Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

The purpose of this blog and the entire website is to provide evidence-based information on how to live a vibrant, meaningful life while living with chronic health challenges or other life challenges. Every Tuesday I post a new, very brief video from my presentations or interviews. Every Friday this Q&A column appears.

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: Is it necessary to practice formal sitting meditation in order to practice mindfulness?

ANSWER: Even the people who regularly attend 10-day residential meditation retreats find it very difficult to maintain a daily sitting meditation practice.

The good news is that there are other ways to practice mindfulness. Any practice that includes returning to the object of your attention whenever your mind wanders can serve as a mindfulness practice. One example of a formal practice other than sitting meditation is Kyudo, also known as Zen archery. Most martial arts as well as yoga can serve as mindfulness practices, provided you give 100% of your attention to the task at hand from moment to moment, and that you avoid getting invested in an end result.

Almost any sport can conceivably be used as a mindfulness practice. The challenge is that athletic endeavors usually have a focus on winning, which is orthogonal to mindfulness. If you are focused on an end result or on achieving something, even if that something is a skill, you are not practicing mindfulness. For example, people who practice Kyudo are not invested in getting the arrows into the center of the target; they are focused on the process rather than the result.

This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges or issues related to wellbeing. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.

What questions do you have about living a life of mindfulness-based mastery or about the relationship between the mind and health or wellbeing? Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box below. An answer to your specific question may not appear in this column. The reason for that is I wait until I get a certain number of related questions, then I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one. People attending my presentations asked most of the questions appearing in this column, and I repeat them here so you may benefit.