Author Topic: Buddhist calm becomes big business  (Read 9592 times)

Namdrol

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Buddhist calm becomes big business
« on: June 24, 2012, 11:13:36 PM »
http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=7,10939,0,0,1,0

AP, June 12, 2012

Peace of the action: The calming yogic technique of 'mindfulness' is catching on in big business and even politics

San Francisco, CA (USA) -- This has become a daily ritual. In Mr Ryan's world, it's a stretch for people to get this relaxed. He's a member of Congress.

Increasingly, people in settings beyond the serene yoga studio or contemplative nature path are engaging in the practice of mindfulness, a mental technique that dwells on breathing, attention to areas of the body and periods of silence to concentrate on the present rather than the worries of yesterday and tomorrow.

Marines are doing it. Office workers are doing it. Prisoners are doing it.

The technique is drawing tens of thousands to conferences and learning experiences across the nation and world, and studies have shown it to reduce the symptoms of certain diseases and conditions.

Mr Ryan has written a book, "A Mindful Nation," pushing mindfulness as an elixir that can tone down political divisions in Washington, get American schoolchildren learning better, and return the country to an era of richer personal experience.


"You still forget your keys, you still call people by the wrong name, you still stub your toe, but you can train your mind to be more in the present moment," Mr Ryan said.

Benefits in stress reduction and improved performance have prompted US corporations including Google, Target, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Comcast, BASF, Bose and New Balance to offer mindfulness training and encourage its use at work.

The practice's critics, including some psychologists and religious scholars, say the approach is little more than Buddhist meditation repackaged and rebranded for a secular, and often paying, audience.

"The commercialisation of Buddhism has been happening as long as Buddhism has existed," said Rachelle Scott, an associate professor of religion at the University of Tennessee and author of "Nirvana for Sale."

"It's problematic, because most Americans who are engaging in these activities don't know the cultural backdrop to that, so in order to gain access they have to go to one of these retreats, and they are expensive," she said.

Of the $US34 billion ($34 billion) Americans spent on alternative medicine in 2009, $US4.2 billion - about 12 per cent - was spent in sectors that included mindfulness concepts, such as meditation-related classes or relaxation techniques, according to federal data. Participation in meditation therapy by US adults rose 6 per cent a year on average from 2002 to 2007, according to a study by the research group SRI International.

Marine 1st Lt Scott Williams, 32, of Lancaster, California, said skills he learned through Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training - known in the military as MMFT or "M-fit," - allow him to transition rapidly from one focus point to another, to rid his mind of negative thoughts, and to recover more quickly from emotional experiences.

"As an infantry officer in the Marines, the mental agility gained by conducting mindfulness exercises could potentially be the difference maker as I lead men through chaotic and uncertain environments in Afghanistan," he said.

The technique has also reached prisons, where it is being used to reduce stress, anxiety and violence.

Mr Ryan, a Democrat from Youngstown, learned the technique at a retreat two days after the 2008 presidential election - the end of a stressful campaign period and the beginning of another.

"I was to the point where I was OK, but I thought, 'I'm going to be fried by the time I'm 40; I'm just going to be burnt out,'" said Mr Ryan, who was 35 at the time of the election.

For Mr Ryan, a former high school quarterback, the feeling he gets during mindfulness meditation reminds him of the utter concentration and single-mindedness athletes feel when they're "in the zone."

In fact, it was Phil Jackson, the legendary NBA coach, who was among the first to legitimise mind-body techniques in popular culture as he led the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers to 11 titles from 1989 to 2010.

Jackson was nicknamed the "Zen Master" for a holistic approach to coaching that drew upon Eastern religious philosophy. Over the same period that Jackson was winning titles, brain science was beginning to validate what practitioners found evident: The brain can be trained to de-stress, and the body will perform better.

For many, it was a wacky, or at least unconventional, idea - departing from the wisdom of the day that the brain was more or less fully formed by the time a child hit kindergarten.

The growing body of research showing the brain has the capacity to change throughout life is bringing mental fitness onto the same plane as physical fitness, said Georgetown University associate professor Elizabeth Stanley.

Ms Stanley, who runs MMFT and conducts research for the Army and Marines, said mindfulness meditation "isn't touchy-feely at all" in its new uses.

"There's something very empowering about learning how and why the body and mind respond under stress," she said.

Ms Stanley said studies involving subjects engaged in repeated mindfulness have shown that it changes the way blood and oxygen flow through the brain, leading over time to structural changes. The practice can shrink the amygdala, which controls our fear response; enlarge the hippocampus, which controls memory; and make the insular cortex that regulates the body's internal environment more efficient, according to recent peer-reviewed studies by Ms Stanley and others.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention are touting several recent studies that have found the technique can reduce the severity of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in women and reduce stress and pain in chronic sufferers of fibromyalgia and depression.

Google spokeswoman Katelin Todhunter-Gerberg says the company's "Search Inside Yourself" mindfulness class is among its most popular. It enhances awareness and performance, which improves productivity and morale, she said.

One Google lawyer, she said, was able to use her training to stop taking things so personally, reduce the irritability sometimes evident in her emails, and elicit immediate kudos from customers.

Not everyone is sold. In her self-help website Mindful Construct, psychology master's student Melissa Karnaze worries that mindfulness runs the risk of encouraging participants to suppress valid emotions.

"To imply that typical forms of human judgment are somehow inferior to a particular type of attention referred to as mindfulness - with regard to mental health and well-being in general - is a broad sweep," she said in an email. "We rely on various types of judgment for survival, and context matters."

Mr Ryan wants to see fellow politicians embrace mindfulness and abandon the aggressive, around-the-clock grind.

"Nobody enjoys it; nobody likes it. It's become a mess," Mr Ryan said. "Look at the approval ratings from the American people, look at how the people who are inside these institutions feel about the gridlock and the inability to get things done, and the constant campaigning, and the amount of money that's involved. We're not going to solve the problem by doing more of it."

yontenjamyang

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2012, 07:14:33 AM »
Way back in the 60s and 70s, during the hippies' times, meditation, yoga and such classes had already become big businesses. You find celebrity like the Beatles going to India to find peace. Swami Gurus even had fleets of Roll Royces as a results. The reason behind this was because of the western economy was stabilizing after World War 2. Many, especially in metropolitan cities like New York, Los Angeles and London was starting to get disillusioned with money as the only way to find happiness. They want to find inner happiness. Coinciding, with those time was the Vietnam War. The new "live" media coverage were broadcasting news of the world faster then ever in the history of mankind. All these factor triggered the so called hippies generation and meditation and such was a big part of it. Interestingly drugs was also a big part of it. Many thought drugs and the "bliss" it brought was as close to Nirvana as they could get to.

Today, almost half a century later, the world is still in chaos as ever. Conditions may have changed. There are no hippies but we still have Iraq and Afghanistan. THe Western World and also part of Asia is well developed. People are still as disillusioned as ever. People want peace and happiness. The nature of beings is such that all beings want to be happy.

Buddhist calm has become a big business? No surprising. Nothing wrong with making money unless one has taken a vow not to. At least the money is spend on the correct technique (caveat. Depending on the actual course). Otherwise in the pursuit of happiness money will be spend anyway; drug is one option.

I actually think this is a good trend.

Dorje Pakmo

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2012, 09:49:43 AM »
Buddhist Calm Becomes Big Business?

Well it comes as no surprise to me. I only worry that people market it irresponsibly and in the wrong way and cause many side effects later! The method to calm one’s mind started 5000 years ago according to the history of Yoga which was taught down by Indian monks, who at that time practice to develop stronger healthier body and to calm the mind. I am not surprise that this ancient practice is catching on more and more nowadays especially to those who have very high stress in their daily working lives.

But the Yogis prepared themselves for the training and must be very skillful themselves before they can even teach anybody. This is so because it involves visualizations, deep meditation and breathing method which if taught wrongly may cause one to go crazy. Today, however, due to the instant nature of everything, unscrupulous people  >:( out of the passion for money, might learn probably a quarter of something and then start marketing it, diluting the real teachings and may cause serious students to have much doubt when they seek for higher teaching.

Like anything else, before diving head first into something, always check clearly whether the teaching is genuine and reliable. Especially when it involves one’s mind, which is priceless.
DORJE PAKMO

Positive Change

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2012, 01:35:26 PM »
This whole "Buddhist calm" is certainly not a new phenomena or concept indeed. As long as we are spiraling in samsara there would always be that prevailing unhappiness that we seek to eradicate or at the very least suppress. A form of escapism so to speak. That is if we only take this concept at its face value!

If we actually contemplate further into these methods of calming one's mind, it is to a large extend how we view or perceive things around us. We are the root problem behind our unhappiness. Yes there are "exterior" factors that are play, but they are mere triggers for us... the problem will and has always come from us.

Where it stems from, only we ourselves will know... and how we address this also up to us should we choose to address it. Sometimes knowing the problem and wanting to solve the problem are entirely different mindsets. I speak for myself when I say this... take for example, sometimes I know what the problem but because I choose to be lazy or selfish about it, and not do anything about it, it remains a problem no matter how much I dwell upon it. In fact it may even become worse! So the trick I find is to reflect, accept and transform!

Vajraprotector

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2012, 01:45:44 PM »
I’m not sure if you have heard of something called Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), a psychological therapy that is designed to aid in preventing the relapse of depression, specifically in individuals with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

It utilises traditional Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) methods and adds in newer psychological strategies, like mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. Cognitive methods could include educating the participant about depression. Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation, focus on becoming aware of all incoming thoughts and feelings and accepting them, but not attaching or reacting to them (sounds like Buddhism to me in short!)

I think regardless of whether it becomes big business, it does imply that methods in Buddhism works and it's not just religious dogma!

Vajraprotector

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2012, 01:49:06 PM »
I couldn't resist visiting their website, and found that it's quite amazing that it is even applied in the military!

From: http://www.amindfulnation.org/being-mindful/7-military.html

Since 2010, an average of one Army service member a day has committed suicide. In July 2011 alone, 33 soldiers ended their own lives. Thirty-eight percent of our returning soldiers report mental health problems including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. Find out more about how science and researchers are increasingly finding that mindfulness can help prepare our soldiers for battle and can help heal our veterans when they come home from war.

Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT, pronounced "M-fit") is an eight-week course designed by a former Army captain that helps improve performance under stress, increase situational awareness, and enhance decision-making abilities. Mindful movement exercises help our returning veterans stay grounded in the present moment rather than trapped in past traumatic memories of their time away, decreasing PTSD symptoms, and helping them get back to living their lives. For more information on the Mind Fitness Training Institute, please visit www.mind-fitness-training.org

bambi

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2012, 06:17:11 PM »
How interesting! Another way of introducing meditation that helps mindfulness. Nice!  ;D

Mindfulness here does not confine to only being careless, forgetful, etc but also how we treat people around us with love, care, kindness, etc. It's not about "I" but about people around us.

I googled and found many interesting sites with mindfulness meditation and I like this one a LOT! How beautiful. Buddhism can be connected to so many things in the world  :o  Just read the text, Buddhism cannot be practiced without mindfulness. Just like how so many Great people have taught us.


While mindfulness can be practiced quite well without Buddhism, Buddhism cannot be practiced without mindfulness. In its Buddhist context, mindfulness meditation has three overarching purposes: knowing the mind; training the mind; and freeing the mind. - by Gil Fronsdal


"Self-discipline, although difficult, and not always easy while combating negative emotions, should be a defensive measure.  At least we will be able to prevent the advent of negative conduct dominated by negative emotion.  That is 'shila', or moral ethics.  Once we develop this by familiarizing ourselves with it, along with mindfulness and conscientiousness, eventually that pattern and way of life will become a part of our own life."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Some people do not know the difference between mindfulness and concentration. They concentrate on what they're doing, thinking that is being mindful. . . . We can concentrate on what we are doing, but if we are not mindful at the same time, with the ability to reflect on the moment, then if somebody interferes with our concentration, we may blow up, get carried away by anger at being frustrated. If we are mindful, we are aware of the tendency to first concentrate and then to feel anger when something interferes with that concentration. With mindfulness we can concentrate when it is appropriate to do so and not concentrate when it is appropriate not to do so.
Ajahn Sumedho

Carpenter

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2012, 08:49:10 AM »
It is very compelling to view mindfulness as a practice of pushing away all (and mainly unpleasant) thoughts. As human beings, we are inclined to actively manipulate situations with a desire to achieve a state of happiness and contentment. In doing so, we often employ a style of pushing away troubling thoughts or unpleasant images, with a hope that this will remove the pain.

In mindfulness, however, instead of aiming for a blank mind, where no thoughts are present, we learn the skill of becoming aware of our thoughts, without necessarily doing anything with them. By seeing thoughts arise, dwell and eventually dissolve, we learn how to unhook ourselves from our identification with them. This is different from pushing thoughts away.

Mindfulness is now really a big hit, many people start forgetting things even in their young age, this is a very bad sign, because Technology has come in a way that we do not want to use our mind much, and hence all degeneration is speeding up as time goes by.

Jessie Fong

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2012, 09:27:55 AM »
Hats off to those people who have the fortune to see that it is big business, tapping into this age-old teaching by bringing it up to date to to be put into good practice.  People in the corporate world are now so highly stressed out, it is no wonder that we are trying to get back to basics.

Mindfulness is about so many things and everything -- it is not just about concentrating but being fully aware of what is going on around us.  It is also knowing and accepting that it is now, here and happening to you and how everything else is connected to and with you.

If all of us could take a few minutes off our schedule to engage in mindfulness, we will be able to see things in a different perspective.

Klein

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2012, 11:39:41 AM »
Many people are realising that to meditate you don't have to convert to Buddhism. It is a method of optimising the mind and helping the person overcome basic issues like stress. According to research, some of the benefits are as follow:

Physiological benefits:
Increases exercise tolerance.
Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation.
Good for people with high blood pressure.
Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
Decreases muscle tension
Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis etc.
Reduces Pre-menstrual Syndrome symptoms.
Helps in post-operative healing.
Enhances the immune system.
Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress
Enhances energy, strength and vigour.
Helps with weight loss
Reduction of free radicals, less tissue damage
Higher skin resistance
Drop in cholesterol levels, lowers risk of cardiovascular disease.
Decreases the aging process.
Prevented, slowed or controlled pain of chronic diseases
Cure headaches & migraines
Greater Orderliness of Brain Functioning
Reduced Need for Medical Care
Less energy wasted
Significant relief from asthma
Improved performance in athletic events
Normalizes to your ideal weight
Harmonizes our endocrine system
Relaxes our nervous system

Psychological benefits:
Builds self-confidence.
Increases serotonin level, influences mood and behaviour.
Resolve phobias & fears
Helps control own thoughts
Helps with focus & concentration
Increase creativity
Increased brain wave coherence.
Improved learning ability and memory.
Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
Increased emotional stability.

If more people realise that Buddhism offers more methods of achieving happiness and peace, there will be more "big business" opportunities to sell. Even BBC.com has a section on meditation. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/customs/meditation_1.shtml

dsiluvu

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2012, 12:39:19 PM »
[quote author=yontenjamyang link=topic=2105.msg29786#msg29786 date=1340608473
Buddhist calm has become a big business? No surprising. Nothing wrong with making money unless one has taken a vow not to. At least the money is spend on the correct technique (caveat. Depending on the actual course). Otherwise in the pursuit of happiness money will be spend anyway; drug is one option.

I actually think this is a good trend.
[/quote]

Yes I agree that it is No Surprise that the whole CALM business is a huge band wagon that started not too long ago but now you see it more prevalent and more well "commercialized" and glamorous. In fact it has been sold by the wonderful world of advertising as a "Life Style" you must aspire to have. But the truth is... it was never meant to be so superficial.

Back in those flower power days... it was more of a "spiritual" connection. Now it has become another activity to release stress because after that you will add more stress and that is what they are cashing in on. In this way I disagree and I find that this is another sign of degeneration.

Yoga and meditation and sitting and all were meant for people to reconnect with their spiritual side but now it is used for a varied of reasons. The ones paying do not mind hence the ones creating are enjoying a lucrative business. It is no longer about spirituality and getting in touch with your inner self and benefiting others... in has become a more all about "ME"... in a way it encourages self-cherishing I find.

But then again... with this revolving material world... this is perhaps one of the few avenue that has a chance for people to tap in to their spiritual side. Hence the growth of Buddhism in the world. I guess all things has its pros and cons... for those that does this business to cash in on people's weakness are definitely not a great motivation but none the less it gives those who does it for good motivation a chance to reach out and perhaps benefit someone.

Yoga in Time Square

Big Uncle

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2012, 05:55:08 PM »
What I really like about Buddhism is that it is 2500 years old and yet, it is getting more and more relevant today than it has ever been. It is truly the religion of the future because there's just so much wealth of knowledge and methods in Buddhism that can be applied towards achieving fulfillment and happiness that will cross all cultures and barriers. I like that universal appeal of Buddhism.

On top of that, Buddhism encourages or rather the Buddha encourages people to understand and apply his teachings and if it doesn't work out, we can discard it. The Buddha is that confident that his methods work and that people have their own free will in this matter. There's no force conversion in Buddhism and no hard and fast rules that is meant to keep the practitioner as a believer. In fact, for Buddhism to work, one must continuously apply the teachings so it stays real in us so it doesn't become dry knowledge.

Hence, it is no surprising that people are looking towards Buddhist methods and Buddhist philosophy for answers. Although commercialized, these methods still do hold much promise and for many, it will be the much needed connection that might lead towards deeper practice later on in life.


biggyboy

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2012, 09:20:10 PM »
In fact, one would hear many looking forward to learn meditation and are willing to pay a fee to learn it.  Mindfulness is something that is not new and is already in existence with what Buddha has taught.  I guess that there are entrepreneurs took upon the chance of the increasing demand for mindfulness meditation in this present time where many are highly stressed be it due to stress or demand of life.  Well, I would see it in a good way that this meditation has been tweaked and repackaged to suit the modern society's acceptance as compared to the traditional Buddhist way of practising...to help them to connect and discover the inner self....spreading mindfulness as secular practice.

pgdharma

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2012, 01:50:40 AM »
In this modern times when  lifestyle is more hectic and stressful, people are seeking ways to find inner peace in their lives. People are willing to pay a fee to learn meditation, yoga or any form of therapeutic courses to release their stress. So Buddhist calm becomes big business is not a big surprise. In fact, it is a good way that entrepreneurs are coming out with different packages to tailor to the needy crowds.

DSFriend

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Re: Buddhist calm becomes big business
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2012, 03:24:45 AM »


Today, almost half a century later, the world is still in chaos as ever. Conditions may have changed. There are no hippies but we still have Iraq and Afghanistan. THe Western World and also part of Asia is well developed. People are still as disillusioned as ever. People want peace and happiness. The nature of beings is such that all beings want to be happy.

Buddhist calm has become a big business? No surprising. Nothing wrong with making money unless one has taken a vow not to. At least the money is spend on the correct technique (caveat. Depending on the actual course). Otherwise in the pursuit of happiness money will be spend anyway; drug is one option.

I actually think this is a good trend.

We still live in chaos but can you imagine how the situation would be if there was no Buddhist Calm? I suppose anything positive to add to this world of chaos helps.

Ideally, I would have much preferred if the same marketing efforts and awareness created for such meditations to bring about a peaceful mind and mindfulness instead be for dharma teachings where the causes of our problems are uprooted and virtues instilled to prevent such problems from arising in the future.

This is not possible in this kaliyuga age of degeneration where the minds of beings are destroyed under the oppressive delusions of desires, materialism.

Not everyone accepted Buddhism during the time of Buddha Shakyamuni either. Therefore, I do agree that this trend is good just because that's what people are inclined to and are capable of accepting.