Modernity and Mindfulness

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

There is a various definition of mindfulness which causes a bit of confusion what really is mindfulness.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, Mindfulness is a practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” It means awareness of self, to live in a present moment, experiencing the experience sort of like phenomenology. Prerequisite for mindfulness is to open our self to experiential learning, implementation of knowledge is required to gain experiential learning.

According to Wikipedia “Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.”

Purpose of Mindfulness

Purpose of mindfulness meditation is to bring awareness to self, to achieve peace of mind, To reduce the effect of negative experiences of life, coping strategies such as meditation to enhance psychological and spiritual well-being and to reduce stress and spiritual cultivation.

The motivation for mindfulness may vary from person to person. Some are interested in the cultivation of spirituality while others do not want to associate themselves to any particular religious or spiritual practices. Mindfulness practices are usually taught in a religious context such as in Buddhism or in Islamic context Sufism.

The common assumption is that mindfulness originated from the Buddhist tradition, but many are unaware of meditation practices emphasized in Islamic spirituality called “Dhikr or Remembrance”

Dikhr is taught by Sufi practitioners, sages and spiritual masters to enhance psychological and spiritual well-being. Both Dikhr in Islamic context and mindfulness in the Buddhist context share similarity of purpose but very distinct in their goal. In the Islamic context, Sufi mindful practice emphasized knowledge to create a spiritual disciple which leads to transformation of self rather than losing oneself in the world. Better adaptation to the challenges of the world, coping with suffering constructively, thriving rather than merely surviving.

Lack of interest in the Spiritual discipline:

Modern-day mindfulness practices are developed for people who are interested in mindfulness but they are not interested in the spiritual discipline at all. The reason for this lack of interest is because spiritual progress cannot be measured. It is not evidence-based, so the absence of scientific data or reasoning repel people from spiritual discipline or religious practices in general. We live in an age where everything is scientific in nature and materialistic, it has to be analyzed, observed and measured in the lab.

How can we really measure spirituality?

Therefore, people deny any relationship mindfulness may have with Eastern Spiritual Practices (ESP) whether in the context of Islam or Buddhism. Which I am sure mindfulness is not limited to teachings of Buddhists or Sufis, It is a spiritual discipline but modernity is hesitant to call it spiritual rather a mindful practice that enhances mental and psychological well-being. With this specific goal, mindfulness programs are created that are research-based for Practitioners. Modern Mindfulness Practitioner (MMP) motivation may be strictly scientific rather than spiritual development or wisdom of life that comes with spiritual discipline. Which takes our mind away from trivial matters of life that induce stress and anxiety. There is an interconnectedness between mindfulness and Eastern Spiritual Philosophy and practices that cannot be denied. Therefore, by denying this interconnectedness a modern-day MMP will limit themselves to scientific research.

Modern Mindfulness Practitioner (MMP) motivation may be strictly scientific rather than spiritual development or wisdom of life that comes with strict spiritual discipline. Which takes our mind away from trivial matters of life that induce stress and anxiety. So there is an interconnectedness between mindfulness and Eastern Spiritual Philosophy and practices. Therefore, by denying this interconnectedness a modern-day MMP will limit themselves to scientific research.

In my experience working with clients both religious and non-religious, it is critical to combine mindfulness with evidence-based — research and spiritual practices. In the field of Education, we were taught to be culturally sensitive but in the field of Psychology, it is critical to be spiritually sensitive. Because sometimes clients come with complex issues of life such as existential crisis or issues associated with faith and belief. The practitioner has to be sensitive towards such challenging life issues or ultimate concern of human life while using mindfulness as a therapeutic approach in psychotherapy, counseling and Life coaching practice.

At Transformation Life Coaching & Counseling, I have integrated Spirituality, faith, and religion with evidence-based Positive Psychology intervention approach, it is a holistic approach that leads to psychological and spiritual well-being. As a trained Existential well-being practitioner I have experienced that even if a client is not associated with any religion, there are always existential issues that need to be addressed such as free will, personal responsibility, the purpose of life and death.