Mindfulness is a technique borrowed from an Eastern practice that has been integrated into Western medicine and mental health treatment. Sometimes considered similar to meditation, mindfulness uses focused attention and conscious breathing to enhance your awareness of your internal and external experiences in the present moment. For example, by paying closer attention to events and conversations around you, you obtain more information about other people and yourself. Greater awareness leads to the possibility of taking action to make changes. In addition, the use of mindfulness may reduce the tendency to dissociate in difficult situations, and help you to remain calm and think more clearly. Increased awareness also offers different perspectives that increase creative problem-solving.
Numerous authors have written of the benefits of mindfulness including psychologists Marsha Linehan, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Mark Epstein. Dr. Herbert Benson has studied meditation as part of his research on mind-body medicine. Some authors who explain mindfulness based on their experience in Buddhism or contemplative Christianity are Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, Thomas Merton and Thomas Moore. However, no affiliation with any specific religious or spiritual organization is needed to experience the ability of mindfulness to reduce emotional suffering.
If you want more information, these books may be helpful:
Benson, MD, Herbert and Proctor, William. Beyond the Relaxation Response. Berkley Books, 1985.
Epstein, Mark. Thoughts without a Thinker. BasicBooks, 1995.
Goleman, Daniel. Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health. Shamabala Publications, Inc., 1997.
H.H. Dalai Lama and Cutler, MD, Howard C. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living. Riverhead Books, 1998.
Hahn, Thich Nhat. Miracle of Mindfulness. Beacon Press, 1999.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. Hyperion; 10 Anniversary Ed., 2005.
Linehan, Marsha. Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual. The Guildford Press, 1993.
Merton, Thomas. No Man is an Island. Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2005.
Moore, Thomas. Original Self. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. 2000.
Tolle, Eckhart. The Power of Now. Namaste Publishing. 2004.