Mindful Responds to New York Times’ “The Muddied Meaning of Mindfulness”

People take up mindfulness for different reasons. Does that mean it's muddied?

In “The Muddied Meaning of Mindfulness” in the April 19 New York Times magazine, Virginia Heffernan is certainly right when she points out that the word mindfulness is heard a lot these days, so it’s natural to ask, “What does this word mean anyway?” We’ve heard every tech innovation called robust, every employee assessed for their engagement, and every idea touted as scalable. Upon close examination, all of these words mean different things to different people. It’s no surprise that it’s just the same with mindfulness. Does that mean its meaning is muddied?

Perhaps a more interesting question is why are so many people interested in mindfulness practice? It’s probably because it addresses deeply felt human needs: to regulate our emotions and our stress more effectively, to tame the nagging voice in our heads, to maintain focus without drifting off, to be fully engaged in what we’re doing and able to recall why we’re doing it in the first place. We all have these challenges and we all have the natural human capability to work with them creatively. Mindfulness is that natural capability, and the practice of meditation is a particularly effective way to strengthen it.

One of the places…