Question: Is mindfulness a religion?
Answer: Mindfulness meditation has been practiced for thousands of years in Buddhist cultures, and many of the practices in this book are inspired by Buddhist meditation. But mindfulness is also found in other wisdom traditions throughout the world, even if it’s not always called “mindfulness.” For example, the thirteenth-century Persian poet Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi, the nineteenth-century American transcendentalist poet Henry David Thoreau, and the twentieth-century Catholic nun and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa all wrote movingly about the practice of dwelling deeply in the present moment, with a fully open heart. Mindfulness can be beneficial for everybody, no matter who you are or where you come from. In other words, you don’t need to be a Buddhist to meditate. You can be any religion, or you can be no religion at all. Mindfulness doesn’t ask you to believe anything, and it doesn’t ask you not to believe anything. It’s all about paying attention, cultivating your compassion, and learning from your own observations and experience. [Note: Excerpted from The Mindful Teen by Dzung Vo, MD]
Question: I can’t sit still and just do nothing, can I still be mindful?
Answer: Yes, definitely! Mindfulness isn’t just about sitting still. Mindfulness can be practiced anytime, anywhere, in any activity. You might wish to try informal mindfulness while you are walking to school, playing sports, or talking to your best friend. See for yourself if mindfulness helps you to be more present, handle stress, and enjoy life more!
Question: I’m interested in learning mindfulness, how can I learn more?
Answer: There are many ways to get started with mindfulness. You can get started with the guided meditations on this website. Mindfulness courses are now also being offered to teens at some schools. Some counsellors and doctors also teach mindfulness to teens. The Mindful Teen is a book just for teens, with guidance and practical examples of mindfulness practice, including many examples from other youth, in their own words. There are plenty of apps, websites, and more books that can help you get started as well. Click here for more resources on mindfulness.
Got more questions? Write them in the Comments section, below, and I’ll try to share my experience with your questions in the blog section of this website.