Sharon Salzberg wrote a piece for the On Being blog entitled, “What Does Mindfulness Really Mean Anyway?” From her website, Sharon Salzberg is described as “a meditation teacher and author. She is the cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts, and has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. The practices of mindfulness and lovingkindness are the foundations of her work.”
In my work, I frequently ask my clients to do a Mindfulness Meditation with me. It helps to ground us, to center us and allows us to more wholly get into our work together. When we are not working together, I recommend that my clients do the exercise on their own.
The specific Mindfulness Mediation exercise that I do is called, Lovingkindness, which I learned from Elaine Retholz. It goes like this: “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe, may I live with ease.” I recommend that my clients practice saying those phrases several times a day, while paying attention to their breath. I suggest that they do it on a regular basis and particularly when they’re feeling anxious or ungrounded.
In the blog post, Salzburg says that “…the difference between suffering and happiness all depends on what we do with our attention. Mindfulness is what can permit us to no longer feel like victims of our negative emotions. Instead, it allows us to understand our intentions and gain awareness of our emotions as they arise. As they arise, we pivot, we continue to pay attention, and our world continues to open up.”
“Science agrees, which is undoubtedly part of the popularization. A 2011 study conducted at Mass General Hospital, with the headline ‘Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in eight weeks,’ examined the brain structure of 16 participants for two weeks before and after they took an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Progress text at the UMass Center for Mindfulness (MBSR). Results showed measurable changes in participants’ brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. Meditation actually produced actual changes in the brain’s grey matter.'”
I’m curious what you think. Feel free to contact me here. What has your experience been with meditation? What does mindfulness mean to you?