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Mindfulness Meditation? No, thank you. I already have my religion.

I got an inspiration for this topic at one of the corporate places where I teach Mindfulness Meditation. I've been visiting this office for over a year now. Whenever I come, I always see the same people at the sessions. I know from the ones who frequent the program that many of their colleagues would benefit, but they never show up.

I was curious because the company offers the program for free as burnout prevention. I come during lunchtime, and whoever comes always says how relaxed they are and how good they feel after our sessions. So I was curious why others were so resistant. Were they so busy? Were they intimidated by their lack of experience? What could it be?

After inquiring a bit, I learned that one of the reasons was that they were afraid that the meditation I teach is against their religion- that it is some ritualistic practice from another faith. And I don't blame them. There are so many kinds of meditations. Most religions have some form of that practice, and they do have a religious purpose. Mindfulness has its roots in the contemplative traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism, as well. Still, the Mindfulness that is taught these days in workplaces, schools, hospitals, and military bases comes from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program developed in the late 70s by Jon Kabat-Zinn. He based the program on his knowledge of yoga and meditation but omitted the spiritual component to make it universal and accessible to all.

After all, the practice of Mindfulness is nothing else, but learning how to live compassionately with full awareness and without judgment. It's a way to experience life with all its flavor. It's getting to know ourselves and learning how to listen and tend to our own needs. It's learning how to slow down and respond instead of reacting.

Mindfulness-based meditations are usually based on body-scans and watching the breath or thoughts. They may help us become more comfortable with difficult emotions that we all experience from time to time. Through the practice of Mindfulness Meditation, we learn how to connect our body responses with our mental states, and how our breath can show the way.

You can choose the Mindfulness Meditation to become your spiritual practice like gardening, nature walks, drawing, playing with a pet, but it's not its primary purpose. After all, regardless of religion, we all have bodies and minds. We all get stressed, anxious, and depressed. Many of us find ourselves living on auto-pilot without noticing the life that's happening when we are busy.

If you are curious and would like to explore the topic more in-depth, on five consecutive Sunday afternoons, starting on October 20, I will lead Mindfulness Meditation workshops at Bikram Yoga Studio in Yorktown Heights, NY. Every week, we will explore a different form of practice.

Where: Yorktown Bikram Yoga Studio, 37 Triangle Ctr. Yorktown Heights, NY 10598When: October 20, 27, November 3, 10, 17 4:45-5:30 pm How to register: e-mail to or call the studio (914) 245-5405 by October 18How much: $25/ single workshop or $100 for all five.Other things to know: No previous experience is necessary. Also, you won't have to sit in a lotus pose or any other uncomfortable pose. Please let me know if you'd rather sit in a chair - it's okay, too! If you have a meditation cushion that you like to use, please feel free to bring it. Wear regular, comfortable clothes.

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