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Очень прекрасно-своевременная статья про то, как слова "медитация" и "осмысление" стали очень популярны, и умение медитировать и отрешаться от всех проблем начинает казаться панацеей. Самые разные ресурсы до такой степени распропагандировали медитацию, что уже кажется не приличным ею не заниматься (да, я занимаюсь, но давно и серьезно). Один абзац (вернее, два :)) специально вытаскиваю сюда для ta_g (цитата из профессора, который это явление изучает)

Wilson chuckles at this. “There is one group of people who would say mindfulness is good for stress, and stress inhibits productivity, so mindfulness must be good for productivity. But if you look at it from a Buddhist meditation standpoint, you shouldn’t be so concerned about how well your company is doing because that’s not an important question in the universe. Equanimity is great for your blood pressure, but it’s not so good for your bottom line in a hyper-capitalist social situation, which we have here in America.”

In fact, a study released in this month indicates that mindfulness may in fact have a negative impact on motivation. “This research says that after a mindfulness session people feel pretty good about stuff,” Wilson says, “and therefore they’re not anxious to get out there and sell, sell, sell. People are like, ‘I did all right, I feel good, I did enough work today. My company’s doing good enough.’ Which is funny because in a way that’s kind of what Buddhist meditation is supposed to do is help you not be chasing, chasing, chasing.”


Статья целиком


I am sitting on a folding chair in a dim, carpeted room, waiting for my turn to introduce myself. There is a loosely defined half-circle of women around me in the meditation room, but I have shoehorned myself into a spot in the back, partly because that’s the place I’m most comfortable, partly because I was late and the only other open spots are front-and-center. Taking one of those, under the circumstance, could reasonably have been classified as a form of torture.

The circumstance is my formal entry into the pursuit of mindfulness.

I am not — and I may be the last person in America to admit this — mindful. At least not in the modern sense of the word, which has mostly been understood in Western society as participation in a meditation practice. Its popularity has been spreading like wildfire. It’s bigger than Kanye, in all his iterations. In fact, mindfulness is now so pervasive that even researchers who study it professionally find it hard to get their hands around it.

“What I’ve found,” says Jeff Wilson, a professor of religious studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada and author of “Mindful America,” “is the mindfulness movement is so vast, so diverse and so unstoppable that it’s hard to even have an opinion about it as a whole. It’s a gigantic American story of charlatans and quacks and guardian angels and good Samaritans and … you name it. It’s all going on.”

There is nothing we possess more fully than our own minds. Yet consumer culture has managed to sell them back to us to the tune of billions in profits.

In one of mindfulness’s most visible arenas, the online world, meditation apps Calm and Headspace, which have been slugging it out for rankings in the app store, have both been valued at around $250 million. Last month, Headspace announced an expansion into medicine, becoming the first mindfulness purveyor to announce an intention to seek FDA approval for a doctor-prescribed version of its programs.

“Right now,” says Megan Jones Bell, Headspace’s chief science officer, “we know that meditation can help with quality of life. We’d like to go a step beyond quality of life and show that meditation can also impact the disease state and core physical symptoms.”

There’s no end in sight. “I have a Google alert set to send me everything with the word ‘mindful’” says Wilson. “These days I can’t even get through what comes in in the morning.”

This is a wave I never caught. From my point of view, the proliferation of mindful everything (iPhone apps, triathlons, vacation destinations, weight loss programs, beauty products, mayonnaise) smells like lemmings. I’ve caved to peer pressure from mindful friends a couple of times and made passing swipes at meditating, never getting past the part where I’m so antsy I want to crawl out of my skin. So the position I occupy in the universe remains that of a twitchy, monkey-minded skeptic.

Mostly, I’m happy there. But it’s not all Ferris wheel rides and sneering at authority. I have a nagging suspicion that I could do better when it comes to mindfulness. Mindfulness stresses me out, because I know I’m not doing it right. And honestly, I need what the culture is trying to sell me. There are scientific studies that show the benefits of mindfulness, after all. And I would like to calm down, increase focus … eat a sandwich smeared with mindful condiments.

So I find myself, on a Saturday morning, arriving out of breath and lugging an embarrassingly large tote bag to a meditation retreat at the Theosophical Society in America in Wheaton. The teacher is Karen Brody, author of “Daring to Rest,” whose specialty is yoga nidra meditation, and her hook is that it’s meditation you can do while you sleep. Here, I thought, was meditation I could be good at. I’m so exhausted that I can sleep pretty much anywhere. I signed on before I realized (not mindful) that the session was an all-day affair, to which we were encouraged to bring a pillow and a vegan lunch. (Wait …) I mentioned to my editor that this was akin to asking someone who has never laced up a pair of running shoes to run a marathon. She laughed.

I was a little panicked.

“It’s very stressful to realize ‘I’m not as in the moment as I should be,’” says Sara Lazar, a researcher and professor of psychology at Harvard University, “so it’s about having self-compassion. Everyone’s mind is going to wander when they start practicing, but stick with it and it will get easier. You’ll stay focused a little longer and the lapses will get shorter with a little practice.”

Mindful practices, first yoga then meditation, literally changed Lazar’s career path in graduate school. She has now been applying scientific measures to mindfulness practices since 1998, so she understands exactly what the benefits are — and are not. “When I started I was a total skeptic,” she says. “and then it had such a profound impact on me. I was just curious — how could it be working? It just didn’t make sense to me. And so I really wanted to understand how these practices were working. I thought it was complete malarkey before I started practicing. And once I did the research on it, it helped me understand it in ways I hadn’t before.” Lazar co-authored a study showing that the brains of long-term meditators have a thicker cortex, and that even as little as eight weeks of meditation results in changes in the brain. “We know these changes are associated with enhanced functioning.”

That study has been pointed to perhaps more than any other as the evidence that meditation can do wonders. Lazar isn’t thrilled about that.

In fact, last year, she co-authored another paper titled “Mind the Hype” in which the researchers cautioned that their original findings were being used as underpinnings to stories of self-healing and other over-the-top tales in the press. Mindfulness — the cultural phenomenon — threatens to overrun Lazar’s findings.

“A lot of people took (our study) to mean that you start meditating and boom, meditation cures everything instantly,” she says. “That’s the implication that the media portrays — doesn’t matter what’s wrong with you, doesn’t matter who you are, you start meditating and everything’s OK. That’s clearly not the case.”

In fact, research has begun to show that meditation can have a negative impact — can even trigger psychosis — in people who have suffered a severe trauma or who have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Which is one more reason, Lazar says, to keep the news about mindfulness grounded in reality. “The context can often make it sound like more than it is. It gets overhyped.”

Wilson agrees: “So much of the mindfulness movement has been based on one study, or a few imperfect studies and then hyped far beyond what they ever claimed to show. That’s what the mindfulness movement is about: hype.”

This hype has a purpose: transforming what began, for the most part, as a Buddhist religious practice into the cultural juggernaut we are experiencing today. Wilson has studied this transformation and its endless iterations for years.

To shift mindfulness into a practice that fit modern American life, he says, it first had to be decontextualized: The religion had to be subtracted “so that it’s ready for a new context” or a secularized version of mindfulness such as the original American version, mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR, pioneered and promoted by Massachusetts researcher Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1970s. Then, Wilson says, “you medicalize it, so you study people practicing meditation, and they are happier. So science has now proven that this has benefits. The new explanation for what’s happening that’s acceptable to the mainstream is applied.” Lastly, “you apply mindfulness to new ends,” like mindful sex or mindful dog walking. Or workplace productivity.

Perhaps most controversial in the long list of mindfulness’ claims to do good is the claim that promoting mindfulness among workers will increase their output, thus leading to healthier profits.

It’s an idea that is heavily promoted by programs such as the Google-spawned Search Inside Yourself, based on the work of former Google engineer Chade-Meng Tan, who became a sort of in-house guru at the tech company. The Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute is now just one among many mindfulness programs that are being sold to corporations on the promise of a boost to the bottom line.

Wilson chuckles at this. “There is one group of people who would say mindfulness is good for stress, and stress inhibits productivity, so mindfulness must be good for productivity. But if you look at it from a Buddhist meditation standpoint, you shouldn’t be so concerned about how well your company is doing because that’s not an important question in the universe. Equanimity is great for your blood pressure, but it’s not so good for your bottom line in a hyper-capitalist social situation, which we have here in America.”

In fact, a study released in this month indicates that mindfulness may in fact have a negative impact on motivation. “This research says that after a mindfulness session people feel pretty good about stuff,” Wilson says, “and therefore they’re not anxious to get out there and sell, sell, sell. People are like, ‘I did all right, I feel good, I did enough work today. My company’s doing good enough.’ Which is funny because in a way that’s kind of what Buddhist meditation is supposed to do is help you not be chasing, chasing, chasing.”

The yoga nidra session is just weird enough to feel pretty far removed from a corporate version of mindfulness, even though Brody’s books and meditations are for sale in the lobby. As we introduce ourselves, a little bag of stones makes the rounds, and we each take one as a grounding talisman for the day. My stone is uncomfortably sharp, a piece of gravel Brody tells us she picked up on the driveway outside.

I spend a moment meditating on my grounding stone’s probable origins in some massive dirty quarry. Then I notice the stories the women around me are sharing: One is exhausted after spending months helping family recover from the hurricane in Puerto Rico. Another confesses that she’s lost her husband of many years and fought a panic attack to get to the retreat today. A third confesses that she powered through a tough graduate program only to tumble into a deep depression: “I guess you really can’t just run on adrenaline.”

It’s a moving reminder of the other factor that has fueled the mindfulness craze, beyond a lot of coy marketing: Debilitating stress and mental illness are on the rise in America, and that tide threatens to swamp all our boats at times.

“I think we’ve hit our threshold of stress,” Brody says. “You get to a certain point, and you can’t take it anymore. People are realizing that they have got to calm down.”

She’s yet another person pitching a meditation solution, and I’m not sure about all of her claims — I cringe a little when she relates that she went off her antidepressants after practicing meditation, which might be fine for some but disastrous for others. This feels a little irresponsible. And when she says, “It’s naptime!” as we start our meditation, I secretly roll my eyes. But in the end, she wins me over just enough. “Life falls apart sometimes, things can happen,” she says. “But you will not stay broken. This is why we need to have tools. We’re working the muscle that helps us recover.”

I can feel my fellow humans, damaged, longing for peace, curled up on their yoga mats all around me on the carpet. So I close my eyes, and try again.



Comments

ta_g
Jul. 15th, 2018 09:29 pm (UTC)
У вас, я думаю, другое. Хотя, конечно, могу ошибаться. Там была ситуация, когда начальство сначала опасалось проявлять чувства. Типа - я не могу показывать, что этот человек мне нравится и мы давно работаем вместе и дружим, а вдруг он будет недостаточно полезен компании, и меня будут подозревать в том, что я не смогу его уволить. В частности упоминался большой начальник, который запрещал жене упоминать, что они дружили семьями с коллегой - другим большим начальником. А потом все так самодисциплинировались, что в принципе перестали испытывать чувства не по делу, и тут выяснилось, что посторонние чувства испытывать надо, потому что без них почему-то прибыль уменьшается. Я не поняла - с чего вдруг, но вот так им показалось.
Дело серьезное, сами понимаете. Не за то боролись. Позвали французов учить испытывать чувства обратно. Видимо американцы не потянули такую задачу. Я не шучу, так все описывалось.

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