Wednesday, June 13, 2012

notes on meditation

I have now received 8 results from Google Alerts on the subject of 'children [and] meditation' and posted them on my Kirbyvariety web site.  To avoid a page that went on and on, I have started a 2nd page of news results on the topic.  I am not too interested in finding still another duty for either parents or children.  American life already has plenty of both. But the spread of general use of meditation practices is interesting as heck for me.  Ever since 1982, I have been interested in the evidence that is piling up that nearly all human endeavors are easier to carry out if one meditates.  Besides my interest in watching the topic of meditation expand and change over time and across places, I use the handy idea that when anything is explained or presented to children, it is probably in a format and vocabulary that we can all understand.

I focus on the term 'meditation' but many aspects of the subject come up under a title or label using the word "mindfulness".  Being mindful or being attentive or being aware or being conscious [of something] is a good thing but I am convinced that I must pick and choose what things I will be mindful of.  With a little meditative practice, I learn to be more aware of what I am paying attention to.  That is, when I find I am annoyed with the government or worried about my security, I am quicker to notice that I am thinking about those topics.  It is easier than it used to be to decide to really sit and think about something or notice that I am indeed worried yet again or decide consciously that I don't want to spend time on that repetitive worry right now.  Simple, basic meditation allows me to be more mindful of how I am or am not using my mind, my time, my resources.

This week's Google Result only contained two items.  One is about the Congressman Tim Ryan and his practice and book on meditation, A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit.  The actual news item comes from a Birmingham, Alabama Fox News item.  Normally, I steer clear of Fox since the organization seems deeply focused on frightening and negative news of all kinds.  All the more reason for me to be surprised at the tone and content of the item about Ryan, his book, his practice and his message for others to begin a simple practice.  When a politician from a northern state (Ohio) gets a news item in a Birmingham paper, I take notice.  I just bought his book.  I want to see what his message is and how he words it.

The news item by Julie Carr Smyth describes Ryan calming himself in the midst of a busy day in the nation's capital and then goes on to say:

"Marines are doing it. Office workers are doing it. Prisoners are doing it.'  

I know that is true for office workers, medical workers and prisoners.  There is even an item about that among the Google results I've posted.  But I didn't know much about the military.  

Clicking around here and there, I found Elizabeth A. Stanley, PhD and her work with the American military in the program she founded called Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT, a.k.a. "M-Fit").  Whether you are a road warrior, a school warrior, a household warrior or a warrior warrior, the practice of meditation can definitely help us live with more ability to face stress, difficulties and burdens while increasing our awareness of the miracle each of us is living all the time.  Meditation does way more than makes us sharper at finding and releasing muscle and mental tension but it is a good angle for approaching the topic.  It is exactly the one used by a major American figure on the subject: Dr. Herbert Benson.

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