Psychologists and researchers are finding extraordinary results in people overcoming depression and anxiety, as well as creating an inner peace and happiness through mindfulness practice.
So what exactly is causing mindfulness, the ancient Buddhist practice, to benefit our health, psyche, and overall quality of life?
Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn asked the same question in the late 70’s and began applying mindful practice in a clinical setting to patients. His work showed substantial improvement in people suffering from pain, often of an acute nature. This lead to a collaborative research program with another scientist Richard Davidson.
It is important to say here that the Eastern traditions have been using this with great success and deep understanding for many thousands of years. Although they do not use western scientific methods to explain it or to advocate it, they have in-depth literature and practical measures of experiential evidence to show its effectiveness. Yoga for instance (not the postures, but the true yoga – meditation) is considered a science of the mind as is Buddhism.
It’s a bit like an eight month pregnant woman having to show a medical certificate to a government agency to prove she is pregnant! But, here we are in a reductionist western society, trying to prove traditional knowledge through a measured microscope – Sorry for the extraneous wandering here – I promise it was in non-judgemental awareness 🙂
So it is with blessings that contemporary science, health and philosophy experts are uncovering the healing and beneficial aspects of anchoring the mind in a concentrated state. And, considering the sophisticated view (of the Buddhists) of the mind and body being a natural system that can be transformed into optimal well-being. Measurably.
Be Here Now
“I think, therefore I am” – René Descartes
It is important here to understand what the mind is. I love that science and neurology are stepping up. But, is the mind located in the brain alone? Big one!
As Elanor Roche (Psychologist/researcher -university of California- Berkley) states:
“To try to isolate and manipulate single factors that actually operate only systemically is like killing a rabbit and dissecting it to look for its aliveness”
Let’s go the direct path – straight to the Dalia Lama. In his recent talk on ‘What is the Mind’ at Cambridge MA, USA, The Dalia Lama states this:
” In general, the mind can be defined as an entity that has the nature of mere experience, that is, “clarity and knowing.” It is the knowing nature, or agency, that is called mind, and this is non-material.
But, within the category of mind there are also gross levels, such as our sensory perceptions, which cannot function or even come into being without depending on physical organs like our senses. And within the category of the sixth consciousness, the mental consciousness, there are various divisions, or types of mental consciousness that are heavily dependent upon the physiological basis, our brain, for their arising.
These types of mind cannot be understood in isolation from their physiological bases.”
Let’s devour this into a delicious osmosis of Western succinct nutshellery, in the present moment – The mind is consciousness, whole to all it’s parts seen and unseen, unconscious and conscious.
This would lead into the middle path. The idea that mindfulness practice is relative to the whole of ourselves – mind, body and spirit. Spirit (or the unconscious) the part or wave that science has yet to grasp measurably. Yet, one that only practice or experience can bring us closer to.