There are many sites out there that will go into great detail on this topic of “What is Mindfulness?” For this page I have a few simple goals.
- Provide you with a basic definition.
- Give some direction on how Mindfulness training can benefit us.
- Provide you with a brief explanation/history.
John Kabat Zinn has provided us with the most common definition for Mindfulness.
"Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, and in the present moment, non-judgmentally."
How Does Mindfulness Training Benefit Us?
The UCLA MARC (Mindful Awareness Research Center) tells us Mindfulness is a quality of attention that can be brought to any experience or moment in life. In practicing Mindfulness, we learn how to pay attention to our body, feelings, and thoughts. In so doing, we retrain our brain to recognize our states of mind and the signs our body gives us whether we are joyful or angry, restless or calm, or anything in-between. By training our brain to pay attention to each of these moments, we can often shorten the time we spend on worry, discomfort, etc, by simply recognizing earlier when we are in these states of mind. In addition, by training our brain ultimately we find the hesitation between reaction and response. By learning to respond in a proper way, more than we react, we have less reason to be frustrated; to worry about something we've said; or to stress about an interaction.
Very Brief History
Mindfulness is rooted in Buddhist tradition dating back more than 2,500 years. That said, Mindful Awareness Practices and contemplative practices have always existed in other traditions such as the ancient Greeks, Native Americans, and within Christian Religious traditions. A secular version of Mindfulness, which is the focus I use for training within organizations, has been used in the United States for over 30 years and began in about 1979, when Jon Kabat-Zinn began offering Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, courses for patients at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He believed that Mindfulness could support patients in the areas of chronic pain and depression and research has shown this to be true.
Since that early beginning in healthcare, Mindfulness expanded in the United States to include Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) developed in the 90’s for mental healthcare and in the past decade it has been expanding within education to support the learning ability of our students. Today, Mindfulness is being used to support workers not only within healthcare and education, but also within corporations and politics. It’s used in many Silicon Valley businesses and there are even Mindfulness studies being completed within the US Military.
Please feel free to contact me if you have more questions about Mindfulness and how it could benefit you and your well being.