Mindfullness means to bring attention to the present in a curious not judging way.
Recently, there is widespread talk about Mindfullness, not only in psychological field. The word has become the favorite subject of debates, conferences, seminars, personal growth paths, up-dating courses and it has started to draw the attention of the medical-scientific field. Just to make a little clarity regarding it, I thought about reporting the results personally conducted, alongsiding them with some key considerations.
Let’s start by stating that Mindfullness is a process that grows the capability of bringing the attention to the present moment, the awareness and the acceptance of the current situation. According to this definition, the purpose of growing it is to remove the useless suffering, cultivating a deep understanding and acceptance of anything which might happen through an active work with our own mental states. According to the original tradition, it would allow to go from an imbalance and pain status to a greater subjective perception of wellness, thanks to a profound knowledge of the mental states and processes.
The origins of Mindfullness research cannot be attributable to a precise time, since they are traceable, although with different names, between Greece and China, in a period included between 2.800 and 2.200 years ago. Probably, the Buddhist meditative practice and its doctrine, represent the tradition that reflects the theme of awareness. In fact, Buddha’s teaching show us those mental factors that allow the individual to grasp the essence and the nature of each experience: ambition, trust, attention and, of course, awareness. Even originally Mindfullness translates the Sanskrit term “sati”, which can be hardly translated by only one word. Sati, according to the Buddhists, is a faculty to grow as a path in order to get to the reduction of human sufferings, considered as connected with a misperception of a permanent individual ego. Overcoming this illusion means to get to a long-lasting emotional balance and psychological well-being. “in order to reach this goal, the Buddhism recommends not to look for an external balance, but a change of the individual himself both cognitive and emotional, to correct those mistakes which the human mind frequently makes when it has not been trained and disciplined” (Gethin, 2001).
From the East, Mindfullness is cultivated and registered as received in well-defined paths by Kabat Zin, a biologist who had got tired of being in his laboratory and has become curious of the positive effects of this practice. The first protocol Mindfullness was born for the reduction of stress. Since then, a lot of protocols have been born, dedicated, beyond to stress, to other issues, such as the nutritional one (Mindfull Eating).
Going back to Mindfullness as meditative practice, it is based on 7 principles, useful to get not only to the Mindfullness meditation, but also to life, with a mental behavior and mind which help to develop our inner ability to accept things as they are. These principles are the following:
- Not Judgement: our mind, when it produces a thought, it generates a judgement and, in most cases, it can make us heavier. Mindfullness can be useful in becoming aware of our tendency to judge and to learn, to simply observe, this attitude of us.
- Patience: when we live a difficult moment, we wish that things may solve soon, when we are going to learn something, we are impatient because we want to learn everything quickly, we have the anxiety of result. To tell the truth, we are all endowed with learning and adaptation skills, therefore, it would be enough, with a little patience, to let body and mind work in order to reach these goals. And patience is the main form of wisdom, it is a virtue of the strong. Of course, it is not easy to practice, therefore it is possible to conquer it easily just with Mindfullness.
- The Beginner’s Mind: it means to have the same spontaneity of children in living everyday as if it was always something new to find out and to learn.
- Trust: it means to trust that I will change, that I will learn new things, that I will reach my aims, that I will succeed in that for sure because life loves me and the Universe supports me.
- Absence of Research In The Result: going desperately after the result of my aim, I will take my mind off other interesting sides of my life, while, concentrating on these, I will get to the inner peace.
- Acceptance: it means to accept the situation as it is, without searching the result. In fact, acceptance brings to the reaching of the goal and it gives birth to a great sense of release.
- Let Go: as previously explained, once we have accepted that our experiences, emotions, sensations and situations are as they are, that’s as experience of the present, then we’ll let everything more easily and we will feel more relaxed and lighter.
At this stage, I think it’s helpful to give you some advice about the existing ways to practice the Mindfullness meditation, that, in a few words, means to practice our mind to stop in the here and now. They are mainly two:
- The formal practice, which requires a constant effort since this is meditating at least once a day. The object of meditation could be the breath, so as it gets a better result or any other object you prefer. The practice consists simply of remaining concentrated on the chosen object for about 20 minutes.
- The informal practice, that, on the contrary of the previous one which requires a constant and fixed effort, can be performed in any moment of the day and in any situation. For example, while eating, you can concentrate on the flavors of what you are eating, or, when you are immersed in nature, you can concentrate on the visual and auditive sensations that scene raises.
Once you have done enough practice so as to stay concentrated on the here and now, when the several thoughts onset trying to distract your mind and, as a consequence, to make ego predominate, you will be perfectly able to maintain your temper and to bring your concentration back on breath or on the object that you will have chosen to make mental training.
Finally, I warn you about the possible misunderstandings that may arise when you start studying this new and interesting practice. In fact, it is not a relaxing technique, as far as we are talking about meditation. In fact, the aim of Mindfullness is not relaxation, but a psycho-physical sensation which is not necessarily to be connected with the relax sensation which you get with meditation. It is rather a clearing the head from the debris of the past which cloud it and which prevent it from concentrating on the current state of things. However, be careful, because another misunderstanding may arise at this stage, since Mindfullness might result as the ideal solution in order to live peacefully without thoughts. To tell the truth, we are not speaking about getting the mind completely free of thoughts, but to accept them and let them slowly go in order to substitute them with new positive thoughts which bring us back to the present.
Well, now you have to do nothing else but practice it!
Whoever blows over the ceaseless thoughts, as the rain does with a dust cloud, with the mindfullness springing from the appeased thought, reaches here and now the abode of peace.