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Thursday, August 13, 2015

As the Dalai Lama said to the hot dog vender...

Make me one, with every- thing.

Zen jokes just don't have the great punch line, but hey, anything is better than meditation, right?

Actually, wrong. The more I read, the more I believe that mindfulness--or by any name you put to it--is proving its value.
If Apple and General Mills and Google and Nike and Proctor&Gamble and HBO and Aetna and Target and Deutsche Bank and Yahoo and even lawyers and the United States Marines, for God's sake, believe the simplicity of the exercise and the enormity of the benefit makes it a "no-brainer."

Just the thought of something that goes back to Buddha with a mysterious 'aura' is, in itself, "off-putting" to many. Meditation, or mindfulness--a richer name because it describes the benefit--is not a religion or a cult or some weird Tibetan thing that steals your mind. In fact, it gives you more of what is good in you.

I just read 10% Happier by New York Times Bestseller author, Dan Harris and I am so impressed. The book's subtitle better defines its benefit:  How I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress without losing my edge, and found self-help that actually works -- A TRUE STORY

It resonated because Harris, an ABC co-anchor of Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America as well as numerous other assignments, tells the story of his journey... from need to discovery, disbelief, finding, experiencing and putting it all in his understandable path to a richer benefit in his life than he imagined possible. Harris as a good news person, had access to many of the people we only read about. He asks most of the questions we would want to ask. Then he recaps with thoughts, insights and frequently asked questions.

"What I found blew my mind. Meditation, once part of the counterculture, had now fully entered the scientific mainstream. It had been subjected to thousands of studies, suggesting an almost laughably long list of health benefits, including salutary effects on the following:
  • major depression
  • drug addiction
  • binge eating
  • smoking cessation
  • stress among cancer patients
  • loneliness among senior itizens
  • ADHD
  • asthma
  • psoriasis
  • irritable bowel syndrome
Studies also indicated that mediation reduced levels of stress hormones, boosted the immune system, made office workers more focused and improved test scores on the GRE. Apparently mindfulness did everything short of making you able to talk to animals and bend spoons with your mind.

"In a nutshell," He says," mindfulness is the ability to recognize what is happening in your mind right now--anger, jealousy, sadness, the pain of a stubbed toe, whatever--without getting carried away by it." 

Now here is the best part: It is easy to see for yourself with no hard wired process required. You can do it in your own home (and not tell anyone... just in case) or as part of a group. The cost, if any, is modest. You can 'put your toe in the water' and go from there if you choose.

Best tip I can offer: Get this book for an understandable approach to the whole thing. It will answer most questions in an pleasant to read presentation. There are, of course, many other options in books, on line and in groups and classes.

As for me, I'm sold. I just won't even try that cross-legged thing and that's just fine.

As the Dalai Lama says, "IF YOU want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

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