Mindfulness has been practiced for millennia in the East. It is principally a Buddhist tradition although meditation is described by all major religions and incorporated into many non-faith philosophies.
In order to understand how mindfulness is described in the Buddhist tradition you need to be aware of:
1. The Four Noble Truths
2. The Noble Eightfold Path
3. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness
In Buddhism there are Four Noble Truths:
1. The truth of suffering. (As in, life can be a bit tricky).
2. The truth of the origin of suffering. (Man creates his own suffering when he does not approach life mindfully.)
3. The truth of the cessation of suffering. (It is possible to transcend suffering through a mindful approach to life.)
4. The truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering. (The map out of suffering is called the Noble Eightfold Path)
The Noble Eightfold Path:
1. Right view
2. Right intention
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration
Here the word ‘Right’ does not mean correct but is somewhat closer in meaning to ‘harmonic’ or ‘resonant’. What the path seeks therefore is alignment between who you are and everything you do and be in your lifetime. Following the path is therefore a life’s work.
At number 7 we see the entry Right Mindfulness. Buddha taught that the entry point to mindfulness was awareness of the breath. He then suggested the following foundational practices:
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness:
1. Mindfulness of the body.
2. Mindfulness of feelings (or sensations).
3. Mindfulness of mind (or consciousness).
4. Mindfulness of mental phenomena (eg sense of self, purpose).
Although mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist tradition, it can be practiced by anyone of any faith or religion. Modern mindfulness is therefore a secular practice.