People throw the word “mindfulness” about these days as a panacea for almost every possible trouble from pain to high blood pressure to psoriasis. For many people, mindfulness does indeed offer an effective solution for an array of practical challenges. Research backs up its potency too, in studies conducted with participants who have received bona fide mindfulness training.
More and more, people view mindfulness as a self-help technique, entirely divorced from its origin or ultimate purpose. This single word describes a spectrum of awareness training used in such oddly different places as the military and law enforcement, elementary schools, health care settings, cognitive behavioral therapy, and traditional Buddhist centers.
This concerns me because secular mindfulness typically differs from traditional mindfulness in significant ways. The modern world has appropriated the word “mindfulness,” just like it swallowed up the word “zen,” which originally contained such profound meaning.