Posted by on August 13, 2016 9:50 am
Categories: Mindfulness

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Mindfulness as a modern, western practice is founded on modern[note 6] vipassana, and the training of sati, which means “moment to moment awareness of present events”, but also “remembering to be aware of something”.[68] It leads to insight into the true nature of reality,[36][69][not in citation given] namely the three marks of existence, the impermanence of and the unsatisfactoriness of every conditioned thing that exists, and non-self. With this insight, the practitioner becomes a socalled Sotāpanna, a “stream-enterer”, the first stage on the path to liberation.[70][71] Vipassana is practiced in tandem with samatha, and also plays a central role in other Buddhist traditions such as Tibetan Buddhism.[citation needed]


Mindfulness: Under cover of this innocuous word, Buddhist meditation nosed its way into a secular audience bent on personal growth and even success strategies. From NYTimes

According to Paul Williams, referring to Erich Frauwallner, mindfulness provided the way in early Buddhism to liberation, “constantly watching sensory experience in order to prevent the arising of cravings which would power future experience into rebirths.”[72][note 7] According to Vetter, dhyana may have been the original core practice of the Buddha, which aided the maintenance of mindfulness.[73]

According to Rhys Davids, the doctrine of mindfulness is “perhaps the most important” after the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Rhys Davids viewed the teachings of Gotama as a rational technique for self-actualization and rejected a few parts of it, mainly the doctrine of rebirth, as residual superstitions.[74]


Choiceless awareness is posited in philosophy, psychology, and spirituality to be the state of unpremeditated, complete awareness of the present without preference, effort, or compulsion. The term was popularized in mid-20th-century by Jiddu Krishnamurti, in whose philosophy it signifies a main theme. Similar or related concepts had been previously developed in several religious or spiritual traditions; the term or others like it has also been used to describe traditional and contemporary secular and religious meditation practices. However, Krishnamurti’s approach to Choiceless Awareness was unique, and differs from both pre-existing and later-developed notions.[citation needed]

Choiceless awareness is a major concept in the exposition of Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895–1986).[1] Beginning in the 1930s, he often commented on the subject, which became a recurring theme in his work.[2] He is considered to have been mainly responsible for the subsequent interest in both the term and the concept.[3]

Krishnamurti held that outside of strictly practical, technical matters, the presence and action of choice indicates confusion and subtle bias: an individual who perceives a given situation in an unbiased manner, without distortion, and therefore with complete awareness, will immediately, naturally, act according to this awareness – the action will be the manifestation and result of this awareness, rather than the result of choice. Such action (and quality of mind) is inherently without conflict.[4]

He did not offer any method to achieve such awareness; [5] in his view application of technique cannot possibly evolve into, or result in, true choicelessness – just as unceasing application of effort leads to illusory effortlessness, in reality the action of habit; [6] additionally, in his opinion all methods introduce potential or actual conflict, generated by the practitioner’s efforts to comply. According to this analysis, all practices towards achieving choiceless awareness have the opposite effect: they inhibit its action in the present by treating it as a future, premeditated result, and moreover one that is conditioned by the practitioner’s implied or expressed expectations.[7] For true choicelessness to be realized, choice – implicit or explicit – has to simply, irrevocably, stop; however, the ceasing of choice is not the result of decision-making, but implies the ceasing of the functioning of the chooser or self as a psychological entity. Krishnamurti proposed that such a state might be approached through inquiry based on total attentiveness: identity is then dissolved in complete, all-encompassing attention.[8] Therefore, he asserted that choiceless awareness is a natural attribute of non-self-centered perception, which he called “observation without the observer”.[9]

Accordingly, Krishnamurti advised against following any doctrine, discipline, teacher, guru, or authority, including himself.[10] He also advised against following one’s own psychological knowledge and experience, which he considered integral parts of the observer.[11] He denied the usefulness of all meditation techniques and methods, but not of meditation itself, which he called “perhaps the greatest” art in life; [12] and stated that insight into choiceless awareness could be shared through open dialogue.[13]

Krishnamurti’s ideas on choiceless awareness were discussed by among others, influential Hinduspiritual teacherRamana Maharshi (1879–1950) [14] and, following wide publication of his books,[15] they attracted the attention of psychologists and psychoanalysts in the 1950s; [16] in subsequent decades Krishnamurti held a number of discussions on this and related subjects with practicing psychotherapists and with researchers in the field.[17]

Krishnamurti included the concept in “The Core of Krishnamurti’s Teaching”, a pivotal statement of his philosophy: “Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”[22][23]

One term that is often used as a near-synonym is mindfulness, which as a concept has similarities to or may include choiceless awareness.[32]Initially part of Buddhist meditation practice, it has been adapted and utilized for contemporary psychological treatment,[33] and has been applied as a component of integrative medicine programs.[34]

Kindred themes can be found in the doctrine and meditation practices (such as Vipassanā) associated with the Theravada school ofBuddhism; [35] and also in 20th-century offshoots such as the Thai Forest Tradition and the Vipassana movement.[36] Within these and similar fields, for example the Shikantaza practice in Zen Buddhism,[37] choiceless (or effortless) awareness is considered to frequently be the result of a mature progression of practice.[38]

The concept has been included in the discourse of transpersonal philosopher Ken Wilber (b. 1949),[39] and also of independent Indian spiritual teacher Osho (Rajneesh) (1931–1990).[40]Tibetan Buddhism teacher Chögyam Trungpa (1939–1987), who engaged in dialogue with Krishnamurti,[41] used the term to describe the experience of shunyata (Śūnyatā) – in Sanskrit, “emptiness”, or “ego-less perception”.[42]

Among other fields, the term has appeared in dispute resolution theory and practice,[43] and has found application in artistic endeavors. Indramatic theory, theater criticism,[44] and acting,[45] it has been used to denote spontaneous creativity and related practices or attempts; it has additionally appeared in music works.[46] Author J. D. Salinger (1919–2010), who was interested in spirituality and alternative religions, was reputedly an adherent of Ramana Maharshi’s ideas on choiceless awareness.[47]

“I discovered for myself and by myself that there is no self to realize.” UG…
“mind yourself” KD


With which our journey ends.

Mindfulness still leaves you mindful. As such it still leaves you clinging. We’re left to journey on.


Large population-based research studies have indicated that the practice of mindfulness is strongly correlated with well-being and perceived health.[9][10] Studies have also shown that rumination and worry contribute to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety,[11][12] and that mindfulness-based interventions are effective in the reduction of both rumination and worry.[11][13]Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment,[1][2][3] which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.[2][4][5] The term “mindfulness” is a translation of the Pali-term sati,[6] which is a significant element of some Buddhist traditions. The recent popularity of mindfulness in the West is generally considered to have been initiated by Jon Kabat-Zinn.[7][8]

Clinical psychology and psychiatry since the 1970s have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on mindfulness for helping people who are experiencing a variety of psychological conditions.[8] Mindfulness practice is being employed in psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, such as bringing about reductions in depression symptoms,[14][15][16] reducing stress,[15][17][18]anxiety,[14][15][18] and in the treatment of drug addiction.[19][20][21] It has gained worldwide popularity as a distinctive method to handle emotions.


Mindfulness meditation is practiced sitting with eyes closed, cross-legged on a cushion, or on a chair, with the back straight.[web 1] Attention is put on the movement of the abdomen when breathing in and out,[24] or on the awareness of the breath as it goes in and out the nostrils.[25] If one becomes distracted from the breath, one passively notices one’s mind has wandered, but in an accepting, non-judgmental way and one returns to focusing on breathing. A famous exercise, introduced by Kabat-Zinn in his MBSR-program, is the mindful tasting of a raisin,[26] in which a raisin is being tasted and eaten mindfully.[27][note 1]

Meditators start with short periods of 10 minutes or so of meditation practice per day. As one practices regularly, it becomes easier to keep the attention focused on breathing.[28] Eventually awareness of the breath can be extended into awareness of thoughts, feelings and actions.[25]

Recent interest has emerged for studying the effects of mindfulness on the brain using neuroimaging techniques, physiological measures and behavioral tests.[3][29][30]Research on the neural perspective of how mindfulness meditation works suggests that it exerts its effects in components of attention regulation, body awareness and emotional regulation.[31] When considering aspects such as sense of responsibility, authenticity, compassion, self-acceptance and character, studies have shown that mindfulness meditation contributes to a more coherent and healthy sense of self and identity.[32][33] Neuroimaging techniques suggest that mindfulness practices such as mindfulness meditation are associated with “changes in the anterior cingulate cortex, insula, temporo-parietal junction, fronto-limbic network and default mode network structures.”[34] It has been suggested that the default mode network of the brain can be used as a potential biomarker for monitoring the therapeutic benefits of meditation.[35]

A.M. Haynes and G. Feldman have highlighted that mindfulness can be seen as a strategy that stands in contrast to a strategy of avoidance of emotion on the one hand and to the strategy of emotional overengagement on the other hand.[47] Mindfulness can also be viewed as a means to develop wisdom.[36]

According to Brown, Ryan, and Creswell, definitions of mindfulness are typically selectively interpreted based on who is studying it and how it is applied. Some have viewed mindfulness as a mental state, while others have viewed it as a set of skills and techniques.[48][49] A distinction can also be made between the state of mindfulness and the trait of mindfulness.[50]

According to David S. Black, whereas “mindfulness” originally was associated with esoteric beliefs and religion, and “a capacity attainable only by certain people”,[51]scientific researchers have translated the term into measurable terms, providing a valid operational definition of mindfulness.[52][note 4]


According to Steven F. Hick, mindfulness practice involves both formal and informal meditation practices, and nonmeditation-based exercises.[61] Formal mindfulness, or meditation, is the practice of sustaining attention on body, breath or sensations, or whatever arises in each moment.[61] Informal mindfulness is the application of mindful attention in everyday life.[61] Nonmeditation-based exercises are specifically used in dialectical behavior therapy and in acceptance and commitment therapy. [61]

In a paper that described a consensus among clinical psychologists on an operational and testable definition, Bishop, Lau, et al. (2004)[62] proposed a two-component model of mindfulness:

The first component involves the self-regulation of attention so that it is maintained on immediate experience, thereby allowing for increased recognition of mental events in the present moment. The second component involves adopting a particular orientation toward one’s experiences in the present moment, an orientation that is characterized by curiosity, openness, and acceptance.[62]:232

In this two-component model, self-regulated attention (the first component) “involves bringing awareness to current experience – observing and attending to the changing fields of “objects” (thoughts, feelings, sensations), from moment to moment – by regulating the focus of attention”. Orientation to experience (the second component) involves maintaining an attitude of curiosity about objects experienced at each moment, and about where and how the mind wanders when it drifts from the selected focus of attention. Clients are asked to avoid trying to produce a particular state (i.e. relaxation), but rather to just notice each object that arises in the stream of consciousness.[62]:233

An ancient model of the mind, generally known as the five-aggregate model[36] enables one to understand the moment-to-moment manifestation of subjective conscious experience, and therefore can be a potentially useful theoretical resource to guide mindfulness interventions.

The five aggregates are described as follows:

  1. Material form: includes both the physical body and external matter where material elements are continuously moving to and from the material body.
  2. Feelings: can be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.
  3. Perceptions: represent being aware of attributes of an object (e.g. color, shape, etc.)
  4. Volition: represents bodily, verbal, or psychological behavior.
  5. Sensory consciousness: refers to input from the five senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or touch sensations) or a thought that happen to arise in the mind.

This model describes that sensory consciousness result in the generation of feelings, perception or volition, and that individuals’ previously conditioned attitudes and past associations influence this generation. The five aggregates are described as constantly arising and ceasing in the present moment.[36]

The English term mindfulness already existed before it came to be used in a (western) Buddhist context. It was first recorded as myndfulness in 1530 (John Palsgravetranslates French pensée), as mindfulnesse in 1561, and mindfulness in 1817. Morphologically earlier terms include mindful (first recorded in 1340), mindfully (1382), and the obsolete mindiness (ca. 1200).[63]

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, mindfulness may also refer to “a state of being aware”.[web 2] Synonyms for this “state of being aware” arewakefulness,[64][65]attention,[web 3] alertness,[web 4] prudence,[web 4] conscientiousness,[web 4] awareness,[web 2] consciousness,[web 2] observation.[web 2]

In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts to treat the chronically ill.[81] This program sparked the application of mindfulness ideas and practices in Medicine[82]:230–1 for the treatment of a variety of conditions in both healthy and unhealthy people. MBSR and similar programs are now widely applied in schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and other environments.

Mindfulness practices were inspired mainly by teachings from the Eastern World, particularly from Buddhist traditions. One of MBSR’s techniques – the “body scan” – was derived from a meditation practice (“sweeping”) of the Burmese U Ba Khin tradition, as taught by S. N. Goenka in his Vipassana retreats, which he began in 1976. It has since been widely adapted in secular settings, independent of religious or cultural contexts.[note 9][note 10]

Mindfulness is gaining a growing popularity as a practice in daily life, apart from buddhist insight meditation and its application in clinical psychology.[28]Mindfulness may be seen as a mode of being,[83] and can be practiced outside a formal setting.[84] The terminology used by scholars of religion, scientists, journalists, and popular media writers to describe this movement of mindfulness “popularization,” and the many new contexts of mindfulness practice which have cropped up, has regularly evolved over the past 20 years, with some criticisms arising.[85]

Sati is one of the seven factors of enlightenment. “Correct” or “right” mindfulness (Pali: sammā-sati, Sanskrit samyak-smṛti) is the seventh element of the noble eightfold path.

Mindfulness is an antidote to delusion and is considered as a ‘power’ (Pali: bala) which contributes to the attainment of nirvana. This faculty becomes a power in particular when it is coupled with clear comprehension of whatever is taking place. Nirvana is a state of being in which greed, hatred and delusion (Pali: moha) have been overcome and abandoned, and are absent from the mind.

Anapanasati is mindfulness of breathing. “Sati” means mindfulness; “ānāpāna” refers to inhalation and exhalation. Anapanasati means to feel the sensations caused by the movements of the breath in the body. The Anapanasati Sutta gives an exposition on this practice.[note 11]

Satipaṭṭhāna is the establishment of mindfulness in one’s day-to-day life, maintaining as much as possible a calm awareness of one’s body, feelings, mind, and dharmas. The practice of mindfulness supports analysis resulting in the arising of wisdom (Pali: paññā, Sanskrit: prajñā).[note 12][not in citation given]

Vipassanā is insight into the true nature of reality,[69][not in citation given] namely the three marks of existence, namely the impermanence of and the unsatisfactoriness of every conditioned thing that exists, and non-self. With this insight, the practitioner becomes a so-called Sotāpanna, a “stream-enterer”, the first stage on the path to liberation.[70][71][note 13]

In the Theravadin context, Vipassanā is commonly used as one of two poles for the categorization of types of Buddhist practice, the other being samatha (Pāli; Sanskrit:śamatha).[88] According to the contemporary Theravada orthodoxy, samatha is used as a preparation for vipassanā, pacifying the mind and strengthening the concentration in order to allow the work of insight, which leads to liberation.

Vipassanā-meditation has gained popularity in the west through the modern Buddhist vipassana movement, modeled after Theravāda Buddhism meditation practices,[89]which employs vipassanā and ānāpāna meditation as its primary techniques and places emphasis on the teachings of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta.

In Buddhist practice, “mindfulness” also includes samprajaña, meaning “clear comprehension” and apramāda meaning “vigilance”.[90][note 14] All three terms are sometimes (confusingly) translated as “mindfulness”, but they all have specific shades of meaning.

In a publicly available correspondence between Bhikkhu Bodhi and B. Alan Wallace, Bodhi has described Ven. Nyanaponika Thera‘s views on “right mindfulness” and sampajañña as follows:

He held that in the proper practice of right mindfulness, sati has to be integrated with sampajañña, clear comprehension, and it is only when these two work together that right mindfulness can fulfill its intended purpose.[91][note 15]

Georges Dreyfus has expressed unease with the definition of mindfulness as “bare attention” or “nonelaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness”, stressing that mindfulness in Buddhist context means also “remembering”, which indicates that the function of mindfulness also includes the retention of information.[92][note 16]Robert H. Sharf notes that Buddhist practice is aimed at the attainment of “correct view”, not just “bare attention”.[web 6][note 17]Jay Garfield, quoting Shantideva and other sources, stresses that mindfulness is constituted by the union of two functions, calling to mind and vigilantly retaining in mind. He demonstrates that there is a direct connection between the practice of mindfulness and the cultivation of morality – at least in the context of Buddhism from which modern interpretations of mindfulness are stemming.[93]

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy program[94] developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, which uses a combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness, and yoga to help people become more mindful.[28] In recent years, meditation has been the subject of controlled clinical research.[95] This suggests it may have beneficial effects, including stress reduction, relaxation, and improvements to quality of life, but that it does not help prevent or cure disease.[96] While MBSR has its roots in spiritual teachings, the program itself is secular.[97]

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a psychological therapy designed to aid in preventing the relapse of depression, specifically in individuals with Major depressive disorder (MDD).[98] It uses traditional cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) methods and adds in newer psychological strategies such as mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. Cognitive methods can include educating the participant about depression.[99] Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation, focus on becoming aware of all incoming thoughts and feelings and accepting them, but not attaching or reacting to them.[100]

Like CBT, MBCT functions on the theory that when individuals who have historically had depression become distressed, they return to automatic cognitive processes that can trigger a depressive episode.[101] The goal of MBCT is to interrupt these automatic processes and teach the participants to focus less on reacting to incoming stimuli, and instead accepting and observing them without judgment.[101] This mindfulness practice allows the participant to notice when automatic processes are occurring and to alter their reaction to be more of a reflection. Research supports the effects of MBCT in people who have been depressed three or more times and demonstrates reduced relapse rates by 50%.[102]

Acceptance and commitment therapy[edit]

Acceptance and commitment therapy or (ACT) (typically pronounced as the word “act”) is a form of clinical behavior analysis (CBA)[103] used in psychotherapy. It is an empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies mixed in different ways[104] with commitment and behavior-change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility. The approach was originally called comprehensive distancing.[105] It was developed in the late 1980s[106] by Steven C. Hayes, Kelly G. Wilson, and Kirk Strosahl.[107]

Mindfulness is a “core” exercise used in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a psychosocial treatment Marsha M. Linehan developed for treating people with borderline personality disorder. DBT is dialectic, explains Linehan,[108] in the sense of “the reconciliation of opposites in a continual process of synthesis.” As a practitioner of Buddhist meditation techniques, Linehan says:

This emphasis in DBT on a balance of acceptance and change owes much to my experiences in studying meditation and Eastern spirituality. The DBT tenets of observing, mindfulness, and avoidance of judgment are all derived from the study and practice of Zen meditations.[109]

Mindfulness is gaining a growing popularity as a practice in daily life, apart from buddhist insight meditation and its application in clinical psychology.[28] In this context mindfulness is defined as moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, characterized mainly by “acceptance” – attention to thoughts and feelings without judging whether they are right or wrong. Mindfulness focuses the human brain on what is being sensed at each moment, instead of on its normal rumination on the past or on the future.[120]

The mindfulness movement[24] has entered the mainstream, mainly through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn[28] and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since that time, clinical studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general, and MBSR in particular. Programs based on MBSR and similar models have been widely adapted in schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and other environments.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn the practice of mindfulness may be beneficial to many people in Western society who might be unwilling to adopt Buddhist traditions or vocabulary.[121] Western researchers and clinicians who have introduced mindfulness practice into mental health treatment programs usually teach these skills independently of the religious and cultural traditions of their origins.[122]

Mindfulness has come to be seen as a mode of being,[83] rather than a formal meditation practice, which can be practiced and maintained outside a formal setting.[84]

Various scholars have criticized how mindfulness has been defined or represented in recent western psychology publications.[62][137] These modern understandings depart significantly from the accounts of mindfulness in early Buddhist texts and authoritative commentaries in the Theravada and Indian Mahayana traditions.[137]:62[138] Adam Valerio has introduced the idea that conflict between academic disciplines over how mindfulness is defined, understood, and popularly presented may be indicative of a personal, institutional, or paradigmatic battle for ownership over mindfulness, one where academics, researchers, and other writers are invested as individuals in much the same way as religious communities.[85]

The popularization of mindfulness as a “commodity”[139] has been criticized, being termed “McMindfulness” by some critics.[web 8][web 9][140] According to Safran, the popularity of mindfulness is the result of a marketing strategy:[139] “McMindfulness is the marketing of a constructed dream; an idealized lifestyle; an identity makeover.”[139][141][142]

According to Purser and Loy, mindfulness is not being used as a means to awaken to insight in the “unwholesome roots of greed, ill will and delusion,”[web 8] but reshaped into a “banal, therapeutic, self-help technique” that has the opposite effect of reinforcing those passions.[web 8] While mindfulness is marketed as a means to reduce stress, in a Buddhist context it is part of an all-embracing ethical program to foster “wise action, social harmony, and compassion.”[web 8] The privatization of mindfulness neglects the societal and organizational causes of stress and discomfort, instead propagating adaptation to these circumstances.[web 8] According to Bhikkhu Bodhi, “[A]bsent a sharp social critique, Buddhist practices could easily be used to justify and stabilize the status quo, becoming a reinforcement of consumer capitalism.”[web 8] The popularity of this new brand of mindfulness has resulted in the commercialization of meditation through self-help books, guided meditation classes, and mindfulness retreats.

Buddhist commentators have criticized the movement as being presented as equivalent to Buddhists practice; however, possibly denatured with undesirable consequences, such as being ungrounded in the traditional reflective morality and, as astray from traditional buddhists ethics. Criticisms suggest it to be de-moralized or, re-moralized Buddhism into clinically based ethics. The conflict is often presented in concern to the teacher’s credentials and qualifications, rather than the student’s actual practice. Reformed Buddhist influenced practices are being standardized and manualized in a clearly distinct separation from Buddhism seen as a religion based in monastic temples; and, as mindfulness in a new psychology ethic practiced in modern meditation centers.[143]

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