Since I selected “peace” as my word of the year for 2019, I thought it useful to investigate mindfulness to see if it had any applications in the life of a creative entrepreneur.
Mindfulness, like prayer, requires a belief that we exist as part of a wider entity. That’s useful when you’re working hard to create abundance and growth, both as an individual and as a leader in the community.
For the last year or so, I’ve been practicing moments of mindfulness when I’m particularly stressed. That’s something I want to remember during this time of year when client expectations compete with plans for the upcoming year, grant applications and closing down last year and paying taxes.
So, what is mindfulness?
Two Distinct Modes
I like John Yates (Culadasa) description of mindfulness as the “the optimal interaction between attention and peripheral awareness.”
So far, I’ve noticed that it’s easiest to practice mindfulness on days when I’ve slept well, taken time to eat and exercise and am concentrating on a single task.
Clinicians have also found ways to use mindfulness to heal major illnesses.
Healthy Mind, Healthy Body
According to Wikipedia, Clinical psychology and psychiatry have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on mindfulness since the 1970s. They are known for helping people:
- alleviate depression,
- reduce stress and anxiety
- treat drug addiction
- cope with crisis
- Jon Kabat-Zinn uses mindfulness in schools, prisons, hospitals and veterans’ centers
As a Catholic, having a healthy mind doesn’t solely mean being able to function in a secular world. For me, mindfulness works best when I approach it as a kind of prayer.
I’m not the only one who considers prayer a form of mindfulness either. Many world religions include a form of mindfulness in their spiritual practices.
Mindfulness and Christianity
Most people think that mindfulness comes from Eastern philosophies and religions such as Buddhism, but the Catholic faith also has a long-standing practice of mindfulness.
The Path to Our Door: Approaches to Christian Spirituality
A book called The Path to Our Door by Rev. Ellen Clark-King, the archdeacon of Christ Church (Anglican) Cathedral in downtown Vancouver, says that the popularity of Buddhist meditation has been good for Christianity. It allows us to discover meditative and contemplative methods within our heritage.
Some philosophies in the church describe a ladder of spirituality that begins with prayer, leads to meditation and ends with contemplation.
Most people in the west began learning about contemplative prayer after reading books by Thomas Merton. Merton, who practiced Catholicism as Father Louis, describes a traditional practice of prayer that is “centred entirely on the presence of God”. Merton also wrote the Seven Storey Mountain in 1948.
Thomas Keating’s centring prayer movement
Wikipedia has a site for an even more modern Centring Prayer Movement created by Thomas Keating. The Wikipedia article describes a number of leaders in the field.
The Cloud of Unknowing
Keating, Merton and Clark-King all benefit from “The Cloud of Unknowing,” a book written anonymously in the 14th century. An English monk probably authored The Cloud of Unknowing.
The author promoted a kind of prayer in which you keep silent as long as possible noticing thoughts as they occur without paying attention to them.
In Canada, many groups form part of the mindfulness movement, including the Contemplative Society on Salt Spring Island and most Anglican and Catholic Churches.
Montreal Mindfulness Opportunities
The Centring Prayer Movement Centre in Montreal holds meditation events every Monday evening at 19h at 5530 Isabella on Clanranald corner in Notre Dame de Grâce.
Christ Church Cathedral, at 635 Ste-Catherine St. West offers talks and silent meditation from 17:45 until 18:45 the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month.
There’s also Mecum, 8598 Des Rapides LaSalle QC H8P 2W2.
A collaborative community non-profit association called Mindfulness Montreal offers occasional events too. It was founded by three Montreal practitioners, Dr. Andreanne Éli (Clinique Psyché) Dr. Joe Flanders (MindSpace), and Muriel Jaouich (True North Insight). Since Éli works at the University of Montreal, Flanders at McGill and Jaouich at UQAM, the collaboration also links to three of our universities.
The organization’s first event at UQAM sold out last year.
This year, they’re planning a full weekend of activities at McGill and UQAM from April 19th to April 22nd. The full weekend costs $525, but individual presentations cost $40 or $50.
These centres offer good opportunities to get in-person training in mindfulness.
I’d like to commit to practicing mindfulness and its deeper cousin, meditation, in the next year to help me focus and take care of my personal health. If things go well, perhaps I’ll move towards a level of contemplation sometime later.
What kind of mindfulness do you practice? Does it help heal your body and spirit?