Mindfulness had entered our collective vocabulary. During my Neurosculpting® workshops I point out that meditation literally changes our neurobiology. Less reactive amygdalae, lengthened telomeres, stronger immune system and ability to down-regulate stress response are just some benefits that has been measured. Neuroplasticity is a scientifically indisputable fact.
Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been studying brain activity in Tibetan monks. When they ran the experiment on a senior Tibetan lama skilled in meditation, the lama’s baseline of activity proved to be much further to the left of anyone previously tested. “Judging from this one study, at least, he was quantifiably the happiest man in the world” (National Geographic, 2005).
As any good concept, practice of mindfulness can also be misused. A term coined “McMindfulness” refers to the dark side of the mindfulness revolution, namely over-commercialization, commodification, and above all, loss of meaning. The main focus is on stress reduction, improved focus, and higher productivity. Some skeptics dispute the claims about meditation efficacy altogether.
Jeffrey B. Rubin Ph.D. writes: “…mindfulness is the new yoga – and we are in the midst of a mindfulness revolution. It’s been embraced by celebrities, business leaders, politicians and athletes; and recommended by doctors, clergy, psychotherapists and prison wardens. Google ‘mindfulness’ and you’ll get over 24 million hits” (The McMindfulness Craze: The Shadow Side of the Mindfulness Revolution).
After all, meditation is a powerful tool for cultivating mindfulness. Any tool can be beneficial or harmful, depending on its application. If you use a hammer on a skull, don’t blame it on the hammer.
Indeed, the way meditation is practiced ordinarily can lead to detachment and self-avoidance. I myself used meditation as an escape. Of course, I didn’t look for avoidance intentionally. Always a seeker, I was driven by a search of enlightenment. In my recent teaching practice, I have encountered regular meditators that feel unstable and overwhelmed by the world’s social demands. Those might be practitioners, who are like me in the past, are diving deep into loving-kindness meditation before they cultivate a sense of inner safety and stability. Going straight to college from elementary school isn’t always a good idea. In Buddhism there is a concept of “daring to experience the sharp edge of reality,” however this level of meditation is introduced only at an advanced stage of practice.
Ron Siegel, PsyD, suggests that some mindfulness practices can be harmful if applied at the wrong time. He believes that meditation needs to be adapted to specific needs, especially if used in therapy. For instance, meditation involving inner focus with attention on breathing with eyes closed can be destabilizing for those with unaddressed trauma, overwhelmed with painful memories, and disintegration. Taking a walk in nature or meditation with external focus might be a better alternative.
During my first Neurosculpting® workshop it was evident that the focus of this meditation approach is on personal autonomy, self-inquiry, and a lifelong journey grounded in reality, not on a short-term solution. I practiced it for a few years and became certified to teach this modality to others. I now share how this discipline can truly benefit those ready for emotional healing and integration, not those simply looking for a silver bullet. And it is certainly not “one size fits all.”
Vija is an international educator with meditation experience of over 20 years. Born in Latvia, Vija has lived and worked in the Netherlands, UK, Thailand, India, Colorado and currently lives in Seattle, WA. She speaks four languages fluently and one day hopes to master one more. She is a certified Neurosculpting® Facilitator & Tier 2 Fellow, and has a B.A. in Social Work and a B.A. in Communication. She studied at the University of Leeds, UK, School of Social Work in Latvia, University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and the Academy of Film and TV in Delhi. Vija has practiced meditation in varying forms since her late teens and undergone Buddhist study with Sakyong Mipham at the Shambhala Buddhist Center. She is also a 200 hour certified Kids Yoga instructor, a visual artist and a published author. Vija came to her first Neurosculpting® class with Lisa Wimberger in 2011 when she was faced with unaddressed PTSD and ADD patterns. Neurosculpting® has helped Vija to create a more integrated path in her professional and personal life. Always a seeker, Vija has been pursuing knowledge of human condition and self-discovery, especially after having a spontaneous out-of-body experience and multiple dream visions. A single parent and wellness entrepreneur, she walks her talk and applies self-awareness skills daily. She is in constant awe of unlimited human potential and is honored to be able to share powerful Neurosculpting® tools in the Pacific Northwest and globally. She works with private clients and groups, improving her clients’ journey through life. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.vijarogozina.com