It happened again this morning. At the end of the Today Programme (after the ‘real’ news) there was a feature on mindfulness in UK schools and its usefulness in helping young people to be aware of their conscious minds and of the stories they tell, and to be able to listen without judgement, focusing on the silences in between. (Actually, the Head who spoke about it claimed it to be more like a self-taught CBT but to be fair, it’s not an easy concept to understand or to explain in the briefest of broadcast moments.)
But it was the presenter’s attitude that I noticed the most – one John Humphrys, known for his misplaced assumption that listeners’ understanding would be incomplete without his take on the news he relays. He first scoffed at mindfulness as ‘some kind of yoga’, in a voice that betrayed his scorn, later expressing his incredulity that a practice aimed at improving young people’s thinking should be considered by the school head as ‘essential’.
Yoga classes are now so widespread that we could be forgiven for thinking that it has become a mainstream practice. But beyond asana practice, yoga’s philosophy still appears to be little more than madness at the margins. Mindfulness and meditation remain the preserve of the old hippie. What a pity. What a waste. What a relief for those of us who know. And what a job we have on our hands to encourage others to share our focus and our peace!