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MINDFULNESS AND CONTEMPLATION

The

Mindfulness Mistake

WORDS MARY-LOU STEPHENS

M

any long-time meditators have watched the rise in popularity of meditation and mindfulness with great interest. For decades the research into meditation’s benefits have been well documented but it’s the studies into such things as better performance and a rise in productivity that have attracted the business sector’s attention. In-house meditation and mindfulness courses are being integrated into many corporations these days. Buddhist psychotherapist Renate Ogilvie has taught at Buddhist centres around the world for over twenty years. She combines modern approaches to psychotherapy with Buddhist philosophy. I spoke with her recently and asked for her thoughts on the rising popularity of using mindfulness techniques in the work place. She told me it’s all about intention. When people turn to meditation because they perceive it as being useful for business and for themselves, that will it equip them better for their competitive

lifestyles, Renate says they are making a mistake. “Meditation and mindfulness are not here to make us better in the rat race,” she told me. “Of course it focuses the mind, makes us sharper and more aware but without context you can, for example, use mindfulness to be a totally excellent drug dealer.” She explained that mindfulness should not just be used for competition, for succeeding in the world, or as a narcissistic way of improving ourselves. Ultimately the aim of mindfulness is to make us masters of our own minds. Renate maintains that being master of our mind is a necessary step towards gaining enlightenment but not just for ourselves and our own gratification but for the sake of others. In doing so we become more effective in the way we help other people. This is the most important motivation. When we use techniques like mindfulness ultimately the impetus must be to benefit others. I’m not a Buddhist myself but I meditate as I have been taught. At

the end of each session I finish with Metta – loving kindness. May all beings share my merits. May all beings be happy. And perhaps this is the answer. In a recent Yale study, published in the journal Brain and Behaviour, the researchers evoked feelings of selfless love in meditators by having them repeat the phrase “may all beings be happy” while their brains were being scanned. The study found that the areas of the brain that become active when we think about ourselves were deactivated, especially in experienced meditators. Compassion. Loving kindness. A few moments of selfless love at the end of every meditation could be the antidote to becoming a totally excellent drug dealer. MARY-LOU STEPHENS’ meditation memoir, Sex, Drugs and Meditation, is the true story of how meditation helped changed her life, save her job and find a husband. Find out more at maryloustephens.com.au

Holistic Bliss | APRIL 2014 |

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Holistic bliss april vol 56  
Holistic bliss april vol 56  

Australia's premier holistic lifestyle magazine created on the Sunshine Coast

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