Since the 1960’s when Jon Kabat-Zinn first secularised meditation, developing the now well known art and science of MINDFULNESS, there has been a groundswell of interest in the practice, and the benefits of this practice.
Throughout the last 50 years, some have loved it and some have found it too difficult. Recent research is suggesting that some of the vital elements of the practice of cultivating stillness and quietness within, were stripped out of the mindfulness approach that Kabat-Zinn and colleagues developed.
These missing elements relate firstly to the methods of mindfulness meditation and secondly to the dumbing down of the importance of Kindfulness and Self Compassion in meditation practice.
In practice terms Ajahn Brahm in his extensive experience and research as a practicing teacher of meditation points to the importance understanding 7 stages of mindfulness and ways to cultivate our minds to be able to move through these stages and experience the full benefits of quality long term mindfulness practice. These now include profound physical health benefits as well as the mental health and well being pluses that research has proven in recent years.
Dr Kristen Neff’s research champions the importance of bringing kindness to self and to others in the way we think and the way we act. This applies to meditation practice but also to our day to day conduct.
She explains that the way we often talk to ourselves in our own head is far from kind. This sets up negative emotional responses which in turn trigger negative hormonal releases akin to stress responses. The links between stress hormones and serious diseases of the heart, pancreas and many cancers, are now well established. We literally think ourselves into ill health.
Dr David Hamilton’s latest book The 5 Side Effects of Kindness, shows how being kind to ourselves and to others has massive benefits for our own well being. At the same time he argues that being kind to other people also has a ripple effect out into the world, triggering copycat acts of kindness and triggering further beneficial effects. Embedding kindness into mindfulness is now referred to as ‘Kindfulness’.
If you’d like to learn more about how to cultivate mindfulness and kindfulness in your life and work, and spread the happiness in your organisation, join us for the 8 week mindfulness and kindfulness course online starting in September. Click here for more information.