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Lions Roar : September 2008
57 SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2008 prisons, and organizational leadership. I’ve highlighted a few representative people and organizations out of the many em- ploying mindfulness as part of their mission. Mindfulness is everywhere. It’s being used by the five cat- egories of people in this article, as well as by many other self- identified groups: activists, people of color, gays and lesbians, homemakers, athletes, and many, many others. Mindfulness can be used by virtually anyone to find balance—whatever the opportunities and challenges of their particular way of life. Because mindfulness asks us to study the working of our minds, it leads to self-knowledge—knowledge of how we can best use our energies. It helps us to see the big picture: what’s im- portant and what’s not. It helps us to develop concentration and clear thinking, which makes us more productive. And it reduces our stress and anxiety, which improves our overall health. Scientists are just now unraveling why and how mindful- ness benefits the human brain and body. But for thousands of years, asking why and how has not necessarily been the point. Lucia Meijer, whom I interviewed for this article, puts it this way: “Asking why mindfulness works is like asking why deter- gent works. We just know if you wash something in the stuff, when it comes out, it’s clean.” Health and Healing In 2000, the National Institutes of Health financed three stud- ies on the effects of mindfulness. It’s now financing more than fifty. This reflects a growing worldwide interest in the effects of meditation on health and healing. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., is usually credited with sparking this movement. He is the founder and former executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and So- ciety at the University of Massachusetts medical school, and he is also the founder and former director of its Stress Reduction Clinic. The method he developed, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), has been taught to hundreds of thousands LEFT:PHOTOCOURTESYOFBALCONYRELEASING,LTD.,RIGHT:ANDREAROTH Left to right: Practicing mindfulness at the Garrison Institute; a student in the Inner Resilience Program meditating; prisoners practicing in The Dhamma Brothers documentary film; rehabilitating after a stroke. SEPT 56-63.indd 57 SEPT 56-63.indd 57 7/3/08 1:32:00 PM 7/3/08 1:32:00 PM