[Advaita-l] Mindfulness

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 30 07:52:28 EDT 2019

Interestingpost by Shree C.K.Shridhar:Hari Om!Sadananda--------------------------
Mind It! – The Vedic Roots Of Mindfulness
by C.K. Shridhar


The Western world, which is so obsessed with intellectualproperty rights is actually the most adept at the theft of intellectual ideas,rued Hari Kiran Vidlamani, director, Indic Academy (IA), launching a seminaron Vedic Mindfulness, organizedby IA with the support of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) onFriday, July 27, New Delhi.
Just a few days earlier, I had visited the "Brain Museum'at the National Institute of Mental Health and Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, andafter enjoying the experience of holding a real human brain in my hand (you'llbe surprised how small an adult brain actually is, it fits in your palm) Istrolled over to the NIMHANS library opposite.

Curious about what undergraduates were starting off with, Ibrowsed the 2nd edition (2017) of a popular text, Psychology of Emotion, byPaula M Niedenthal and Francois Ric, published by Routledge Nyon.

And there it was, on page 161: Mindfulness practice was definedas creating and sustaining an "awareness that arises from paying attentionto the present moment, on purpose, without judgment," quoting oneKabat-Zinn, 2003. Then on page 162, that research has shown "increasedblood flow to and thickening of the areas in the cerebral cortex (ah, brain Iheld in my hand...), associated with attention and emotional integration inpeople practicing mindfulness."

What is more, sometimes as little as eight weeks, there was"increased grey matter density in brain areas associated with learning andmemory and decreased grey-matter density in brain areas associated with anxietyand stress." All the research was listed for those who wanted to studythem.

Stunning. No wonder then, as the text informs us, thatmindfulness was now practiced in more than "200 health care centers, inthe universities of Harvard and Oxford, in medicine, business, and law."That mindfulness is "officially recognized by the National Institutes ofHealth in the US and the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) inthe UK." Nice.

Actually, not very nice. For there was not a single reference tothe sources of this fantastic practice. If it was anything other than Vedic andHindu, it would have been shouted from the rooftops. Otherwise, you have todig. But only a little, for the story unravels itself pretty easily.

The 2003 quote in the undergraduate textbook above is from apaper in a journal called 'Clinical Psychology, Science and Practice’. And whois Kabat-Zinn?

As speaker after speaker attested to in the seminar, JonKabat-Zinn was the man who kicked it off in the West, after learning meditationand mindfulness from Buddhist teachers, from the 70s onwards. To be fair, henever denied the source. He declared his intention to secularize the practiceand remove its cultural associations so that people could take advantage of itshealth benefits without cultural factors becoming an impediment.

Sorry, but not on. His Buddhist teachers have cried foul, andare taking steps to reclaim its source. And in turn, as Dr Nagaraj Paturi,Director, Inter-Gurukula University Centre for Indic Knowledge Systems, and amember of the Board of Studies of MIT School of Vedic Sciences, Pune andChinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, Veliyanad, said, "we are talking with ourBuddhist friends to now get them to acknowledge where they gotit from".

And, in the meantime, it is imperative that Vedic researchers,scholars, students and practitioners, understand and present to the public whatthis is all about.

K. Kathirasan, an experienced mindfulness teacher, the practitionerand certification provider based in Singapore has done the hard work inmapping a lot of the terms, concepts, practicies, and techniques used inMindfulness practice as employed today, on to the Vedic, Vedantic, Yogic, andTantric practices out of India.

As he points out, the non-judgmental awareness and 'following'of the mind in its thoughts, the attention and acceptance that is emphasized inthe practice, as well as the self-knowledge, wisdom, and the sense of"psychological freedom" as key end-states, are all from Vedicsources. In the seminar, he produced quote after quote from the Upanishads andother Vedantic texts like the Bhagawad Gita. "There is a completeIndebtedness," he said.

Dr. Nagaraj Paturi said that there was a blunt refusal on thepart of many who practice mindfulness, meditation and yoga techniques toacknowledge the Vedic and Hindu roots of these practices.

Delivering the valedictory address, Infinity Foundation founderand one of the pioneering figures in Indian heritage activism, Rajiv Malhotra,speaking for the first time on an Indic Academy platform, spoke about how Indiahad not got its act together in terms of the serious challenges it was facingon my fronts, including crucial questions of identity. "I don't want to benegative, but in many ways, Indian heritage is for sale," he lamented.

>From our side, it is important to acknowledge the West when itmakes contributions in terms of building predictive models, establishing the causeand effect relationships, invalidation and testing, and in applications, hesaid.

Going forward, he said, genetics and the study of geneexpression was going to play an important role in the future of neuroscience,health and medicine. Gene expression is closely related to what happens in themind, and what genes get "expressed" will determine both physical andmental health, besides cognitive capability in general.

India has one of the most genetically diverse populations in theworld and we are freely allowing Western universities and institutes to takelarge genetic samples, like at the Kumbh Mela for example.

Westerners are already doing major research on gene expressionand traditional meditation and mindfulness practices, capturing large amountsof data. "This is big data, and you are going to need ArtificialIntelligence algorithms to process it."

"We are lagging behind. This is where the future Nobelprizes are going to come from. We have to map the mind-body connection. We haveto take Western science and medicine and map it on to Vedic and Sankhyanplatforms.

"And we have to scale," he added. "We have to doon the Indian heritage and knowledge system area what we did with IT. China hasstated a need for 5 lakh yoga teachers. Can we deliver them?"

All the speakers warned against Indian scholars and expertsbeing easily satisfied with foreign trips, or even tenures, and giving awaytheir knowledge. A Russian technologist, for example, training under an IndianAyurvedic doctor at a US University is developing a smartwatch with sensorswhich could actually take a nadi pariksha the way an Ayurvedicdoctor would do with his fingers.

In one of the many interesting presentations at the seminar,Raghu Ananthanarayanan analyzed Sutra 2.27 (Tasya Saptadha Prantha BhumihPrajnya) in the Yoga Sutras and showed its relevance to mindfulness practice.

Traditional and modern commentators have talked about theseseven levels or "bhumis" of advanced enlightenment, where the firsttwo, karya vimukthi and chitta vimukthi, areregulation of action and mind -- behavior, thought, and feeling. While these twoseemed to clearly correspond with mindfulness practice on a very basic level,the other five bhumis of Adhikarana, Viveka Khyati, Guru Shikaram,Astham, and Kaivalyam, go much deeper and fartherinto human consciousness.

Along with questions of identity and cultural and indeed civilizationalownership, here perhaps is another reason why it is important to reclaim ourheritage, and why thinking, fair-minded Westerners, whether Indophile or not,should support this endeavor. In a fair environment of mutual acknowledgmentand respect, we can take these practices much further, deeper, affording evengreater understanding and benefits to the world -- after all vasudaivahkutumbakam.

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