Meditation in hospitals, and formidable women everywhere

Hospitals and meditation are coming together, what with the growth in mindfulness-based programs that started with Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction several decades ago. Sutter Hospital, in California, is one of the latest to add a Meditation Garden.

Meanwhile, at an Asheville, North Carolina, hospital, meditation is being used to help breast cancer patients. According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, a study “found patients using the body/mind/medicine therapies, including guided imaging, reported lowered blood pressure, heart rates and anxiety levels.”

In military medicine circles, the army’s plans to build up mental ‘resilience’ in soldiers serving in Iraq include a meditation room with stained glass windows.

There’s an Asheville connection with regards to Rev. Teijo Munnich, who is said to have been called “relentless” when it comes to her style of meditation, because, she says, her tradition has such a “macho” reputation. Munnich moved to Asheville in the mid-1990s and founded the Great Tree Zen Temple, where one of her intentions is to involve more women in meditation.

Not really a news story, this, but Karen Maezen Miller, “wife, mother, Zen priest and author of Hand Wash Cold” (her book will shortly be reviewed on Wildmind) has a piece in the Huffington Post on 8 Ways to Raise a Mindful Child. It’s all simple, down-to-earth stuff.

Also not strictly a news piece, but Zen Abbess Myoan Grace Schireson is interviewed about her new book, Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens and Macho Masters. Just in time for Halloween, there’s a delightful description of Zen Zombies. You’ll have to read the article for clarification!

And one more from the ladies. If you remember that recently Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler was campaigning against the practice of yoga because of its connections with eastern mysticism. Well, the five formidable women of Down Under Yoga are likely to give Mohler a heart-attack, devoted as they are to bringing yoga back to its spiritual roots. They’re concerned by the commercialization of yoga, and wish to promote yogic values of ahimsa (non-harm), and and aparigraha or non-possessiveness. “My worry is that . . . what we do in the yoga room is becoming the same as what we do outside the yoga room. Which is behaving like lunatics,” says yogini Natasha Rizopoulos. “The minute yoga is packaged and branded, you’ve lost it,” adds lawyer-turned-yoga-teacher Justine Wiltshire Cohen.

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