Meditation booms as people  seek a way to slow down
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One hundred fifty people sat in the big meeting room, hands on laps, eyes closed, feet flat on the floor. "Bring your attention to this moment," Janice Marturano instructed. "Be open to sensations of warmth or coolness, sensations of fullness from breakfast, or perhaps hunger." Minutes later, the meditation ended with the traditional strikes of little hand cymbals. Buddhists? Old hippies? New Agers? Nope. The room was full of hospital executives and managers in lab coats and scrubs, jeans and sports coats at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. And the teacher was Marturano, once a top executive at General Mills. The founder of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, Marturano is about as far from woo-woo as the spectrum allows — and a sign that meditation has snaked its way into every sector of our lives. The hospital employees were learning a practice shared by millions these days: college students, parents and prisoners; soldiers, the overweight and the lovelorn; the Seattle Seahawks, public school kids and members of Congress; Oprah, Chopra and Arianna. And perhaps you. What? You're not meditating? :: Meditation, primarily a 2,500-year-old form called mindfulness meditation that emphasizes paying attention to the present moment, has gone viral. The unrelenting siege on our attention can take a good share of the credit; stress has bombarded people from executives on 24/7 schedules to kids who feel the pressure to succeed even before puberty. Meditation has been lauded as a way to reduce stress, ease physical ailments like headaches and increase compassion and productivity. NEXT
Participants meditate during a class at Unplug, a new meditation studio in Los Angeles, on April 24, 2014. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)
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