History of Mindfulness: From East to West and Religion to Science - Deepstash
History of Mindfulness: From East to West and Religion to Science

History of Mindfulness: From East to West and Religion to Science

Curated from: positivepsychology.com

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The History of Mindfulness

The History of Mindfulness

People have been practising mindfulness for thousands of years.

Mindfulness was popularised in the East by religious and spiritual institutions.

The popularity of mindfulness in the West is rooted in Buddhist and Hindu traditions and can be traced to particular people and secular institutions.


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A Brief History of Hinduism

A Brief History of Hinduism

Hinduism is widely considered to be the oldest religion in the world. It initially arose as a synthesis of many religious traditions around the historical region that now makes up India. Then, in the 1800s, British writers started calling Vedic traditions Hinduism.

The earliest traditions, which have since been incorporated into Hinduism, arose more than 4,000 years ago in the Indus Valley- now Pakistan. These religious traditions continued to develop in Vedic writings 2,500-3,500 years ago, including rituals and the worship of gods common to modern-day Hinduism.


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A Short History of Buddhism

A Short History of Buddhism

Buddhism was founded around 400-500 B.C.E. by Siddhartha Gautama, who became referred to as the Buddha. Since the Buddha's lifetime, it has split into several different traditions, including Theravada Buddhism and Zen Buddhism.

Buddhism and Hinduism share many commonalities. One is they're both concerned with the concept of dharma - a way of life that is in harmony with the universe's natural order. Mindfulness (Sati) is considered to be the first step towards enlightenment.


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How Mindfulness Relates to Yoga

Some mindfulness meditation practices, such as the body scan, are very similar to yoga as they both involve awareness of one’s body.

The origin of yoga coincides with the origin of Hinduism, and the recent rise of yoga’s popularity in the West coincides with the rise of mindfulness. This underscores the intertwined nature of Buddhism, Hinduism, mindfulness, and yoga.


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How Mindfulness Moved From East to West

How Mindfulness Moved From East to West

Jon Kabat-Zinn was the biggest influence on bringing mindfulness from the East to the West.

Kabat-Zinn founded the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Oasis Institute for Mindfulness-Based Professional Education and Training. Here, he developed his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.

Kabat-Zinn learned about and studied mindfulness under several Buddhist teachers, including Thich Nhat Hanh, which gave him an Eastern foundation in mindfulness that he integrated with Western science.


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Mindfulness’ Role in (Positive) Psychology

Mindfulness’ Role in (Positive) Psychology

Mindfulness plays an important role in the greater field of psychology and positive psychology.

Mindfulness has become a tool for any practitioner’s toolbox. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) are used to treat a variety of patients. Mindfulness meditation is also used to increase an individual's level of well-being.


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Mindfulness Practice and Philosophy

  • Mindfulness could be a yoga practice that involves mindfulness
  • It might involve setting aside time for mindfulness meditation sessions
  • It could involve practising mindfulness during everyday activities, such as washing dishes.

Very few mindfulness traditions are based on restricting their teachings to an exclusive group. Therefore the versatility of mindfulness is the key part of the philosophy of mindfulness, whether it is practised religiously or in a secular matter.


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