It’s the first night of the Mindfulness Meditation Series, a 6 week program I teach at 8 Limbs Phinney as an in depth training in Mindfulness Meditation (aka Insight Meditation or Vipassana). There are 15 of us sitting on our cushions in a circle on this chilly Seattle evening. I like to start the series with a brief inquiry; I guide the students through a short meditation, after which I ask a very simple question: Why did you come here? After a few moments pause I ask a second question: Why did you really come here? And again after a few moments: Why did you really really come here?
After completing this inquiry we go around in a circle and each person shares with the group why they really really signed up for this somewhat demanding commitment of six 2 hour classes and a day long meditation retreat. (Names have been changed) Susie shares that she heard that mindfulness can help with her anxiety and depression. Maude injured herself and hasn’t been able to practice yoga, and is looking for the same peace of mind she misses from her yoga practice. Harold is at a crossroads in his life, after a painful divorce, and is looking for completion and change. Anastasia is on a serious spiritual search. Carly’s last doctor appointment wasn’t so great, she’s here to lower her stress.
After the sharing circle I tell everyone they’ve come to the right place. Mindfulness Meditation is perhaps the most researched form of meditation, and a quick Google search will reveal scientific study after study showing the benefits of mindfulness meditation on lowering stress, reducing unhealthy manic thoughts, slowing the progression of HIV, relieving irritable bowel syndrome, boosting the immune system, and reducing loneliness, to name a few.
Our culture is adopting mindfulness at an amazing rate; mindfulness is mixing with law, corporations, psychology, education, fitness, and yes, yoga. And for the sincere spiritual seekers, mindfulness can offer a glimpse into the nature of our minds, the nature of reality, and offer us a profound freedom.
I recently spent a week at Spirit Rock for a module of my 4-year meditation teacher training with Jack Kornfield. Jack was one of the first Westerners to bring Mindfulness Meditation back to the West, after having lived as a Buddhist monk in Thailand in the 1960’s. Back then mindfulness was an exotic word, and meditation seemed to be reserved only for renunciates and far out hippies. Now it seems that we are at the dawn of a Mindfulness revolution. I hypothesize Mindfulness is going to explode, just like yoga did. In 10 years there will be a Mindfulness Meditation hall on every city block in Seattle, in between the Starbucks and the yoga studio.
Posted by: Brent Morton
Brent Morton teaches yoga at 8 Limbs Phinney Ridge and Wedgwood. He now offers 6-week Mindfulness Meditation Series. The next series will be held Wednesdays 6-8pm at 8 Limbs Phinney Ridge, February 27 – April 3.