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Lions Roar : May 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2009 79 means I chose consciously to anchor it in health care and medi- cine. I thought that would be the most fertile ground.” The Stress Reduction Clinic is celebrating thirty years of op- eration, which mirrors the flowering of MBSR and a new un- derstanding in our society of the influence of mind on life. “It’s virtually axiomatic now,” Kabat-Zinn says, “that the mind and the body need to be on intimate speaking terms to function effectively in business, education, sports, even politics.” yet Kabat-Zinn cautions that it’s impor- tant to remain attentive to how mindful- ness is taken up in the mainstream. “Mind- fulness really has to do with the profound fact that our conventional view of ourselves and of the self is incomplete. We need to see why we mistake the actuality of things for some story we create.” The best way to pro- tect mindfulness’ integrity, he said, is not to be a dharma cop, but to ensure that the practice is embodied. “It needs to be in the language, in the way one speaks, and in the way one carries oneself so that it’s not an act or an elaborately defended thought construct.” In 1997, Mirabai bush co-founded the Center for Contem- plative Mind in Society, in Northampton, Massachusetts, and be- came its first executive director. Under her leadership, the center has developed programs bring- ing contemplative practices into five key areas of society— academic, social justice, law, business, and research—and become a major sponsor of re- treats and meetings in these and other arenas. Bush recently left the director’s post and became a senior fellow, which has freed her to take on new projects just at a time when lots of possibilities are brewing. Bush is an accomplished teacher and an energetic “connector,” putting people and projects in touch with each other. When Google was looking for a new way to bring contemplative practice to their SPEAKING OF MINdFUlNESS, we are told, the Buddha put it like this: ...when walking, a bhikkhu understands: “I am walking”; when standing, he understands: “I am standing”; when sitting, he understands: “I am sitting” when lying down, he under- stands: “I am lying down....” Proceeding through the whole range of bodily experience, feelings, mind, and the objects of mind, the Buddha lets us know that simple aware- ness of what’s going on in the moment is the gate- way to wisdom and freedom from attachment. It’s stunning how something so straightforward can take us so far. It seems to do so by setting us in the direction of seeing how readily we cling to our constructs and delusions. But even as it provokes profound insights, mind- fulness also yields immediate benefits. We begin to relax. We may listen to people better. We may listen to our bodies better. We may fight our pain less. We may back off the accelerator. Appreciating these tangible benefits has inspired many prac- titioners to bring what they’ve learned in their Buddhist train- ing to hospitals, schools, hospices, prisons, companies, and many other settings. This movement is steadily growing, and in this new department in the Sun we will report on the many programs, research projects, conferences, and frontiers in bring- ing contemplative disciplines to the broader society. Above all, we will report on the people who are helping others lead a life enriched by mindfulness and awareness, people like these three pioneers of the Mindful Society. Since Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, started the Stress Reduction Clinic at UMass in 1979, he has not stopped pursuing the goal of bringing mindfulness to a wider world. He is the author of Full Catastrophe Living and other bestselling books; the founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society; and a leading proponent of research-based approaches to promoting mindfulness. In a wide- ranging discussion recently, Kabat-Zinn told me, “The central mission of my work has been to bring the dharma, at its most universal, into the mainstream of human activity for the sake of basically all of us. Because that’s so broad a mission, as a skillful Walking the Talk the mindful society By Barry Boyce PHOTOBylIZAMATTHEWS