by Catharine Hannay
These brief (5-15 minute) videos explore mindfulness and meditation from different points of view. A few of the perspectives might be controversial, but I've chosen them because of their potential to spark thoughtful dialogue.
As always, please watch the full video before showing it to your class or group, and use your own best judgment about what's appropriate for your particular context. And scroll down to the end of the post for suggested questions for discussion or reflective writing.
Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation
Emerson College students and Campus Chaplain bring meditation to residents of St. Francis House, New England's largest day shelter.
This is from Peace in Schools' series of videos of adults and youth talking about the benefits of mindfulness.
The Seed of Mindfulness: Growing Mindful Communities
(includes ASL interpretation)
(includes ASL interpretation)
Mindfulness teacher Jerry Braza discusses how paying attention can lead to personal transformation, and how anything and anyone can be used as a 'mindfulness bell' to help us focus on the present moment and connect with each other.
Susan Piver explains how projection impacts the way we typically relate to others.
Mindfulness in Different Spiritual Traditions
Rabbi Yael Levy explains how "learning from the Torah, sitting and meditating with Psalms, and being attentive and present to the cycles of Jewish time, can calm the mind and direct the heart to action."
"Three leading figures in today's Buddhist-Christian dialogue share their personal journeys."
(You may need to turn the volume way up for this recording.)
Buddhist teacher Ronya Banks discusses the benefits of mindfulness practice for both Buddhists and nonBuddhists.
Sam Harris argues that stress reduction isn't the most important part of secular mindfulness. Starting at 3:45, he argues that western Buddhist mindfulness teachers could be contributing to religious sectarianism. (Don't freak out until actually listening to him. You may not agree, but it's a more thoughtful argument than it at first appears.)
Potential Challenges and
Negative Effects of Meditation
Dr. Willoughby Britton and Michael Stone believe that researchers and meditation teachers should be more aware of the possible challenges and adverse effects of meditation, especially when it's taken out of its traditional context.
To End on a Lighter Note,
Here's Some Mindfulness and Meditation Humor
Ellen DeGeneres finds it easier to meditate in a group... or maybe not.
Ajahn Brahm describes what happened to a zookeeper when he got home after a 9-day retreat.
This is an audiorecording by Rebekah Ladyne of a classic Zen story. There's a written version of the same story available at Buddha Groove.
In this episode of his satirical youtube series Ultra Spiritual Life, JP Sears explains the many advantages of constantly looking at our electronic devices rather than experiencing our own thoughts and our own lives. For example,
"When you're encountering something wonderful, it can't bring you joy unless you hold your phone between you and it, to transfer it to your social media. Once it's on your social media, you can see other people seeing you seeing something wonderful, and that'll bring you real joy."
Suggested Questions for Reflection and Discussion
As always with personal topics, please respect participants' wishes about how much they choose to share with the group.
- Which of these videos is closest to your point of view about mindfulness and meditation? Which is the farthest from your point of view? Did your opinion change at all after watching these videos?
- What do you think are the benefits of practicing mindfulness? Have you experienced these benefits personally?
- Do you think there are any potential downsides to informal mindfulness practice, or to different types of meditation? Have you experienced any of these negative effects personally?
- Do you belong to a faith community with a meditation tradition? In your opinion, does mindfulness meditation enhance or conflict with your religious tradition? Do other members of your lineage or denomination agree about this?
- Did you enjoy the humorous videos about mindfulness and meditation? Do you have a favorite joke or humorous story about mindfulness or meditation? Or do you think this is a serious topic and humor is inappropriate?
- Do you have trouble with mindful cell phone use? What strategies do you use to manage this? Do you find mindfulness apps helpful or distracting?
Breath-Based Practices for Mindfulness or Stress Reduction
Thought-Provoking Videos About Empathy, Compassion, and Service
Using Mindful Questioning to Enhance Academic Learning
Mindful Cell Phone Use, for Students and Teachers
Buddhist vs. Secular Mindfulness Training