Mindfulness is the awareness that comes from paying attention, purposefully, to the present moment, without prejudice, says Kabat-Zinn. In Full Catastrophe Living (1990), Jon Kabat-Zinn describes seven specific attitudes that form the basis of mindfulness. They are applied directly, moment by moment and day by day, as you cultivate and deepen mindfulness. These attitudes are non-judgment, patience, beginner's mind, trust, lack of effort, acceptance and abandonment.
Attitudes 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. In the actual meditation practices you'll learn, you'll revisit them many times and come to understand what vital supports they really are.
If you'd like to learn more about mindfulness attitudes, you may be interested in my 8-week online program. The course consists of 41 learning steps, including theory-based content, practices, MP3 recordings, video, quizzes and activities to test your knowledge and weekly tasks to help you establish mindfulness. It is self-taught and available to all countries and levels of experience. By the time you finish the course, you already have a good foundation for practicing 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. It's much better to trust your intuition and your own authority, even if you make some “mistakes” along the way, than to seek guidance outside of yourself. If at some point it feels like something isn't right, why don't you honor your feelings? Why should they be discarded or dismissed as invalid because some authority or group of people thinks or says differently? This attitude of trusting yourself and your own basic wisdom and goodness is very important in all aspects of meditation practice. 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. Cultivating the attitude of letting go, or not attachment, is fundamental to the practice of mindfulness. It has been found that people who keep weekly gratitude journals exercise more regularly, have fewer physical symptoms, feel better about their lives in general, and feel more optimistic about the next week compared to those who keep a diary that records stressors or Neutral events in their lives. The daily discussion of gratitude results in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attention, energy, and duration and quality of sleep.
Grateful people also report lower levels of depression and stress, even though they don't deny or ignore the negative aspects of life. People who think, talk, or write about gratitude on a daily basis are more likely to report that they have helped someone with a personal problem or that they have offered emotional support to another person. In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn developed an eight-week program to help terminally ill people reduce their stress and anxiety. But first of all, let's start with Kabat-Zinn's definition of mindfulness before we delve into the attitudes we must cultivate to increase our attention and well-being.
This is the little-quoted definition of Jon Kabat-Zinn, well-known author and founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts (who is careful to add that it is an operative definition and omits some aspects of mindfulness). Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center to help patients who were dealing with pain and other conditions. Jon Kabat-Zinn didn't include compassion in his 9 MBSR attitudes, but I would like to recognize that self-pity and compassion have helped me navigate my mindfulness journey, open my heart, and release my suffering and trauma. You can learn more about the 9 mindfulness attitudes in Jon Kabat-Zinn's video series on mindfulness attitudes published by Minds Unlimited and linked in the title of each attitude below.