The history of mindfulness can be traced back throughout religion and the historical practice of mindfulness has been found in all over the world.
It began in 1500 BCE in Hinduism under the context of yoga, Daoism since 6th c. BCE in qì gong exercise, and Buddhism in 535 BCE in terms of focusing on breathing. It was also found in Christian, Muslim, and Jewish practice. Now, mindfulness has been commonly used in clinical psychology with personality disorders, depression, anxiety, and pain (“Brief History of Mindfulness,” 2011).
In order to remember and recall the long texts, Brahmans had to concentrate and free their thoughts. This process eventually found its way into a form of meditation.
After Buddhism was established, the Buddhists adopted Sati and redefined it as both a type of memory and presence of mind (Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, 2015). Often in the texts we see mindfulness in the context of Sathipatthana, which is the contemplation of mind, body, feeling and principles (“Brief History of Mindfulness,” 2011).
In addition, mindfulness is one of the core elements of meditation.
“Do not rely on tradition, scripture, authority or philosophy. Only when you see for yourself that a practice leads to suffering or to wellbeing then you should either reject or accept it.”
From East to West
Meditation, in general, is the process of seeing our mind and learning to hold it. Surprisingly, it is much more popular in the West than in the East (Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, 2015).
One of the people who inspired the early practice of Buddism in the West was Thich Nhat Hanh. However, it was Jon Kabat-Zinn who took a scientific lens on Buddhist mindfulness and studied it at the Stress Reduction Clinic at UMass Medical School (Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, 2015).
According to the Buddhist doctrine, there are 2 ways to meditate. One way is “Samatha”, based on an early practice of meditation that involves calming the mind through mindful breathing. The second way is Vipassana, which involves meditation that brings you closer to finding meaning (“Brief History of Mindfulness,” 2011).
In contrast to the West, religion isn’t studied or questioned, it is seen as a matter of belief. However, when mindfulness was carried to the West, Jon Kabat-Zinn brought this traditional practice into the scientific world (Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, 2015).
Mindfulness was studied to see its effectiveness on cognition, emotion, and restlessness (Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, 2015).
In fact, psychologists’ interest grew when the Stress Reduction Clinic began to provide evidence of the role meditation plays on emotion regulation. More research was conducted and soon it became one of the main techniques used by practitioners to help clients reach metacognitive awareness: the awareness of the thought process.
The result from using Mindfulness, in either a scientific or religious form, is calmness. Both forms help you deal with emotional aspects, restless thoughts, and it makes you a more aware and compassionate person in return. Buddhist mindfulness practice, however, also promises you with more wisdom (“Brief History of Mindfulness,” 2011).
Buddhist Mindfulness: Videos
A Brief History of Mindfulness. (2011). Retrieved from https://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/a-brief-history-of-mindfulness/Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice. (2015).
The Centre For Mindfulness Research And Practice. Retrieved from http://www.bangor.ac.uk/mindfulness/buddhist.php.en