Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.
Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Though it has its roots in Buddhist meditation, a secular practice of mindfulness has entered the American mainstream in recent years, in part through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which he launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since that time, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general and MBSR in particular, inspiring countless programs to adapt the MBSR model for schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and beyond.
What are the Limitations?
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation. It also has a different meaning that is based in the clinical psychology. Both are psychological concepts, but the Buddhist is of a religious basis and the clinical meaning is of a mental health meaning. The use of mindfulness is mixed, as a certain amount of investment is needed in it, and the same could be said for hypnosis although as concepts being mindful and being hypnotized are quite different.
Meaning 1 – Roots in Buddhism
When referring to the Buddhist meaning, it is a concept that focuses on awareness and attention. The Buddhist meaning and the act of being mindful in Buddhist terms was popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the west. This popularization in the west has now led to mindfulness being taught as a religion on its own.
Meaning 2 – Clinical psychology
Mindfulness has been a clinical term in psychiatry and psychology since the 1970s. Therapeutic applications have been devised in order to help alleviate psychological conditions such as heightened anxiety, excessive stress and depression. The links between this treatment and the Buddhist version of mindfulness share little but the name. Psychologists may however steer people in the direction of the more mystical side of mindfulness in order to help the patient invest in the idea.
Meaning 1 – Mindfulness by Bishop, Lau, and colleagues
They say that the more Buddhist method involves self regulation and attention to an immediate experience so that the brain may process the thoughts happening right now. It is a form of self awareness that simply the act of having a think and taking the time to pay attention to your thoughts. The perpetrators of this form of mindfulness are also encouraged to be curious, open and accepting because it will give the person more to think about in “the moment.”
Meaning 2 – Mindfulness in modern psychology
It involves bringing the patients clear attention to the present moment. Some people suffer depression or increased anxiety because they worry about what was and what is soon to come. They are often emotionally invested in possible outcomes or memories. Some memories and some possible future events are given far more attention and emotion than they perhaps should, and that is a factor in the depression or anxiety of the patient.
A psychologist will help the patient focus on the here and now, getting the patient to imagine the past has been wiped clean, or that the future event is either not going to happen or that it will not be as bad as the person things. Getting the person to think about the present is a way of relieving anxiety or depression. The psychologist will also try to get the patient to see the present in the most non-judgmental way possible.
There are two meanings, and both are very different, even though on the surface they appear the same. On the surface they may both be applied to numerous situations in broad terms, however, it seems that the user’s willingness to play along is a big factor–otherwise being mindful is nothing more than not allowing your mind to wander.