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Nonstop Blog:

Is Mindfulness Meditation Really Worth All the Fuss?

MindfulMeditation.jpgPhoto: Dallas CTC

Mindfulness has become the new buzzword of late, touted by Fortune 500 companies, parents, the US military, and schools (just to name a few) as the answer to burnout, behavior problems, and anxiety. But the thing is – it’s more than a buzzword or the latest trend. On top of thousands of years of history, we now have thousands of pages of research proving that mindfulness actually is a solution to many of the woes of modern day society. And while it's obviously not the only solution – and nor should it be – it's definitely not one to be ignored in light of all we now know. With 18 million people meditating in the United States, there must be something to it.

So what is mindfulness? There are a number of definitions, but perhaps one of the most famous comes from the “grandfather” of mindfulness in the US, Jon Kabat Zinn who says “mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally." In short, mindfulness is the act of being objectively aware of each moment (e.g. feelings, sensations, images, etc.) as it arises and falls away. Sounds simple in theory, but in practice…not so much.

So how do you reap the benefits of this practice? There are a number of ways to get your feet wet, ranging from online and in-person courses to books and retreats. You can also travel to one of Forbes “top ten cities for meditation” and explore a variety of opportunities. But if travel seems like too much of a commitment and funds are tight, below are a few easy and inexpensive options:

  • In-person course: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a highly researched 8-week course (2.5 hours per week), offered all over the world by trained practitioners, that is based on Kabat-Zinn’s original teachings at the UMass Medical Center. To find a course near you, simply run a Google search for MBSR courses in your town*. The course is also offered online through various sources, including UMass Medical Center. In addition, the book Full Catastrophe Living by Kabat-Zinn offers the course practices in written form.
  • Online course: Mindfulness Awareness Practices (MAPs) offered through UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (MARC) is a six-week online course (2 hours per week) designed to provide “insight into the basics of mindfulness, how to develop a mindfulness meditation practice, and how mindfulness can be applied in daily life.”
  • Book: Fully Present by Susan Smalley and Diana Winston (both out of UCLA’s MARC) is a thoughtful book that examines both the research of various mindfulness practices and the art of actually implementing them into daily life. It is an easy-to-read book that integrates the science and practicalities of mindfulness.

There are a myriad of other resources on mindfulness in the world – these are just a small sample based on our experiences. If you are interested in exploring the world of meditation, it’s worth taking some time to browse online and your local bookstore to find programs or resources that resonate best with you. Mindfulness is, at its core, a very personal and exploratory practice that manifests differently for everyone.

* We cannot vouch for every MBSR instructor out there, so it is highly recommended that you vet potential teachers by asking about their background and training, and request references, before making a decision.

Many view mindfulness as an important form of alternative medicine.
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The information and materials herein are provided for general information purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal or other advice or opinions on any specific matters and are not intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney, plan provider or other professional advisor. This information has been taken from sources believed to be reliable, but there is no guarantee as to its accuracy. In accordance with IRS Circular 230, this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used as or considered a ‘covered opinion’ or other written tax advice and should not be relied upon for any purpose other than its intended purp