Mindfulness, a Buddhist practice often misunderstood
In the last years, the word “mindfulness” has gained great traction in many areas of esoteric practices, wellness retreats, psychological practices, mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) day-to-day talks. For me it became like an empty phrase, a catchword, or cliché; not unlike “Soulmate”, or “Spiritual”.
While the practice of “Mindfulness” has a deep root in the life of a Buddhist, it is in the end only one of 8 practices of the “8-fold path”.
I do believe there is a great discrepancy in how the West adopted the Mindfulness practices and the ethos and on how to implement them. And I get it the East is not the West and indeed certain practices are difficult to follow for us in the West, let alone fully understand them in its full depth. MBPs have built a good foundation to bridge the different worlds, but in practice, I do believe that we would need to look more at the Ethos of the original practices of “Mindfulness” and find adoption of them.
For example, the Ethos of the MBP pedagogy is the focus on the process. Most practitioners are more focused on the outcome.
Another example is the Ethos of the MBP pedagogy which emphasizes sensing experiencing. Practitioners emphasize on the other hand more the creation of an abstract, an image.
This will ultimately divert from the deepest and most profound experience someone can have.
And these are just 2 examples.
Mindfulness principles are multilayered or intervened that they are in ways codependent. Practicing one, connects with one or more of the other principles, we can also call them attitudes if you want.
However Patience is for example one that connects with all others. Then there is non-Judgment, Trust, Acceptance, Letting Go, Open-Mind (Mind of a child), and finally non-Striving.
For many Western practitioners that is very difficult to attain, as it does have an effect on our entire being and brings a profound change in so many aspects that they often do not become desirable, because we have an image formed already of who we want to become, let alone of who we are.
I also understand that a contemporary version of the original Buddhist practice of Mindfulness for the Western world is needed, nonetheless can only the full understanding of the Mindfulness practice allows a practitioner to make an educated choice.
There is no right or wrong in practicing mindfulness, but we do not become a Buddhist just because we practice mindfulness.
It`s a bit like:
Question of one to another in the Center of a central European town: “Did you ever eat Chinese food?”
“Yes, of course, I eat Chinese almost once a week!”
A common answer, and yes we almost all did eat at a Chinese restaurant, but was it really Chinese or just a Version of Chinese that was adjusted to the taste of Europeans?
If we ever were to go to China, many of the dishes we know won`t be found or taste very different to what we know.
This might not came as a surprise, but it is the same with the Buddhist way of attaining “Enlightenment”.
We need to be aware that our practices are a Version of a practice. If we know the difference, we can decide what we really want, otherwise, we are ridding ourselves of a choice. And it may be a life-changing one.
Understanding the difference will maybe also help us to not overuse catchwords, empty phrase or create new clichés.
Come Let`s Talk about it