Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nirvana for Sale? Popularity of Mindfulness

"Mindfulness" Grows in Popularity - and Profits
If I breathe in and breathe out, I'll be good. But if I sell the Buddha's technique, I'll be great.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP, June 11, 2012) In what's become a daily ritual, Tim Ryan finds a quiet spot, closes his eyes, clears his mind, and tries to tap into the eternal calm. 
In Ryan's world, it's a stretch for people to get this relaxed. He's a member of Congress.
Increasingly, people in settings beyond the serene yoga studio or contemplative nature path are engaging in the practice of mindfulness.
[Mindfulness meditation is] a mental technique that dwells on [non-judgmental] breathing, attention to areas of the body, and periods of silence to concentrate on the present [moment] rather than the worries of yesterday and tomorrow. Marines are doing it. Office workers are doing it. Prisoners are doing it.
Meditation hall, Forest Refuge (IMS), one of the priciest ways to glimpse nirvana in the US.
The technique is drawing tens of thousands to conferences and learning experiences across the nation and world, and studies have shown it to reduce the symptoms of certain diseases and conditions.
Ryan has written a book, A Mindful Nation, pushing mindfulness as an elixir that can tone down political divisions in Washington, get American schoolchildren learning better, and return the country to an era of richer personal experience.
"You still forget your keys, you still call people by the wrong name, you still stub your toe, but you can train your mind to be more in the present moment," Ryan said.
Benefits in stress reduction and improved performance have prompted U.S. corporations including Google, Target, Procter and Gamble, General Mills, Comcast, BASF, Bose, and New Balance to offer mindfulness training and encourage its use at work.
The practice's critics, including some psychologists and [non-Buddhist] religious scholars, say the approach is little more than Buddhist meditation repackaged and rebranded for a secular, and often paying, audience.
"The commercialization of Buddhism has been happening as long as Buddhism has existed," said Rachelle Scott, an associate professor of religion at the University of Tennessee and author of Nirvana for Sale.... More