Ever since I have embarked on the journey of *Secular Mindfulness, I never wish I had to turn back and change my past. It has created a deep sense of flow and internal freedom. Freedom from wanting things to turn out exactly the way I want it, freedom from having the need to have things done in certain way before I am satisfied, freedom from having the desire to have people giving me the type of response that I want, freedom from pushing others and myself to the maximum, not considering whether they are ready or not, freedom from worrying about saying or not saying, doing or not doing. These are just a few.
There is more ease, softness, a deeper sense of satisfaction and appreciation for whatever unfolds every moment. A simple action of drinking water, eating a meal, looking at the sky, breathing, interacting with others (whether they are my best friends, family members, pets) allow me to feel so blessed to just be here.
These are just some of the benefits of mindfulness from my experience. In your own journey, you will have your own set of discoveries… getting to understand yourself, gaining precious insights about life, feeling a sense of psychological freedom, feeling peaceful and joyful and having to get it from anything outside of you.
Google benefit of mindfulness and you will tons of research into it and its scientific benefits – articles such as HelpGuide, journals, research papers, books such as Full-Castastrophe Living , or even apps such as Headspace
Okay, so… What is Secular Mindfulness?
First, let’s address some of the ambiguity around the concept of mindfulness.
In my interactions with some people, I have heard them say:
“I am mindful not to show my angry or to fight back when my mom said and do things that trigger me.”
“I am mindful to hold my tongue when I hear where the conversations in the group was going.”
“The mother needs to be mindful to help her child travel the escalator safely, watching to ensure she uses it properly.”
“The parents are not mindful as their child is causing disturbance and disruption and they are not doing anything about it.”
“Mindful means emptying the mind and focus on nothing”
“Mindful means decluttering and the mind is not filled with many thoughts.”
Well… mindful is not about being careful and the right way to say, act or behave. Neither is it about getting the result of nothingness.
I see... then what exactly is it?
Originally founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn, secular mindfulness is the awareness that emerged through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment (Kabat-Zinn 2003).
The concept comprises of basically 4As:
- Attention – where we focus or put our energy on
- Awareness – recognizing, consciously able to identify, present in mind, emotions and body
- Acceptance – open, non-judging, non-attaching
- Action – behaving and acting in ways that do not cause harm to self or others
In simple layman terms, it is this:
The ability to know what is happening in your head at any given moment without getting carried away by it.
Hence, using the above examples given again… let’s revisit how the mindfulness concept is embraced, it is:
“I notice the heat from my stomach and am curious about my anger when some parts of me gets triggered by my mom’s words. I allow the anger to dissipate and I share with my mom how I felt and have a conversation to understand her perspective.”
“I am aware of my emotions and my thoughts that led to those emotions. I acknowledge my feelings that it is ok and sit through them honestly with trust and patience. As for the group, I spoke in ways that include both their and my needs.”
“The mother notices her own needs plus her child’s needs and provides space for fulfilling that. And aware of the importance to use the escalator with care, she shares how to do so with the child and together use it safely.”
“The parents observes their children and check in with them on their needs and also to get them to observe the needs of the people in shared space. Providing space for their kids, they also guide them into where & how to express constructively and safely.”
“Mindful means allowing for thoughts to come and go without getting involved in the content.”
“Mindful means providing space for thoughts to flow, without pursuing or rejecting them.”
Who is suitable to learn Mindfulness?
It is generally safe and best practiced under the guidance of a trained and experienced professional.
*Secular Mindfulness is not connected with religious or spiritual matters. Neither is it subjected to or bound by religious rule or some monastic or other order (Center for Mindfulness)
Nothing beats experiencing mindfulness first-hand. If you want to embody mindfulness in your way of being, do consider learning and practising an 8-week Mindfulness Programme. Having a trained facilitator who embodies the concept of mindfulness and who can provide guided instructional training (according to Industry Standards) is also critical. One of the established bodies for Mindfulness is IMTA (Institute of Mindfulness Teachers’ Association).