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Godfather of Modern Mindfulness

Mindfulness is defined as a form of awareness of the present moment. Meditation and breathing exercises are among the techniques that can bring about this heightened awareness.

There are overlaps between mindfulness, meditation and yoga, which can be confusing. Some centres offer versions of all three, while some specialise in one area.

Parents in Singapore are beginning to embrace mindfulness practice to enhance their children learning abilities as reported by ST article below:

Kabat-Zinn has defined mindfulness meditation as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”. By focusing on the breath, the idea is to cultivate attention on the body and mind as it is moment to moment, and so help with pain, both physical and emotional.

The man now considered the godfather of modern mindfulness was a graduate student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

He started meditating while studying molecular biology at MIT in 1965 when a talk by Zen Buddhist Philip Kapleau “took the top off my head”. In 1979, married with children and working at the University of Massachusetts medical school, he had a 10-second “vision” on a meditation retreat in the woods 80 miles west of Boston. “I saw in a flash not only a model that could be put in place, but also the long-term implications,” he says.

With others, he pioneered an eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction course at the University of Massachusetts Medical School for patients with chronic pain, harnessing the fundamentals of mindfulness meditation as taught by the Buddha, but with the Buddhism taken out. “I bent over backwards to structure it and find ways to speak about it that avoided as much as possible the risk of it being seen as Buddhist, new age, eastern mysticism or just plain flakey,” he says.

Have you heard of MBCT (Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy)?

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has been shown to be at least as effective as antidepressants at preventing relapse and, in a two-year trial by Willem Kuyken’s team, 44% of the MBCT cohort relapsed compared with 47% on pills. In one trial of 173 people, it was also found to reduce the severity of current depression, with an average 37% reduction in symptoms. It is being taught widely in the private sector with qualified MBCT teachers delivering courses in parish halls, workplaces and beyond.

“The science of meditation is in its infancy,” Kabat-Zinn says. “We need decades more study. People talk about artificial intelligence and machine learning, but we haven’t scratched the surface of what human intelligence is really all about.”

Read more about mindfulness and Master of modern mindfulness below:


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