Mindfulness is focusing on the present moment and accepting everything that goes along with it. This includes all thoughts, feelings and other sensations. Mindfulness is all about deliberately paying attention to this moment in time in a nonjudgmental way.
It’s not a new practice, but it’s growing in popularity. While there are many people who have contributed to teaching about mindfulness, two of the most important are Thích Nhất Hạnh and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Thích Nhất Hạnh and Mindfulness
Thích Nhất Hạnh is a key teacher of mindfulness and a global spiritual leader. He’s known by some as “The Father of Mindfulness,” and his life has been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of both individuals and communities. His teachings reflect that we can learn to live happily in the present moment by using the practice of mindfulness.
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To be mindful is to be fully alive and present with the people around you. Thích Nhất Hạnh teaches that mindfulness should be practiced during all of your activities throughout the day, whether you’re working, driving, walking, eating or interacting with others. The goal is to bring the body and the mind into harmony.
His approach is rooted in Buddhist teachings. He advocates focusing on the breath while sitting quietly, gradually increasing the amount of time this is done. This practice can be continued while walking and expanded to include other activities.
When your mind is caught up in worries, regrets, anger or fear of what’s to come, you aren’t fully present in the here and now. According to Thích Nhất Hạnh, mindfulness practice should be effortless and peaceful. It’s not something that should have to be forced but a practice that can bring you joy and inner peace. Using his approach, mindfulness should be practiced with a relaxed and gentle attitude and with a completely open mind.
The Teachings of Jon Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction. His research has shown that mindfulness-based interventions can improve both mental and physical health. He has worked to bring mindfulness into the mainstream of society, including schools, prisons and hospitals.
During his career, Jon Kabat-Zinn has produced books and meditation programs that describe mindfulness in clear, easy-to-understand terms that are more based on science than spirituality. This has contributed to mindfulness becoming a way of life for many people, particularly in the Western world.
He has also used his mindfulness teachings to help people struggling with stress-related disorders or chronic pain as a method to reduce uncomfortable symptoms. Using moment-to-moment awareness, people with painful medical conditions and psychiatric problems can improve their abilities to cope with stress and pain.
Comparing Thích Nhất Hạnh and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Both Thích Nhất Hạnh and Jon Kabat-Zinn have made important contributions to the understanding and practical use of mindfulness in day-to-day life. While Thích Nhất Hạnh’s teachings are more focused on quiet, reflective spiritual practices rooted in Buddhism, John Kabat-Zinn has brought mindfulness to the attention of the mainstream, and his approach is more scientific and less spiritually-based. This scientific approach has included teaching mindfulness to very different groups of people including CEOs, business leaders, chronically ill patients, and prisoners.
Both of these experts have made important contributions to the understanding of meditation and mindfulness. Each brings the practice of mindfulness to the attention of a variety of groups of people. The practice of mindfulness can be beneficial whether you’re comfortable with sitting in reflective silence or looking for a method of coping with and healing from illness and pain.
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