Earlier this year, the Global Mindfulness Collaborative (GMC) became a self-governed organization, while continuing to mentor teachers in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
The GMC was once more closely tied to Brown University. The goal of this dissolution is to better represent the variety of international and multicultural mindfulness organizations that contribute to GMC’s teaching and research. Some of the leading institutions that have partnered up with the GMC include: the Danish Center for Mindfulness, Instituto Mexicano de Mindfulness (Mexico), Center for Mindfulness Canada, Nirakara (Spain), Motus Mundi (Italy), and ATINAT Institute of Mindfulness Training (China).
“With our awareness heightened by a number of recent transnational crises, the need for more diverse voices is imperative; we believe that a self-governed, self-regulated GMC will provide a more accessible platform that will strengthen interconnectedness on a global scale,” wrote the GMC in an announcement last October, likely referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, social injustices, and global conflicts.
With this change occurring within the GMC, people all around the world can look forward to a greater focus on the secular approach to stress reduction that is mindfulness training.
Some workings of the GMC remain the same. Brown University’s Mindfulness Center, which is now one of the many organizations within the GMC, drafts the latest evidence-based curricula for member organizations as it had previously. Also, the member organizations from other parts of the world still align with the International Mindfulness Integrity Network (IMI Network), which articulates standardized MBSR ethics more than teachings.
It is important to further highlight how the curriculum is both secular (doesn’t indoctrinate students with religious concepts) and is based on real evidence. The original Stress Reduction Program that Dr. Kabat-Zinn designed showed positive outcomes with a 40% reduction of mental symptoms (anxiety, secondary depression, psychological distress) and a 35% reduction in the quantity of medical symptoms. These findings were stable over four years and appeared in published evaluations (Kabat-Zinn 1982, 1985, 1986, 1992, 1998, Miller et al. 1995).
To this day, Dr. Kabat-Zinn is still consulted on changes and updates to the MBSR curriculum.
In the West, MBSR has been snowballing since the 1970s repurposing the mindfulness ethos. But the mindfulness ethos has existed for millennia in the East within the religious/intellectual tradition of Buddhism and the religion of Hinduism. Breathwork is one of the most common practices in traditional settings and is sometimes implemented to help reach meditative states or have a mystical experience. (On a side note, if you weren’t aware, you can get a “high” from oxygen).
Mindfulness, put simply by MBSR founder Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., is “moment to moment, non-judgemental awareness.” It is paying attention to bodily feelings and the sensation of breathing. It is not about having an “empty” mind but being aware of the contents of consciousness. If your consciousness has lots of compulsions, you’re aware of it; if your consciousness is in fact quiet and quite physically aware, you’re aware of it too.
By shifting your focus to physical feelings and noticing how your body feels, you can release tension and stress. You can also return to the moment you’re in (which I would dub living your life in the truest sense).
The GMC not only trains teachers how to meditate or arrive back to the present moment but also offers what could be a kind of eternal wisdom. People also use mindfulness to regain some serenity through their minds. Practitioners look at their rampant thoughts as they go by instead of frantically chasing every one, gently bringing the focus back to how they feel physically (or the rise and fall of air in the chest-stomach region).
Thinking about your comfortable sweater or your tense jaw muscle, which you forgot to release, are two sides of the same mindfulness coin. There is a stressed importance on being nonjudgmental. Mindful practice attempts to place you here in the present so that you might take a vacation from your boundless psyche.
The GMC’s vision is to “nurture the innate wholeness, goodness, and human potential of all, awakening to the interdependent nature of all things in bringing forth a responsive, caring world.”