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Buddhism: Mindfulness


By Newagemag.com - 5/16/2013

The Tian Tan Buddha in Hong Kong
  Photo Credit: rnl / Shutterstock.com

Mindfulness is one of those trendy concepts embraced by CEOs and psychologists alike, but don't be too hasty to dismiss it as a fad. The original practice of mindfulness and the theory behind it comes from the Buddha, who named it in the Eightfold Path to enlightenment and placed it at the very centre of what became known as Buddhism.

Much of our lives is spent on autopilot. We tend to dwell on the past or worry about the future, spending only a little time in the present moment. Escaping from the present is often our way to deal with difficult situations. We like distracting ourselves in front of the TV to avoid thinking about a difficult situation at work. Even when we're happy we distract ourselves with worries that this happiness might not last. According to the Buddha, these distractions cause suffering.

Mindfulness focuses on becoming aware of the present moment and accepting thoughts and feelings just as they are. Rather than escaping our problems, we learn to accept them and practice living with them. By being mindful of every moment, we can learn to differentiate between our thoughts, feelings and physical impressions. That allows us to accept them for what they truly are rather than criticizing or judging them.

There are many reasons mindfulness has become such a popular concept within Western medicine. Regular practice of mindfulness can effectively deal with stress, depression and anxiety, as well as boost creativity and productivity. Schools practicing mindfulness have seen an increase in student self-esteem and performance. One study even shows that mindfulness can make you smarter.

Practicing mindfulness is different to meditation in the sense that it requires you to pay attention to the present rather than to escape it. You're not asked to sit in a certain way or think of some mantra. Instead you are made to become aware of what goes on in your body and in your mind.

You can also practice mindfulness as part of your daily routine. Pick an activity and make yourself aware of every movement you make while performing it. While walking, become aware of your feet against the ground and the rhythm of your breathing. Even sitting here, reading this article, you can make yourself aware of the moment and focus on your thoughts and feelings.

Mindfulness teaches us to be present in any moment. That can help us to become more in tune with what goes on around us and help us enjoy life more fully. In today's busy environment with clutter from internet, the TV, the news, it's no wonder such a practice has become popular. Mindfulness is much more than a fad, it is another valuable lesson of Buddhism.


 








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