What Is Mindfulness?
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” correlates with elements 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 modern context is generally considered to have been initiated by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Studies have 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.
Clinical psychology and psychiatry since the 1970's have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on mindfulness for helping people who are experiencing a variety of psychological conditions. For example, mindfulness practice is being employed to reduce depression symptoms, to reduce stress, anxiety and in the treatment of drug addiction.
Clinical studies have documented both physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in different patient categories as well as in healthy adults and children. Programs based on Kabat-Zinn's and similar models have been widely adopted in schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans' centers, and other environments, and mindfulness programs have been applied for additional outcomes such as for healthy aging, weight management and athletic performance.
Stephen Joseph, MA, LMHC, 366 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, MA 02474 781-648-4599