Once, I was about to speak to many people, in a corporate environment, about Mindfulness. Someone in the audience raised their hand just as I had presented myself. I stopped and asked them what did they wanted to add.
—This is not one of the meditation-type thingies, right? The person asked me.
—I’m afraid it is, I answered as honestly as I could.
—Oh, I thought it was an affirmation-and-prayer thing; the person told me and got up to leave.
This is the first time I crashed against that dragon, the amorphous nature of the term Mindfulness. I’m not the first one: scholars like Chiesa or McMahan have stumbled onto the same issue. So, as a brief definition, I wanted to propose a quick definition of what Mindfulness is:
Mindfulness is a systemic, organized management of attention and awareness through meditation that stems from Buddhist techniques and focuses on emotions, physical sensations, thoughts, or a combination of those three elements.
So, why is it a system, organized management of attention and awareness?
Because you’re not letting things happen at random. Usually, within the mindfulness techniques, you restrict awareness to a particular sphere of inputs. If you’re focusing on your thoughts, for example, even if the instruction is ‘watch your thoughts come and go as clouds in the sky’, you are not focusing on your body.
Why do I restrict this definition to those that came from Buddhist meditation techniques?
Because most Mindfulness today, especially in the corporate world, is based on John Kabat-Zin’s MBSR program. This program is a medical adaptation of the Vipassana approach to Buddhism. If you have ever done a body scanning, a mountain visualization, Mindful Eating, Mindful Movements, etc, you have just done the same technique that Buddhists have been doing for the last 2.500 years, in a different context.
And why do I put this three focuses (four, if you mix them) on emotions, physical sensations and thoughts? Where is our spirit, our self?
Well… in neither Buddhism nor in cognitive psychology, there is a category like a capital-S Self or spirit. Since Mindfulness’ conceptual framework is Buddhist or Psychology-based, any technique or meditation that is called mindful will inherit one of those two frameworks.
Does that mean that spirituality has no place in a mindful practice? No, not at all. But once spirituality and religion enter the picture, we move away from scientific, corporate approaches to Mindfulness towards religious and/or spiritual practice.
Does this definition make sense to you?
Please let me know in the comments below.
#mindfulness #corporatemindfulness #meditation
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