by September 6, 2016on
It is Tuesday afternoon, at three o’clock and four unlikely students of “mindfulness meditation” are relearning how to breathe. Instruction in being more mindful is everywhere these days, particularly in the Bay Area. So I could have been sitting through a similar training in Berkeley with a group of 60-something women with crinkling faces, flowing gray hair, and a history of New Age enthusiasms. Or I could have been on Valencia Street in San Francisco, epicenter of that city’s techie take-over, where whiz kids in their twenties and thirties are coping with long hours in Silicon Valley at a studio with a website called stressreductionatwork.com.
The 12-week mindfulness training I am attending takes place in a distinctly different setting, however. It’s held in a corner conference room in Building Number 8, the Behavioral Health Building, at The San Francisco VA Health Care System at Fort Miley and led by clinical psychologist Susanna Fryer and psychology intern Ian Ramsey. The group of veterans in their fifties and sixties who’ve come to Fort Miley are not here only for an intellectual or spiritual exercise. For some of these men, becoming better able to control their thoughts and anxieties through mindfulness is literally a matter of life or death. Read More