Moris Beracha.- I wanted to begin my writings on what we might call my cause or my commitment by talking about what in my opinion has become part of a lifestyle with mindfulness, but I do not want to refer to this form of meditation from Buddhism, but to indicate how it is being used in programs aimed at promoting poverty reduction. This is only the first article within this guidance that I want to give to these writings.
In principle let’s start by commenting on some of the personal benefits of mindfulness and I would like to mention those of English psychologist Patrizia Collar in several of her books: greater capacity to calm down, higher levels of energy, less risk of stress, depression or anxiety, more self love and ultimately the will to live.
“Mindfulness is reaching great recognition in the therapeutic field. It is recommended by the US Department of Health and also is included in the guidelines established by the American Institute for Clinical Excellence since many consider it a cheap, effective and easy practice to apply in our stressful life, in addition to an important skill, whose incorporation into our day to day life, it can prevent us from collapsing or becoming ill,” says Collar in The Little Book of Mindfulness, which can be useful for anyone who wants to know about this topic.
The truth is that there are cases in which this practice is used to bring about a greater impact – collectively and socially – as indicated by a paper of researchers in the area of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center, formed by doctors Mary Ann Dutton, Diana Bermudez, Armely Matas, Haseeb Majid, and Neely L. Myers, who simply conclude that mindfulness is effective in low-income African-American women who have gone through domestic violence.
The document highlights the effectiveness of mindfulness in the population that is unattended or lacking the possibility of receiving traditional mental health services because it increases awareness and acceptance within a group of women with symptoms related to trauma. In this regard, it is easy to apply it because of its low cost, possibility of doing it in a group and adding it more quickly to instructors.
An important aspect for this team of researchers was to communicate that although this meditation has its roots in Buddhism, its use for purely medical purposes has no religious intention and is exempt from any worship of a deity.
When reading some of the testimonies of the participants, we got several comments that seemed to indicate that something happened in these battered women. Many participants began to incorporate mindfulness practices into their daily activities. “The group introduced me to a simple way of doing yoga, which I would never have done before and is now an integral part of my life,” we read from one of the women, while another said, “I am now more aware of this practice and I have incorporated it into my daily life.”
We were also struck by the fact that the study -which being a pilot test- openly indicates how in a number of participants a sense of self-empowerment was generated, because they became more assertive, confident and open to take on risks and try new experiences.
For example, one of the women said: “I am kinder to myself, less perfectionist, more confident and effective. I was a victim, but I do not want to be a victim”, while another one said: “The group helped me to overcome my problems and believe in myself; I accepted my fears and became more powerful.”
I do not want to end this article with a sentence or conclusion of my own. I leave it to you, my friend, but I want to transcribe another testimony about how this proof of mindfulness allows us to take away that selfish element that is even present in our own sufferings when we tend to magnify them. “Now I see my problems differently, other people lived the same as me … now I am more tolerant of others, breathing is the first thing I think about every day, I am more aware of what I do and I look for how I can help.”