A preview of PBS' "Mindfulness Goes Mainstream," which will broadcast on WOUB-HD on August 5 at 6 p.m.

Explore Mindfulness on WOUB-HD August 5

Posted on:

< < Back to

You’re out grocery shopping.

You spot an acquaintance over by the bananas.

You’re by the potatoes, but you think you’ve caught their eye, and you wave to them.

They don’t return the gesture.

In fact, they just roll on with their cart, a vague look of discomfort layered atop their face.

Your heart sinks.

What could you have possibly done to upset them?

Your thoughts race.

Do you look funny? Have you somehow gained 45 pounds overnight and are now unrecognizable? Did you say something wrong during your last conversation with them?

Your ever-oscillating mood is ruined for the night, and you know you’re ruder to the cashier than you need to be, you cut off a couple people in traffic headed home, and when you get back to your place, your dog has made a mess on the floor and you don’t even acknowledge your sweet pet for a good 45 minutes.

Although the above may be an all too familiar experience for many, the truth is this: you don’t know what your acquaintance was thinking. Maybe their dog died, or they are having a hard time making rent, or a romantic interest of theirs is going south.

Or, perhaps, (and most likely,) they didn’t see you waving at all.

One way to halt one’s thinking process as to allow such observations to surface is to practice mindfulness; a term that references trying to objectively observe the world around and inside you.

On Saturday, August 5 at 6 p.m. WOUB-HD will broadcast Mindfulness Goes Mainstream, a documentary that explores the rise of mindfulness and meditative practice in the western world as a way to cope with cravings, mood disorders, and general ennui. Some of the interviews included in the program are with singer Jewel, UMASS Center for Meditation’s Jon Kabat-Zinn, and clothing designer Eileen Fisher.

Elizabeth (Liz) and Russell Chamberlain are the owners of the Bodhi Tree Guesthouse and Studio, a retreat and meditative practice center on the outskirts of Athens. At Bodhi Tree, one can rent a quiet room in the gorgeous bed and breakfast; take part in a series of various yoga classes; experience the natural psychedelia of spending time in a float tank; get a hot stone massage; or just show up to a free meditation class.

“For me, my meditative practice started with yoga,” said Liz, a highly trained yoga instructor, as well as practitioner of Thai bodywork. “I had always been athletic, and I was injured, so I tried yoga because I couldn’t do other sports; just to see if I could do it. After trying it, I was really drawn to the meditative and philosophical aspects of yoga – for me, it was my entry into mindfulness. It was very much about getting embodied physically and inhabiting my body.”

While learning to appreciate and understand physicality was at the center of Liz’s entrance into mindfulness; for Russell, getting into meditative work had more to do with exploring his psyche.

“I discovered (mindfulness) during a time of personal crisis,” said Russell. “I had been an alcoholic for about 25 years, and when I quit drinking, I found myself with a lot more time on my hands. I was very interested in neuroscience at the time, and I read a book, Buddha’s Brain: the Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, (by Rick Hanson, 2009) that linked meditative practice with actual changes in the brain. So, I just started meditating, and I found that I had a lot of habituated patterns. It was revelatory to me.”

The exterior of the Bodhi Tree Guesthouse and Studio's bed and breakfast, located right outside of Athens. (
The exterior of the Bodhi Tree Guesthouse and Studio’s bed and breakfast, located right outside of Athens. (

Although Liz and Russell are both serious practitioners of meditative practice, they are pleased that more people in general are exploring mindfulness, if only casually.

“Mindfulness can be beneficial to people in many ways, and the more variety of ways for them to practice it, the better,” said Liz. “I don’t really like to evangelize yoga or meditative practice – so when it does come up in a conversation, I usually hear people say that they are ‘not good’ at meditating – I hear that again and again and it’s a thought that I myself have, too. People assume that when they sit and have tons of thoughts in their minds that they are not good at meditating – but it is important to observe those thoughts and become aware of the types of thoughts you’re having.”

Russell said the term ‘mindfulness’ is more secular than some meditative practice vocabulary; freer of religious or spiritual connotations. He said that in crafting the programming for Bodhi House, he and Liz work to keep things as secular as possible, as the more religious aspects associated with meditative practice may be distracting or even harmful to some.

“I came into all this as an agnostic, really, and one thing that I disliked was the heavy association with Buddhism,” said Russell. “Even though one of the books that we do use in a class does have a picture of the Buddha on it, we try to work more on getting people to improve their concentration and awareness without any particularly Buddhist terminology. We don’t want mindfulness practice to be this sort of fluffy thing that people throw on and off – like Thoreau said, ‘beware of all enterprises that require new clothes,’: we have a very minimalist approach to it – the meditation classes are free, and all it takes it your time, really.”

If you’re interested in exploring mindfulness for your own benefit but find yourself a little too intimidated to come to one of the Bodhi Tree’s free mediation classes, perhaps you can dip your toes in the possibility by attending their free open house on August 19. The event will run from 12 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., featuring free introductory meditation and yoga classes, a free singing bowl concert by Ron Esposito, and a potluck. For a full schedule of events the day of the open house, check out