Ed Halliwell on why relying heavily on science won't tell us everything about mindfulness.
I love that mindfulness practice is being investigated by science, and fascinated that many of the shifts reported by meditators throughout the ages are being corroborated by scientific evidence.Read more »
Every now and then, a piece of mindfulness research turns up that I get excited about, not just because it tells us more about the potential benefits of practice, but because I know it’s going to make it easier to explain those benefits to others.
This is usually because a) the study is easy to describe b) it connects with an experience that most of us empathize with and c) it offers a clear picture of how mindfulness helps. I felt one of those waves of excitement (a springy sensation in the solar plexus) when I read Bruce Barrett’s latest study, which looks at whether there’s a relationship between starting a mindfulness practice or exercise regime and the subsequent incidence of respiratory infections. Would taking a mindfulness course or exercise have an effect on how often people caught a cold or the flu, and how sick they felt when they did fall ill?Read more »
This is one of the most common questions I'm asked by people wondering if mindfulness is for them. There’s often a subtext behind the inquiry: most mindfulness courses ask participants to practice for up to 45 minutes a day, the suggestion being that this will be a vital part of the learning process. Forty-five minutes a day seems a lot of work for most people, especially in a culture where sitting still and "doing nothing" for any time at all is unusual. If mindfulness just means paying attention, why can’t I do that without having to meditate? Can’t I just decide to notice things a bit more?Read more »
When people hear that I’ve co-written a book called The Mindful Manifesto, they sometimes approach me with questions about the title, such as: “Manifesto? Do you mean that meditation is a party political act?,” or “Isn't a manifesto all about action and meditation all about sitting still?”
These are good questions, and there is an interesting relationship between the practice of mindfulness, which involves making space to observe the patterns of experience without getting caught up in them, and living life in an engaged and compassionate way.Read more »
When I started meditating, I thought it was all about me. I felt stressed, my mind was chaotic, panic was overwhelming my body, I needed something to calm me down. I was highly focused on myself and my problems, and I saw meditation as something that might help me cope. It has helped me cope, but increasingly this has happened not just through allowing me to work more skilfully with my internal experience, but by expanding my capacity to be and stay in relationship with others. Opening up to a wider space of awareness and connection, via the practice of mindfulness, has made it a lot less claustrophobic in here.
This expansion seems to have happened quite organically. First I began to discover that my automatic patterns of reacting to events weren’t just happening in my inner space—the thoughts, emotions and body sensations I was having also impacted on how I operated in the world. When I felt angry with someone, I’d instinctively avoid them, amoeba-like, pulling out of connection and into isolation. In meditation, I began to see this pattern clearly.Read more »
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