“Maybe the word “mindfulness” is like the Prius emblem, a badge of enlightened and self-satisfied consumerism, and of success and achievement…No one word, however shiny, however intriguingly Eastern, however bolstered by science, can ever fix the human condition. And that’s what commercial mindfulness may have lost from the most rigorous Buddhist tenets it replaced: the implication that suffering cannot be escaped but must be faced. Of that shift in meaning — in the Westernization of sati — we should be especially mindful.” ~VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN
Here I am this morning, preparing to share the practices with a group at our local law school, when this New York Times article pops up in my newsfeed!
When introducing mindfulness to the uninitiated, I am always clear about distinguishing its Buddhist origins–as an energy, a skill, a virtue among many others (like compassion, empathetic joy, trust, equanimity and loving-kindness) that we cultivate within our larger spiritual discipline–from its application as a secular/clinical “technique.”
For practitioners, it is not a trendy tool for self-improvement and is more than just a style of meditation. It is a vital foundation for living. How we think, speak, behave, and engage the world is filtered through the gates of mindfulness. It is one of the 5 Spiritual Faculties (or Powers) that we nourish alongside of trust, diligent effort, concentration and wisdom.
One does not have to become a Buddhist to authentically cultivate mindfulness. Yet many are concerned that as it becomes “sanitized” and popularized, it can also be mis-used and cause harm when not framed within the context of offering a deeper understanding of the teachings (i.e. The Foundations of Mindfulness/Satipatthana Sutta) and community-centered practice of Buddhism.
May all who integrate mindfulness benefit from it and may the fruits of their efforts benefit others.
Read the full article here:
The Muddied Meaning of Mindfulness