Tools to connect more deeply
by Rebecca Crichton

Many Americans first encountered Eastern Meditation in the 1970’s from the writings and practices of Transcendental Meditation taught by the Indian Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his followers. Around the same time, Buddhist philosophy and practices and the term ‘Mindfulness’ became familiar to many spiritual seekers. In fact, most of the world’s spiritual traditions have some variation on centering prayer, contemplation and quiet to allow people to connect to spirit and deeper aspects of themselves.

In 1975, Harvard professor Herbert Benson wrote The Relaxation Response, an approach to meditation unhooked from spiritual underpinnings. Benson’s students continued to explore the benefits of instituting regular periods for quieting and breathing that proved beneficial for health and well-being.

I started meditating regularly after I broke my leg in 1987 and finally read the book on Jewish Meditation I had bought a decade earlier. I discovered the truth of what we call our “Monkey Mind,” which is always chattering away and distracting us. I learned the basic practice of returning to the breath after my mind wandered off, and continue to experience the challenge of staying present to my breath and my body for 30 minutes every morning.  My own practice combines Jewish and Buddhist elements that focus on Gratitude, Loving Kindness and Forgiveness. I believe my meditation practice helps me live with more intention, kindness and compassion than if didn’t do it. I believe it benefits me and the people in my life.

As the resources below show, there are many opportunities in our community learn about meditation and to be in community to practice them. Whether you learn how to meditate and quiet through a book or with a teacher, you will find benefit and value for your life as a whole and discover how it helps the world around you.

While these are not programs specifically aimed at seniors, they offer resources of value to people of all ages.

Ananda Washington: Meditation, yoga, classes and events, Sunday services. Ananda is a global movement based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. Events are held at the Ananda Meditation Temple, 23305 Bothell-Everett Highway, Bothell, or East West Bookshop of Seattle, 6407 12th Ave NE, Seattle.

Cascadia Mindfulness Institute: The foundation of their offerings is the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Offering classes and retreats to individuals and organizations at a variety of venues.

Mindfulness Northwest: Offering classes and retreats to communities and organizations in the Pacific NW.

Seattle Insight Meditation Society: Classes, talks, meditation groups. Insight meditation is also known as mindfulness or Vipassana. 2729 6th Ave. S, Seattle

Seattle Mindfulness Center: Offering community meditations, classes/groups and psychotherapy. 6306 Phinney Ave. N, Seattle