This is the cover of the most recent issue of TIME Magazine. It’s the “Mindful Revolution” folks. Are you ready? Just look how mindful she is right now. Bonus: As you read the following text, take note of how many times your mind wanders off to other thoughtlands.
Taking on the resurgence of mindfulness practices and a growing amount of new science to back up the benefits, author Kate Pickert takes a look at why, at this point in our tech-riddled, fast-paced, stress-filled lives, mindfulness is gaining popularity, and how it is helping to break through the noise to help us all bring our focus back from multi- to single tasking with focus and full concentration.
Pickert recounts her experience taking a course in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, complete with mindful raisin eating, and examines our smartphone obsession while sharing some insight on why people from school children to busy parents to politicians to corporate execs are doing mindfulness practices to stay sane.
She points out that, yes it’s getting quite popular, but we shouldn’t pass it off as a fad:
But to view mindfulness simply as the latest self-help fad underplays its potency and misses the point of why it is gaining acceptance with those who might otherwise dismiss mental training techniques closely tied to meditation—Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 titans, Pentagon chiefs and more. If distraction is the pre-eminent condition of our age, then mindfulness, in the eyes of its enthusiasts, is the most logical response. Its strength lies in its universality. Though meditation is considered an essential means to achieving mindfulness, the ultimate goal is simply to give your attention fully to what you’re doing. One can work mindfully, parent mindfully and learn mindfully. One can exercise and even eat mindfully. The banking giant Chase now advises customers on how to spend mindfully.
She also shares how the next generation might benefit (and already are):
Educators are turning to mindfulness with increasing frequency–perhaps a good thing, considering how digital technology is splitting kids’ attention spans too. (The average American teen sends and receives more than 3,000 text messages a month.) A Bay Area–based program called Mindful Schools offers online mindfulness training to teachers, instructing them in how to equip children to concentrate in classrooms and deal with stress…. the group has reached more than 300,000 pupils, and educators in 43 countries and 48 states have taken its courses….
And then there’s science. Because more and more studies are showing how meditation and mindfulness can help reduce stress on a physical and a molecular (read: brain chemistry) level, people are perking up. Pickert points out that Americans spent $4 billion on mindfulness-related alternative medicine in 2007 according to an NIH report.
Advocates like Tim Ryan, a democratic congressman from Ohio, are spearheading the efforts to get more federal funding for further research. More research leads to a building industry, leads to more donors leads to more research and more people trying out meditation and mindfulness, and the cycle keeps growing to where it’s practically mainstream these days. We’ve mentioned many a study here on YD finding major benefits from practicing meditation and mindfulness. This TIME mag piece could be considered a big deal (it’s pretty thorough and well-written), but we imagine, in a very single-pointed focus way, of course, that this is very much the beginning of a very mindful future.
Read the article here (sorry, you have to subscribe to read the whole thing) or buy it at your local newsstand if you still have one of those around.