Strolling along on a crisp fall day last weekend, I found myself completely engaged in the moment: the arresting beauty of the azure sky, the pops of ruddy and lemon hues from the turning leaves, my body’s pleasant feeling of mild exertion. I have always liked to call this feeling “being where you are” and had long noticed that being aware of the “present now” made me feel content. I didn’t know until much later that this notion is part of what we now call cultivating “mindfulness.”
The idea that being mindful would increase a state of well-being makes such intuitive sense, and it seems many of us are embracing it. But what do the data show? As Bret Stetka writes in our cover story—“Where’s the Proof that Mindfulness Meditation Works?”—“many psychologists, neuroscientists and meditation experts are afraid that hype is outpacing the science.” Currently it’s difficult to compare studies because of a lack of standardization in the data—a challenge that may be difficult to solve given that the experience of mindfulness itself is a personal one and thus richly varied.
Elsewhere in this edition, you’ll find lots of other surprises. R. Douglas Fields relates how cannabis use in teens can hasten the onset of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals; Scott Barry Kaufman delves into humanistic psychology in “There Is No One Way to Live a Good Life”; Heather A. Butler discusses the difference between critical thinking and intelligence in “Why Do Smart People Do Foolish Things?” Enjoy!