What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness, though so highly praised and capable of such great achievements, is not at all a “mystical” state, beyond the ken and reach of the average person. It is, on the contrary, something quite simple and common, and very familiar to us.

- Nyanaponika, The Heart of Buddhist Meditation

Podcast of the Day

In little more than a few decades mindfulness has gone from being a specialist element of Buddhist teaching to the front cover of Time magazine. It's the must have app for the stars, courses in it are advertised in the back of all the glossies, businesses use it to reduce staff stress and boost productivity. It's even prescribed on the NHS for anxiety and depression. This is the story of "mindfulness" - from its roots in the Buddhist practice of meditation to today's multi-billion dollar, worldwide industry. Devoted followers hail it as a cure-all for the ills of modern life. Or is this just another health fad, destined for disparagement, like homeopathy? And what do Buddhists feel about their heritage being westernised, secularised and commercialised?

Listen to the BBC podcast: Mindfulness: Pancea or Fad?

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

Mindfulness is everywhere at the moment. If you don't know someone who has done a course, downloaded an app or read a book, you will soon. Based on centuries-old Buddhist meditation practices and breathing exercises, it is prescribed to thousands of patients on the NHS each year to help prevent anxiety, depression and stress. Even more pay for private classes believing that they improve the quality of their lives and relationships. And over a million people looking for mindfulness on-the-go have downloaded apps such as Headspace. The mindfulness industry is vast, and growing weekly.

So can an approach so deeply rooted in eastern spiritualism, and which at times comes close to sounding like new age waffle, really work?

Professor Mark Williams thinks so...

Continue reading David Derbyshire's article: Should We Be Mindful of Mindfulness?

Further Reading

Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. The term "mindfulness" is a translation of the Pali term sati, which is a significant element of Buddhist traditions. In Buddhist teachings, mindfulness is utilized to develop self-knowledge and wisdom that gradually lead to what is described as enlightenment or the complete freedom from suffering. The recent popularity of mindfulness in the West is generally considered to have been initiated by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Large population-based research studies have indicated that the practice of mindfulness is strongly correlated with greater well-being and perceived health. Studies have also shown that rumination and worry contribute to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, and that mindfulness-based interventions are effective in the reduction of both rumination and worry... Continue reading the Wikipedia article on Mindfulness

Want to learn more? Check out the five best books on mindfulness.

Do you know of a  great introductory video, podcast, or article that deserves to be featured? Get in touch on Twitter or Facebook.