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Finding mindfulness at the Meditation Place


January 15, 2020

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According to Deborah Bowman, Ph.D., and licensed psychologist, "Mindfulness, itself, is like you take a string of pearls on a necklace, each moment is one of those pearls--the goal of it, it creates a continuum of awareness."

When googling "mindfulness," after getting past ads for online classes, most search results are definitions, many of which focus on being fully, mentally present in any given moment. It has deep roots in Buddhist tradition and was introduced to much of Western culture by individuals interested in Buddhism and its spiritual practices. Its principles of awareness and compassion to oneself and others have been central to psychotherapy for years before the general public even began discussing it.

While she recognized the importance of the mind and thoughts when it comes to mindfulness, Bowman also stressed the importance of the emotions and body as well. "Mindfulness isn't just about awareness of the self, it's about awareness of the other...We're not just talking about a mental process, it includes our thoughts, our feelings, our sense of connectedness."

Connection is at the core of mindfulness, and at the core of The Meditation Place's (TMP) Mindfulness and Psychotherapy event. It is organized by TMP founder and Buddhist priest Cliff Clusin, who recruited Bowman as well as her colleague Robyn Chauvin, a licensed professional counselor.

Clusin originally started TMP because he found the community wanting a community space for meditation. They allow groups to rent the space for meetings--including group meditation and yoga classes--and events such as the one on Saturday.

"It occurred to us to have a conference with experts on the relationship between mindfulness, meditation, psychotherapy, and mental health," said Clusin. "So we found out that Dr. Bowman was the founder of one of the psychology programs at Naropa, and she agreed to hold a workshop."

Some of the impetus for the workshop was to clarify misconceptions about mindfulness in general. Bowman expressed some frustration that it has been given a "new-age, me-focused" label and speculated that since the practice has roots in the East, many Western approaches are somewhat skeptical of it. Clusin echoed Bowman's concerns and added that he fears that with mindfulness increasingly appearing in lifestyle blogs and magazines, it comes across as a marketing gimmick or something like a hobby of the upper-middle-class.

TMP's workshop, in turn, aims to make mindfulness more accessible to the community. Both Clusin and Bowman expressed hope that participants will have a clearer sense of what mindfulness is, and how it relates to mental health. "It'd be highly educational and it doesn't have a specific system or group to endorse, it's just general public information for people interested in mental health," said Clusin.

The event itself will be primarily focused around a presentation/dialogue from. Bowman and her colleague Chauvin and will have some guided meditation and exercises to give participants a hands-on sense of integrating mindfulness in daily life. "[We're] helping people see truth with kindfulness, [that] is the practice of mindfulness," Bowman said.

Furthermore, it is a continuation of TMP's mission to serve the community; every year they host a day of meditation. In the past, this day has included keynote speakers, or even a Japanese tea ceremony.

Regardless of the setting, TMP aims to provide individuals and groups with the opportunity and the space to come together and meditate. Clusin said, "It's kind of a birthright of humanity to be aware and to meditate." He went on to explain how TMP seeks diversity, saying that they are not exclusive, but open to people who want to explore and learn more about mindfulness.

"Mindfulness is about the mind and heart working to serve us in a more compassionate way," said Dr. Bowman. "[So,] come to increase your happiness, your wellbeing, and your effectiveness in the world as a contributing member."

For more information or to sign up for the event, visit https://www.themeditationplace.org/.


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