Monday March 25, 2019

Mirabai Bush speaks on Right Livelihood & Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (Part 4)

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By Nithin Sridhar

mirabaiDuring a time when people across the world are struggling hard to manage work-related stress and balance professional and personal lives, Mirabai Bush has helped thousands to harmonize their lives and optimize their outputs through contemplation and mindfulness practices.

She is the co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and teaches contemplative practices and develops programs that apply contemplative principles to organizational life. She had also helped Google create its ‘Search Inside Yourself’ program, and was one among those who introduced Buddhist practices in the West in the 1970’s.

She traces her spiritual practices to her root-teacher, Neem Karoli Baba and other masters in India from whom she learned various Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices. In an exclusive interview with NewsGram she spoke about her life, her work, and her stay in India way back in 1970’s.

Interview with Mirabai Bush- Part 4

Mirabai Bush and the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society

Mirabai Bush is a co-founder of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and served as its Executive Director until 2008. Her website describes her work with the center thus: “Under her direction, The Center developed its programs in education, law, business, and activism and its network of thousands of people integrating contemplative practice and perspective into their lives and work.”

Speaking more about this, Bush said: “Back in the early 1990’s, meditation, yoga, and other practices were beginning to be used in health and healing. It became clear that they were very effective. So, we thought that maybe these practices could be beneficial in other sectors of American life as well. At that time nobody was doing that. So, we just started giving retreats. We invited people sharing common interests and common professions. We started with people who were kind of successful, mid-career, or those who were at the top of their field. For example, in law we would get partners from major firms, professors and judges. The way we did it in the beginning was just people who knew other people. We did not put out an ad or anything as nobody at that time would have responded.

In the beginning we started by creating the only retreat centers in this country that were simple and funky as people at that time were not used to these practices. So, we had to create places where they could lay on a couch or have food that they recognized. We did everything we could to eliminate resistance and just allow them to experience these practices and it was amazing.

“We started by giving grants so that people can develop a course that integrated some of these practices into their coursework. For example, an economics professor who became more meditative and contemplative himself, realized that at the heart of every economic decision is desire. So, he taught his students a basic mindfulness practice of noticing how desires arise and then falls away. After making the students practice, he would take them to a mall. When they walked through the mall they began noticing the sensations in their bodies and how they got pulled by something that they liked.

“This made them more sensitive to desire. And then they started looking at how economic decisions could be made and how economic theory could be developed. The realization that desire is ephemeral and is just a thought, it changed their understanding and made their study of economics much more personal.

“So, basically the Center has helped people to apply the concepts of mindfulness and other meditative practices in their own lives and professions.”

Mirabai Bush on Right livelihood

Speaking about the concept of “Right livelihood” that is promoted through her various courses and retreats, Mirabai Bush said that “Right livelihood” essential means that people must make sure that their work should not harm others and they should use the work as a vehicle for personal spiritual growth as well as for creating an environment wherein other people can also grow and contribute to the group as a whole. One way she has accomplished this is by meditation and yoga into the professions of people and then discussing the running of the whole organization starting from its mission by keeping in mind about helping everyone to grow in beneficial way.

More in the Series:

Mirabai Bush speaks on Mindfulness and its application in Google (Part 1)

Mirabai Bush speaks on her stay in India and the Guatemala Project (Part 2)

Mirabai Bush speaks on Yoga and its uprooting (Part 3)

Mirabai Bush speaks about her root-teacher Neem Karoli Baba (Part 5)

Next Story

Westerners Adopt Indian Practices, Deny Giving Due Credits

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument.

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Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to protect our own heritage and Dharma. Hindu Council Of Australia

By Shashi Holla (WA) and Surinder Jain

Colonial or a white supremacy mind set may be clever enough to adopt Hindu practices but denies giving credit where it is due. Stealing Hindu Intellectual Property, they do not hesitate to rename and repackage so that they can sell it back to India for immense profits. Off course, they will leave no chance to tell Indians to stop their superstitious ways and to adopt the new scientific knowledge which “they” have “invented”.

Following has been already digested or appropriated by West. Some of the Western academics don’t believe that they belong to India.

Yoga Nidra   AS  Lucid Dreaming

Nadi Shodhana AS Alternate Nostrils Breathing

Vipassana  AS Mindfulness.

The latest addition to this list is

Pranamyam AS Cardiac Coherence Breathing

Several researchers have reported that pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress-related disorders.[29] But the latest attempt has taken the appropriation too far. An American magazine “Scientific American” in its article titled “Proper Breathing Brings Better health” termed “Pranayama” as cardiac coherence breathing. (15 January 2019). The article gives us an idea about how West is so sophisticated in stealing knowledge from ancient cultures particularly Hinduism.

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Man doing Yoga. Wikimedia Commons

Prāṇāyāma is mentioned in verse 4.29 of the Bhagavad Gītā.[11] According to Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is, prāṇāyāma is translated to “trance induced by stopping all breathing”, also being made from the two separate Sanskrit words, prāṇa and āyām.[12] Pranayama is the fourth “limb” of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga mentioned in verse 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[14][15] Patanjali, a Hindu Rishi, discusses his specific approach to pranayama in verses 2.49 through 2.51, and devotes verses 2.52 and 2.53 to explaining the benefits of the practice.[16] Many yoga teachers advise that pranayama should be part of an overall practice that includes the other limbs of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga teachings, especially Yama, Niyama, and Asana.[18]

“Pranayama” a department of Yogic science practiced and documented 5000 years back ( even 15,000 years back) by Rishis is not even acknowledged by the author of the article. If one read the article they vaguely suggest that breathing exercises also existed in China, Hindu and in Greek culture.  This is how appropriation of ancient techniques takes place by West.  As Sankrat Sanu an entrepreneur, researcher and writer put it in his tweet “after erasing the origin they claim it as their own invention, attack original traditions as Superstition”.

As famous Indian American Author Rajiv Malhotra summarizes: “The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”. Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to  protect our own heritage and Dharma.

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The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”.  Pixabay

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument. West has created an eco system and mechanism in which their knowledge system is Well protected and patented by international norms. Unless West does not give a new name and fits into their framework native wisdom is not recognized in academia and media. Whereas Hindus were generous in sharing their health techniques freely from millennium never thought they will struggle in proving things which belong to them. In fact in a westernized framework of Yoga and other techniques Indian scholars, insiders and practitioners are blatantly ignored. So our own knowledge will be repackaged and exported back to us at an extra price and conditions.

Also Read: Climate Change Will Melt Vast Parts of Himalayas: Study

Many of our practices are being called to be Biofeedback systems. According to WikipediaBiofeedback systems have been known in India and some other countries for millennia. Ancient Hindu practices like yoga and Pranayama (breathing techniques) are essentially biofeedback methods. Many yogis and sadhus have been known to exercise control over their physiological processes. In addition to recent research on Yoga, Paul Brunton, the British writer who travelled extensively in India, has written about many cases he has witnessed. (Hindu Council Of Australia)