I've collected a few definitions from people accepted as experts on Z47 Instagram page, but actually there are many interpretations out there.
The origins of mindfulness date back to the early teachings of Buddhism from 2500 years ago.
Even though it's not easy to translate or define with one word, the famous discourse on mindfulness, The Satipatthana Sutta, roughly means "remembering what is present".
And the Buddha taught this art of “remembering the present to reduce human suffering. (Sounds dramatic? We'll explore the difference between pain VS suffering in mindfulness concext, until then please imagine the dramatic music while you're reading)
This ancient concept started becoming more popular due to many reasons like;
-->Globalization, travelling getting easier and cheaper
-->The rising interest in the esoteric traditions
-->The publication of Buddhist and mindfulness texts after the exile of Tibetan Buddhists with the Chinese occupation
That was the brief history, but who invented mindfulness as we know it is a completely different story.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a medical doctor and a Zen practitioner, once had a vision during a meditation, people were practicing mindfulness secularly. And he developed a program to help alleviate stress for people with chronic pain conditions.
Looking at statistics like this one I think we can say that his vision has become real :)
Since the introduction of mindfulness into the scientific setting, more and more studies have been conducted, from prominent universities like Oxford to neurology studies. Nowadays it is considered a great tool for wellbeing and mental health. And this kinda explains why it's everywhere!
If you search on Google, you'll probably find tons of content about mindfulness for anxiety, depression etc. Therapy models like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy have also gained recognition due to their effectiveness.
It's becoming one of those buzzwords everyone talks about, but actually the magic starts showing up with practice.
If you haven't experienced it, it can bring questions like: How to practice mindfulness?
or can even seem meaningless to you :D
From the perspective of Buddhism mindfulness can be practiced within a clearly defined framework like a formal practice or teaching. On the other hand a therapist can use it as a method in a session or give it as a homework.
You can learn mindfulness online from a meditation app, join a local meditation class or it can also be consumed daily like a little snack –actually I heard this expression from someone on a meditation retreat and loved it :)-
Actually I come across that the latter one is encouraged more by neurology and psychology experts. Because the mind is habitual, mindfulness is superpower against the habituation when applied often and regularly.
So, practically there are many ways to explore, I also tend to use it as an umbrella term.
But the technique is not rocket science and. It involves slowing down and a gentle curiosity to whatever is happening in the experience, whether through focused attention or open awareness.
The difference between focused attention and open awareness is a little bit like listening to music.
Let’s say I’m feeling somehow “alert”, and I'd like to practice mindfulness.
I can focus on breathing sensations in the body, which would be a focused attention practice, just like listening to only one instrument while the song is playing.
I can follow where my attention guides me. Finding the sensations in the body, the present emotions, the thoughts passing by or sticking around. which would be an open awareness practice, just like exploring different instruments one by one or together when the song is playing.
3 game-changer benefits of mindfulness
By gaining insight into our patterns of thinking and behavior, we can make more conscious choices.
By becoming more aware of our emotions and thoughts without judgment, we develop better emotional regulation skills.
Practicing mindfulness helps regulate the body's stress response system, reducing levels of stress hormones such as cortisol.
If you’re into exploring the scientific based benefits of mindfulness, Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson can be an incredible manual book for your journey.
With Z47 activities, our purpose is allow more ease, joy, and freedom into daily life by exploring being present with a gentle and playful curiosity in movement, meditation, games, and workshops etc.