Models and frameworks for mindfulness practices
What Exactly Is Zen Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment, regret or expectation.
Originally drawn from Zen and other Buddhist skills the concept of mindfulness has become popular among mental health professionals due to a newly found interest in Western psychology, and neurobiology by important Buddhist teachers including the Dalai Lama.
Though it is similar in some ways to Buddhist meditation, meditation and mindfulness are not the same. In fact, mindfulness is actually a skill one develops through meditation or other techniques. The roots of Mindfulness derive from sati, a significant element of Zen, and other spiritual traditions.
Though definitions and techniques of mindfulness are wide-ranging, the Western school of Transmodern Zen, and other Zen Japanese traditions explain what constitutes mindfulness. This includes how past, present and future moments arise and cease as momentary mental phenomena and sense impressions arise.
The Zen Story Of The Tea and The Tea Cup
A Zen perspective on the meaning of life
There are a number of different models and frameworks for mindfulness practices. My favorite is the Two-component Model.
Many clinical psychologists and Results Oriented-Life Coaches generally accept the two-component model of mindfulness:
Component — 1. This involves the self-regulation of attention so that it is maintained on immediate experience, thereby allowing for increased recognition of mental events in the present moment.
Component — 2. This involves adopting a particular orientation toward one’s experiences in the present moment, an orientation that is characterized by curiosity, openness, and acceptance. This is what is known as “Beginner’s Mind” in Zen
In this two-component model, self-regulated attention (the first component) “involves bringing awareness to current experience — observing and attending to the changing fields of “objects” (thoughts, feelings, sensations), from moment to moment — by regulating the focus of attention”. Orientation to experience (the second component) involves maintaining an attitude of curiosity about objects experienced at each moment, and about where and how the mind wanders when it drifts from the selected focus of attention. Clients are asked to avoid trying to produce a particular state (e.g. relaxation), but rather to just notice each object that arises in the stream of consciousness.
Another model of mindfulness is the Five-aggregate Model
In the West and East there is a model of the mind that has been applied for thousands of years. This ancient model of the mind, generally known as the five-aggregate model enables one to understand the moment-to-moment manifestation of subjective conscious experience, and therefore can be a potentially useful theoretical resource to guide mindfulness interventions.
The five aggregates are described as follows:
1. Material form: includes both the physical body and external matter where material elements are continuously moving to and from the material body.
2. Feelings: can be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
3. Perceptions: represent being aware of attributes of an object (e.g. color, shape, etc.)
4. Volition: represents bodily, verbal, or psychological behavior.
5. Sensory consciousness: refers to input from the five senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or touch sensations) or a thought that happens to arise in the mind.
This model describes how sensory consciousness results in the generation of feelings, perception, or volition, and how individuals’ previously conditioned attitudes and past associations influence this generation. The five aggregates are described as constantly arising and ceasing in the present moment.
Cultivating self-knowledge and wisdom can help us to maximize our EEPPSA (effectiveness, efficiency, precision, productivity, and self-awareness) in many ways. Transmodern Zen teachings provide detailed instructions on how one can carry out an inquiry into the nature of the mind, and this guidance can help one to make sense of one’s subjective experience. This could include understanding what the “present moment” is, how various thoughts, etc., arise following input from the senses, the conditioned nature of thoughts, and other realizations. In Buddhist teachings, ultimate wisdom refers to gaining deep insight into all phenomena or “seeing things as they are.”
A Simple Mindfulness Technique
A Simple Mindfulness Technique
1. sit in a straight-backed chair or sit cross-legged on the floor or a cushion.
2. close your eyes.
3. bring attention to either the sensations of breathing in the proximity of your nostrils or to the movements of the abdomen when breathing in and out.
4. do not try to control your breathing, simply be aware of your natural breathing process/rhythm.
5. don’t be concerned when your mind runs off to other thoughts and associations,
6. when this happens, and it will passively notice that the mind has wandered,
7. accept this, non-judgmentally, and return to focusing on your breath.
When I say, “accept this, non-judgmentally” I mean do not criticize yourself, or start negative self-talk such as “I’m doing it wrong.” Simply go back to this mindfulness exercise.
You don’t need special tools to practice mindfulness. As popular as the idea is becoming, and that is a good thing, critics have questioned both the commercialization and over-marketing of mindfulness for health benefits.
The “pain of longing” is a key tool for motivation and inspiration in relation to mindfulness
Author: Lewis Roshi (Lewis Harrison) is an author, practical philosopher, and seminar leader. Formerly a fitness trainer, he now teaches mindfulness and is the founder and senior teacher at the Wisdom Path Community, a spiritually-oriented social network-based group that focuses on the spiritual journey rather than rites, rituals, ceremonies, or dogmatic practices.
“My website is AskLewis.com and I can be emailed directly at LewisCoaches@gmail.com…”
You can read all of my Medium.com stories at LewisCoaches.Medium.com