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“OK, What Is Mindfulness & Where Can I Get Some?”

05 Jul

After our posting the study about how the practice of mindfulness meditation can improve working memory, we got this charming  inquiry from someone who felt her brain was turning to mush at her stressful job:

“OK what is mindfulness training & where can I get some?!!!  Very stressful day yesterday at work & in the afternoon, I noted definite cognitive deterioration!! Couldn't hold a thought in my head!”


Dear Dannie,

Mindfulness meditation, which is can also be called vipassana or zazen, is the practice of noticing and focusing, in a detached but curious way, moment to moment awareness of our physical, emotional and mental sensations, without trying to change them in any way... in other words, to be aware of what is transpiring in the here and now.

This is ultimately the goal of all meditation — to awaken us to the present.  Paradoxically, by noticing what is going on internally with conscious awareness, we’re better able to deal with pain and suffering.  It takes some discipline and practice to learn, but the rewards are great.

Various teachers have also called this practice Choiceless Awareness (J. Krishnamurti), Double Pointed Awareness (Osho), Self-Remembrance (Gurdjieff) and Awareness of the Divine Fragment (S. N. Tavaria). So, as you can see, this practice emerges from several traditions, but in the U.S. the Buddhist traditions are probably best known and most widely practiced.  

We carry numerous mindfulness meditations by gifted practitioners.  Perhaps the best known is Jon Kabat-Zinn, because he also had the good sense to generate and encourage scores of research studies about its positive impact - on stress, pain, quality of life and other measures.  You can probably find a local workshop in MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) in your area, perhaps even in an adult education class, because they’ve become quite popular.

If you can’t find a class, we carry his introductory CD set, Guided Mindfulness Meditation, which first explains and then guides you in this kind of meditation.

Other terrific teachers are Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Karen Sothers, the work of Bodhipaksa, and Jonathan Foust. They’re all excellent resources and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award