Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally
Dr: jon kabat-zinn
What does Mindfulness training do?
With mindfulness training, the individual accepts this universal reality that events will happen and leading to positive and negative emotions. The individual learns to separate those events from self and identify as a neutral observer. According to studies, most individuals are just abruptly acting to the events and situations without analyzing or observing the impact these events create. Individuals feel helpless in controlling their reactions to unfavorable situations. Mindfulness trains the wandering mind and creates harmony, which allows the individual to be attentive internally without being distracted.
Where it came from?
The concept of mindfulness had originated from the eastern ground of Buddhism. In Buddhist conventions, “mindfulness” has a relation with the term “sati” in Pali form (which means present-moment awareness) or “smrti” in Sanskrit (means memory). In Buddhist lessons, “mindfulness” is used to create self-learning and insight and develop enlightenment of the self and liberation from miseries. According to Lau, Grabovac and Willett (2011), Buddhism recognizes two particular components of mindfulness, i.e., concentration (which means Samatha in Pali) and insight (i.e., vipassana in Pali). Samatha method includes focusing one’s attention on an object and excluding everything else. Vipassana, on the other side focus on three characteristics, i.e., impermanence, suffering, and attainment of egoless self.
Mindfulness denotes the concepts of living in a highly aware state of mind, where the individual is aware of his surroundings, thoughts, emotions, soul, and bodily sensations (that he or she can live in a self-aware manner). The individual act as an observer by being non-attached to the events of life in order to maximize the functionality of the human body and its senses. As per Patanjali yoga sutra, during mediation and Samadhi the individual enters a state where they become the drastha (the observer) and experience the whole process of bliss and attain a neutral state of being. There the individual is not affected by the anxieties, tension and stress (i.e. Dukh, Sukh, Moh,) aroused by situations and let them pass away by maintaining a non-judgmental attitude without being affected negatively as well positively.
What mindfulness is?
Mindfulness has been defined differently by various scholars.
Some of the basic definitions of mindfulness include “moment-by-moment awareness” (Germer et al., 2005), “keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality” (Hanh, 1976), “attentional control” (Teasdale, Segal, & Williams, 1995), “a form of self-regulation of attention” (Hassed, 2013), “paying attention with purpose, nonjudgmentally while in the present moment” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, 2005), “the bringing of one’s awareness to current experiences through observing and attending to the changing field of thoughts, feelings, and sensations from moment to moment” (Bishop et al., 2004), and “complete attention to one’s experience on a moment-tomoment basis” (Marlatt&Kristeller, 1999).
What mindfulness actually does?
Instead of going into thoughts, feelings, and sensations, individuals watch them emerge and let them pass away without being drawn into them. The act of not taking an interest engages a person to see that the results of the mind are temporary, unavoidable parts of oneself, but rather are shortlived events that arise and go. As opposed to following the mind where it needs to go, individuals return to doing what one initially expected to do, focusing on what is going on here and now. Mindfulness enables individuals to act intentionally, not being driven aimlessly by the motivations of the mind, and re-establishes one’s capacity to pick when and how to react. Handberg and Muhr analyzed the fundamental theorems that lie beneath conventional mindfulness teachings (e.g., the discrepancies among mind-body and subject-object).
Are you Mindful vs. Mindless?
Ellen Langer explained the notion of “mindlessness,” i.e., the opposite of “mindfulness.” Langer (2006) has defined mindlessness as a state of consciousness marked by little or no awareness of what is going around in the current environment. Mindlessness contributes to attributional errors or biases that individuals make in reacting to situations. Mindlessness is a state which is governed by routine and habituated responses. For example, reading a book, but thinking of something else and not attending to the content.
Mindlessness is parallel to some notions like automatic information processing, habit, and functional fixedness (Langer, 1992). The concept of mindless acts is illustrated by a whole or partial lack of attention and conscious awareness of new and novel details (Piper and Langer, 1987). When individuals are mindless, they are confined by a rigid perception, and people behave like machines, dominated by their past and guided by rules and habits.
Is mindfulness a fixed trait or a State?
Mindfulness has been broadly explored and has been studied as a state as well as a trait. According to Chiesa (2012), most scholars studied mindfulness as a trait that can be attained by training. Mindfulness has been studied as a single-faced trait and a multifaceted trait by some investigators, and there is still no agreement over this. Cordon and Brwon (2009) speculated that state mindfulness is a stimulated state of mind that occurs during and after meditative practice. How ever, trait mindfulness is the nature of a person’s everyday experiences. Lazar and Treadway (2010) explained that trait mindfulness is a transformation that occurs gradually by regularly practicing mindfulness with passing time. They also summarized that trait mindfulness as a trait brings changes in brain activity and its structure. Also, Lau et al. (2006) put forth that mindfulness can also be described as a mode, or state-like quality, sustained only when attention to experience is intentionally fostered with an open, non-judgmental attitude to experience.Application of Mindfulness
A series of researches are taking place studying the impact of mindfulness-based interventions in clinical disorders, health psychology, stress and lifestyle problems, positive emotions, positive traits, tourism, trauma, addiction, neuropsychological functioning, cognitive processing, organizational setting, rehabilitation, school, and education to promote mental health and well-being (Walach 2004).
Kabat-Zinn use “Mindfulness-based stress reduction interventions” (MBSR) to foster well-being using techniques like hatha yoga, breathing exercises, body scan, to improve symptoms linked with depression, eating disorders, stress, anxiety, pain, bowel syndrome, migraine, and others. The present articles highlight some of the recent works investigated using the construct of mindfulness both in Indian and Western cultures. In a study on Chinese individuals, it was seen that individuals who were grittier were happier due to the mediating role played by mindfulness (Lia et al., 2017). Studies reveal that the lack of mindfulness, measured as a mindless trait, is strongly associated with Smartphone addictions and poor health and quality of life outcomes (Kim et al., 2018).
The present article also highlights a few personal reflections regarding mindfulness. From the research’s point of view, I believe mindfulness is a much-wanted tool in today’s society that is outwardly focused. The concept of mindfulness helped me to understand how its practice can help individuals to access their inner un-harmonious side, offering an individual’s a better understanding of their inside as well outside experiences, which are ignored due to the preoccupations with the material and physical world.
I believe practicing mindfulness can be beneficial for oneself and society. It can increase empathy and compassion for oneself and others, which we as a society currently lack in. Also, future studies are required to investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness for societal welfare, curbing crime, world peace, improving mental and physical health.