Atlantic Canada — While the East Coast suffers economic stagnation, many Maritimers are finding solace in a hot new trend that combines their love of doing nothing and of thinking nothing: mindfulness.
“Mindfulness is a mental state that’s achieved by focusing your awareness on the present, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings and/or surroundings,” explained self-taught mindfulness guru Hannah Gorman of Mindful Mornings Meditation Mantras and More, a store in Halifax that peddles gifts for the mindfully minded. “When I lost my job at the bank, I became depressed, but then I saw an article online that said you can gain peace and tranquility by just, like, sitting in a room and being quiet and not thinking about how shitty your life has become. I figured, ‘What the hell?'”
Gorman said mindfulness is not solely for the unemployed and desperate.
“It’s also for entrepreneurs — if you practise mindfulness, you can sell it to others who need a break from thinking about how crappy things are in the world and in their own lives. The more money they spend on being mindful, the more stressed they get, and the more they need mindfulness, see? That’s what my store is all about; we turn Zen Buddhism into a quick consumer product, and turn a profit. And I gotta say, I find it a lot easier to be mindful when my rent is paid and there’s food on the table. Fingers crossed this thing takes off!”
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said that while fewer of his constituents have meaningful employment than ever before, more are finding meaning in being unencumbered by work and the hectic mindset that accompanies it.
“Not only are people accepting that they’ll never find a job around here, they seem to be almost happy with how things are going, and that’s a load off my shoulders,” said McNeil, in the middle of a downward dog pose at a local yoga studio. “Of course, it’s possible they’re deeply disillusioned and just not speaking up because some website told them to clear their heads and meditate through their anxiety, but it’s the same result.”
The Manatee spoke with Ryan Byers, 17, a mindfulness advocate and part-time pizza delivery boy in Dartmouth. “Dude, mindfulness is the shit,” he said. “My mom got me into it. She subscribes to some magazine about it, and the magazine told her to go to an expensive mindfulness seminar that lasted an entire two weeks on the other side of the country! I had the house to myself and threw like 4 kick-ass parties. The more mindful Mom gets, the more fun I have.”
Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick are all hopping on the mindfulness bandwagon as well.
“Here in New Brunswick, we love doing nothing… you know, simply being without doing,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “I’m actually an expert when it comes to not thinking about the big issues and just shoving them under the rug for another day. It’s nice to see people are finally recognizing these traits as strengths instead of weaknesses.”
Gallant said along with language training and job-interview coaching, the province will soon be handing out pamphlets to the recently unemployed outlining steps to becoming mindful.
“It’ll help people match their breathing to their newly free schedule,” explained the premier, looking even more vacant than usual. “It’s a lifestyle — let’s hope it catches on.”