Mindfulness has its roots within the ancient philosophy of Buddhism dating back 27,000 years. Its essence emanates from a tradition that is oriented around understanding suffering and relieving or ending suffering.
The growing popularity (or what could be described as ‘explosion’) of mindfulness within modern culture over the last ten years ought not be considered independent of the context of this tradition but rather as a result of a continuation of the desire to make these teachings accessible to a wider and wider audience.
The pioneering venture of mindfulness into the secular field was its application in healthcare through Jon Kabat Zinn’s work (PhD researcher at UMAS Medical Centre) approximately thirty years ago. Kabat Zinn’s work oriented around stress and chronic pain; he developed a rigorous, systematised and evidence-based system, the efficacy of which has been researched and repeatedly proven as a result now spreading to a number of other disciplines, (Education, Sports, Prison Service, Psychotherapy, Government, Military Veterans, to name a few of these).
In terms of its eminence within healthcare there are widespread psychological applications taking mindfulness as their route, for example MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy), ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), SE (Somatic Experiencing), DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), meaning that millions of people are accessing mindfulness through some of these modalities.
The reason that mindfulness has been and is being introduced into so many sectors within society is a result of the growing amount of replicated evidence-based data showing success in reducing some of the negative effects of certain physical and mental conditions, be these depression, anxiety, eating disorder, sleep disorder, phobia, stress, high blood pressure, chronic pain, or ADHD. Helping people free themselves from suffering is therefore the broader context in which we are now living, practising, and teaching mindfulness.