Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist tradition, but virtually every spiritual tradition has some form of mindfulness as part of their practice. Today, it is seen as both a quality of human consciousness and a formal practice that focuses on optimizing present moment living without the overlay of concepts and judgments. Mindfulness opens us to experience more richness and vividness in our lives leading to more inner peace, personal clarity and emotional freedom.
Mindfulness can be seen as purposefully paying attention to our moment-by-moment experience of sensation, emotions, and thoughts, as well as to what is happening around us. Rather than judging what we see, we learn to be present with what is, as it is. So, mindfulness is purposefully paying non-judgmental attention to our full present moment experience with an attitude of curiosity, kindness, acceptance and allowance.
Mindfulness is body of practice that includes bringing a kind, loving, open, allowing attention to our direct experience.
Research indicates that mindfulness reduces stress and stress related illnesses, including high blood pressure, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and sleep disorders. It is also showing effectiveness with reducing anxiety, depression and recurrences of depression, and substance misuse. Mindfulness brings peace.
Mindfulness is renowned for the capacity to focus on the here and now. It improves cognitive function and helps reduce experiences of distracting thoughts.(1) Mindfulness brings more clarity.
Compassion is the natural tendency inside us to recognize and meet our own and others' suffering with love and kindness. It is inherent in our nature to respond with an act of tender concern and care when we see someone in pain. In fact, our brains are wired to respond with nurturing when we see suffering and distress.(2)
We have a choice of attitude when we approach our mindfulness practices--and our lives. Compassion-based mindfulness invites us to bring an attitude of compassion, kindness and curiosity to our practice because life is not always easy--and not just for us.
In the Buddhist tradition, it is recognized that there are 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows when one is born in the body. We choose compassion not only because of the sorrows, but also because we come to understand that each of the joys are temporary. Not understanding that a pleasant experience will naturally end can also create suffering. As we search and search thinking we can find a permanent state of being that is good or happy, we miss our potential to experience happiness by focusing on the future.
Amazingly, in recognition of the temporariness of difficulties, more freedom can be had. Through mindfulness we learn to bear with the more challenging difficulties in life, knowing that they, too, will eventually pass. And when the good things end, we are less likely going to chase after them, or mourn them as deeply, as we understand the arising and passing nature of all things.
A sense of spacious kindness begins to take hold as we lovingly attend to ourselves, others and the realities of living. From this, a new sense of freedom emerges. Compassion-based Mindfulness brings inner peace and freedom. And when there is inner peace, there's a chance for outer peace. So practicing mindfulness is not only beneficial for ourselves but for all we come in contact with and beyond.