News / Health

Mindfulness Movement a ‘Revolution’ for Stressed Americans

Mindful Movement Becomes a ‘Revolution’ as Stressed Americans Look for Reliefi
Jerome Socolovsky
July 12, 2014 1:16 AM
It used to be done mainly at spiritual retreats and in yoga centers, but now mindfulness meditation is practiced in offices, schools, prisons and even the U.S. military. Although it’s been around for decades, the mindfulness movement is being called a revolution. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports that it reduces anxiety - and can have spiritual benefits.
Mindful Movement Becomes a ‘Revolution’ as Stressed Americans Look for Relief

It used to be done mainly at spiritual retreats and in yoga centers, but now mindfulness meditation is practiced in offices, schools, prisons and even the U.S. military.

Although it’s been around for decades, the mindfulness movement is being called a revolution. Advocates say it reduces anxiety, and it can have spiritual benefits.

A visit to the dentist’s office can cause nervousness and anxiety. But being a dentist is no picnic either, said Dr. Alona Bauer.

“There’s definitely stress. You work in a small environment and it’s very exact. It’s very precise. Plus you’re managing the patient. So there’s great stress right there,” said Bauer.


So Bauer practices mindfulness meditation at a Yoga center in downtown Washington.

Hugh Byrne has been teaching mindfulness since 2000. He said it’s about focusing on the present.

“Some forms of meditation are about clearing the mind of thoughts. Mindfulness isn’t about clearing away thoughts. It’s just about being aware of them,” said Byrne.

Americans work more and have less time off than people in most other countries. And even outside the workplace, technology and multi-tasking make it increasingly impossible to disconnect.

But shutting off like this is becoming so popular that Time Magazine recently declared a “Mindful Revolution.”

Critics say mindful meditation is a fad that strips an ancient Buddhist tradition of its moral content.

Anxiety reduction

Byrne prefers to see mindfulness as “a broad doorway for people to come in. People who might say, 'I’m not really interested in Buddhism or Eastern spirituality. But I do want less stress. I do want less anxiety.”  

Surveys show that young Americans increasingly consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” Byrne said mindfulness is for them.

“Nobody’s proselytizing. Nobody’s saying, ‘You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to believe this.’ It’s really being offered in this very openhanded way. If this doesn’t work for you, great! There may be many other things that do work for you,” he said.

After half an hour it’s over. Bauer said it helped sort the muddle in her head.

“It was just chatter, you know, chatter, chatter. Energy, very jittery energy, inside my body, tension and now I feel like almost I’m speaking slower my body’s more relaxed my heartbeat is slower," she said.

Bauer grew up without a religious upbringing in the former Soviet Union. Now she says she just might give Buddhism a try.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

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Comment Sorting
by: Mike from: L.A.
July 14, 2014 7:28 AM
What is all the hub bub about mindfulness? I'm a product of the 60's and this is just meditation. Allan Ginsburg wrote "Be Here Now". Who does Zin think he is as if he has discovered something new.? I'm incredulous!
In Response

by: redplanet
July 21, 2014 5:50 AM
It was Ram Dass who wrote Be Here Now but as they say "If you remember the 60's maybe you weren't really there." So, you just proved your street cred!

by: Carl Erikson
July 13, 2014 4:10 AM
Many of my psychotherapy clients come to me with stress and anxiety issues. I highly recommend this Mastery over Stress mp3 by Jon Shore at this website to many of my clients: Just download it and listen to it while sitting in a chair. It works well for all for them and will probably work for you as well if you practice with it for at least a week. It is worth trying. It will teach you how to deal with stress and get rid of stress anywhere and anytime by taking a deep breath. Having a trigger you can use anytime is very important. Practicing every day is also important so that the trigger is available to you whenever you need it. It only takes 12 - 15 minutes to use each day.

July 12, 2014 7:08 PM

by: Balaraju from: India
July 12, 2014 2:14 AM
It is true that this is not Buddhism, however, it is clearly part of Western Tradition as the famous expression goes, "know thyself." For a Christian, of course, if God enters the picture, then it becomes meditation in the Christian sense, though Christians could be helped to improve their meditation by good books on the topic.

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