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What do people say about mindfulness?


"In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the experts there are few."

Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi

mindful adj 1 : bearing in mind : AWARE 2 : inclined to be aware

aware adj [ME iwar, fr. OE gawær, fr. ge- (associative prefix) + wær wary more at CO-, WARY] 1 archaic : WATCHFUL, WARY  2 : having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge -- awareness n

syn AWARE,COGNIZANT, CONSCIOUS, SENSIBLE, ALIVE, AWAKE all mean having knowledge of something. AWARE implies vigilance in observing or alertness in drawing inferences from what one experiences; COGNIZANT implies having special or certain knowledge as from first hand sources; CONSCIOUS implies that one is focusing one's attention on something or is even preoccupied by it; SENSIBLE implies direct or intuitive perceiving esp. of intangibles or of emotional states or qualities; ALIVE adds to SENSIBLE the implication of acute sensitivity to something; AWAKE implies that one has become alive to something and is on the alert.

Typical Dictionary Definition

"Mindfulness ensures that whatever you do will be done to the best of your ability. You can develop mindfulness by concentrating your clarity and intelligence on your work. Simply observe how you go about doing a simple task. How do you begin? How do you proceed? Do you actually understand what you want to do? Are you looking ahead to where this task will take you? Consider the effects of your actions from a broad perspective while observing every detail of what you do. Are you aware of the effects of each step you perform?
               "As you develop mindfulness, you become able to observe how lapses in awareness affect the rhythm and tone of your work. When you work with mindfulness, your movements are fluid and graceful, your thoughts clear and well-organized, and your efforts effective. Because you are deeply in tune with each stage of your work and the consequences of each action, you are even able to predict your results. You become aware of the motivation underlying your actions and learn to catch any tendency to forget or make mistakes. As you grow skilled at being mindful, you can penetrate to a profound understanding of yourself and your actions."

Tarthang Tulku, Rimpoche

". . . mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness. It is cultivated by purposefully paying attention to things we ordinarily never give a moment's thought to. It is a systematic approach to developing new kinds of control and wisdom in our lives, based on our inner capacities for relaxation, paying attention, awareness, and insight."

John Kabat-Zinn, Psychologist

"Mindfulness is . . . . the process of drawing novel distinctions. . . . Actively drawing these distinctions keeps us situated in the present. It also makes us more aware of the context and perspective of our actions than if we rely upon distinctions and categories drawn in the past. Under this latter situation, rules and routines are more likely to govern our behavior. The process of drawing novel distinctions can lead to a number of diver4se consequences, including (1) a greater sensitivity to one's environment, (2) more openness to new information, (3) the creation of new categories for structuring perception, and (4) enhanced awareness of multiple perspectives in problem solving. The subjectinve "feel" of mindfulness is that of a heightened state of involvement and wakefulness of being in the present. This subjective state is the inherent common thread that ties together the extremely diverse observable consequences for the viewer. Mindfulness is not a cold cognitive process. When one is actively drawing novel distinctions, the whole individual is involved."

Ellen J. Langer and Mihnea Moldoveanu. "The Construct of Mindfulness" in Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 56, No. 1, 2000, pp. 1-9.

"Mindfulness means creating new categories, welcoming new information, tolerating more than one view. It also means letting go of the demand for categories, disassociating from the craving for information, detaching from the need for a point of view. Mindfulness means present moment appreciation of our inner states of being and the world around us."

Claude Whitmyer in Mindfulness and Meaningful Work: Explorations in Right Livelihood, Parallax Press, 1994.

Everyone under heaven says my Tao is great
and resembles nothing else.
It is because it is great that it seems different.
If it were like anything on earth
it would have been small from the beginning.

I have three treasures that I cherish and hold fast.
The first is gentleness,
the second is simplicity,
the third is daring not to be first
among all things under heaven.
Because of gentleness I am able to be courageous.
Because of simplicity I am able to be generous.
Because of daring not to be the first
I am able to lead.

If people forsake gentleness
           and attempt to be courageous,
forsake simplicity
          and attempt to be generous,
forsake the last place
          and attempt to get the first place,
this is certain death.

Gentleness conquers in battle
          and protects in defence.
What heaven guards,
          it arms with the gift of gentleness.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 67

More of what people say about mindfulness:

Check out an account about mindfulness from the popular press.

Another from Public Television.

Check out The Mindful Manifesto.