7 Pillars of Mindfulness: A Guide to Cultivating Awareness

Learn about 7 essential attitudes for cultivating awareness through mindfulness: non-judgmental attitude, patience, beginner's mind trust lack of effort acceptance & abandonment.

7 Pillars of Mindfulness: A Guide to Cultivating Awareness

Mindfulness is a concept that has been around for centuries, and it has been gaining more and more attention in recent years. It brings to light principles that you can use and practice to achieve balance in your own life. In Full Catastrophe Living (1990), Jon Kabat-Zinn describes seven specific attitudes that form the basis of mindfulness. These attitudes are non-judgment, patience, beginner's mind, trust, lack of effort, acceptance and abandonment.

These attitudes are applied directly, moment by moment and day by day, as you cultivate and deepen mindfulness. They are mutually supportive and deeply interconnected. Practicing one will lead to the others. Your ability to promote these attitudes in your mindfulness practice will have a lot to do with your long-term success and your ability to calm your anxious mind.

To practice “not judging”, we must first realize the fact that we judge ourselves and others continuously and automatically. How can we get rid of this automatism? Observe everything impartially, that is, without “labeling things, people and attitudes”. In the introduction, Jon tells us that being aware is one of the most difficult things we can do as human beings. And anyone who has tried it can surely identify with this.

The practice of not judging is not there to turn us into obedient slaves to some dictator or to wander the streets without thinking. However, the strange thing about acceptance is that by giving up all the energy we were using to lie to ourselves or fight with ourselves, sometimes the situation changes by itself. Our energy is free to address the situation with a newfound vision. For a more in-depth discussion of acceptance, I recommend reading my article on how to practice acceptance for mindfulness.

Patience is a form of wisdom. It shows that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must develop in due time. A child can try to help a butterfly emerge by opening its chrysalis. Usually, the butterfly does not benefit from this.

Any adult knows that the butterfly can only emerge in due time, that the process cannot be rushed. Patience is a fundamental quality of practicing mindfulness. As you'll see with practice, in the field of meditation, the best way to achieve your own goals is to stop striving for results and, instead, start focusing carefully on seeing and accepting things as they are, moment by moment. With patience and regular practice, the movement toward your goals will take place on its own. This movement becomes an unfolding that you are inviting to happen within you. The concept of mindfulness is surrounded by the idea of being present.

It doesn't have to be complicated, and there are lots of ways to practice mindfulness. When practicing mindfulness, it's important to recognize the mental quality of judgment and to identify critical thinking as it arises. Meditation teachers like Jon Kabat-Zinn and Pema Chodron have used programs such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) to demonstrate the power of mindfulness when it comes to managing stress and anxiety. Cultivating the attitude of letting go, or not attachment, is fundamental to the practice of mindfulness. Applying the seven essential mindfulness attitudes can help you cultivate awareness of the present moment and can help calm your anxious mind.

Although it is not possible to identify the place and time of the birth of mindfulness, it is likely that it comes from Buddhism, which places consciousness at the center of meditation practice. This simple description summarizes the basic principles of mindfulness, but it's also worth noting the profound impact that this approach to present-moment awareness can have; by promoting aspects of gratitude, acceptance, and compassion, mindfulness can bring you a new wealth of life. Keep these seven pillars in mind as you embark on your mindfulness practice. These attitudes will help you direct your energy and attention, allowing you to make the most of your conscious mediation.