Statue in Jaffna town.
Buddhist mindfulness meditation has changed my life in many good ways. Basically if I don’t meditate in the morning I’m a grumpy and depressive ass. If I do, I’m less so. I’m also aware that this isn’t the point, that it’s not meant to be a crutch for this life but rather a way out, but I do use it to live this life as best I can. And it does work for me, and many other people, as brain scans and a lot of solid research shows. Sitting down for 10 minutes to an hour and just breathing does reduce stress and generally chill you out.
For me it remains a Buddhist practice, something I learned under a Buddhist monk (Bhante Gunaratna, in America) and practice in a mostly Buddhist country (though it’s honestly harder here than in the west). At retreats I’ve gone to there have always been Christian or non-Buddhist meditators, and that is fine. There’s no particular context to meditation unless you want to place it there. For me the teachings of the Buddha have given the most guidance, but even he says that the dhamma is like a raft that you have to discard at some point. There are presumably other ways of crossing the stream.
But anyways, I was interested to read this article about how mindfulness meditation is popping up everywhere from Davos to big companies to the US Marines.
What has gripped Western attention is mindfulness’s ability to improve performance—of Olympic athletes, parents, and even nations, as promised in U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan’s 2012 bestseller, Mindful Nation: How a simple practice can help us reduce stress, improve performance and recapture the American spirit.Institutions and companies are racing to adopt “mindful” practices—among them Google, the U.S. military and Monsanto. Jeff Weiner, CEO of the social-networking site LinkedIn, is a disciple, boasting that “compassion” and “listening to others” are now his central management tenets. (Macleans)
I honestly don’t think it’s a bad thing but, as the article points out, not the point. Getting insights from a practice which is somewhat immaterial and using it to pursue a material lifestyle seems like it might end in tears, or at least confusion.
“The real focus of Buddhism is on awakening, on coming to some insight or wisdom about our true nature. Without that, we can’t get at the real source of our dukkha, or suffering,” he says. Institutional dukkha exists, as well. “The mindfulness movement is good for adjusting certain types of dukkha, but from the Buddhist perspective, it’s not addressing the most deep-rooted and problematical forms of dukkha. In fact, it seems to be reinforcing the kind of self-centred individualism that seems to be our more basic problem.” (David Loy, quoted in Macleans)