Mindfulness is a word that has become widely popular in today’s world. Surely you have heard about mindfulness, or read about the many benefits you can attain from mindful awareness and mindfulness meditations. You probably know someone who is taking mindfulness training to transform their life through mindfulness, or perhaps you are one of the millions of people who have learned the practice of mindfulness and are actively using it to enrich your daily life.
Mindfulness became known as a stress management and wellness practice during the 1980s, when Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn began teaching mindfulness to chronic-pain patients at his Stress Reduction Clinic in Massachusetts. He designed a program mindfulness training program called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (aka MBSR), which proved to be profoundly beneficial for people experiencing chronic pain and the stress related to that pain.
Following Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness researchers and practitioners throughout the world discovered evidence showing that mindfulness effectively reduces stress. Today, there are thousands of scientific studies available to us regarding the long list of physical, emotional and cognitive benefits of learning and practicing mindfulness. There are also Mindfulness Training programs that teach you how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.
What is Mindfulness?
In modern times, mindfulness has been broadly defined as a way of paying attention to the present moment with a non-judgmental attitude. In his book, Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness (1990), Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as follows:
“Mindfulness is a particular way of paying attention. Mindfulness is the disciplined practice of moment-to-moment awareness, the complete “owning” of each moment of your experience, good, bad or ugly.”Kabat-Zinn
However, mindfulness existed long before Jon Kabat-Zinn turned it into the stress management tool that has now firmly established itself in the medical and mental health field.
Aside from his definitions and teachings, there are other definitions and ways of practicing mindfulness. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese monk who has been teaching and writing about mindfulness since the 1960s.
In his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness (1975), Thich Nhat Hanh offers us the following definitions of Mindfulness:
“Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves.”Thich Nhat Hanh
“Mindfulness frees us of forgetfulness and dispersion and makes it possible to live fully each minute of life.”
Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times
Today’s mindfulness is rooted in an ancient teaching that is more than 2600 years old and it is attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha himself.
This ancient text reveals specific instructions on how to live in the present moment in order to effectively reduce our suffering, increase our understanding of how our minds work, and tap into wholesome mindsets.
When we have mindfulness training, we learn to practice mindfulness by becoming aware of 4 specific areas which we can directly experience: the physical body, the sensations we feel, the emotional states we experience, and our thoughts and insights.
Benefits of Mindfulness Training and Practice
In the last 30 years many secular and spiritual teachers, therapists, meditators, as well as world renowned neuroscientists have written, talked about and published important findings regarding the benefits of Mindfulness Training. Even popular magazines feature articles about mindfulness in their wellness sections.
Here is a partial list of the benefits of practicing mindfulness and mindfulness meditation according to scientific studies:
- Reduced symptoms of stress
- Reduced symptoms of depression
- Reduced symptoms of anxiety
- Reduced symptoms of IBS and other gastric disorders
- Reduced intensity of perceived pain related to chronic pain conditions
- Increased ability to manage frustration and unexpected changes
- Increased feelings of satisfaction
- Increased ability to find joy in everyday life
- Increased capacity to prevent depression relapses in patients with recurring mild-to-moderate depression
- Increased ability to pay attention
- Increased ability to think before reacting
- Increased ability to feel compassion for self and others
- Increased self-understanding
- Increased emotional intelligence
- Increased cognitive flexibility
- Improved interpersonal communication
Reaping the benefits of mindfulness requires learning the skill and practicing it. Anyone can read and try to learn something about it by watching a video, but the most effective and efficient way to learn about mindfulness is through a mindfulness training where you have a trained instructor teach you the practice of mindfulness. You will learn how to develop concentration, how to deal with your thoughts and how to discover which mindfulness practices are best suited for you. You will be able to train your mind to be more attentive, compassionate, focused and resourceful.
The iNLP Center’s online Mindfulness Practitioner Certification Course includes unlimited access to live weekly sessions with an experienced mindfulness trainer. This course also includes numerous guided meditations, clearly written material regarding the history and practice of mindfulness, and detailed instructions on how to practice mindfulness, both formally and informally. Mindfulness training can help you experience the benefits of mindfulness and embrace a mindful way of living.
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