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Lions Roar : July 2012
I explain that mindfulness is about try- ing not to get caught up in the past or the future, and that it will help them to reduce their stress and concentrate better. Then I let them know that mindfulness prac- tice is happening in major institutions across the country, like the Marines, Gen- eral Mills, Target, and Procter & Gamble. When people hear that a company as successful as Google is using it to help their leaders, and that basketball coach Phil Jackson used it because it improved the performance of his players, they pay attention. People are interested because they want to find ways to reduce their own stress, improve their performance, and focus and quiet their mind. You don’t get a lot of people who think it’s flaky? I haven’t. Because there’s the science behind it. People are becoming more aware of how we’re able to monitor the activity in our own brains, and when you talk about the science, and then you back it up with these popular companies and institutions, then people are open to it. I’m not saying everyone is going to go sit on a cushion immediately, but we’re planting seeds. A lot of people are looking for something, but they don’t want to get into the complexities of taking prescrip- tion drugs. If they see something simple like mindfulness, they’ll give it a whirl. How do mindfulness and religion intersect? No matter what religion you are, you can practice mindfulness. You don’t have to set aside your beliefs and adopt new ones. If you’re praying, you can be in the pres- ent moment. If you’re at mass, you can be fully aware and participating in the ritual. If you’re telling your prayer beads or praying the rosary, you can be in that moment. Mindfulness is a human charac- teristic—it’s not limited to any particular religion. If we can cultivate awareness, we can bring it to wherever we are. I would love to see our religions spend more time teaching contemplation—whatever reli- gion it may be. ♦ SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2012 23