The word 'mindfulness' (coined by Jon Kabat Zinn in the 70s) has become so ubiquitous as to be lampooned "McMindfulness" because of its saturation of the consciousness marketplace. The buzzword refers to any practice aimed at becoming aware of your thoughts and "being here now" (Ram Dass 1971).
But merely monitoring every passing thought makes for a tedious and inadequate meditation method, because it puts the mind to work trying to watch itself. Unfortunately that desired experience of non-attachment to what goes on in our minds requires transcendence. And we can't will ourselves to do that.
While we can observe our breath, or notice our thought processes for a few moments here or there, that exercise doesn't take us deep into our thought processes. What's required is a vehicle (other than the breath) that intervenes to gently transport the mind to its innermost, silent depths. A technology of transcendence, if you will.
The good news is that such a technology exists and is ridiculously simple, profoundly effective: EDM (effortless deep meditation). It is the technique that I learned as a teenager, then became an instructor but eventually left that organization, for reasons mentioned in my book.
If you want to learn TM™ nowadays, it costs in the neighbourhood of $1500, and you'll be steered towards so-called "advanced techniques" such as the siddhis (falsely promising actual levitation). I have streamlined the instructional process and freed the method from religiosity .
The method itself is timeless, rooted in ancient Vedic philosophy. It utilizes a simple word called a mantra, which is repeated silently both between and alongside thoughts. The mantra's value lies in its inner perceived sound, not in any semantic meaning. It fosters resonance within the mind and body, leading gently, steadily to a state of exquisite subtlety and stillness.
And here's the thing: the experience of it is always variable: There can be moments of that perfect stillness but also moments when we're aware of constant streams of thought. Yet we can still feel "deep," even with many thoughts going on. Always, though, there's a distinct sense of being feeling "at home" in mind and body, afterwards. Post-meditation is a delicious feeling, no matter the perceived quality of the sitting itself.
It's weird and wonderful. It goes far beyond "mindfulness-based stress reduction" (MBSR). And it's why I've stayed with effortless deep meditation (EDM) for 50 years and counting.
Joanie Higgs is a life-long seeker, scholar and teacher whose spiritual compass was set in her teens when the Beatles' guru came to town. Much later, after homeschooling her daughter she obtained a BA and an MA in social anthropology, winning an award for her thesis on reproductive medical ethics. She dwells on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast.