SAN FRANCISCO — Mindfulness: have you heard the word?
It’s a vital way of learning how to understand, accept, and realize our mind’s true nature. It’s about being fully alive in the present moment (the only moment ever available for us to be alive). To be honest, being in the present is also about learning to return to the present : our bodies are in the present, but our untamed mind can wander in 1,000 directions. (You’ve noticed?) Yet all you need to enjoy mindfulness is
- a pause
- a smile &
- ± 3 conscious breaths
(Try it! Go ahead … right now. Breathe — you are alive. O taste and see. )
This blueprint for true happiness has numerous applications in everyday, workaday life. Google, for instance, with the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, is launching a program this month for business leaders, entitled Search Inside Yourself (SIY).
In America, mindfulness became widely known through its miraculous results in medicine, spearheaded by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn. Daniel Goleman is another pioneer in this field, popularizing mindfulness’ twin: “emotional intelligence.” Another such pioneer is the venerable Thich Nhat Hanh ( say “tick not hawn”— close enough), Vietnamese Zen master whom the The New York Times ranks second to HH The Dalai Lama. In 1996, he published a manual entitled The Miracle of Mindfulness that’s still considered a cornerstone of what’s now a burgeoning movement.
After decades of bringing mindfulness to millions, Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh has declared his #1 objective as bringing it to young people. It’s good medicine for what’s becoming a devastating trend. This month’s horrible catastrophe at Oikos University in Oakland is but a sad case in point. (Oikos, by the way, is Greek for house, from which we get the words ecology, and economy. This begs us to ask : Is our house in order?
Tragic as that is, indeed, no less shocking is teen suicide: the fourth leading cause of death for children between 15 to 24; for those between 10 and 14, it’s third. These harsh statistics point to young people’s inability to handle their mind, their difficult emotions.
Hence comes this project of bringing mindfulness to kids — and the rest of us. It’s called: Wake up! Two weeks ago, there was a related, massive sit in at Trafalgar Square, London. This Wednesday, there was an evening at Zen Center, beginning at 7pm [my comments follow hereinbelow].
Youth is like a tree growing on the side of cliff, in the face of hard storms. When the tree cannot take refuge in its roots, branches break — and everyone is affected. Wake Up!! can furnish us with the resources we need to restore ourselves in our solidity, peace, and joy. Giving this precious gift to our children, is ensuring a future can be possible.
Former Patheos Buddhism editor, Gary Gach is author of The Complete Idiot’s to Buddhism, third edition (Nautilus Book Award), and editor of What Book!? ~ Buddha Poems from Beat to Hiphop (American Book Award). His work has also appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including The Atlantic, BuddhaDharma, Harvard Divinity Review, Language for a New Century, The New Yorker, Technicians of the Sacred, Tricycle, and Yoga Journal. A member of the Order of Interbeing, he facilitates a mindfulness practice and a creativivity group in San Francisco. Visit http://word.to.
Copyright © 2012, Gary Gach