I’m always looking for ways to talk about mindfulness that suit my understanding of it – and that’s been surprisingly harder than expected. This week, I found the following description of mindfulness in an article called “Of the Soul and Suffering: Mindfulness-Based Interventions and Bereavement” (Cacciatore, Thieleman, Osborn, Orlowski), that captures it perfectly:
Mindfulness practices can be found in various spiritual traditions around the world, but are most strongly associated with Buddhism, where they are practiced in order to help attain freedom from suffering. Mindfulness practices in the West derive largely from vipassana (meaning ‘‘insight’’) meditation practices which emphasize simply paying attention to experiences in the present moment.
The focus is on taking a step back from and simply noticing bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts. Doing so creates a sense of spaciousness that allows a person to respond mindfully rather than react habitually to difficult experiences (Baer and Krietemeyer 2006). Unlike some forms of meditation, where the stated goal is to achieve bliss or to enhance devotion to a deity or to a belief structure, the explicit purpose of vipassana meditation is be attuned to one’s experience of reality.
How does it speak to you?