By Nithin Sridhar
During 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.
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