Cultivating an Age of Mindfulness

Everywhere I turn lately, I’m seeing new evidence that the healing work of meditation is going mainstream and even into the workplace.  Meditation once seemed to thrive primarily in America’s alternative culture, particularly on the west coast, but it’s taking on decidedly east coast and even mid-western vibrations as medical celebrities like Dr. Oz are running specials on the healing benefits of meditation. I’ve been teaching laughter meditation to women of all ages, while an increasing number of consultants are teaching mindfulness directly to business audiences. I’m happy to see this trend because we are now constantly bombarded with information through our smartphones, social media and 24/7 cable.  We need to learn to regularly disconnect at increasingly younger ages.

Studies are showing that we can really only productively focus on one thing at a time.  Multitasking actually reduces our effectiveness. One aspect of meditation, called mindfulness, is being made accessible for children as well as adults, by actress/director Goldie Hawn in her recent book called Ten Mindful Minutes

Hawn has become an international children’s advocate and her book has simple rules for changing your life at any age in just 10 minutes, emphasizing short breaks throughout the day. Briefly, she teaches anyone how to take “brain breaks” to reduce the stress that puts your brain into emergency-mode and shuts energy away from the areas tied to learning and memory. Her exercises show how to use a few minutes of focused breathing to again increase the density of certain areas of the brain.  Even just listening to music or staring at a wall will help you see things more clearly and reduce the stress.

Goldie also teaches that “kindness is key” – and you can grow your brain’s ability to care. Acts of kindness and empathy stimulate a release of dopamine called the “helper’s high.” This helps to improve memory, ease depression and alleviate pain.  As we despair over the ways politicians seem intractably locked in opposing worldviews, perhaps a greater public demand for cooperation and peace will come from this flowering in meditation.  In fact, U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio, has already written a book for his colleagues called A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance and Recapture the American Spirit.   Stay tuned!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s