Many people claim to practice mindfulness but what they are actually doing is practicing a form of concentration that is a step towards right-mindfulness or Sati (Pali word).
The mindfulness of attention that has been popularized in the west is a step towards controlling the mind better. It is effectively brain training. It will improve your cognitive functioning and improve concentration levels. In doing so, a person will be less disturbed by symptoms of anxiety and depression which are mainly born out of thoughts.
However, this process will only take a person so far. They will come to a place where they are still disturbed by their thoughts/feelings. At this stage a person would, if practicing mindfulness training, move onto developing right-mindfulness (Sati). However, this is process has not been fully recognised by science yet and is currently found within the various Buddhist traditions.
Luckily there are a few options that are similar to right-mindfulness training recognised by science. These are examples but there are plenty more – psychotherapy, compassion therapy, neuro-linguistic programming. So by using an eclectic mix of services a person could move further along the path to working through their issues and becoming genuinely happy. But this is not ideal.
However, right-mindfulness (Sati) encompasses many of these treatments as well as using physical therapy for the body. So a person has a mind and body treatment that is holistic in the sense that it works with the mind, body and the spirit. Right-mindfulness is a process of deconstructing the dualistic way we see the word (right/wrong etc) so that a person becomes less judgmental and more likely to accept their present experience. Through this journey they come to develop compassion for themselves as well as others. Compassion training is starting to be recognised as a fundamental way to treat certain psychological issues – like eating disorders – that have their roots in feeling shameful.
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