Mindfulness is Here to Stay

The rush of attention that mindfulness has received may earn it the label of “passing fad.” But the facts suggest that the label, not the practice, may be what’s temporary. Mindfulness is usually referred to in relation to mindfulness meditation and mindfulness based therapy, but its philosophical origins lie in centuries-old Buddhist teachings and practice. When you think of meditation, what do you think of? Most imagine trying to clear their minds of thoughts: every thought that arises, you push it away and strive for openness, emptiness, quiet, and clarity. Mindfulness is the flip side of that coin. Emphasizing awareness, mindfulness creates a heightened state of mind not by transcending the immediate, but fully connecting with it.

“The heart of mindfulness is the cultivation of attention to ‘things as they are,’ with an attitude of non-judging awareness,” writes Renee Burgard, LCSW. What does this look like in practice? Mindfulness meditation emphasize the awareness of breathing and physical sensations paired with the recognition—but not judgment—of thoughts that arise. As Burgard explains, these principals were “secularized, modernized and brought into the health care mainstream” by Jon Kaba-Zinn, who developed Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in the late 1970s. Since then, mindfulness has also been incorporated into psychotherapy. Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) combines principles of mindfulness with elements of cognitive behavioral therapy to help people become more aware of the relationships between their thoughts, feelings and actions.

What sets mindfulness apart from other trends, writes Chris Woolston for the Los Angeles Times, is that science has already borne out the benefits that mindfulness can provide, and there are more studies on the way. The practice is especially helpful in reducing anxiety and improving mood, plus mindfulness and antidepressants share an equal success rate for preventing depressive relapse. In fact, mindfulness has proven so effective at altering how we relate to our own thoughts that in some cases it’s created (positive) measurable changes in MRI scans of the brain. Between the solid evidence of academic trials and the anecdotal evidence from therapists and their patients, mindfulness is certainly here to stay.

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Eliza

    Eliza

    January 16th, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    The crux of any healing that is worth anything is going to have to do with being mindful about your own reality and your own experiences. Too often we pay no attention to the things going on around us in our lives and then we wonder why we are unhappy with our lives. This is why. Getting in tune with yourself is the answer. When you are mindful enough to recognize who you are and how you got there, that is when you will beging to experience the fullness that life has to offer.

  • Holly

    Holly

    January 16th, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    Mindfulness is all about being in the moment. How many days have you lain down to sleep at night and couldn’t explain where the day went? If you’re not practicing mindfulness and appreciating the “right here, right now”, you’ll know that experience well. It’s such a waste of a day for it to pass like that!

  • Suzzie

    Suzzie

    January 16th, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    Being aware Of the activity you are doing or anything that is occupying you is a very important thing not only to accomplish at task at hand easily but also to maintain balance of mind and to be good at doing things efficiently. Mindfulness seems like a great development to which a lot of people would flock as the time goes by.

  • Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW

    Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW

    January 16th, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    I’m in the middle of a three-year certification program with Dan Siegel, who has written and taught extensively on mindfulness and psychotherapy. The study is enriching both my work it terms of specific interventions, but also my understanding of what it means to be a mentally healthy human.

    Very exciting to see mindfulness getting mainstream attention – a 21st century manifestation of work that is thousands of years old.

  • Esther

    Esther

    January 16th, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    I wish the term mindfulness could be coined in another way that would make it feel more acceptable to the mainstream population. Mindfulness is such a natural act too and have already proven its longevity, albeit not under that fancy name. Something more simple may be easier for them to swallow.

  • Melbourne Counsellor

    Melbourne Counsellor

    January 16th, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Thanks for this post. Mindfulness forms a major part of my work with clients and I’ve seen what a difference it can make to people’s lives. Mindfulness helps us get in touch with the things that matter most to us and live more fully. It’s great to see this centuries-old philosophy make its way into the therapy realm.

  • Janis

    Janis

    January 16th, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    “The heart of mindfulness is the cultivation of attention to ‘things as they are,’ with an attitude of non-judging awareness”.

    I find the non-judging side very, very hard to grasp. How can you look at anything that’s going on and not judge it? It’s impossible to me to not form an opinion. I want to know how you suppress that urge please. Thanks!

  • barry t

    barry t

    January 17th, 2011 at 5:32 AM

    mindfulness is not too different from being honest to your job,not procrastinating and is akin several positive things that we speak about individually.if mindfulness is incorporated in a person’s life,he will automatically begin to have many positive things in his life!

  • Jane

    Jane

    January 17th, 2011 at 5:44 AM

    I completely get what Janis is saying. It is one thing to say that we will not form preconceived notions about people, but in reality it is awfully hard not to do that. I try my best to keep an open minded view of any situation that I face or of anyone that I meet but sometimes that is not the easiest thing in the world to do.

  • TIARA

    TIARA

    January 17th, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    I’ve always belived that being aware if your surrounds and being fully aware of what you are onto is very important if the personneants to excel in whatever he is doing. I have followed this philosophy of mine in my penknife ad am very happy with what I’ve achieved.

  • Star

    Star

    January 17th, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    It’s good to hear mindfulness is getting more support from the scientific community. Perhaps that will give the skeptics something to chew over. What makes me laugh is that those I encounter who dismiss it as a fad haven’t bothered trying the technique themselves. I think they are scared it may actually work. ;)

  • emily d

    emily d

    January 17th, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    the importance of mindfulness cannot be stressed enough…our ancestors have known about its benefits and that is why so many ancient practices include mindfulness for complete development of an individual.

  • PKJ

    PKJ

    January 18th, 2011 at 2:58 AM

    a good practice or technique can never be denied and be ignored…mindfulness has been there for hundreds,if not thousands,of years and will continue to benefit mankind.

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