willer & ennis western mindfulness, meditation and yoga

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  • 1. The majority of the West has the notion thatBuddhism is not a traditional religion. From media analysis, this can be seen in the way Westernersincorporate mindfulness, meditation, and yogapractices into their lives and how they are talked about. Inthe West, the focus of these practices are their health benefits while in the East they are animportant part of religious tradition.The reasons behind the practices arevery different and the West has detached itself from the practices historical roots.

2. The WestPeople in the west are obsessed with health. In Western society the focus of mindfulness, meditation and yoga practices is fitness and well-being. These practices areonly important for the physical and mentaladvantages they provide. 3. The West: Physical BenefitsYoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, and currently, close to 11 million Americans are enjoying its health benefits. This statistic was found on a popular health website, WebMD. Several ofthe health benefits that this article argues that one will receive are:decreasing stiffness, tension, pain, and fatigue in the muscles; increasingrange of motion in the joints; stretching the soft tissues of the body;building strength and endurance of the muscles; and improving posture. This article really wants to persuade their readers how much physicalbenefit can come from yoga. It says, In one study, participants had up to35% improvement in flexibility after only eight weeks of yoga.http://www.webmd.com/balance/the-health-benefits-of-yoga 4. The West: Physical BenefitsAnother article, from YogaMax, claims, Yoga teaches us totake slower and deeper breaths to improve the functionof our lungs by increasing the amount ofoxygen to the body. It helps in bringing mobility, flexibility and reduces aches and pains. All ourmuscles, ligaments, tendons are strengthened.It can also help in controlling the weight of ourbody. Yoga improves the circulation of our body. It aids inlowering heart rate.http://www.yogamax.net/what-is-true-indian-yoga.html 5. The West: Physical Benefits Furthermore, in a blog from the Huffington Post, a woman provides for herreaders nine yoga poses that will enhance your immune system, strengthenand awaken your muscles, and pave the path for your most refined listening inany moment of your day. The point of this womens blog is to promote the great health benefits one canobtain from doing yoga. She shows her readers how to do the specific poses togain the immense benefits.In all three of the articles mentioned, the focus is on the various ways a personcan physically benefit from yoga.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elena-brower/yoga-wellness_b_1092453.html?ref=healthy-living-spirit#undefined 6. The West: Physical Benefits This trend has become embedded into ourculture. Across YMCAs in the United States manyyoga classes are being offered. Such classesdemonstrate poses like:Hundreds of different yoga poses are being taughtfor physical strength and flexibility 7. The West: Physical Benefits Yoga is now even taking flight.In this clip, ABCs Good Morning America discusses the new fad of cocooning.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB9YFlOVe2E (right click on URL, click open Hyperlink)Even Western news shows are motivated to promote the health aspects of yoga 8. The West: Mental BenefitsThe mental aspects ofmeditation, mindfulness, and yoga are also very important to Westerners. First, yoga is deemed importantbecause it connects body and mind.In one article, 9 Yoga Poses toConnect the Body and Mind, theauthor defines the quest forfitness, The ideal is to feel fit both inour bodies and in our emotional Meditation is also seen as connectinglives. She believes that yoga, whilethe mind and body. In Lesliealigning the physical body also raises Davenports blog she says that tenthe ability to store and transferminute meditation nourishes body,energy between different storage heart and soul. She also says, Eachmodes. After practicing yoga she entry will address the physical,believes that you become morepsychological and spiritual facets of arelaxed and open in uncomfortableunique life challenge.situations or transitions.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elena-brower/yoga- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leslie-davenport/meditation-tips- _b_1097870.html wellness_b_1092453.html?ref=healthy-living-spirit#undefined 9. The West: Mental Benefits In addition, Eddie Stern argues that just talking about thephysical benefits of yoga do not do it justice. He believesthat it takes a lot of mental effort and dedication to receiveall of the possible benefits that yoga offers. He says, Thereis no physical aspect of yoga that can be excised from therest of the practice, because yoga, by definition, addressesthe mind, and when the mind is addressed, the rest of ourorganism is altered as well--physical as well as non-physical. Even though he argues that yoga practices today are flawed, he still sees them as being important in theconcept of health. Yoga is about the mind and the body. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eddie-stern/flawed-yoga-studies-_b_1078981.html?ref=healthy-living-spirit 10. The West: Mental Benefits The mental benefits are widely acknowledged. A well being Ph.D.expert, Robert Puff, declaresthat Whether its breathmeditation, mantra meditationor walking meditation, themental rhythms we create giveus a break from the constantagitation of the monkeymind. He also says thatmeditation overtime willdecrease stress and increaserelaxation. Meditation creates rhythm.http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/meditation- modern-life/201111/meditation-the-move 11. The West: Mental Benefits Another article reviews studies that show that mindfulness-basedtherapy has very positive mental effects. Toho University School of Medicine in Japan found that after 20minutes of mindful breathing participants had fewer negativefeelings, more of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin intheir blood, and more oxygenated hemoglobin in their prefrontalcortex, an area associated with attention and high-level processing. A similar study at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany found thatparticipants were able to sustain mindful contact with theirbreathing, reported less negative thinking, less rumination andfewer of other symptoms of depression.Many people believe that mindfulness could be a useful tool toprevent depression. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=therapy-in-the-air 12. The West: Mental BenefitsWe also found an articletalking about meditation in the context of the stressful holiday season. This article points tomeditation as one way toprevent the characteristicstress people feel aroundthe holidays.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leslie- davenport/meditation-tips-_b_1097870.html 13. Whats Left Out? These sources illustrate a very clear picture that whatmakes yoga, meditation and mindfulness so appealingto Westerners is the physical and mental relatedbenefits. None of these sources present the historical andreligious aspects of these practices. There is nomention that these practices came out of the Buddhisttradition or that they have been modified from theiroriginal purpose. The majority of popular mediapresents meditation, mindfulness and yoga in a waythat leaves all of this out. The purpose of these practicefor Buddhists is very different from how the West usesthem. 14. BuddhismTraditionally, Buddhists meditate in order to escape from suffering through reaching enlightenment. The Buddha was the first one to use meditation to reach enlightenment. He saw old age, sickness, death anda renunciate. Because of these things that he witnessed he was motivated to find a way out of thecycle of life, death and rebirth. The goal of Buddhismis to escape samsara. 15. Buddhism One practice of mediation is to visualize a mandala, death, thebody, colors, or Buddha virtue. In these practices one focuses solelyon this visualization. Another practice, called Zen Buddhism, is mind-to-mindtransmission of knowledge. Zazen is the most prominent form.This is where you focus on a nonsensical statement (koan) to helpyou see the emptiness of the world. Youre supposed to destroyyour preconceived notions of the world. Buddhists recognize that nothing is permanent in this life. Meditation and yoga help you realize this. These practices arepart of the Buddhist religious tradition. They are spiritualpractices, not forms of exercise or therapy. 16. Separation from rootsThese Buddhist ideas are no longer part of the practices in the West. Even though mindfulness, yoga and meditation have developed from these Buddhist ideas most Westerners have taken them andseparated them from the spirit in which theywere intended. In popular Western media thetraditional concepts are not mentioned. 17. Purposeful Separation Westerners sometimes even make a point not to mention thepractices Buddhist roots. In this article, a school has taken specific steps to avoid uproarover teaching yoga in gym class. The development directorsays No namasteNo om. No prayer position with thehands. Nothing that anyone could look in and think, this is religious.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/nyregion/in-yoga-classes-at-schools-teachers-avoid-the- spiritual.html?_r=2&ref=religionandbelief 18. Purposeful SeparationEven when words like om and nomaste are used, they are specifically taught in a non-spiritual way. At a place called Karma Kids, an instructor says, I dont look at it as spiritual. Furthermore, if a student knows a Buddhist ritual many instructors firmly deny that they taught it to them. The Little Flower Yoga director says, I have no idea where she learned a mudraWe never teach mudras. Kids come with ideas from TV.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/nyregion/in-yoga-classes-at-schools-teachers-avoid-the- spiritual.html?_r=2&ref=religionandbelief 19. The SeparationNot all Westerners are ignorant of In the article, How Yoga Won thethe original purpose of yogaWest, Ann L