What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an integral part of the Buddhist teachings. For more than 2500 years, mindfulness has been used as a key means to reduce suffering.
The Buddhist teachings say that the more insight we have into our mind the less we suffer.
Understanding comes through increased awareness, curiosity, acceptance and compassion.
Mindfulness is not a religion. It’s more a science based on careful attention to nature and human beings.
Mindfulness can be taught (we use our consciousness to train our brain) in the same way as we learn or reinforce our musical abilities, our bodily, linguistic or our interpersonal characteristics.
Mindfulness is the ability to record and neutrally observe what is happening for us in the present. The main site of this awareness is first and foremost the body and bodily sensations, but it’s also our feelings and thoughts.
Mindfulness can be defined as a certain way to be aware. Attention is characterized by not judging and evaluating but to be accepting (it also means patience), curious and kind to both the self and others. We remember these attitudes by the acronym NACK.
These attitudes counteract the mental attitude which results in most of our suffering. This mental attitude is automatic, we tend to evaluate, analyze and categorize. This way of functioning gives us the experience of who we are, but it also limits us from seeing things as they really are. It is from these habits – our ‘memories’ – that we compare the experience of the present moment. That alone easily creates dissatisfaction.
Jon Kabat Zinn brought Mindfulness to the US in the late seventies and was wise enough to develop a Mindfulness program that was very structured and consistent. The program is called Mindfully Based Stress Reduction or MBSR. This has meant that the effectiveness of mindfulness training has been easy to measure.
Today there are more than 2500 pieces of research on mindfulness with another four papers coming out every week. The messages are consistent: Mindfulness is good for us both physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.