a problem. Concentration meditation, or focusing on an object, didn't have the same result.

Read more here


Monday, November 3, 2014

Mindful City: Winooski, Vermont

When you go on a retreat, there's always a talk near the end about transitioning back to "the real world." You've been in a place where people are mindful and intentional, less stressed by the details of daily life. You're about to re-enter the rat race, and you're not up to speed.

But what if life could be more like retreat? What if people in ordinary life were mindful -- present and attentive and grounded in the situation ... how would life be different?

Winooski, Vermont, is out to find out.

The Vermont Community Foundation has awarded a grant to the Center for Mindful Learning to teach mindfulness to core institutions in the city, Vermont's public radio reports.
Mindful City Project Consultant Lindsay Foreman said community support is the key to the project. “Mindfulness gives us the skills and motivation to care for ourselves, each other and the planet." she said. "It is not easy to do, so we need a community to support us."

The Center for Mindful Learning will work with the Winooski Police Department, the Winooski School District, and Centerpoint Adolescent Treatment Services to implement the citywide mindfulness initiative. Mindfulness training -- does that mean meditation? -- will also be available to parents, community members, and businesses.

The initiative came about after CML did a yearlong mindfulness training program at one elementary school in Winooski.The Modern Mindfulness program uses an online curriculum that guides teachers and students in a five-minute daily mindfulness practice, CML says. One third-grade teacher told CML the program has been "life-changing for my students and myself.” 

The middle and high schools wanted to follow suit, and the idea came up to extend the program citywide.

The effort started in October. You can follow its program on CML's blog.


Image shows a poster at JFK ELementary School in Winooski, Vermont