What is the difference between mindfulness as it’s used in secular mindfulness-based courses and as it’s used in a Buddhist context? Not so much, I think. Most Buddhists will feel familiar with the practice of cultivating awareness through a regular meditation practice—sitting, walking, lying down—and working with mindfulness in everyday activities like eating, working, relating with others and so on. And this is also what’s practiced on a secular mindfulness course (at least in the MBSR model). So, the practices themselves are likely to be quite similar. What may be different is the context and framework—whereas mindfulness in Buddhism is one aspect of the eightfold path, it is the primary explicit teaching in a secular mindfulness course. Having said that, the attitudes towards practice that people learn on a mindfulness course are generally very consistent with what is taught in most Buddhist contexts—gentleness, openness, loving-kindness, a certain kind of effort and a certain kind of letting go—as is the shared notion that people are basically good and that our practice is a means to uncover an innate wisdom that we can use to work skillfully with our life situations. Many mindfulness teachers (at least up till now) have a Buddhist background and work to embody these qualities in themselves, and in so far as they’ve managed this, they will naturally transmit these qualities to their course participants, implicitly if not explicitly. It will be interesting to see if this changes as more people come to practice and teach mindfulness who don’t have a Buddhist background.
Excerpt from a great article.. The Mindfulness Manifesto.
- Evidence supports health benefits of ‘Mindfulness-based practices’ (sciencedaily.com)
- Buddhism: Science of the Mind (bigthink.com)
- Truths, Noble and Ignoble (tibetanaltar.blogspot.com)
- Spiritual Vernacular – Part III (celebrationofnow.com)
- Sanitizing of Buddhism, Buddhists and erasing Sangha in America by Elitists (buddhafolk.wordpress.com)
- Taiwan’s First Gay, Buddhist Wedding (towleroad.com)
- Evidence Supports Health Benefits of ‘Mindfulness-Based Practices’ (tricitypsychology.com)
- The Dalai Lama’s Reflections on the Realistic Approach of Buddhism: Talks to Former Dharamsala Residents from the West – Part Four: Western Society from a Buddhist Perspective (BerzinArchives.com)