Mindfulness, or awareness is a spiritual or psychological state passed down from the teachings of Buddhism.
In essence, Mindfulness is a way in which you can live your life by always being present in the moment. Being aware of who you are, where you are, what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how it’s happening is, according to the Buddha, imperative for transcending beyond the usual state of grace and into realms of perfect tranquility.
But Mindfulness is more than just an ancient practice of total awareness. This concept of being in “in the present moment” is still highly valued today.
It is a method by which we can improve our and wellness and find a greater sense of happiness amidst the chaos of life.
The History of Mindfulness
The word Mindfulness is derived from the Pali word sati, which translates to “memory.” Sati was originally used by the Brahmans in reference to the memorization of large Vedic passages. In order to memorize such extended bits of scripture, they would have to go into an almost trance-like state, allowing them intense focus and total recall. Our modern understanding of meditation was very much influenced by this form of sati.
Adopting and enhancing this idea, the Buddhism used sati in many different forms. Presence of mind, focus of intellect, openness of spirit, and general mindfulness became sati‘s new definitions under the Buddha’s teachings.
He said that Mindfulness should be established not just as a spiritual principle in a person’s life, but also as a day-to-day practice. Everyone should have a calm awareness of the sensations in their body, their emotional state, and their spiritual presence.
But that wasn’t the end of the evolution of Mindfulness as we understand it from a professional perspective today.
In 1979, the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program was begun by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts. Dr. Kabat-Zinn used the principles of Mindfulness to treat chronically-ill patients.
His idea of Mindfulness was bringing the complete attention of oneself to the present moment. He believed that paying attention to life in a singular way–wholly, committedly, unwaveringly–would allow for:
- Great reduction in stress levels
- Increased happiness and peace
- More positive outlooks on one’s self and one’s future
Since this 1979 study, Mindfulness has grown both in popularity and methodology in the worlds of psychiatry, psychology, and mind body healing.
It is a mode of thinking that put down its roots many long centuries ago, but still has practical applications today.
Wellness, By Way of Mindfulness
Research is still being conducted today on the applications and evolution of Mindfulness in modern psychology. While there’s no telling where the practical usage of it may go next, there’s no denying its success in the past.
As a tool for people’s overall wellness, Mindfulness has been incredibly beneficial.
Over the years, Mindfulness has splintered off into various specific psychological programs, including Morita Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Adaptation Practice, and Hakomi Therapy, and so many more – each offering their own success stories.
Since the turn of this century, there have been dozens of high-profile studies that have proven Mindfulness’ ability to improve overall Wellness.
The studies conclude that Mindfulness can:
- Increase immune response and brain function
- Decrease stress
- Increase academic performance
- Increase focus in the face of stressful situations
- Reduce pain
- Reduce symptoms
There’s no denying that sati, Awareness, or Mindfulness, or whatever you want to call it, is an ancient practice that has a very important place in today’s psychology. Mindfulness and Wellness are inexorably connected, and so certainly deserve our time and attention as wellness professionals.
If you have questions about the history of Mindfulness or its application today in the pursuit of Wellness, call or write to the Institute for the Psychology of Eating today. We’d be happy to start a dialogue with you.
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