Understanding Mindfulness

Mindfulness has become increasingly popular in the self-improvement media as well as in clinical settings. If you are reading this, you have your own definition of mindfulness.

How do you define mindfulness? Please write your answer in a comment!

Mindfulness is a multifaceted practice, drawing from ancient wisdom and adapting to contemporary life. In 1881, Rhys Davids translated the word mindfulness from the Pali word sati found in Buddhist texts, which meant “memory, recollection, calling-to-mind”, or “bare attention.” (1)  However, mindfulness has been practised under various names in Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam for over two millennia. (2)

Western Mindfulness

Jon Kabat-Zinn brought mindfulness into the mainstream of clinical practice and Western society, transforming it into a secular practice with multiple health and well-being benefits.

But, in the popular media, there is an increasing confusion between mindfulness and meditation. They have things in common, but not all mindfulness is meditation and not all meditation is mindfulness. 

Meditation is a practice that self-regulates the body and mind by engaging a specific attentional set (from focused attention on a specific object or process to no specific focus). (3)

On the other hand, mindfulness is commonly defined as the awareness that comes from paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way. (4) It is not just something we practice at dedicated times; it is a way of living. It doesn’t mean that we pay attention to everything but to what matters in the present moment.

How experts define mindfulness

Mindfulness involves a conscious awareness of our present moment, including our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, without judgment or criticism. This practice encourages an attitude of kindness and compassion towards oneself, facilitating a deep sense of connection with the inner self. 

What are the benefits?

The benefits of mindfulness are extensive and … life-changing. It contributes to stress reduction, boosts self-awareness, enhances emotional intelligence, and improves overall well-being. By cultivating mindfulness, one can navigate life’s ups and downs without unnecessary pain and with more resilience.

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