The Mindfulness Movement – Rooted in the core practice of the Buddha
Table of Contents
- 1 - Definition of the Movement
- 2 - Mindfulness in Early Buddhism
- 3 - The popularization of the Movement
- 4 - People, concepts, apps & organizations
- 4.1 - Mindfulness
- 4.2 - Thích Nhất Hạnh
- 4.3 - Vidyamala Burch
- 4.4 - Joseph Goldstein (writer)
- 4.5 - Self-acceptance
- 4.6 - Mindfulness Day
- 4.7 - Mindfulness and technology
- 4.8 - Mind & Life Institute
- 4.9 - Breathworks
- 4.10 - Prison Mindfulness Institute
- 4.11 - Jon Kabat-Zinn
- 4.12 - Self-compassion
- 4.13 - Insight dialogue
- 4.14 - Peace Revolution
- 4.15 - Full Catastrophe Living
- 4.16 - Daniel Goleman
- 4.17 - Choiceless awareness
- 4.18 - British Association of Mindfulness-Based Approaches
- 4.19 - Breathworks Foundation
- 4.20 - Mindfulness-based pain management
- 4.21 - Sigmar Berg
- 4.22 - Susan Kaiser Greenland
- 4.23 - Tamara Levitt
- 4.24 - Andy Puddicombe
- 4.25 - Occupational therapy in the management of seasonal affective disorder
- 4.26 - Nonviolent Communication
- 4.27 - Karl E. Weick
- 4.28 - Janice Marturano
- 4.29 - Headspace
- 4.30 - Contemplative education
- 4.31 - Christian de la Huerta
- 4.32 - Cheri Maples
- 4.33 - Charles Halpern
- 4.34 - Martin Stepek
Definition of the Movement
In this context mindfulness is defined as moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, characterized mainly by “acceptance”—attention to thoughts and feelings without judging whether they are right or wrong.
Mindfulness focuses the human brain on what is being sensed at each moment, instead of on its normal rumination on the past or the future.
Mindfulness may be seen as a mode of being, and can be practiced outside a formal setting.
Mindfulness in Early Buddhism
In early Buddhism, Sati is one of the seven factors of enlightenment.
“Correct” or “right” mindfulness is the seventh element of the Noble Eightfold Path. Mindfulness is an antidote to delusion and is considered as a ‘power’ which contributes to the attainment of Nibbana.
This faculty becomes a power in particular when it is coupled with clear comprehension of whatever is taking place. Nirvana is a state of being in which greed, hatred and delusion (Pali: moha) have been overcome and abandoned, and are absent from the mind.
Mindfulness provided the way in Early Buddhism to liberation, “constantly watching sensory experience in order to prevent the arising of cravings which would power future experience into rebirths.”
According to some scholars mindfulness may have been the original core practice of the Buddha, which aided the maintenance of mindfulness.
The doctrine of mindfulness is therfore perhaps the most important after the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
The popularization of the Movement
The Mindfulness movement gained widespread popularity since the 1950s, and to its western derivatives which have been popularised since the 1970s, giving rise to the more dhyana-oriented mindfulness movement.
The terminology used by scholars of religion, scientists, journalists, and popular media writers to describe this movement of mindfulness “popularization,” and the many new contexts of mindfulness practice which have cropped up, has regularly evolved over the past 20 years, with some criticisms arising.
The latest changes when people moved from real-life meditation sessions to the applications on their smart devices has been even more accelerated by the global pandemic.
Applications like Meditopia, Yours App and Relax: Master Your Destiny are adapting to the needs of their users by using AI technology, involving professional psychologists and offering many different mindfulness approaches to serve a wider audience.
People, concepts, apps & organizations
This is a list of people, concepts, applications and organizations related to the Mindfulness movement.
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.
Mindfulness derives from sati, a significant element of Buddhist traditions, and is based on Zen, Vipassanā, and Tibetan meditation techniques.
Thích Nhất Hạnh was a Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk, peace activist, prolific author, poet, teacher, and founder of the Plum Village Tradition, historically recognized as the main inspiration for engaged Buddhism.
Known as the “father of mindfulness”, Nhất Hạnh was a major influence on Western practices of Buddhism and mindfulness.
Vidyamala Burch is a mindfulness teacher, writer, and co-founder of Breathworks, an international mindfulness organization known particularly for developing mindfulness-based pain management (MBPM). The British Pain Society has recognized her “outstanding contribution to the alleviation of pain”, and in 2019 she was named on the Shaw Trust Power 100 list of the most influential disabled people in the UK. Burch’s book Mindfulness for Health won the British Medical Association’s 2014 Medical Books Award in the Popular Medicine category.
Joseph Goldstein (writer)
Joseph Goldstein is one of the first American vipassana teachers, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) with Jack Kornfield and Sharon Salzberg, a contemporary author of numerous popular books on Buddhism, a resident guiding teacher at IMS, and a leader of retreats worldwide on insight (vipassana) and lovingkindness (metta) meditation.
Self-acceptance is acceptance of self and can be defined as the awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses.
Also it refers to the realistic (yet subjective) appraisal of one’s talents, capabilities, and general worth, or the feelings of satisfaction with one’s self despite deficiencies and regardless of past behaviors and choices.
Mindfulness Day is an emerging annual event, celebrated on September 12, on which day a variety of workshops and meditation groups are held with the intent to raise awareness to the general public about the profound value and benefit of mindfulness. In 2011, Mindfulness Day was designated to be September 12 by Wisdom Publications.
Mindfulness and technology
Mindfulness and technology is a movement in research and design, that encourages the user to become aware of the present moment, rather than losing oneself in a technological device. This field encompasses multidisciplinary participation between design, psychology, computer science, and religion. Mindfulness stems from Buddhist meditation practices and refers to the awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, and in a non-judgmental mindset. In the field of Human-Computer Interaction, research is being done on Techno-spirituality — the study of how technology can facilitate feelings of awe, wonder, transcendence, and mindfulness and on Slow design, which facilitates self-reflection. The excessive use of personal devices, such as smartphones and laptops, can lead to the deterioration of mental and physical health. This area focuses on redesigning and creating technology to improve the wellbeing of its users.
The Mind & Life Institute is a US-registered, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1991 to establish the field of contemplative sciences. Based in Charlottesville, Va., the institute “brings science and contemplative wisdom together to better understand the mind and create positive change in the world.” Over three decades, Mind & Life has played a key role in the mindfulness meditation movement by funding research projects and think tanks, and by convening conferences and dialogues with the Dalai Lama. Since 2020, Mind & Life’s grant-making, events, and digital programs have sought to nurture personal wellbeing, build more compassionate communities, and strengthen the human-earth connection.
Breathworks CIC is an international mindfulness organization founded in the United Kingdom, which offers mindfulness-based approaches to living well with pain, stress, and illness. It is known particularly for developing the approach of mindfulness-based pain management (MBPM), which shares many elements with mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) but is adapted specifically for those living with chronic pain and illness, and incorporates a distinctive emphasis on the practice of ‘loving-kindness’. Breathworks is a registered Community Interest Company (CIC) in the United Kingdom, and has nearly 500 accredited teachers working in 35 countries.
Prison Mindfulness Institute
The Prison Mindfulness Institute is a non-profit organization founded in 1989 with the mission of supporting prisoners and prison volunteers in transformation through meditation and contemplative spirituality in prisons. The organization provides books and resources through their “Books Behind Bars” program, publishes books on prison dharma through their Prison Dharma Press, organizes a pen pal program between prisoners and meditation volunteers, and offers an apprenticeship program for prison volunteers called “Path of Freedom”. The organization supports prisoners in the study and practice of contemplative traditions as well as mindfulness awareness practices. It is an affiliate of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship as well as the Peacemaker Community USA.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is an American professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn was a student of Zen Buddhist teachers such as Philip Kapleau, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Seung Sahn, and a founding member of Cambridge Zen Center. His practice of yoga and studies with Buddhist teachers led him to integrate their teachings with scientific findings. He teaches mindfulness, which he says can help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain, and illness. The stress reduction program created by Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), is offered by medical centers, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations, and is described in his book Full Catastrophe Living.
Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. Kristin Neff has defined self-compassion as being composed of three main elements – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.Self-kindness: Self-compassion entails being warm towards oneself when encountering pain and personal shortcomings, rather than ignoring them or hurting oneself with self-criticism. Common humanity: Self-compassion also involves recognizing that suffering and personal failure is part of the shared human experience rather than isolating. Mindfulness: Self-compassion requires taking a balanced approach to one’s negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. Negative thoughts and emotions are observed with openness, so that they are held in mindful awareness. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which individuals observe their thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. Conversely, mindfulness requires that one not be “over-identified” with mental or emotional phenomena, so that one suffers aversive reactions. This latter type of response involves narrowly focusing and ruminating on one’s negative emotions.
Insight Dialogue is an interpersonal meditation practice that brings together meditative awareness, the wisdom teachings of the Buddha, and dialogue to support insight into the nature, causes, and release of human suffering. Six meditation instructions, or guidelines, form the core of the practice.
Peace Revolution is an online meditation platform aimed at young adults. The platform’s primary focus is on the teaching of Samatha meditation but is also involved in other activities and events related to mindfulness and peace-building. Although the platform has a secular orientation, it does draw on principles of Buddhism. Buddhist monks from Thailand are often invited to lead meditation and mindfulness activities.
Full Catastrophe Living
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness is a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn, first published in 1990, which describes the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center’s Stress Reduction Clinic. In addition to describing the content and background of MBSR, Kabat-Zinn describes scientific research showing the medical benefits of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), and lays out an approach to mind-body medicine emphasizing the depth of the interconnections between physical and mental health. The book has been called “one of the great classics of mind/body medicine”, and has been seen as a landmark in the development of the secular mindfulness movement in the United States and internationally.
Daniel Goleman is an author, psychologist and science journalist. For twelve years, he wrote for The New York Times, reporting on the brain and behavioral sciences. His 1995 book Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times Best Seller list for a year and a half, a best-seller in many countries, and is in print worldwide in 40 languages. Apart from his books on emotional intelligence, Goleman has written books on topics including self-deception, creativity, transparency, meditation, social and emotional learning, ecoliteracy and the ecological crisis, and the Dalai Lama’s vision for the future.
Choiceless awareness is posited in philosophy, psychology, and spirituality to be the state of unpremeditated, complete awareness of the present without preference, effort, or compulsion. The term was popularized in mid-20th century by Jiddu Krishnamurti, in whose philosophy it signifies a main theme. Similar or related concepts had been previously developed in several religious or spiritual traditions; the term or others like it has also been used to describe traditional and contemporary secular and religious meditation practices. By early 21st century, choiceless awareness as a concept or term had appeared in a variety of fields, including in neuroscience, therapy, sociology, and in art. However, Krishnamurti’s approach of the subject was unique, and differs from both prior and later notions.
British Association of Mindfulness-Based Approaches
The British Association of Mindfulness-Based Approaches (BAMBA) is a UK-based network of mindfulness organizations and teachers, which has been described as “the lead organisation overseeing the quality of mindfulness-based training in the UK.” Founded in 2005 as the UK Network of Mindfulness-Based Teacher Training Organisations, BAMBA’s original members were the mindfulness centers at the universities of Oxford, Bangor, and Exeter, as well as Breathworks CIC and NHS Scotland. The primary purpose of the organization is to support and develop good practice and integrity in the delivery of mindfulness-based approaches in the UK. It does this principally through the maintenance and dissemination of its Good Practice Guidelines, which provide a standards framework for its member organizations, and through the maintenance of a regulated list of accredited mindfulness teachers in the UK, who have been independently verified as having trained with a BAMBA member organization and as adhering to BAMBA Good Practice Guidelines. The independently verified teachers list has been called “an international first”, and BAMBA has been described as “the closest thing that currently exists to a regulatory body for mindfulness training” in the UK. As of June 2020, BAMBA had 25 member organizations.
The Breathworks Foundation is a registered charity in the United Kingdom that aims to broaden access to mindfulness and compassion training. It provides bursaries enabling people in financial hardship to access the programs of Breathworks CIC, develops partnerships with charities and community groups to expand the delivery of mindfulness training, and initiates research projects investigating the efficacy of Breathworks programs. It was founded by Vidyamala Burch and is advised by a group of academic experts.
Mindfulness-based pain management
Mindfulness-based pain management (MBPM) is a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) providing specific applications for people living with chronic pain and illness. Adapting the core concepts and practices of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), MBPM includes a distinctive emphasis on the practice of ‘loving-kindness’, and has been seen as sensitive to concerns about removing mindfulness teaching from its original ethical framework. It was developed by Vidyamala Burch and is delivered through the programs of Breathworks. It has been subject to a range of clinical studies demonstrating its effectiveness.
Sigmar Berg is an American entrepreneur, artist, photographer, and fashion designer best known for the Lovetuner, a mindfulness meditation tool that supposedly claims to bring personal healing to the user via the 528 hz frequency, also known as the love frequency. Berg is also the founder of +Beryll, a luxury accessory company that specializes in designer sunglasses and other lifestyle accessories.
Susan Kaiser Greenland
Susan Kaiser Greenland(born October 1, 1956) is an American author and teacher of mindfulness and meditation, practicing a state of present-moment awareness to develop overall attentiveness and social/emotional skills. Susan played a foundational role in making mindfulness practices developmentally appropriate for young people, and with her first book The Mindful Child she helped pioneer activity-based mindfulness. This technique is now practiced in American schools throughout the country to help children learn how to reduce and alleviate their stress levels.
Tamara Levitt is a Canadian author, mindfulness instructor, and voice-over artist most widely known as the narrator for the Calm app.
Andy Puddicombe is a British author, public speaker and a teacher of meditation and mindfulness. He, alongside Richard Pierson, is the co-founder of Headspace, a digital health company that provides guided meditation training and mindfulness for its users.
Occupational therapy in the management of seasonal affective disorder
Occupational therapy is used to manage the issues caused by seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Occupational therapists assist with the management of SAD through the incorporation of a variety of healthcare disciplines into therapeutic practice. Potential patients with SAD are assessed, treated and evaluated primarily using treatments such as drug therapies, light therapies, and psychological therapies. Therapists are often involved in designing an individualised treatment plan that most effectively meets the client’s goals and needs around their responsiveness to a variety of treatments.
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is an approach to communication based on principles of nonviolence. It is not a technique to end disagreements, but rather a method designed to increase empathy and improve the quality of life of those who utilize the method and the people around them. Nonviolent Communication evolved from concepts used in person-centered therapy, and was developed by clinical psychologist Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. There is a large ecosystem of workshops and clinical and self-help materials about NVC. Rosenberg’s book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, popular as a self-help book and psychotherapy textbook, is considered the authoritative text about the concept. Marshall Rosenberg also teaches NVC in a number of video lectures available online; the workshop recorded in San Francisco is the most well-known.
Karl E. Weick
Karl Edward Weick is an American organizational theorist who introduced the concepts of “loose coupling”, “mindfulness”, and “sensemaking” into organizational studies. He is the Rensis Likert Distinguished University Professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
Janice Marturano is an author, former vice president at General Mills, and founder and executive director of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, a non-profit organization that educates business and organizational employees on strengthening the fundamentals of leadership excellence through mindfulness meditation, contemplative leadership practices and their practical applications in the workplace.
Headspace, a subsidiary of Headspace Health, is an English-American online company, specializing in meditation. It was incorporated in May 2010 in London, England, by Andy Puddicombe and Richard Pierson. It is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, with offices in San Francisco and London.
Contemplative education is a philosophy of higher education that integrates introspection and experiential learning into academic study in order to support academic and social engagement, develop self-understanding as well as analytical and critical capacities, and cultivate skills for engaging constructively with others.
Christian de la Huerta
Christian de la Huerta is an author, public figure, spiritual and LGBTQ leader.
Cheryll Ann Maples was an American police officer, peace activist and dharma instructor, ordained by Thích Nhất Hạnh in January 2008. Maples died on July 27, 2017, aged 64, from complications of injuries sustained in a bicycle crash in September 2016.
Charles Halpern is a lawyer, activist, author, educator, and meditation practitioner. He also served as the founding dean of CUNY School of Law, and as a faculty member of various prominent law schools across the country.
Martin Stepek is a Scottish mindfulness teacher and campaigner, poet and author.