The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly – Buddha
Mindfulness is usually defined to include bringing one’s complete attention to the experiences occurring in the present moment, in a nonjudgmental or accepting way. Mindfulness is more than a meditation. It is “inherently a state of consciousness” which involves consciously attending to one’s moment-to-moment experience.
Descriptions of mindfulness and methods for cultivating it originate in eastern spiritual traditions, which suggest that mindfulness can be developed through the regular practice of meditation, and that increases in positive qualities such as awareness, insight, wisdom, compassion, and equanimity are likely to result.
In traditional Buddhist teachings there are four areas or domains of mindfulness.
The first foundation is mindfulness of body, which typically begins with bare attention to the sensations of the breath, bringing the mind and body together and calming them. Then, other body sensations may be observed, in all the potential postures and movements of formal practice and daily living.
The second foundation is mindfulness of feelings, in which bare attention is brought to the feeling-tone of the experience of each moment. “Feelings,” as the term is used here, are not emotions. Rather, they are an immediate knowing of experience as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral before reactions such as emotions or attitudes come into play. Feelings are simply observed as they arise, linger, and pass away.
The third foundation is mindfulness of mind, which directs bare attention to the quality of the activity of the mind, registering awareness of states or dispositions, such as distraction and concentration, or one of the three roots of suffering — desire, hatred, or delusion. Again, these can be observed as they arise, linger, and pass away.
The fourth foundation is mindfulness of mind-objects, in which bare attention is directed towards all that the mind encounters within and without. Here a wonderful characteristic of Buddhism, the making of lists, shapes recommended practice, as the traditional instructions are to observe the arising and passing of the
Sense-desire, anger, sloth and torpor, agitation and worry, and doubt
The five aggregates
Material form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness,
The six subjective/ objective sense factors
Eye/form, ear/sound, nose/smell, tongue/taste, body/touch, and mind/concepts
The seven factors of enlightenment
Mindfulness, investigation of reality, energy, enthusiasm, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity and, at last,
The four ennobling truths
1. Life means suffering.
2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
4. The path to the cessation of suffering.
In the traditional Buddhist context, mindfulness is embedded in an eight-fold path to alleviate suffering; mindfulness is guided and directed by seven other factors. They are as follows:
(1) The view one has of what is real, important, valuable, and useful
(2) How intention is used to initiate and sustain action in skillful ways
(3) The nature of speech that can be either harmful or beneficial
(4) The quality of action as it relates to ethical principles
(5) One’s means of sustaining oneself in the world as livelihood
(6) The degree and quality of effort employed to bring about change
(7) Concentration as a focusing and supporting factor to mindfulness.
Underlying this concept and approach are the following assumptions in psychology:
(1)Humans are ordinarily largely unaware of their moment-to-moment experience, often operating in an ‘automatic pilot’ mode;
(2) We are capable of developing the ability to sustain attention to mental content;
(3) Development of this ability is gradual, progressive and requires regular practice;
(4) moment-to-moment awareness of experience will provide a richer and more vital sense of life; inasmuch as experience becomes more vivid and active mindful participation replaces unconscious reactiveness;
(5) Such persistent, non-evaluative observation of mental content will gradually give rise to greater veridicality of perceptions; and
(6) Because more accurate perception of one’s own mental responses to external and internal stimuli is achieved, additional information is gathered that will enhance effective action in the world, and lead to a greater sense of control.
Three key components:
1. “On purpose” or intention,
2. “Paying attention” or attention,
3. “In a particular way” or attitude (mindfulness qualities).
Forms of Practice
This involves reminding ourselves throughout the day to pay attention to what is happening in the moment without radically altering our routines.
Formal meditation practice:
This involves setting aside time to go to the mental “gym.” We regularly dedicate a certain period to sit quietly in meditation.
This is the “vacation” that is dedicated entirely to cultivating mindfulness. The following practice,
Vipassana practice is opening to the fullness of direct experience. This offers the opportunity for seeing into the way one’s world and self are constructed and interrelated, that is, for insight. Vipassana, or the cultivation of mindfulness, is the characteristic form of meditation in Buddhism — central to all its meditative streams.
Living in the Moment
Increased Positive Affect
Reduced Stress Reactivity
Enhanced Cognitive Vitality
Mindfulness in contemporary psychotherapeutic paradigms
The practice of sati or satipatthanna is not limited to Buddhism. This activity or elements of satipatthanna may also be found in many different contemporary psychological paradigms often under different names such as:
• Self monitoring in Behavioural Therapy
• Being in the now in Gestalt Therapy
• Present centeredness in Gestalt therapy
• Listening to oneself in Client Centred Therapy
• Llistening to automatic thoughts in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
• Self awareness in Emotional Intelligence
• Meta-mood and meta-cognition
• Free association and hovering attention in Psychodynamic therapy
• Acceptance in Acceptance and Commitment therapy
Mindfulness in psychological interventions
Following interventions those are now widely available in medical and mental health settings based on mindfulness concept.
Dialectical behavior therapy
Mindfulness-based stress reduction
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
Acceptance and commitment therapy
Relapse prevention for substance abuse aswell as variations on these approaches.
These interventions conceptualize mindfulness as a set of skills that can be learned and practiced in order to reduce psychological symptoms and increase health and well-being.
Mindfulness is the direct path for the purification of beings,
For the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation,
For the disappearance of pain and grief,
For the attainment of the true way,
For the realization of liberation –
Namely, the four foundations of mindfulness - Buddha