Mindfulness: May the force be with you

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HONOKAA — Both Yoda and a Seattle Seahawks head coach have a common trait: they both apply the meditation practice of mindfulness in their daily lives. And according to respected Buddhist scholar, Dr. Jeff Wilson, so do many others.

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HONOKAA — Both Yoda and a Seattle Seahawks head coach have a common trait: they both apply the meditation practice of mindfulness in their daily lives. And according to respected Buddhist scholar, Dr. Jeff Wilson, so do many others.

Today’s mindfulness practitioners are found in schoolrooms, locker rooms, hospitals, prisons and corporate offices. Wherever people need to stress less and focus more, mindfulness has arrived in modern culture, ballooning into a multi-billion dollar industry along the way.

Wilson, author of “Mindful America,” will speak about this phenomenon on July 21 at the North Hawaii Education and Research Center in Honokaa at 7 p.m., following a potluck dinner at 6 p.m. The same talk will take place at the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin on July 23 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Both programs, presented by the Commission on Buddhist Education, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, are free and open to all, regardless of faith or religious background.

Defined as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis,” mindfulness is a type of meditation focused on the breath. It can be done in the familiar posture — seated, cross-legged, eyes closed or while walking, working, eating or countless other activities.

There are numerous applications for mindfulness in business.

“Hospitals are one of the first and biggest because people experimented with using mindfulness for stress and pain reduction. Mindfulness has proven effective in reducing stress, and reducing stress increases work productivity,” said Wilson. “When the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl, Pete Carroll had Michael Gervais leading mindfulness practice.”

Entertainment is another area where mindfulness appears.

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“Buddhism, in general, is one of the main themes, just below surface in ‘Star Wars’,” Wilson said. “Yoda is a Zen master; the way the Jedi use the Force is mindfulness … The student says something like ‘Master, I feel anxious,’ and the Jedi master says, ‘You need to be mindful of your emotions.’”

For more information on the talks, email misterokumura@yahoo.com.

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