Is mindfulness for enlightenment or for stress?

by Moris Beracha

Moris Beracha.- I constantly hear arguments about the true goal of mindfulness. On the one hand, a group of faithful followers of this practice see it as a way to reduce stress, sadness, and fears. On the other hand, the greatest Buddhist meditation scholars defend it as a means to renounce suffering and achieve enlightenment.

Certainly, the practice of mindfulness brings benefits to many human beings that are under intense pressures. The mental and corporal changes it produces are remarkable and it is known that there are big companies that are pushing their workers to be followers of this discipline, given the positive results that are then achieved in work performance.

An article by Robert Wright for Wired approaches to this discussion and quotes “It’s true, on the one hand, that many devotees of meditation are pursuing the practice in a basically therapeutic spirit. And that includes many who follow Buddhist meditation teachers and even go to extended retreats. It’s also true that mindfulness meditation, as typically taught to these people, bears only a partial resemblance to mindfulness meditation as described in ancient texts”.

I always try to explain the people who come and ask me why I have been practicing mindfulness for so long and not simply a sport, that although I started looking for a solution to my states of anguish due to work, on the way I have been understanding that more than a practice it is a way through which you decide to transit. It is a lifestyle. It is a philosophy of life. In this type of experience the pace of progress depends on each one, there is no goal but to learn to live in the present.

Undoubtedly, if we teach our children to meditate since childhood, we will see its benefits over time and will leave a mark on the way they make their decisions for the future. I remember once I met a mother who invited her children to meditate in order to break a fever and the results were impressive. I am not saying with this that it is the only way to get the temperature down but that meditation could be a choice.

I have met people who through contemplation and meditation have been getting rid of their fears over the years. They managed to heal their traumas and long after they even decided to follow Buddhist philosophy and to walk the path of spiritual exploration, transforming even their vision of reality and its relationship with it.

In other cases, I have met highly qualified professionals who were about to lose their careers because of emotional disorders caused by stress and overwork. Once they started in the practice of mindfulness, they could overcome these situations and today they are faithful practitioners.

I believe that pretending to subordinate a practice that has its roots in a philosophy to an exclusive group is a mistake. Everything that leads us to spiritual tranquility but especially to understanding our inner world is valid. After all, everyone can reach their own Nirvana.

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