Stop, breathe, and act – The Observer

A person sitting for hours and hours, with the legs crossed in the lotus position with your eyes closed. This is the image that usually comes to talk of meditation. However, the concept has changed and adapted to the busy world of today, in that there is hardly any time to keep up with the avalanche of emails.

Slow down, breath, observe and proceed. So seemingly simple it can be to take a instant to regulate the way in which we react to a situation. This turned the current of the ancient technique developed by the buddhists called mindfulness, or full awareness. Supposed to pay attention to what is happening in the present without judging the situation.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts, he was the one who created it-the end of the 1970’s – this new trend of meditation, which is focused on reducing stress through mindfulness. His method was since replicated around the world by teachers of meditation and mindfulness, who not only teach the discipline in schools of meditation, but that even have led to companies and schools.

Silvio Raij is one of the instructors that offer courses of mindfulness in Uruguay. Originally a professor of design, Raij decided, in 1998, to make a retreat and learn meditation in India in a spiritual center. After doing coaching courses and specializations in mindfulness, he decided to change his design career by working with the people.

Meditation for all

One of the reasons why Raij believes that meditation has become a discipline that is global is the component lay that it brings. «It does not imply God or a connection with the divine. Buddhism has to do with an inner connection with the nature, then it applies very well to the western that already has a religion,» he explained to The Observer.

Raij distinguishes between formal meditation, which involves sitting and concentrating for hours, and mindfulness. «This can be practiced walking, with eyes open, while I cook, while I shower. Be aware you can do this while acting,» he explained.

This also supersedes the myth that to meditate is to stop all kinds of thoughts and stop the mind blank. Instead, mindfulness invites you to continue thinking and to observe the thoughts.

Many companies today provide courses in meditation and mindfulness as an initiative to reduce the stress of the staff. In this context, is taught to make decisions and give quick responses, but with clarity and peace of mind. The aim is to achieve abandon the «auto-pilot» to make conscious decisions.

Mindfulness invites us to continue thinking and to observe the thoughts.

Raij explains that courses in business consists of three stages: first, train the mind to learn to concentrate and focus in challenging situations; second, to reduce the level of anxiety that causes the to always be thinking about the future or the past; finally, to increase the level of resistance to physical and mental stress.

This method, which also is applied in children and young people in educational institutions, seeks to help reduce anxiety and improve concentration. «I was giving meditation classes to kids and one asked me: ‘what’s this For?’. I told him: ‘do You feel that sometimes when estudiás a while after you forgot completely? Well, this strengthens the attention and the concentration for that really fits you’. The guys understand when you have a practical application. In a few years, this is going to be as necessary as it is to study any subject,» said Raij.

Meditation has come to be considered useful for clinical treatments, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The neurologist uruguayan Carlos Eininger told The Observer that among the recommendations he gives to his patients is the practice of yoga, which is an important component of meditation. «It is a physical activity that is non-competitive and teaches autorelajarse and self control, something very important in this disease», he noted, although he said it should always be practiced as complementary techniques and are not a substitute for the treatments and medications that are prescribed.


In buddhism it is said that the source of suffering is attachment and not for the material, as it tends to think, but to the emotions, to others or to external factors. The base concept is that happiness can’t depend on other people, but oneself.

«If my happiness depends on what makes my son, my mother, my boss, the president, or if the weather is nice or ugly I’m in the oven, because I can’t control, can’t change,» said Raij.

Meditation has come to be considered useful for clinical treatments, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

For that, mindfulness proposes a way to tolerate and respond calmly to situations difficult external. The acronym STOP (stop, in English), exemplifies this process. In a situation as challenging, and the first thing to do is to stop («S» for stop), to stop doing what he was doing. Second, the «T» take a breather, and bring the attention to the breath. The next step is «Or», to observe the situation from a more calm. Finally, the «P» indicates to proceed to act.

The process is not achieved from one day to the other, but the practice makes the master. There are apps, such as Headspace (see box), which guide the user to learn how to attach the meditation to the daily routine and to know how to identify a situation that warrants slowing down and breathing.

Goats, cats and beer

Like any trend, the meditation evolves into new forms that are adapted to the realities and interests changing. For example, are becoming more common places that offer yoga classes driven by different animals.

In the united States, a new niche of business offers a space to do yoga with goats. The idea is to create a demilitarized zone in which, while the participants practiced the postures of relaxation, the goats wandering around. Those who organize this kind of activities recognize that animals can be a distraction, but that is an experience that in the end serves to release the stress because it’s like playing with a pet, and generates many laughs.

Meditation goats


In New York, particularly, a café called Meow Parlour offers classes of yoga with cats, but is not the only one. During the lessons, the cats roam the room, observe, and curl up with the attendees.

Germany decided to add a touch regional: while the «beer yoga» (yoga with beer) stirred controversy by adding alcohol to the practice, this alternative does not propose only to take the beer but also to attach the container to the exercises, as well as the balance.

Space in the mind for cell

There are many apps that provide a guide for the user to create a habit of meditation, but the more success he has achieved is Headspace, an app that proposes to take 10 minutes a day to meditate and release the stresses of daily life. Headspace was created by Andrew Puddicombe, who at 20 years of age he made a spiritual retreat in Tibet and learned how to meditate along with buddhist monks.

Headspace is based adapted a technique that seems distant and difficult to the mobile technologies of today, through short sessions that can be performed in any place. Has more than half a million subscribers who pay an average of $ 100 a year. To February, 2017, the app had been downloaded 12 million times.


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