Remember back in the 90s when cigars were all the rage? (I think it was right around the time that ska was making a comeback.) For a little while there, you couldn't turn on a late night talk show without hearing some celebrity yakking about his (or her) favorite stogie. Cigar bars opened up all over the country and carried issues of Cigar Aficionado, a new magazine devoted entirely to the topic.
Good cigar companies couldn't ship enough product to meet the demand so lousy cigar companies sprouted up to take people's money in exchange for crappy smokes. (Not that most new smokers could tell the difference, anyway.) And then the bottom fell out. Supply caught up with demand. Prices fell. Smaller companies bit the dust. A lot of folks stopped smoking. People stopped calling it the "cigar boom" and started calling it the "cigar fad."
Mindfulness is having its own moment in the spotlight right now, complete with blogs, podcasts, documentaries, celebrity endorsements, and yes, its very own magazine. You can learn mindfulness in hospitals, classrooms, therapist's offices, and in an ever growing number of local sitting groups.
So is mindfulness a fad?
Some mindfulness teachers believe that the practice is going to continue to grow at an exponential rate in the West and that we're at the beginning of a "mindful revolution." I disagree. I think the media spotlight will move on within a year or so and that many people who have tried mindfulness thanks to suggestions from Time magazine and the Huffington Post will drop the practice altogether and try the next big thing, whatever that turns out to be.
And that's okay.
Let's jump back to the world of cigars. The boom ended a long time ago and you don't read a lot of articles about cigars in the mass media these days. But a small but significant number of people who got interested in cigars back in the 90s are still smoking them. Cigar Aficionado magazine is still being published, new cigar brands roll out every year, and there are more cigar stores now than there were back when everyone was wearing flannel shirts. In fact, over the last 15 years, cigar production has slowly and steadily climbed back up to its heyday levels.
In a few decades, researchers will still be studying meditation, teachers will still be teaching it, and a small but significant number of people who jumped on the bandwagon will still be practicing and supporting one another. It's been around for 2,500 years and it seems unlikely that it's going to stop just because Cosmo stops publishing articles about it.
When the media spotlight moves on, mindfulness will only be stronger for its brief moment of celebration in the popular culture.