What is Mindfulness?

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Mindfulness has become a popular topic in the last few years. It has been the subject of numerous television programs, magazines and books. An example of this, is one of this year’s cover stories for Time magazine which was titled The Mindful revolution.

Numerous courses and workshops with mindfulness as the main subject are sprouting in many countries around the world.

In spite of the term is familiar to many of us, do we know what does Mindfulness really mean?
The word Mindfulness comes from the translation of the word sati in Pali, the language in which the teachings of Buddha were originally recorded.

The term connotes awareness, attention and remembering.

Just by becoming aware of what is occurring within and around us, we can begin to entangle ourselves from mental preoccupations and difficult emotions.

By redirecting attention, rather than trying to control or suppress intense emotions, we can regulate how we feel.

Another aspect of Mindfulness is remembering. This does not refer to memory of the past events. Rather it means remembering to be aware and pay attention.

It was Thich Nhat Hanh, zen master, spiritual leader and world renowned author, who used it for the first time in his book The miracle of Mindfulness, a letter he wrote to his disciples in Vietnam, when he was in exile, reminding them the importance of the practice of breathing and constant awareness to the present moment in order to achieve peace.

Years later Jon Kabat Zinn, a PhD in Molecular Biology, introduced Mindfulness meditation in Medicine. He was the first who realized the potential use of mindfulness in the treatment of chronic medical conditions, and adapted it into the structured eight week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course, at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, in 1979.

He first created the Stress Reduction Clinic which later evolved into the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society. For more than 30 years he and his team have worked on the integration of Mindfulness meditation and other Mindfulness-based approaches in mainstream medicine and healthcare.

Although Mindfulness is based on Buddhist Meditation principles, it is taught in a secular environment, completely devoid of a religious connotation.

Mindfulness stress reduction is now offered in numerous medical centers, hospitals and medical organizations throughout the world to help patients cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness.

For some time Mindfulness has gone beyond the realms of Medicine, and it is being used in diverse fields such as education, social work, law firms and law schools, and in the corporate world with companies like Google, Target, Asana or Medium, which uses it with their employees.