what is mindfulness?

What is mindfulness? It’s a big question that’s getting asked by everyone from large employers to news outlets to major business publications.

The concept of Mindfulness originated in Buddhist thinking and meditation practice over two-and-a-half thousand years ago. Its original purpose was to address and relieve self-induced suffering caused by the dysfunctional ways people habitually tend to respond to their experience.  While mindfulness has its primary roots in Buddhism, almost all religions encourage people to practice ways of shifting their thoughts away from their usual preoccupations and towards an appreciation of the moment, and a larger perspective on life.

Over the past 30 years, mindfulness has become more secularized and simplified to suit a wider Western context. Today, the benefits of mindfulness, from stress reduction to relationship satisfaction to job performance, are numerous and well-documented in research. Employers understand the benefits of mindfulness as well. A number of well-known companies have begun implementing mindfulness programs for their employees. Among other benefits, employers cite increased productivity, greater focus, enhanced creativity, better problem-solving and decision-making and improved listening as just some of the ways that mindfulness can help optimize performance in the workplace.  Despite these facts, finding ways to make mindfulness a part of everyday life is something that most people still find hard to do. Fortunately, you do not need to dedicate a lifetime to learning ancient meditational practices to begin to reap many of the benefits of mindfulness. All you need to start is an open mind.

If you're looking for mindfulness-related resources, visit our Mindfulness Resources section for tip sheets, applications, audio lessons, and more.