The word Mindfulness, as the image shows, has many other meanings and implications. In any case it represents a capacity (or rather, a new way of organizing together existing mental abilities) that belongs to all human beings. Intentionally develop this ability implies, for anyone who engages in this path, great benefits from many points of view. And the reason is simple: the change induced by the development of Mindfulness acts on the ways in which we relate to reality, meaning the relationship with ourselves and with the environment and the people around us.
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The MBSR course
In the 70 Jon Kabat-Zinn, an American researcher student of the Nobel prize for medicine Salvador Luria, practiced meditation since he was studying biology at MIT. One day he wondered whether was possible to bring the benefits of meditation to patients of the hospital where he worked, but without spiritual or religious implications to which meditation was associated. Thus were born the research that led him, in 1979, to define the protocol MBSR - Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Structured as a course, lasting eight weeks, it began to have an unexpected success so much that, in a few years, it has spread in most US hospitals.
The scientific studies
Another remarkable achievement of the intuition of Jon Kabat-Zinn was to bring in the scientific and academic environment (the original hospital was in a medical school) the experience of mental transformation inspired by the ancient Buddhist traditions. The success of its protocol, the fast positive evolution of patients considered incurable, were enough to bring down the mistrust towards these traditions. Slowly some researchers, as well as Kabat-Zinn, began to study scientifically what happens in humans as they develop awareness, getting brighter and often surprising results, at least for the official medicine. The number of publications in this area since the 80s until today has an exponential trend, evidence that a true new front of research is opened, which is bringing new light on the knowledge of human beings.
The various level of Mindfulness
If, on one hand, we have a growing interest of Western psychology for meditation practices through the MBSR protocol and all the others that are derived from it, on the other hand has started in the East, from the middle of the last century, a movement of opening and renewal that is undergoing Buddhist traditions. This has enabled a multitude of lay people around the world to access the meditation practices passed on in the past and to discover a spiritual richness traditionally associated with specific prospects of life and specific cultural and philosophical meanings. Now the Western approach, both that of the Protocols, and the secular, raises concerns that the very essence of these ancient practices can be denatured, intentionally or out of ignorance, and exploited so inappropriate and unwise.
What to do practically
First, take a deep breath! Then, based on what we feel inside, we can move towards access courses to Mindfulness, such as MBSR, or try directly with meditation looking for a practice group near us. Today, in fact, the difficulty can be to choose among the many proposals that refer to Mindfulness: proposals of all types, heterogeneous, often imaginative and eye-catching, that promise immediate results. But meditation is not a method to relax, nor a psychological technique to earn a state of well-being. It's an experience to live, which requires perseverance and commitment and, above all, a proper counselor. So besides to evaluate the contents of the suggested path, it is important to assess the quality of the Mindfulness mentor and the goodness of its reasons.