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Contemplative Developmental Science June 7, 2012

Posted by Living Abundance in Uncategorized.
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I recently attended an event entitled Contemplative Developmental Science. The field of Contemplative Science is a relatively new field that I have been following a bit, but I had never seen an event or program before that incorporated development, so I was quite excited to see this event taking place. Also, this was the first event I had ever seen taking place in Canada, and it was conveniently close to where I am living.

The event featured talks by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard Davidson, whom I had never seen before in person, so I was eager to take the opportunity to attend the event. The main idea of the event was to discuss how the benefits of practices from various contemplative traditions (meditation, mindfulness, yoga, etc.) could be extended across the lifespan, especially to children and adolescents.

The conference itself was quite enjoyable, and I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to attend it. This was the first time I was able to experience being in the same room with a large group of people who were all researchers or psychology professionals AND had some sort of meditation practice. It was like two worlds colliding!

I found the talk by Jon Kabat-Zinn very insightful and inspiring. At first I was taken aback by his statement that we should “leave the kids alone…you’ll kill it forever!”, which was in direct contradiction of the purpose of the conference! Nevertheless, he went onto explain that mindfulness does have a great potential to benefit children, but the application of mindfulness to children also has a huge potential for great dangers or mistakes.

JKZ’s main message was that as practitioners, we need to create the environment and culture that would support mindfulness for children. We need to embody mindfulness for them, and they will receive the benefits when we are present for them, or “get it by osmosis.” In other words, “the real practice is how you live your life in every moment.”

I noticed that when someone asked JKZ a question, he would close his eyes for a few moments and appeared to be thinking. However, when I was able to see him in person in a group conversation, I noticed that what he was doing was breathing deeply for a few relaxed breaths. This fact might not sound that exciting, but in a loud room full of people engaged in conversations, it seemed like quite a feat! But to me, it would be one of the best illustration of incorporating mindfulness into one’s daily life.

JKZ also made an excellent point about technology, where if we want to learn “how to improve being human we have to first experience it.” Well said! How can technology improve our lives if it prevents us from experiencing our lives fully?

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